Have you ever felt like you want to escape to a different time or place? Over the next couple of weekends you can visit Victorian London. Dress up in the style of the time period , or whatever dress-up option you prefer, I’ve seen Steampunks besides the Victorian top hats and dresses but mostly just your regular gear. The Dickens Fair at the Cow Palace in Daly City opens its doors every weekend, 10 am – 7 pm, until December 23rd, 2018 for a fairytale like adventure.
The atmosphere is a dim-lit street scene. Food and gift shops on either side make it a stroll through the mid 1800s. Check the map to catch lots of performances from singing to dancing, Dickens himself was announced to come by and read!
Of course Dickens’ plays are performed at various stages throughout the exhibit halls.
There are plenty options to sit and watch the crowds moving along. The smell of cinnamon, candied nuts and chestnuts welcome you.
Jewelry made from real roses or self made woven garment are just examples of the unique offerings. Children can dip their own candles.
Will it teach us the spirit of Christmas? It might.
So eat, drink, give gifts and be merry! And if you need to escape to a different time to catch the spirit of Christmas Present go to the Dickens Fair.
Village Harvest is a great volunteer organization that picks fruit, mostly in neighborhoods, and donates it to local food banks. I went three years ago with my brother-in-law to pick some apples in an old orchard in San Juan Bautista. It was a different sightseeing trip for sure! A Mountain backdrop – we met the couple that owns the place – very enjoyable! This San Juan Bautista event is coming up again, October 13th, 2018 9am – 12:30pm.
I finally got around to help out a second time. This time was even more special: Filoli’s in Woodside Gentlemen’s Orchard. The varieties in this orchard are insane. There are about 400 different apple, pear and grape varieties, plus some more uncommon fruits like medlars, quince, and shan zhas. I am happy to say if you help picking you are welcome to try the fruit. I enjoyed a variety of apples and the chatting with other volunteers that occurred around the trees. Being greeted by wild turkeys was a highlight too.
After the picking you gather around and sort the apples. You are encouraged to take the ‘bad apples’ home – and yes there will be apple crumble at my house soon.Afterwards we were treated to a walk around Filoli. The three crates full of apples in the entrance of the estate proved that I hardly ate or saw all the apple varieties while I was in the orchard.
If you are a location junkie, like me, you might enjoy the Gentlemen’s Orchard. The people you meet while picking the fruit are very special, with their hearts in the right place. Village Harvest also has neighborhood events, where you pick fruit in multiple front and backyards.
Filoli does tours of their Gentlemen’s Orchard. The next tour is 10/7/2018 from 11am – 12:30pm. Please check their calendar for available dates.
Have you ever driven by Tripp Road in Woodside and wondered what the general store was all about?
The old general store, post office, and community center constructed in 1854 by Robert Orville Tripp and Mathias Parkhurst is now a California Historical Landmark.
Tripp also was a dentist and winemaker. The store flourished; it was the only general store and stagecoach stop between San Francisco and Santa Clara.
Today, school groups can explore what it was like in a general store. The Woodside store is also open for the general public, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 am to 4 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 12 pm to 4 pm. I really enjoyed the fact that you can go behind the counters and take a closer look at the packages on display.
The little gift shop in the corner is appropriate – with books from that period and arrowheads. But the best offering are the candy sticks. I have been told that bubble gum is one of the favorite flavors. At 25 cents each they are a true bargain and a welcome souvenir to take away.
The back rooms are a tribute to the lumber industry with large saws on the wall, but also skunk and racoon fur to touch.
Gardening is always the top tip of every happiness blog. If you don’t have the opportunity to work in your own garden you can volunteer at the Forge Garden, which is part of the Santa Clara University. Volunteer hours are Wednesdays 1 pm – 4:30 pm or Fridays 9 am – 11 am, just drop in. You should be prepared to get your cloth dirty, wear sturdy shoes and bring water and sunscreen. The monthly Forge Fridays Cooking in the Garden is designed to bring the community together by harvesting, cooking and eating together. Check out their website on all upcoming events.
They also let you wander around the grounds Monday – Friday 9 am to 5 pm. Check out what’s growing, say ‘hi’ to the chickens, admire the beehives and the aquaponic system. The farm stand is open on Fridays between 11:30 and 1:30.
If you like to learn more about gardening you can attend one of their workshops. Up front you can find a book and seed exchange.
While the eclipse was a great way to get your children interested in space, planets, and safety goggles, you should use this excitement to your advantage to teach them more about the universe. The Chabot Space Center in Oakland is one of the places you can go to learn about space, see movies in a planetarium, tour the telescopes, crawl into a black hole, and much more. They even had volunteers explaining a pinhole to see the storms on the sun (we saw three storms the size of earth!) and another volunteer was tracking the sun’s movement.
