Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bouncing Baby Shower

When I was home in San Diego, I was thrilled to be able to attend one of my very best friend's baby showers. I felt quite fortunate that the event was planned during my visit home and that I had the rare opportunity to go, despite living in Israel. Here in Israel, I seem surrounded by baby bumps right and left especially on young women in their early-to-mid 20s, but the trend tends to hit a bit later back home in the US. Not only was it great to see the baby bump itself on one of my very first pregnant friends, but also, there is nothing like a good reason to get together with your girlfriends. The shower was thrown at this beautiful Santaluz home in one of the San Dieguito Valley's premier coastal golf communities.

Nearly a dozen of the honoree's best friends chipped in to create a delicious spread including smores brownies, fruit skewers, yogurt parfaits, mini cinnamon buns and other bite-size delicacies. Trust me, it was all delicious.




The bubbly was strictly for the non-pregnant guests, which with orange juice, made for some stylish lunchtime mimosas.



No detail was left undone, including the beautiful bouquets knotted with pink ribbon and the charming image of the baby-to-be in the image below.


As you can see, the pink elephant theme was highlighted throughout the house. And speaking of the house, wow, it was spectacular. Let's take a look outside on the deck facing the golf course.



Pretty nice, isn't it? Soon enough, it was time for some baby shower games, including Pins-in-Rice (much easier said than done), a ribbon measurement contest and The World According to Jason.





I attributed my win on the The World According to Jason to the fact that Jason and I share the same birthday....great minds must think alike. After all the fun and games, it was time to open the gifts, which brought forth many ooh's and ahh's from our watchful crowd. There is nothing like baby clothes to make a group of women gush with joy.




Because the mommy-to-be lives in Dallas, most of the big items were sent her way via post, but there were still endless amount of clothes, blankets and baby toys to unveil. After the food had been eaten, the games played and the gifts opened, it was time to mingle once again.


The best part of all was getting all of our girlfriends together (well, a majority of them at least) from near and far to relish in each other's company for a fun celebration. 


Kate and I have known each other since our younger days where we met in Hebrew school and bonded over our wanting not to be there.  It is amazing to have shared in so many important life cycle events from our Bat Mitzvah days to high school and college graduations to studying abroad, engagements, weddings and now, babies. This little baby's arrival will be in February 2010 and I hope to make it to Dallas in April during my visit to the US in order to meet her in person. A beautiful shower for a beautiful friend! Join me over the next week as we visit Palm Springs, San Francisco, on then onward to Europe before landing back in Israel for good. I hope you've enjoyed seeing bits and pieces of my beloved hometown.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

San Diego Food Tour

My update from my trip home to San Diego makes a pit-stop today at the Bite San Diego Walking Tour in the Gaslamp and Little Italy. This exciting company gives you the option of signing up for walking food tours in San Diego's best areas where you have the chance to make a handful of stops at a small selection of previously arranged visits to some of the area's most visited restaurants and culinary institutions. You can choose to do your tour in Old Town, Coronado Island, La Jolla or downtown San Diego. Thanks to a special treat from my mom, I had the chance to take the Downtown/Little Italy tour option with my parents and husband last month.


The tour began right in the heart of downtown San Diego at Royal India, an Indian restaurant that is well-known for its delicious and tasty regional food. The buffet did not disappoint and we got busy eating after checking in and signing a release form. Our group had about a dozen people in it and we were all pacing ourselves as we didn't know what was yet to come.



Onward we went, making our way into the Gaslamp Quarter, where yes you will see those typical gaslamp structures which give the area its name. A historic part of the city, it has been remodernized over the last decade or two to become one of San Diego's hippest dining and entertainment areas.



Before we knew it, we had arrived at our second stop in the center of the Gaslamp Quarter, at Krust Pizzeria. You can watch the chefs grill the pizzas in front of you in beautiful open-air wood-fired ovens. The option of pizza selections are generous and the pizza itself was absolutely scrumptious. I'd definitely go back for another slice or two.



Onward we went down Fifth, strolling by a number of high-scale restaurants and popular bars and breweries, continuing on for a good fifteen minute walk to our next destination.


Along the way, I had to make a stop at the NBC San Diego news studio where we took a peek inside to see the newsroom hard at work. My first childhood dream was to be a newscaster, but as it turns out, I don't really like being in front of the camera. As you can tell, I am more comfortable behind the camera these days.


Other inconic sightings included the Westgate Hotel, where one of my best friends was married in 2008, and then Horton Plaza, one of San Diego's oldest and most popular malls, across the street.

Spreckels Theater is another well-known spot in Downtown San Diego, home to a generous hosting of theater productions, musicals and celebrity guests every year.


As we continue on, we see other typical sights including a San Diego Old Town Trolley and the San Diego Courthouse. I once made an appearance here in 2000, when I contested a hefty ticket I received for turning left on a malfunctioning red light near my home. I'm happy to say that I did win the case in the end after gaining a number of signatures on my petition.


Here we are at our third stop on our food tour at Richard Walker's Pancake House close to the Nordstrom's side of Horton Plaza. Famous for their signature item, a baked apple pancake (think apple pie), the delicious menu also has all kinds of enticing options including one-of-a-kind omelets and banana-chocolate-chip pancakes.  The pancake was so good that I ended up coming back here with a friend for breakfast a week later (and it seemed that the rest of San Diego had the same idea...expect long lines on weekend mornings).

With our stomachs full, off we went for a 20-minute walk from Downtown San Diego to Little Italy, which was a great way to break up the food tastings.

About 20-25 minutes later, we found ourselves entering Little Italy, a charming part of San Diego with colorful architecture, a quaint and charming ambiance and well, lots of Italian food, as you might have guessed.


And then there we were at our fourth stop at a beer shop and brewery called Bottlecraft, where the group had the option of doing tastings at this popular Little Italy location.  I am much more a winery type of girl myself, but still it was a neat idea and fun to see.

Don't you just love Little Italy?  Here are a few more pictures of this charming area. You'll see a picture below of my husband and I stopping for a photo at the very location of one of our engagement photos. Though we had opted to have our pictures taken at La Jolla's Scripps Coastal Reserve, the weather was not cooperating that day. Thus, we went for culture and color in Little Italy, which is exactly what you'll get in this area.

Tired and full, we made our final stop at Cafe Zucchero in the center of Little Italy for a small bite of their famous chocolate chip cannoli. Many argue that the cannoli here is the best in all of San Diego, and delicious it was with its crunchy shell and melt-in-your-mouth filling.


You can be sure I hit the gym bright and early the next morning but it was well worth it to go on this delicious tour. Our tour guide told us that the Old Town option is the "funnest, crazies one of them all" so perhaps that would be an exciting choice for a group of friends or a birthday celebration. Check out more information on these walking tours at Bite San Diego's website here.

If you've been reading along, I just have one more San Diego post to share with you and then about a week's worth of travel posts to go before catching up to speed here in Israel. I guess we sure did a lot last month! Israel is great....and all of you should definitely make a trip out there, but if you ever find yourself in the US, I insist you make a visit to my hometown, San Diego. I promise, it will not disappoint.