Foodie Adventure Friday…Cooking in Capistrano

When I took the train recently down to San Juan Capistrano with some friends we came across a cute place that offered cooking classes. It’s called Tspoons. In the weeks that followed I occasionally looked at their lineup of classes and then one day just decided to book one. I’ve always loved risotto and wanted to learn how to make it…and the Gnocchi, Ravioli and Risotto class seemed like a great line-up of foods to explore.

And so it was last Saturday that my friend, Carre, and I hopped on the train and got off in San Juan Capistrano for an evening of cooking. We went a little early so we could explore the Los Rios District shops, which were closed on the last train trip down.

We both really enjoyed the cooking class! It was a little bit different than other cooking classes either of us have taken. We made all the sauces, raviolis and gnocchis, but all the ingredients had been measured out beforehand (mis-en-place) and placed on cookie sheets below the prep surfaces. One other different feature we enjoyed….we started cooking all the recipes (Wild Mushroom Ravioli with Marsala Cream Sauce, Fresh Pea and Asparagus Risotto topped with garlic butterflied shrimp, Creamy chicken and summer greens gnocchi stew and, lastly, Fried Nutella Ravioli) but just when you think it’s feeling like a long class and you’re still not done yet, the chefs invite you to sit down while they finish the recipes and serve you. It was the perfect blend of cooking, relaxing and socializing. I think it would be really fun to go with a big group.

the atmosphere
Chef Dominique….we made the Nutella ravioli
making the Marsala cream sauce
cooking the Wild Mushroom Ravioli that we made…takes less than a minute
first course done…

have a seat…we’ll finishing cooking!
yummy risotto with shrimp…my favorite dish
gnocchi and chicken stew
finishing touches on dessert
Fried Nutella Ravioli

I’ll definitely be going again and I’d recommend this place…along with a day in SJC. They’ve really turned Capistrano into a day-trip destination. There’s the aforementioned Los Rios District, which has some adorable shops, a few restaurants that I’d still like to try and a petting zoo; this cooking class; Swallows Inn, a famous, loud, dive bar; The Old Barn Antique Mall; and of course the famous Mission San Juan Capistrano…..not to mention the fun train ride down there!

What adventure will you be going on this weekend?!

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

I see a RED door and I want it painted BLACK

dublin door

Now you have that Rolling Stones song in your head, huh?! This post really has nothing to do with the song…. it’s about the color of doors and the history behind them. Join me on this journey!

I LOVE my fire engine red dutch door…and the vintage life preserver enhances the red and conveys my love of the water! When I decided on the color over 15 years ago I just thought it seemed warm and inviting and just fun! Red is my favorite color. I was talking with my friend Mary Kay the other night and we got on the subject of front stoops and doors (there’s a whole history of stoops and the amount of steps on it…another post). I decided to just look up some info and found out some fun facts.

St. Marks in Yorkville/Manhattan, NYC…its interesting that the Deutsche Ev Kirche had its origins as German Protestant with a single doctrine compatible with National Socialism….to me, it looks like a Star of David above that door….just sayin’?

Biblically red doors are part of the Passover story, when God commanded the Israelites to cover their doors in the blood of the lamb. But on a more upbeat note…red doors, historically, have meant “welcome!” Back in the horse and buggy days it was a sign of a safe place to rest & stay. During the Underground Railroad era, doors were painted red to guide slaves to a place of refuge and safety. In Scotland it is said that you painted your door red when your mortgage was paid off (that is not the case for me!). The Chinese consider it a lucky color and it is a color used during the Chinese New Year….and lastly, Feng Shui practitioners say that a red door invites positive energy. So….what do some other front door colors mean?


White…signifies purity, innocence and perfectionism

…also Ireland, in Connacht, where the movie Quiet Man was filmed

Black….classic and chic

Balboa Island…yes, I know its blurry….I need a new phone!

