Friday, December 30, 2016

2-0-1-7

It's that time again to declare my goals and think about conquering 2017. 2016 had quite a few accomplishments but that's no reason to stop reaching for the stars! I'll start with reusing most of last year's goals but add onto it.

1) Travel internationally
Since 2012, I have been able to make it out of the country at least once a year. My good friend, Nikki, has inspired me to do so and now I'm addicted. I am considering visiting my Sunshine aka Christina in Colombia, or Southern Italy or France.

Venice, Italy - October 2016
2) Hike once a month
I didn't complete this in 2016. I hiked four times and need to get back out there. I love exploring my own backyard, breathing fresh air, getting out of the house and getting fit outdoors.

Nikki & I - Tilden Park, Berkeley, California - December 2016
UPDATE
January - Mt. Diablo

3) Continue with the fitness challenges
I completed quite a few fitness challenges in 2016 and plan to continue them as they help me stay focused. I am not where I want to be physically but do want to improve my flexibility and do more yoga. I have a hard time in yoga because my mind is always go-go-go and I really need to calm down and relax. I think yoga will help.

Part of Bodybuilding.com's #30DaysofFit challenge & I could fit into my XS clothes! - December 2016
UPDATE
#250KChallenge - Week 1 & 2, Week 3


4) Find a balance and adjust as necessary
Dating does blow and accidentally told my father on his birthday weekend that I am most likely not having children. As I experienced a nasty divorce as a child and have been through my own, I have no desire to bring a child into this world just to experience the same thing. I also am not sure if I ever want to get married again. BUT if the right man comes along, I am open to both. BUT I am not getting any younger. He'd have to be jaw-dropping amazing and make me so in love I can't see straight. And he can start with this...

Besides dating, I do work a lot. But I make time for what makes time for me. Like #5.

UPDATE
Guess MBT and I have been exclusive since we met. It's official as of January.

5) Family
As I write this, Lola is in ICU at John Muir in Walnut Creek after a terrible car accident. My sister is moving her family across country to North Carolina. And I haven't seen Emma all year. Things are changing and some things don't change at all. 

I promised Lola that I would take her to church at least once a month. I will be seeing my nephew in North Carolina at least once a year. And I need to see my beautiful niece.
Snapchat 'bappletree' fun with Arya & Nate - December 2016
6) Specialty
I know a few things about a lot of things. I finished the Whisk(e)y Distilled book and believe Christina V. and I will eventually take our spontaneous trip to either Nashville or Kentucky for more whiskey. I have been wanting to start a whiskey log but I am so behind. Perhaps I can in the future.

I am lacking in the BOH knowledge. I don't cook at all anymore with owning a restaurant. However, I did bake Christmas Eve goodies and enjoyed it. Probably because my family ate it and enjoyed it. Oh, those words of affirmation... I will try to cook more. I was supposed to do a couples cooking class with some guy that also wanted more BOH experience. Hmmm. Let's see if that happens.
Oban 14 Scotch Whisky with a Banana Split Pie I made thx to Pinterest - Christmas Day 2016
7) Money
I have continued reading my Charles Schwab investing publications, being motivated by Entrepreneur magazine articles and am wanting to know how to make my money work for me. My father is so incredibly smart about making his money work for him so he could retire early. That sounds like an amazing idea, right? I want to learn what he knows and how to do it. Further reading and research will continue.

I saw a meme saying that millionaires have seven streams of income. I do so I hope I am on my way. This also goes hand-in-hand with a goal I have by 40: own property in Maui. I am so happy there. That's all the reason I need. It makes me happy.
Maui - August 2016

8) Blog Improvement
It has been really fun seeing my stats increase on this blog. My dream would be to travel the world, eat and drink and be able to write about it for a living. Number 3 and 6 will help with that. Seven will definitely help too so it's not actually work.

I would like to have my first advertiser fairly soon but that means having to increase my stats across the board.

Blog stats - December 2016
9) DW Sales
This year's sales were disappointing. Events accounted for 26% of sales and I am well below my annual total goal set by KC. Reaching those numbers will hurt Number 4 but help me with Number 1 and 7.  What to do? What to do?
Dining room at DW


10) Entrepreneur Possibility
A friend would like to work with me on his new business adventure, a food concession trailer. I will have a lot to learn in regards to the operations of a mobile business and increase my network to Sacramento.




There are three more items to work on than last year. Stay tuned for updates.

What are your goals for 2017?



Thursday, December 22, 2016

Venice, Italy - Day 8

A night of feeling like garbage and blowing my nose was not the way I wanted to spend my first night in Venice. As soon as I woke up, I tried not to wake Court and went down stairs in search of drugs! But first, I stuffed my face with some prosciutto, something our other hotels didn't have. Love charcuterie.

There was a chill in the air and the city was just waking up. Restaurants were bringing out tables for service and thankfully the pharmacy ahead with the green cross was open. The lady in the white coat was speaking with her neighbor and greeted me, probably seeing my red nose and looking like death. She escorted me in and gave me a box of pills. I asked for lozenges to help coat my throat. I went back to the hotel, grabbed something to drink to take these meds as soon as possible and made a breakfast plate for Court and myself. Then I went back to bed.



