Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Blog's One Year Anniversary

One year ago today we started the James and Tim Blog — and can you believe it's still going? We still remember writing our very first post last February.

Can you believe you've had one full year of the James & Tim Blog? (02/18/06)

Well as long as you guys are reading it, we'll keep writing it (although it wouldn't hurt if y'all posted a couple of comments now and then). :)

Monday, February 20, 2006

A Delicious Sunday

On Doris and Jenn's last full day in Orange County, we had Sunday brunch at Orange Hill Restaurant, which overlooks all of Orange County. It's our favorite place to have Sunday brunch — and now Doris and Jenn's! Both the view and the food were excellent.

Despite the clouds, it was very clear that morning — we could even see downtown LA. (02/19/06)

That night we closed the trip with a special treat. We opened the bottle of icewine that we had brought back from Canada. Icewine, as you know, is very hard to make (and very expensive), so we knew we wanted to save it for a special night. And this was it. We had a great time and so did Doris and Jenn.

We closed the night with a bottle of Canadian icewine that we have saved since our Canada trip. (02/19/06)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Happy Birthday Christine!

On Saturday night, Tim, Doris and Jen went to our friend Christine's birthday party in Burbank, which was fun. We saw lots of people we hadn't seen in a long time — and met some new ones, including some from Christine's "Stitch 'n Bitch" knitting circle.

Christine probably wouldn't want me to tell you her age, but here's a clue: It starts with a three and ends with a five! (02/18/06)

For her gift, we gave her the hard-to-find My Scene Barbie designed by one of the contestants on Bravo's Project Runway — one of our favorite shows. And Christine loved it too!

Here's a picture of the Project Runway My Scene Barbie — a hard item to find. (02/18/06)

Digging up Some L.A. History

We spent some time up in Los Angeles while the girls were visiting. Each of them had at least one L.A. item on the agenda. For Jen, it was the La Brea Tar Pits. For Doris it was some of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed L.A. homes.

No trip to L.A. would be complete without seeing the world famous La Brea Tar Pits. (02/18/06)

The tar pits were our first stop. It's a cluster of tar pits in the Miracle Mile district of L.A. (my old hood). It's here that natural tar seeps to the surface from petroleum deposits below the surface of the Los Angeles Basin. It's best known for the large number of ice-age mammal fossils that have been found there (due to animals getting stuck in the tar).

Doris and Tim and the pre-historic giant sloth get together for a picture. (02/18/06)

Doris found out first hand how easily it was for animals to get stuck in the tar when she was poking a stick into one of the smaller tar pits and ended up getting some on her hand! And it did not come off easily.

The front windows of Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House. (02/18/06)

We had also planned a driving tour of some of the L.A. homes that Frank Lloyd Wright designed, but we were running out of time, so we limited our trip to the closest one: The Hollyhock House, which Wright designed in 1917 as a residence for oil heiress Aline Barnsdall. We didn't get there early enough to catch a tour, but we at least got to check it out from the outside.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Doris and Jen in Orange

Doris and Jen, our friends from Santa Cruz, came to visit us for President's Day weekend. These were the same friends that we visited in Santa Cruz last May. They are also the same ones with whom we vacationed in Quebec. After all those fun adventures, we were looking forward to hosting them here in Orange.

Doris, James, Tim and Jen smile in front of the fountain in the center of the Orange Plaza. (02/18/06).

The first night, we took them to one of our favorite restaurants in Orange: The Citrus City Grille. It's a little on the expensive side, so we don't go there too often, but we love it every time we do. We enjoyed things like the ahi poke — raw tuna prepared with an amazing spicy asian sauce. Doris particularly enjoyed it, as well as her two martinis.

Tim shops for cheese at the Frog's Breath wine and cheese shop in downtown Orange. (02/18/06)

The following morning, we had breakfast at Felix, a quaint Spanish/Cuban restaurant in the Orange Plaza. The Plaza is the heart of Old Towne Orange, a popular dining and shopping district. Afterwards we hopped around to a few different shops in the area, including the new Frog's Breath wine and cheese shop which opened last November. We picked out some nice cheeses to have as a snack with the wine.

Jen shops for street signs in one of the Old Towne Orange antique shops. (02/18/06)

Doris and Jen really liked browsing some of the area's many antique shops, especially the architectural salvage place. Even if you're not in the market for antiques, it's just a lot of fun to browse around.

Doris hunts for religious antiquities in the antique district. (02/18/06)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

One Year of Driving Birgitta

This month marks one year since we got Birgitta, our Saab 9-3 (in case you're interested in reading the original blog entry, it's here). She may have 20,000 miles on her, but we still love driving her just as much as we did on the first day. So happy anniversary Birgitta!