Pink…happiness, understanding, affection and nurturing
Orange…warm, positive energy and creativity

London, England

Yellow…intellect, joy and energy
Green…outdoorsy, timeless and peaceful

London, England
twin doors in SF

Blue…health, healing, understanding, sky, ocean, and tranquility

Paris, France

Purple…historically associated with wealth, dignity and royalty
Gray…confident and classic
Brown….organic and earthy, casual and relaxing

Paris, France… so beautiful
London, England
London, England
a cool door in Montreal

In looking through my pics, I have sooooo many more pictures of doors. I guess I love what they evoke…come in, stay awhile. They all seem so welcoming! I hope you enjoyed this little journey of doors!

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

Foodie Friday…two restaurants, three countries

Back in 2010 when Taylor was studying abroad in Forence, Italy we got several restaurant recommendations…one being Acqua Al 2…and “you have to try the trio steak sampler”

So, when I was planning the trip, I made reservations here and that started a chain of dining adventures that was so much fun!  We did indeed have the “Assaggio di Secondi A trio of house steaks” which consisted of steak, separated in three servings with three different sauces…blueberry reduction, balsamic reduction and green peppercorn/brandy cream sauce. OMG…so good. It was back in 2010, so I don’t remember what everyone had, but I know we loved everything!

Then we found out there were two more…one in Washington DC and one in Old Town, San Diego. So Taylor and I drove her car back to NY for her senior year of college and stopped in DC on the way. Let’s go to Acqua Al 2! We did, got the steak sampler again, among other things and it didn’t disappoint.

Of course I live in California, so we went to the one in San Diego too…just not sure when. Unfortunately that one has closed now. I just thought it was cool that we went to the only three restaurants in the world opened by the same group. It wasn’t like going to McDonald’s…or some other restaurant chain, all over the world, if you know what I mean! Unfortunately I don’t have any personal pics from these restaurants, since my computer died long before I saved those pics….so these “stock” photos off the internet will have to do.

When I was in NYC in July of 2015, I finally went to a restaurant I’d been yearning to go to, Buvette. Such an adorable little bistro, with really good food and I knew there was one in Paris, which I assumed was the original. I loved it and went back with A&K when I was there in December 2015 and yearned for the day I could visit the original in Paris.

Well, last month I was able to visit Buvette in the Montmarte area of Paris and, although it is cute, I think the one in NYC is cuter and more charming….and I found out that the original is actually the one in NYC…not Paris. I’d recommend going if you’re ever in NYC….or Paris too for that matter.

So, there you have it….two restaurants, three countries! Now I have to find another restaurant with locations in far-off lands. Do you know of any? I’m always looking for that next adventure…and good food!

Have a great weekend!

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

Motivational Monday…Possibilities

“Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.”….Gloria Steinem

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

Foodie Friday…Cool & Green Fruit Salad

I don’t eat much fruit, I think because I’m lazy and don’t want to cut it up….and I’m not a fan of those fruit salads that have cool whip or marshmallow stuff…but I love this green fruit salad. My friend, Melissa, brought it to book club and it was a hit. It’s the perfect refreshing summer salad and I’ve made it several times! Reprinted with her permission….enjoy!

Cool & Green Fruit Salad

  • 1/2 honeydew, cut into chunks (or use one of those little melon-baller gadgets)
  • 1-1/3 cups whole green grapes
  • 2 kiwi, peeled and sliced
  • 2 TBS frozen limeade concentrate (thawed)
  • 2 TBS minced fresh mint
  • 1/3 cup blackberries, raspberries or both

Combine all the ingredients, except berries. Add the berries and mix gently. Serve slightly chilled.

That’s it…Bon Apetit!

…and meet the newest addition to my home…Zoey!

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

Motivational Monday…decide

Every accomplishment starts with a decision to try!

So proud of my team for winning three gold medals this past weekend…with some close seconds & thirds….and great overall effort by everyone! It all started with their decision to try and the hard work that followed.

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

Foodie Friday…Corn Flake Salmon

This recipe courtesy of my sister, Mariellen, who shared it with me when I couldn’t figure out what to serve when my book club came over. It was pretty yummy!