The exhibit that convinced my family to go is their current Art and Science of Pinball exhibit, through September 27th, 2017. Of course they let you play a variety of pinball machines. But they also explain the mechanics and help you understand it by singling out the technique and making you press a button to see it.
I loved the two pinball machines that were all see through! One digital, one mechanical, they both allowed you to see the moving parts while someone else played. It made us go back and find the examples in the exhibit.
Also two thumbs up for the Bean Sprouts Cafe with a lot of healthy and fun food options.
I didn’t either, but there is nothing wrong with being late to the party. Except for the free scoops you might have scored at some ice cream chains. So keep the third Sunday of July marked for next year.
The most traditional ice cream in the area is It’s-it. A special ice cream sandwich were the ice cream is between two oatmeal cookies and then dipped in chocolate. It was created in 1928 at Playland At The Beach, San Francisco’s now gone seaside amusement park.
For all die-hard fans of the treat I recommend going directly to the factory store:
865 Burlway Road, Burlingame, CA
It is open Monday – Friday from 10 am – 5:30 pm
Here you can pick all your favorite flavors (vanilla, chocolate, mint, strawberry and cappuccino) mix-and-match. You might even score some flavors that are not available in stores (pumpkin or green tea), plus some cool merchandise.
One of many things I am thankful for living in such a beautiful area are the farmers markets. Mountain View has an especially large market located near the Caltrain station, on Sunday mornings from 9 to 1. Lots of stands that grow what they sell.
A few bakers and butchers and the olive guy. Someone that will sharpen your knives while you shop. You can also buy some lunch or coffee and sit down for a while. The kids usually like the entertainment, the balloon guy and the music.
I especially like the vibe. People coming together enjoying fresh fruits and vegetables, getting their flower bouquet for the week, sampling some new fruits or old varieties. The sellers proud of their offerings are very knowledgeable.
Here is a list of all the farmers markets in the area:
In 1984, Sunol California, elected the first dog to be honorary mayor. He defeated two humans as a write in candidate and held the position until his death in 1994.
Sunol erected a bronze statue of Bosco, to honor the Labrador mix with his signature bandana.
Usually his duty as honorary mayor would mean that he headed the Halloween parade. In 1990 a Chinese paper commented on the fact that in the U. S. a dog was elected as a proof of the failure of democracy. This was after the Tiananmen Square protests.
So, Bosco was invited by local Chinese students to participate in a demonstration in front of the San Francisco Chinese embassy.
His favorite hang-out was a local bar. So it makes sense that there is a bar in town called Bosco’s Bones & Brew. Make sure to get a seat by the bar, where they have a stuffed dog “peeing” beer.
I love food shopping, especially a store I’ve never been to. Here in Silicon Valley, there are Indian, Japanese, Middle Eastern, and a ton of other fascinating grocery stores.
Sometimes you step into a place and knowing the smells you can easily be transported to their homelands for a while.
Being German, if I ever felt like Rollmops, a German hang-over treatment (herring rolled up with pickle and onions), I’d know exactly where to go! (JL Produce, Mountain View). The German butcher Dittmer’s also has, besides meat, a lot of other German specialty items. The Milk Pail, while not an international market, has a great selection of cheeses.
The other day I discovered Mollie Stone’s Market. This is more your traditional/organic market with a great Jewish product selection. I came in and thought jeez, they have their own song? Yes, and turning the corner I saw the puppets that sang it. Entertainment for your little ones while you shop.
What is your favorite international grocery store in the Bay Area?
What foods are you missing from your home country?
*Like always, no affiliations with anyone, unless otherwise noted.
I have to admit it: I am a coffee snob. I remember when we drove across the country (east to west) in the late ‘90s it was hard to find a good coffee place. The free refill came as a light brown water that did not serve its purpose of waking one up.
But I also snub the coffee chains, mainly because they took away business from beloved independent cafes.
But in a place that runs on coffee, where a programming language got named after this invigorating drink, it makes utter sense for me to promote some independent coffee places here in Silicon Valley.
The best coffee is served in a runners store called zombie runner, in Palo Alto
For this quirky location alone you should check it out!
Red rock cafe is a great community place. They hold various events like coffee tastings , kids storytimes, and comedians. During the week it looks like 50 one-man offices. Find this place right on Castro St. in Mountain View.
Clocktower, also in Mountain View, roasts their own. This is usually one of my go-to gifts for coaches or teachers (they need coffee too!)
What is your favorite independent coffee place?
(I am not affiliated with any of these places unless otherwise noted.)