Monday, October 23, 2017

A San Francisco Treat

Fuller House Season 3 debuted on September 22nd.  I'm not exactly sure of the moments that led up to it, but I remember telling my husband that I wanted to see the Full House 'house'.  "Wouldn't it be cool if we could take a trip to San Francisco for our anniversary?"

My husband got to work that night, looking at his hotel points and flight points and seeing if we could actually make a San Francisco trip work.  I texted my sister to ask her what she may be doing the weekend of the 7th.  I knew she'd been super busy with school and work and my nephew so I wasn't really expecting anything.  She replied saying she probably had school work but other than that had nothing planned.  I told her that it was no biggie but that Frank and I had kidded around a little about taking a trip to San Francisco for our anniversary.  She told me that she could probably come up by me as long as she could get her school work done.  I was so very surprised and excited.  My sister, who juggles so much, basically just told me that she could make it work.

Oh man!  So Frank booked the flights.  Flight points baby.  He checked into what our hotel options were and found that he had enough points for us to spend two nights at the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco.  Everything was falling into place.  Well... almost.

I hate flying.  HATE it.  With a passion.  With more than a passion.  I'm deathly afraid of plummeting to my death with plane wings on fire and engines screaming while everyone on the plane is huddling together praying that the Lord forgives them for all of their sins.  Despite that, I tried my best to not think about it... but think about it every second... but not think about it at all.  Planes.

The night before our early morning flight came about so, so, so....... SO friggin' quickly.  I was walking my sister through my daughter's cares.  I was talking about dinners and chores and the normal day to day in my house.  My bags were packed and I was ready.  Kind of.  I didn't want to go to bed.  Going to bed meant that I had to wake up.  Wake up and take the ride to the airport and eventually get on a death trap plane.  But damn it, I wanted to go to San Francisco.

So I followed my husband's lead; at 3:00 AM the next morning.  We got up.  We tip toed around the house where my kids, my sister and nephew were sleeping.  I was terrified.  I was quiet.  I was doing my best to play it cool.  It was a quiet drive and I watched him as he went through this normal routine.  He flies all of the time.  He knows the roads.  He knows the parking garage.  He knows how everything needs to be done with detail.  He walked me through airport security and told me what to do and when do it.  With a little bit of free time, he showed me some of the sights at the airport.  I wish I could remember them.  I was tired and I was more focused on this big task ahead.  The task of getting on an airplane.  Then, it finally came time.  Time to get on the plane.  Which didn't come easy by the way.  He's Mister A List.  So he got to board before me.  I had to wait.  Alone.  I held a B group ticket.  Luckily my Mister A List man was able to save me a good seat.  I waited until they called the B group and acted like I've done this a thousand times, but my heart.... it was beating so very fast.

It was still dark out when we took off.  I think that actually helped me a lot.  On take off I was hugging Frank's arm.  I was terrified.  I kept praying "please let us land safely, I want to see my kids again".  I pictured Tyler asking me for advice, Jeremiah going to his homecoming dance, Andrew performing in his next play, Nicholas giggling so amazingly silly at a likely not funny joke, Quentin telling me a crazy story about Jaws eating the clothes right out his closet and Mallory roaring at me like Simba in The Lion King.  I rallied.  I was scared for a little bit and then I rallied.  I figured that everyone on this plane was in the same boat.  We all had someone.  We all had lives to go back to.  And even if the plane did go down, it would be with all of these people who all had stories... just like me.  I kept taking these small peeks out of the window.  Those small peeks turned into longer glances and before I knew it I was kind of in love with the world beneath me.  I was scared but I was still trying to soak the world in.  After all, how fortunate am I to even be able to take a trip like this?  Then the sun started coming up. Over the clouds.  Over the wings.  It was... beyond incredible.



I made it through the flight.  We landed in Denver and I was excited to be there.  Not just because we were back not the ground.  I LOVE Colorado.  Mountains and I are long lost kindred spirits I think.  They amaze me.  They make me see.  I felt so much more comfortable and just wanted to take positive advantage of this small stay in a place that speaks to me.  I guess what that really meant was to explore the airport and take photos from the windows.  I also knew I wanted to take photos when we took off.  I even told my husband I wanted the window seat this time around when we were to get back on the plane.