  • Whole salmon
  • Corn Flakes, crushed
  • Butter, 3 or 4 pats
  • Milk (whole), approx 1/2 cup
  • Garlic Powder
  • S&P
  • Fresh dill sprigs
  • Place the salmon in an oven proof dish. Pour a little bit of milk over the whole salmon)…enough to wet it all, but don’t drown. Sprinkle garlic powder lightly over the salmon.

  • Crush Corn Flakes over whole salmon. Add pats of butter…depending on how big the salmon is, but it’s usually 3-4 pats (Okay, I may have added more butter…but that never ruined a dish) Salt & Pepper.
    Place dill sprigs on top.

  • Cook for 20/25 mins at 350 degrees.

  • Slice & serve with salad or green veggie and yummy bread or another starch.
I made little no-cook cheesecakes with fresh berries for dessert…pretty!

Bon Appetit!

best group of women…even if it’s a little blurry…still working on those selfie skills

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

No Strangers Here…Solo Travel…Kind of?

There are no strangers here;
only friends you haven’t yet met….William Butler Yeats

When I was in Paris recently I was often asked if I liked to travel alone. Actually I get asked that quite a bit everywhere I go and here at home. The answer is a little complicated. I love traveling with people who are as adventurous and outgoing as I am, spontaneous or just love hanging out and enjoying some quiet time. I have lots of friends who are married, though, and sometimes they can’t join me on my travels and therefore I do travel alone….kind of!

When I was first faced with the question of “travel or don’t travel” due to my new single-dom the answer was a resounding “TRAVEL!” “Don’t travel” was never part of the conversation. It was a little weird and a bit of an adjustment, but I made the most of it and have been to some awesome places by myself….but it’s always more fun to share the experiences with someone. That’s where the “kind of” comes in.

Since I’ve been doing home exchanges, and traveling alone, I’ve met some really great people and it’s opened up my world in a way I never imagined. Case in point, this last trip to Paris.

Sure, I traveled over to Paris by myself, but…

  • I stayed with my new friend, Caroline…who had stayed with me back in November, so I never came back to an empty place. There was someone to share my adventures with….and hear about her day.

  • Monday night, one of my neighbor’s, Ted, and his daughter, Dory, happened to be visiting Paris at the same time so we had dinner in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. (check out Dory’s youtube channel…she’s got an amazing voice!)

  • Tuesday I booked a dinner in a Haussmann apartment with Bon Appetour, (the Parisian equivalent of EatWith here in the U.S.), so I met some new friends and didn’t dine alone.

how cool is this building..and apartment below that I had the privilege of dining in?

  • Wednesday was dinner with some friends, Dominique, Alain & Thomas, that I had met back in 2012 through my friend here, Renee. Again, didn’t dine alone.

  • Thursday I was in Chartres most of the day and had a big lunch, so didn’t even have dinner.
  • Friday Caroline and I dined at her home out on her lovely patio, before heading over to St. Chappelle for a violin concert of Pachelbel’s Cannon & Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Afterwards, she walked home and I went over to my favorite little corner bistro, St Regis, on the Île Saint-Louis, and because you’re so close to each other on those bistro chairs I met a lovely couple next to me, who, believe it or not, the woman was from Tustin originally…and they live in Alameda up in the bay area where my best friend Mary Kay lives….what are the chances!!
the view from Caroline’s balcony

  • Saturday Caroline got some last minute comp tickets for Saturday Night Fever, the musical, at a local theater, so we grabbed a quick bite with her friend at Dupont Versailles Brasserie across from the venue….where I finally had my escargot..yummy! Another fun night…even if the show was in French, the music was English and you can pretty much follow the story of Saturday Night Fever.
vintage pic of Dupont Versailles Brasserie

So, that’s my complicated answer about traveling alone….by meeting people and arranging dinners along the way you get the best of both worlds…wandering alone by day, having dinner and catching up with friends, old and new by night.

Of course the icing on the cake of this trip was stopping in NY to see my favorite son and daughter-in-law….pizza Monday in Brooklyn with their fun friends!

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!