James takes his new hoopty for a spin in a photo taken last year. (02/26/05)

Saab. Born from jets.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Overnighter in Laughlin, NV

While we were in Laughlin for Christmas, we saw that Vicki Lawrence was performing at the Riverside Casino in February. We heard from a friend that it was a good show, so we bought tickets for ouselves and for our pal Everett. It was also the weekend of Tim's dad's birthday, giving us a good opportunity to have a nice birthday dinner the evening of the show.

First stop: Breakfast at IHOP in Barstow, CA. (02/11/06)

To avoid the always-Hellish Friday night drive along with countless other Southern Californians heading to the desert, we kept the trip short and sweet by leaving Saturday morning and returning Sunday afternoon. For our breakfast break, we selected IHOP. Mmmmmmmm. Pancakes.

We stayed at the Riverside Casino, which we highly recommend you avoid. It was a customer service disaster on so many levels. (02/12/06)

First stop was Tim's parents' house, which was on the way to Laughlin. We dropped him off there so he could do some technical support with their computer network. Meanwhile, Everett and I headed to Laughlin to check into the hotel. We would meet Tim, his parents and grandmother later for dinner to celebrate Tim's dad's birthday.

This is the "river view" from our first room. (02/11/06)

The Riverside Casino was a nightmare. First they lost our pre-paid reservation and took half an hour finding it. Then they checked us into a room that hadn't been cleaned since the previous occupants. Plus the room didn't have the river view that we specified in the reservation.

After complaining, we changed rooms. The new room had the river view, but it too had not been cleaned since the last occupants. By then it was an hour-and-a-half since we first walked in the door. A few minutes later the cleaning crew arrived, although we didn't have time to freshen up and shower by the time we had to leave to meet Tim and his grandma for bingo at the River Palms.

Here's the view from our second room ... after we complained. That's the Colorado River on the bottom, and the state of Arizona on the top. (02/12/06)

We had many other troubles with the hotel, like never getting the extra towels and pillows that we called to ask for, twice. Plus, we think it's really cheesy that they charge a $2 deposit for each room key card. Honestly, if you ever go to Laughlin, do yourselves a favor and stay somewhere else. We'll certainly avoid the Riverside from here on out.

The day wasn't a complete loss. We did have a great time at Tim's dad's birthday dinner, and also at the show (Tim's grandma came with us there too).

This was one funny-ass show. (02/11/06)

Vicki Lawrence's two-woman show was great! It was part stand-up comedy, part storytelling, and a couple of songs for good measure, like her one hit, "The Nights the Light Went Out in Georgia" (she also poked fun of her one-hit wonder status). One thing we weren't expecting was all the adult humor, particularly on subjects like gynecologists, feminine hygiene spray and whether or not the "carpet matches the drapes." We were laughing our asses off.

In the second half of her act, Vicki came out as Thelma Harper, better known as "Mama," who gave us her take on pop culture and current events. She covered everything from Michael Jackson to hip hop to same-sex marriage, to which she quipped, "If same sex couples want to be as miserable as I was, then have at it!" She had everyone rolling on the floor laughing.

I won $30 playing slots at the Colorado Belle ... my biggest payoff for the weekend. It's not much, but at least I came out ahead. (02/12/06)

Afterward, we went casino hopping along the riverwalk, a river-side path that connects four or five casinos. I lost a little. Then won a little. In the end I left Laughlin with $18 more dollars than I came in with ... but at least it wasn't a loss.

We highly recommend the Fresh Market Square brunch buffet at Harrah's, seen here from the water taxi. (02/12/06)

On our last day we took the water taxi to Harrah's on the other end of the strip, where we heard they had a really good brunch buffet (it was really good). Even though we had our car with us, we took the water taxi simply for the fact that it looked fun (and it was only $4 a person). We had some good food, then we rode the water taxi back to our car before heading back to SoCal. Despite Hotel Hell, it was an enjoyable trip.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Amy and Sabrina Pass the Boards

Gotta give a big shout out to our pals Amy and Sabrina who recently passed the state board exam allowing them to practice Chinese medicine in California. Although they're not ready to practice just yet — they still have to finish their 500 hours of internship — passing the state boards is a huge achievement for them. We celebrated this milestone with dinner at the Vietnamese restaurant, roller skating at the Holiday Skate Center in Orange and then cake and champagne back at our house.

Amy, Jon and Sabrina help celebrate Amy and Sabrina's passing of the state boards for practicing Chinese medicine. (02/04/06)

Congrats Amy and Sabrina!