We had a small layover there and I wanted to get something to eat.  We went to a restaurant in the airport called 'Root Down'.  I ordered an egg dish as well as a mimosa.  So very good!  The eggs were excellent.  The potatoes, the bacon, the avocado.. friggin' delicious.  The mimosa?  Took the edge off.  I was ready for the flight to San Francisco.


I was also ready to get a photo from the plane of the mountains.  Earth is so damn amazing.  The second flight was a bit easier.  I was more at ease and feeling exhilarated to get to our destination.



Landing in San Francisco was surreal.  I still couldn't believe we were doing this.  That this was really happening.  How did we get here?  I was so ready to see the sights.  To get of the dang planes and really get out there and explore a place I had never been before.

After nabbing up our bags, we hailed an Uber to take us to the Ritz Carlton.  An interesting ride really.  We had to double up with a father and daughter and it started out awkwardly.  Quite silent.  Then, I was texting my sister about tomatoes and shared with Frank, who was in the back seat with the father and daughter, that somehow we had run out.  Conversation began about our families and groceries and jobs.  Frank and the other dad talked a lot about business stuff.  It was nice that we all finally all had some things to talk about.  Even the driver shared that he, himself, had 7 children!

When we got to the hotel.. well.. I wondered if I should have arrived in a pin stripe pencil skirt with a matching jacket... and maybe a Rose DeWitt Bukater hat.  People were fancy.  There was a dang jewelry store in the hotel lobby.  The lady that was checking us in, she pushed this wooden platter at us with two wet, warmed towels on it.  Frank and I looked at each other.  We didn't know if we were supposed to take the platter or just the towels.  It was like Adam Sandler in the Wedding Singer flying first class for the first time.  What do you do with the towel?  My face felt fine.  But okay, I'll dab it on my face a little.  I guess I can't understand the circumstance in which this would be useful at a check in.. but.. Ritz Carlton.. I believe you.

We were there a little early, but they found an available room for us and let us check in early.  Wow, it was an amazing room.  Not much bigger than a regular hotel room, but the decor and everything in it were much fancier.  The toilet even had two flush settings.  One for a light usage and one if you seriously stank up the joint.  It had one of those refrigerators loaded with pinky sized bottles of booze for the low, low price of 8 bucks a bottle.  The breakfast menu was crazy.  The cheapest breakfast was thirty dollars for one and it was really just eggs and bacon.  I've never seen anything like it.  I mean, I knew we weren't going to spend sixty dollars for eggs and bacon.. but to be able to have the option?  It definitely felt first class.  The view though?  So beautiful.


We didn't stick around the hotel long.  We knew we only had this day and the next for exploration.  Early Monday morning we'd need to be back on a plane for home.  So, we freshened up and then hopped another Uber to see the Painted Ladies.  This was part of my amazing journey to see the Full House house.  Can I just say, these Ladies were incredible.  Not just that, but the whole park was amazing.  The trees.  They were so tall and beautiful.  It was almost like they were hugging the entire park and the people in it.  The people.  Their little kids running around as they try to grab a quick photo.  People were laughing and having fun.  I even saw a guy laying on the ground on his back with his bulldog, who was also on his back, laying on his chest.  The playground.  The playground was wooden and crowded.  Kids yelling and running and just having so much fun.  It was such an incredible place to take photos and walk around.


After that, our thoughts were to get some food.  I thought I had found a place or two to try but it ended up that I didn't know exactly where they were.  I wanted to find places on the way to the actual Full House house on Broderick.  We ended up passing most of them up.  Totally my fault.  The walk was kind of long.  It was worth it though.  We got to see some great architecture and homes.  We walked a little faster and closer on some of the streets but I was just soaking everything in so I didn't even care.  Where was I again??  Oh yea... SAN FRANCISCO!

We made it to Broderick Street with out a meal but it was friggin' awesome anyway.  I have seen so many internet stories about the actual Full House house and really wanted to see it.  Part of me had hope that since it was our anniversary weekend that maybe luck would be in our favor and I'd see a famous cast member, but.... we found that the neighborhood was actually very quiet.  Really no tourists.  There was one set of tourists snapping photos before us and then one that was showing up right when we were getting ready to leave.


Even though we didn't see anyone famous we were happy to see that they had left a little note!  Although, I can't say I wouldn't have asked someone to say, "How rude!"


