Table setting at the Los Altos History Museum Silicon Valley Eats exhibit.

Foodies reunite in this exhibit

The last time I went to the Los Altos History Museum I came back with some old recipes. This time it was again a food inspired exhibit that spiked my interest: Silicon Valley Eats. Silicon Valley was formerly known as the Valley of Hearts Delights with orchards and canneries. This  is the natural starting point for this exhibit. I liked the different menus from restaurants in Los Altos displayed on the wall.

Place setting at the J. Gilbert Smith House, Los Altos.

There were a lot of information about new and inventive foods. Did you know that 80% of the world’s population eats bugs?

The J. Gilbert Smith House next door also has a Silicon Valley feel to it with its scavenger hunt-like exhibit about Gadgets Galore! Our guide pointed out different old mechanical devices. For example, there is an adding machine – and in fact, all it does is add.

Adding machine at the J. Gilbert Smith House, Los Altos.

In the spirit of invention, the History Museum can point to the walnut huller. They own the prototype and the actual working huller. All invented in Los Altos.

Part of the walnut huller, Los Altos History Museum.

Both exhibits run through early September and are free (donations are appreciated). The Los Altos History Museum is open Thursdays to Sundays noon – 4 pm.

This was our first group outing. Thanks to everyone who joined me! If you like to be included in future group activities contact me, or sent me an email under untilsuburbia@gmail.com.

Are you a foodie?

Los Altos Farmers Market

Buy local produce

Every farmers market, like every downtown in Silicon Valley, has their own feel to it. In my opinion the most exquisite is the Los Altos Farmers Market. Every Thursday evening, 4 pm – 8 pm,  from May to September, State Street between 2nd and 3rd,  transforms into a community haven.

Naan bread in an oven, Los Altos Farmers Market.

I started my journey into the market at the intersection of State St. and 3rd. A waft of smoke from a BBQ grill was blowing in my direction. My attention got quickly drawn to the man with a stick, pulling out round flat loafs of bread from a circular oven. The bread was sticking to the sides. Seeing the line for the Indian food, that this bread was part off, was another indicator for a recommendation you don’t need to check your yelp for.

Woman pressing a tortilla at the Los Altos Farmers Market.

All of these food stalls were competing on the high level. The rotisserie chicken looked as amazing as the food from the Oaxaca kitchen, where a woman, in traditional embroidered apron, was pressing tortillas.

Twinkle Dee Star, kids entertainment at the Los Altos Farmers Market.

Behold, this is not only a food truck affair. You can get your regular fresh, local produce here, too. Everything from olive oil to meats, over to fresh cut flowers, baked goods, vegetables, and fruit.

Even the kids entertainment was plentiful. Face painting, Lego building, and music make it a relaxing experience for the whole family.

Squash at the Los Altos Farmers Market.

The Los Altos Farmers Market is certainly smaller than the neighboring Sunday Mountain View market, but it feels like a step up from the market hussle and bussle to a shopping delight for all senses and age groups.

Which one is your favorite Farmers Market?


BAMPFA sign, Berkeley

Explore the Dimensions of art

A rainy Sunday is a great excuse to go to a museum. I convinced my family that the Dimensionism exhibit at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) would be worthwhile.

On the first floor the Harvey Quaytman: Against the Static is on display till January 27th and an excellent beginning of a study of shapes, textures, and colors. There will be a gallery talk on January 24th, at 5:30: Artist John Zurier joins curator Apsara DiQuinzio for a multifaceted look at Harvey Quaytman’s art.

A new exhibit that was not yet open last Sunday still brought me a lot of joy by just peeking at it and I can tell this will be a new highlight. Unfortunately you can’t touch the furry creations of Masako Miki but MATRIX 273 opened January 9th and runs till April 28th, 2019.

All these forms, shapes and colors will introduce you to the next level (on the lower level): Dimensionism: Modern Art in the age of Einstein. The modern artists interest in science, named Dimensionism, includes Kandinsky, Miró and Picasso. I really enjoyed the works of Isamu Noguchi, his sculptures representing the cosmic view with pleasing shapes.

Harold Edgerton’s Milkdrop Coronet was fascinating, not only the image, but the fact that he in 1933 invented the stroboscopic method of taking photographs with stroboscopic light, creating the illusion of freezing an action.

Staircase in the BAMPFA, Berkeley

The blood red stairway up to the Babette Cafe felt like being captured in an Andy Warhol print. But the friendly staff and yummy cake were well worth the transformation!

Thanks to Discover & Go, a service our library offers, we were able to get in for free. Usually adults pay $14, but there are many discounts available. People under 18 are always free. On the first Thursday of the month gallery admission is also free. The museum is open Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 11 am – 7 pm, Friday and Saturday 11 am – 9pm. Since everything can change, it’s best to check online.

What is your favorite Dimension?

Timewarp to Dickens’ London

Timewarp to Dickens’ London

Dancers at the Dickens Fair, Daly CityHave 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.Performers at the Dickens Fair, Daly City

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. 

Roasted Chestnuts at the Dickens Fair, Daly CityThere 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.

Man with baby window shopping at the Dickens Fair in Daly CitySo 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.

Where do you escape from/into the Holidays?  

 

Picking apples at the Gentlemen's Orchard in Filoli in Woodside

Harvest some community fruit

One of the apple tree's in the Gentlemen's Orchard at Filoli's in WoodsideVillage 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.

Sorting the applesAfter 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.

One of the three apple crates in the entrance hall at Filoli's in Woodside.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 volunteered with Village Harvest?

 

Woodside general store front

Visit the Woodside store

Have you ever driven by Tripp Road in Woodside and wondered what the general store was all about?

Counter of the general store, WoodsideThe 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.

Gift shop at the general store in WoodsideThe little gift shop in the corner is appropriate – with books from that period and arroCandy cane at the general store in Woodsidewheads. 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.

Have you been to the Woodside store?

 

Help in the garden

Help in the garden

Fava beans from the Forge Garden, Santa ClaraGardening 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. Chicken coop at the Forge Garden, Santa Clara

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.

What is on top of your happiness list?

 

Chabot Space Center in Oakland

Expand your universe

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.

Art and Science of Pinball exhibit at the Chabot Space Center in OaklandThe 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.

Art and Science of Pinball exhibit at the Chabot Space Center in OaklandI 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.

Bean Sprouts Cafe at the Chabot Space Center in Oakland

Also two thumbs up for the Bean Sprouts Cafe with a lot of healthy and fun food options.

 

Where do you expand your universe?

It's it factory store, Burlingame

Scream for ice cream

Apparently last Sunday (7/16/17) was National Ice Cream Day. Did you celebrate?

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.

 

It's it ice cream merchandise at the factory store in BurlingameThe 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:It's it ice cream sandwich at the factory store in Burlingame

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.

Do you have a favorite flavor?

If it is vanilla July 23rd is National Vanilla Ice Cream Day – Let’s celebrate!

Eat local produce

Eat local produce

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.

Mandarin oranges at Mountain View farmers marketA 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. Cucumbers at Mountain View  farmers market

Here is a list of all the farmers markets in the area:

http://www.cafarmersmkts.com/

http://www.mercurynews.com/2007/05/08/farmers-market-list/

What is your favorite farmers market?

Happy Thanksgiving!