I have to give it to Italy's over the counter drugs. They work! I felt so much better when I woke up that I got ready and Court and I went out to explore. We really had no plans for our last day in Venice. We were thinking about taking a gondola ride and went to the nearest stop. The cost was $65 per person for 30 minutes. I have had the experience of riding a gondola in 2012 so I left it up to Court since she has never had the pleasure. She said she would rather spend the money on food and wine. That's my girl. We were thinking about going to dinner and a show but I wasn't sure how I was going to feel later so I didn't want to commit. Instead, we walked around San Marco's Piazza and along the water until we couldn't go any further.





We walked thru a park with gravel walkways, jungle gyms and stone ping pong tables. We also passed a wide walkway that had more restaurants and stores but decided to continue on the trail along the water where we saw people reading on park benches, we passed vacant basketball courts and was forced to turn to the left where we could not cross the bridge and enter the naval academy.  We continued walking and found ourselves in a residential area that seemed deserted. People were no where to be found or heard. No voices from televisions, no dogs barking, no movement can be heard whatsoever. It was kind of eerie. We wandered left, right and found ourselves back in the park where a wide gravel road lined with houses on both sides with iron gates and brick. Very different from what we have been walking through. The road led us to what seemed to be at the end of the other wide walkway with the restaurants and stores. We were hungry.



We scanned the street and it seemed like some restaurants weren't ready. One had seating outside where a canal started and some people were already dining there. We browsed the menu quickly and settled into some chairs. I was hoping to get as much sun on me as possible as I wasn't feeling 100% and it was a bit breezy. The restaurant had one server and he seemed pretty busy so we didn't aim to make small talk, have him take our order and off he went. After awhile, I needed to use the WC aka the water closet. I saw a bathroom sign on the building with an arrow down a narrow passage way. I went up and down that trail twice and even left the whole area completely looking for a bathroom down the way. No luck.

Our food still wasn't ready by the time I gave up on relieving myself. It was getting colder and I thought about moving us inside. To our left, a realtor with her clients were on the third floor balcony showing the view and property. I wondered how much that spot went for. After trying to distract myself, I suggested we go inside. Court didn't contest. We went inside and sat us at a table in a tiny area of four tables that didn't allow much room for the server to get back and forth from the kitchen. I also realized that there was a bathroom back there. Finally!


Our food came and I had the black cuttlefish pasta. The best squid ink pasta I have had was at Seven Hills in San Francisco. I will never forget that dish or the fun time with great friends, Tim and Teresa, aka TNT. This dish was OK and that's sad for being IN Italy. I can't even remember what Court had but she wasn't raving about her food either. We paid and made our way back to hotel. Court wasn't feeling great and I was afraid she would get sick too since we're in such small quarters 24-hours a day. But before we got to the hotel to take a little nap, I got gelato. Fragola of course.


We took a nap but I woke up hungry. Court decided to sleep. That was probably best since she was around my ill self. I wandered a bit looking for a place to eat. There was a sushi restaurant, gelatarias, paninis, pizza and more. I ended up at a modern looking restaurant that has caught my eye a few times. I asked for a table for one, had a latte, a side salad and tried the cuttlefish pasta again. This time it was quite impressive! Still not as good as Seven Hills but better than the afternoon's version. It was a lot of food and had nice chunks of seafood in it. I couldn't finish it all but I did as much damage as I could.




I was surprised to see how large the restaurant was when I headed off to the also modern bathroom. It was probably the nicest one I have been to in all of Italy so far, even better than the one in our hotel. I took photos of the space as the Event Planner in me thought they were nice rooms for a dinner and I really liked the long tables and lighting.



I said 'ciao' to my servers and went back to the room where Court was still asleep. I couldn't believe that my time in one of my favorite cities in the world was over. We were headed to Milan in the morning.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Venice, Italy - Day7

Up and so ready to get to Venice. We were packed, went down to the lobby in the tiny elevator and the lobby was full with many guests checking out. We asked the front desk to get us a taxi they seemed a bit overwhelmed. Not knowing when one will come and our luck with taxis has been terrible, we decided to wait outside and try to flag one down. In Italy, when a taxi is called, it actually picks people up that called them. It seems like in America, they do not seem as reliable.

We finally got a taxi and was taken to the train terminal. There was a delay and very limited places to sit. Like Rome, you had to spend some money to use the restroom. I went to the cafe and bought a fruit cup so I can get the code to use their restroom. Goodness. Speaking of money, I was also running low on Euros. I went to get money exchanged.


Our train arrived and we headed toward our track and our car. Our monsterous luggage didn't fit above us so we actually got some help from other travelers ensuring they both fit. We found our seats, plugged in our phones for juice, put in our headphones and waiting until our arrival in Venice. Court was reading her dirty novel on her phone and I wanted to pass out. I didn't take Dramamine this time so I'm not cranky.

Court woke me up and there was water on both sides of the train. We were close! In 2012, my Cugino and I arrived in Venice via plane and had to take a bus across these same waters. I was excited then, and I was excited now. I love Venice so much.