This whole thing was so exciting for me.  Heart beating in the chest exciting.  This was a show I grew up watching.  My mom worked a lot as a single mom and one thing I remember is Friday nights.  Turning on TGIF and watching all of the shows.  Full House was always my favorite.  I think the values and lessons in Full House are something I carry with me.  It's really what parenting is about.  Love, respect, kindness and support.  I felt grateful to be sitting in front of the setting of the Tanner home.  Grateful to be in a place that these amazing actors have stood.  Actors that inspire me to follow my dreams... maybe not today.. but someday.  I know it sounds cheesy, but we all have to have something to hold onto, right?


I wish I could have stayed and stared at the house longer but it was time to move along.  After our visit there, we summoned another Uber and took a ride back to our hotel room.

Frank had mentioned he really wanted to check out China Town.  It was seriously right around the corner from our hotel.  We took a quick break and headed back out again.  We figured we could try and catch some lunch again and do some shopping.  He also wanted to see Dragon Gate.  This was a landmark from a Fall Out video game that he really wanted to check out.  We found that pretty quickly and made sure to get some photos!  By the way, I don't know who that lady is in the black shirt in the photo below... I know it looks like we are taking her picture, but I don't think I knew she was there when I took it!  Haha!



We hadn't come across any restaurants we wanted to try yet so we kept on walking, trying to find a place for a late lunch.  Then, I saw this sign from a place that said 'This way to great food and drinks' with an arrow pointing down an alley way.  I was slightly suspicious.  I remember even laughing in my head for a second.  "Why would I want to follow a strange sign for food in an alleyway?"


Then I looked down the alley.  There were lights draping the alley.  Signs.  Tables.  People.  I turned to Frank and said, "We have to eat here".  He agreed and so we went.




It really wasn't world's greatest restaurant.  It was kind of a glorified bar with sandwiches and fish & chips.  But the environment?  Not to be beat.  Maybe if I had found a place like this in Lake Geneva I wouldn't have been as excited, but because it was a vacation in this unknown, wonderful place... I loved every second of it.  Even the crazy pigeons that seemed to not get enough of taunting the patrons.  We even named one of them.  It was this nearly featherless pigeon... with what remained of black feathers... walking around looking for crumbs.  He reminded me of something from Edgar Allen Poe.  So we named him Edgar Allen Poultry.  I sadly did not get a photo of the inspirational bird.

From our time at the Painted Ladies up until our lunch at the Irish Bank we kept hearing airplanes.  We were always looking around to see where they were coming from.  Occasionally we would see something fly overhead but we didn't know why.  We even saw one fly over the alleyway where we were eating.  So, I decided to look it up.  I found that there was actually an air show taking place during that weekend.  How friggin' cool?  I swear, we always talk about going to airshows at home and but never go.  Now we were witnessing one with out even trying!

After we were done eating we decided to head back towards the hotel and maybe scope out some of the shopping.  I picked up a couple of gifts at a cute little shop and we kept walking.  We kept hearing those planes though and became more and more interested.  We knew we had a hotel room with a view, so we hurried more back to our room to see if we could witness any of the show.

When we got back to our room, we looked around and saw many other people watching from rooftops, all around.  A woman, who had a hummingbird garden on the roof was watching.  A group of what appeared to be 20 friends on the other side of the same building had their eyes on the skies.  Another building had only one lonely gentlemen on it's balcony peacefully watching.  These buildings are incredible, by the way.  Everything seemed united and close together.  People were enjoying life and it was like we were all attending the same party.  I loved that feeling.



As we started observing the planes from our gorgeous view, we realized we were witnessing the Blue Angels over the San Francisco Bay.




It was super cool.


When the show was finally over we had to figure out what was next on our agenda.  We were both getting so tired.  A 3:00 AM start in Wisconsin really meant a 1:00 AM start in California.  What more could we squeeze in?

In the middle of our "deciding" I walked past something in our rom that made me stop in my tracks.  The hotel had left us a little gift, and a decadent little gift it was.  It was chocolate covered strawberries and these little colorful shavings that were also chocolate.  I could eat that stuff all day, so tasty!  So... thank you Ritz Carlton, it was delicious and thoughtful!


Frank and I had originally decided that our Golden Gate Bridge trip was going to wait until Sunday.  However, we seemed to have a good amount of time left Saturday still... with nothing to do... so we decided to go there Saturday instead.

We changed clothes and I did my hair and make up, knowing that we would likely follow this up with a nice dinner and then summoned the Uber.  The drive to the Golden Gate Bridge was nothing like I'd ever seen.  I'm sure that a lot of the people who live there think it's just normal scenery.  Well, maybe it's more like it's that they're just used to it.  I don't.  It was beautiful.  Especially down Presidio Boulevard.  Holy cow.  I could look at the scenery for days.  I didn't take any photos but maybe someday I can go back and see it again.  The trees were so tall and majestic.  Everything looked perfectly placed, like out of a movie scene.  It really couldn't get any better.

Except... it could... and it did.  As we kept driving we started seeing glimpses of the Golden Gate Bridge.  I couldn't even believe it.  How did I get here?  To California?  I don't do things like this.  I don't see things like this.  My life is complicated and hard on many days... but here I was... approaching this beautiful landmark.  The feeling I had was indescribable.  Awe.  Peace.  Happiness.


It was windy.  It was chilly.  But damn.  It was one of the best sights I've ever seen.



Frank and I walked around a bit to see different angles and walked around the gift shop.  But really, staring at that bridge.... I couldn't even believe I was there.  This girl... that barely leaves her house.  That hates airplanes.  That copes with anxiety.  That more often talks about doing things than actually doing anything.  I was there.  In a place I had always dreamed of going.

I hated to leave it.  I think we would have stayed longer if it wasn't as cold as it was.  Maybe even tried to walk it.  There's always next time!

Next up?  Our anniversary dinner.  We decided to check out a restaurant that had been recommended to us by family.

We headed over to Isa Restaurant.  Not a bad little place.  I didn't love that the tables were so close together.. I would have liked a more romantic environment but all in all it was a nice restaurant.  It was nice to spend time with my husband.  He enjoyed his steak and I had a really lovely spaghetti.  These dishes were probably enough food for like 5 people.  So good though.  I don't even try new places in Lake Geneva... so trying something new in San Francisco?  I loved it!  What I love more?  That I had this guy with me.  Wind blown from our Golden Gate Bridge trip.  Wearing that smile that got me from day one.  This day.  It was seriously perfect.


After dinner we Ubered back to hotel.  I could feel the exhaustion.  I knew the night shouldn't end with just a kiss and cuddle but I was so dang tired.  When we arrived though, we noticed that the room was not how we left it.  I started to think we had a tracking device on us.  Every time we left, something new happened in our room!  The first time it was the strawberries and the second time rose pedals were left on our bed and they organized the bathroom!  It creeped me out a little, haha, but it was a nice surprise!



Even with all of that excitement we were still pretty exhausted.  It was around 9:30 California time,  but we decided a good night's sleep was in order and tomorrow would bring some rejuvenation and a whole new day of fun!

Not long after we turned in our 'goodnight cards' for the evening, things went a little haywire on the home front.  The next morning, early, we were booking flights back home.

It's kind of the story of my life... that things go a little crazy.  So we got out of California as quickly as we could.  This time we'd be stopping in Las Vegas before going back home to Milwaukee.  I was super sad to be cutting our vacation short but sometimes this is just how it goes.

I won't go into the details surrounding our early departure but I will say that despite how hard it was, we at least made the most of it either way.  We did a little souvenir shopping.  We walked around the airports.  We people watched.  I got some donuts.  We did what we could to make the best out of a frustrating situation.  Especially knowing that the flight from Vegas to Milwaukee was going to be a little longer of a flight than any of the others I had already been on.

The flight to Vegas went by quickly.  We had a small layover there and then it was time to board the Vegas to Milwaukee plane.  I was feeling frustrated, anxious and stressed.  I wasn't ready to go home and on top of it I had to sit on a plane for 3 & 1/2 hours?  Not the greatest.  When that plane left the ground, I did everything I could to sleep.  I'm not sure if I nodded off at all but it didn't feel much like I had.  The flight was very bumpy, enough so that for at least the first hour the flight attendants weren't even allowed to get up.  Once they finally were though, I decided it was margarita time.  The pilot was treating the entire plane to a drink because the wifi wasn't working on the plane... during a Packers game.  Frank loaded up one of the Star Trek movies he had downloaded to his phone and that got us pretty much all of the way home.  That... and a second margarita.  I felt a lot better after that and it was pretty cool flying over Milwaukee and flying over the lake where our children were there waiting for us.



I wasn't happy that we had to come home early but I was happy to see my kiddos.