We arrived, dodged people that didn't know where they were going and found ourselves outside where it was drizzling a bit. I seem to always be in Venice when it's overcast, wet and cold. I had no idea how to take the water taxis or boat-bus-like thingamajiggies so I just redacted my refusal of service from the porters with the luggage carts and we were on our way. But first, he stopped at a stand and got plastic to cover our luggage. Wow! How nice.

We headed down the main path and I remember some twists and turns from our wanderings the last time I was there. But the porter was bookin' it and we couldn't stop for a second. He was impressive and I was breathless during the video I shot during this experience. It was definitely our cardio for the day.


We got to Hotel Ca' d'Oro and it had a spot where a boat can dock. I love their types of front doors. Our hotel was cute, our key had a massive weight attached to it. Heaven forbid you drop it in the water! You will definitely be paying for a replacement. I would think they would attach a floating device to it instead.

We headed up in their tiny elevator and found our room in the far corner. Again, two small beds pushed together, nightstands, a boudoir, desk, small television, two windows and a nice bathroom with some pretty goodies. If you pop your head way out the window in our room, you can see the water. Other than that, no water view.





Of course, we were hungry. We got situated and started to explore and I came across a bridge that I remember crossing. We stopped in at Trattoria Da Rino where there was a 3-course meal deal and we were sold! We got a bottle of wine and I had the bigoli in salsa alla veneta, salmone alla mediterranea and a mixed salad. The pasta was delicious. The salmon was OK and a bit dry. Our server was friendly and casual and we even got a curse word out of her. The music they were playing was great. We were singing Air Supply and one of my favorites, Christina Aguilera's 'Hurt' came on.






We walked around, stopped in a large shopping mall I don't recall seeing before. We stopped in to one of the churches and I lit a candle for my loved ones and prayed for my best friend's safety. We found the Rialto Bridge, took our touristy photos and we were on the search for a must visit spot for happy hour with complimentary food...y'know, because we didn't just eat or anything (?). I believe it was called Taverna del Campiello Remer. We arrived a bit before they opened and we waited outside. I decided to sit on the dock and dangle my feet over the edge, listening to the water, the boats going by and people in the distance. The Rialto Bridge is to my left and sadly large ads covered buildings nearby. What an eye sore for this beautiful city. But I was completely happy where I was. One day, I would love to be in this city, madly in love.






Taverna del Campiello Remer opened and their offerings were incredible! They had cheap happy hour beverages and their complimentary spread of bites was insane. You had pasta, bruschetta and polenta. Just mounds of food! The spot had stone walls, pub like wooden tables, a piano and guitars on display and a fireplace. Quite impressive. Definitely visit this spot when you're in Venice.








Not quite ready to head home, we continued on walking the streets at night. It may seem like a maze at first but I got the hang of navigating through the city. We visited stores and I have loved the masquerade masks in the windows. We visited one store and I was so tempted to buy an elaborate one but I didn't want to risk damaging it in transit. We still had to visit Milan.

We found our way to San Marco Piazza and it was beautiful at night. You could hear live classical music in the distance and I headed that way. We were at the Cafe Florian and sat outside right next to the band. We watched the people pass by and ordered some warm beverages to help stay warm. They charge each guest an entertainment fee and the drinks were not cheap. This is a historic spot that opened in 1720 where famous writers used to frequent. The inside was beautiful with small booths and a retail counter to buy sugar to go. I bought my staff some goodies.







Still not ready to call it a night, I had Court put on her pub radar and she found us a pub down a random street called the Devil's Forest Pub. The bartender was super friendly, I had my first beer in Italy and we were lucky enough to find a table after a guy removed his coat. Soccer was playing on the televisions, the pub was loud and festive and you could say hi to Mom as the action was streamed online. Pretty cool idea.





We ended up chatting it up with the guy that helped us sit. His name was Mateo and he was there with a buddy. Mateo was friendly and chatty. His friend. Not so much. He said that his friend was expecting his girlfriend and that Italian women are very jealous. Of course, when she arrived, I tried to be friendly with her so there wasn't any issues. Trust me, Hun, I don't want your man that has no balls because they're in your purse.

We ended up leaving for another bar and we invited them to join us. Mateo was waiting for a friend to get off work and then they'd come meet us wherever we were so we exchanged phone numbers.

We stopped at one other bar but it didn't have anything interesting on the menu. We're such snobs and so spoiled by DW. We left that bar and Court's pub radar was back on. We passed the street to our hotel and a few streets down, she found 'The Irish Pub.'





More soccer was being aired on the TVs, they had light snacks, several beers and standard liquors. We decided to stick with beer. I had a small Hoegaarden and Court had the big boy. The boys arrived and joined in on the beer consumption. Mateo and I were chatting more because Court has found herself involved with his friend, who I cannot remember his name off the top of my head. Sorry, Man! Apparently, Italians learn English in school according to Mateo. He is a native of Venice but enjoys traveling. For instance, he was headed to New York City for Christmas because he hates being around his family during the holidays. Pretty funny. I eventually left, Court was in good hands and I had a tracker on her. As soon as I got to the hotel, I felt like garbage and passed out as soon as I could after blowing my nose so many times. What timing.

Bed time.