It's been a couple of weeks since this trip... and a couple of weeks since I started writing this blog.  I had a rough time the first week back.  Which is probably why it's taken me so long to actually finish writing this.  I was angry.  I really just wanted the second day of my trip.  Today, it still bothers me a bit, however... I was blessed to even have had the opportunity to go in the first place.  Not everyone gets to do what we did.  We got on an airplane the day of our 12th wedding anniversary and flew across the country.  Just so I could finally see California and hang out in San Francisco.  Even if it was only for a day.  It was a really great day.  The best anniversary we've probably ever had!

I want to thank my sister and my oldest son for coming out and holding down the fort while we were away.  I know things didn't work out as planned but taking the time out from your lives to come out here and allow Frank and I to take this trip was so very awesome!  We are very appreciative!

I want to thank my husband, Frank, for... well many things.

One, for working so hard every day, week and year... something that not only takes care of the kids and me and gives us the life that we have but it helped allow us to take this trip.  Which was incredible.

Two, for putting the whole thing together... the planning, the flights, the hotel, the destination... all of it!  And then for holding my hand and making me feel as at ease as possible on each flight we took!

And finally.. three.. even though we have a lot of ups and downs you are always putting in the work to help us stay on track.  To make things better.  That matters so much!  After 12 years of marriage we are still always choosing each other.. just like we did on day 1!  I love you and thanks for putting up with my craziness for so long!  😉💕

It was a short but sweet trip and I know we'll get back to San Francisco to finish that trip someday!


Friday, July 7, 2017

Waffle Pizza - Broz Style

Home made pizza is one of my FAVORITE things to make.  Even though our new family food plan is trying to eliminate carbs, I am still a sucker for a great pizza... and so is my family!  I have spent years working on my pizza dough and my sauce, trying to get it just right.  I'm pretty happy with the state of my recipe right now.  So much so that I've even tossed around the idea of having my own pizza shop.  There's no way on God's green Earth that I could afford to do it now, but it's always on my radar.

Pizza Friday was on the menu this week and I had pre-made quite a bit of dough on the 4th of July.  I had enough for 2 larger pizzas and 2 medium sized ones.  That is typically a lot for one meal but we like to make a variety of pizzas so I wasn't worried about it.  Last night though I had a brain child.  I thought, "I wonder what would happen if I tried to cook pizza dough on the waffle iron."  My husband and I tried to think about the logistics of making that happen and what we might call it.  A 'paffle'?  A 'wizza'?  A 'wafizza'?

All good choices, but the name matters not just yet!  Tonight we were going to make it happen.  I made three pizzas before we gave this a try.  A pepperoni & pineapple (sorry Chef Ramsay), a cheese & sausage and a barbecue & chicken pizza.  Then it was time to fire up the waffle iron.  I melted some butter to brush over the grates (top & bottom) and then I melted a little more butter to drown the pizza dough in.  I do mean drown.  I let is soak.  The entire time the waffle iron was heating up, that dough was soaking in delicious, fantastic, so so good butter.




I know it looks kinda gross, but it's totally not.

Once we heard the ding of the waffle maker we put the dough on and crossed our fingers, no clue how it would turn out.  I'm not exactly sure how long the dough was on the waffle maker, maybe 5 minutes or so, but we observed the dough lifting the lid... rising up in all it's yeasty glory.


Another ding later and we were ready to take the dough off of the waffle iron and put the fixins on top.


We added sauce.


We added mozzarella cheese.


Then it was oven time!  We used a pizza stone heated in an oven at 425 degrees F.


I don't ever time my pizzas.  I watch the cheese.  When the cheese is nice and browned, that pizza is ready to come out.


I have to say.. I did not expect the result we got with this once it came out.  It was fluffy, it was airy, it was delicious!


Only after being super impressed with the results of this amazing waffle iron pizza did I Google waffle iron pizza recipes and see that I was not the first to do this.  Even one of my favorite go-to's for recipes, The Pioneer Woman, had a recipe for it.  What the suck??  I was all excited that we were doing something revolutionary.  Oh well, it was still good!  However, most of the recipes I saw instructed to not take the dough off of the waffle maker after it was done but to leave it on, add the toppings and then close it again.  I guess if you really want the pizza to look more waffle like, this would be a good technique.  Messy, but good.  My initial idea was that I would take the dough off and then cook it with the toppings in the oven.  I fully support my initial idea and would highly recommend this method over the other.  Because I'm super smart.  And talented at pizza making.  Haha.  My way is definitely less mess on your waffle iron and the result is so very friggin' yummy!


I love making pizza!!