Showing posts from 2012

Christmas 2012 at the Bradley Lodge

It was the fourth Christmas I celebrated at the Bradley Lodge and with the addition of a niece, maybe the best. We spent a full week in the snow including two field trips to go snowshoeing at Big Trees State Park and skiing at Bear Valley. Luke did amazing and we took Luke and Levi out the next day on the streets around the Bradley Lodge. At the Bradley Lodge we went sledding, built snowmen and snow forts, took a few walks, opened Christmas gifts, drank wine and hot chocolate (Bailys added for adults), opened Christmas gifts and ate lots of delicious food including cioppino and prime rib. The trip was so much fun that I had to go to Costco to restock on food and wine.

Holiday Helping

The Holidays are all about helping people and giving back. I am lucky enough to be part of a company and a church that does just that. Through my office we prepared holiday meals for 25 needy families and purchased a few Christmas gifts, including a Disney Princess bike, for kids who may not have gotten what they wanted from Santa otherwise. I also had the opportunity to head to The Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa to help the management team as they prepared an elaborate dinner for the rest of the staff, served at at huge masquerade ball. Not only was it fun, it was amazing to see what goes in to preparing and hosting a three-course banquet for 350 guests. In response to the tragedy in Connecticut I also got calls from Sacramento area media to arrange interviews with Bayside's pastors, Bayside is not a client of mine, but I was happy to help everyone that called me. As part of Bayside'sChristmas Services, they donated all proceeds from ticket sales to CovKidsCongo, helping ki…

Downtown Napa

Friday and Saturday I had the opportunity to join with reporters from across the country to show off some of what Napa has to offer. I met up with them at The Meritage Resort and Spa for a property tour and bowling at Crush Ultra Lounge after their dinner at Tarla. Then Saturday I was able to hangout with them for the day. We started at the Napa General Store for breakfast along Napa's Riverfront, then headed to Poor House, part of Oxbow Public Market, for shopping. After that it was off to Grand Hand Gallery to check out artwork, Napa Valley Adventure Tours to learn what outdoor activities are available to Napa visitors (kayaking, mountain biking, hiking and more) and the Napa Valley Opera House. We had lunch at Bistro Sabor (think Latin American street food) and finished up with wine tasting at Back Room Wines. I also took a few quick detours to say hello to an author and reporter that I have worked with for two years, but never met, at the Napa Valley Visitors Center and purcha…

Times to Reflect

Often towards the end of the year we reflect. We reflect on a year gone by, the fun times, the new friends, the memories that will last a life time. We send letters to family and friends. We watch videos that wrap up the year in two minutes that often have inspiring music behind them. But, then events happen that change how we reflect. Yesterday, our nation experienced a tragedy. I, like everyone else across the county, reflected. My mind was numb. There was nothing I could do. Late last night, I read something on Facebook from my pastor at Bayside. They are simple words, but words that give great encouragement to many of us in California, across the country and around the world.

From Pastor Ray:

Today is a heartbreaking day. Our nation experienced the second worst school shooting in American history. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and everyone affected by this senseless tragedy. I, like all Americans, am devastated.

During tragic times like this there is inev…

Soccer and Happy Hours

The week started off with an incredibly successful press conference at Hot Italian announcing that USL PRO soccer is coming to Sacramento in 2014. I got to meet the Mayor and I was in charge of the media relations efforts. It was great to see the Sacramento media show up in force, while writers across the nation were writing about the new team too. On Wednesday I headed to meet a friend for my first happy hour of the week at Hook and Ladder. Thursday I was off to Spataro for a mixer with IABC, SPRA and the Sacramento Ad Club, followed by dinner at Ma Jongs. Friday, after purchasing gifts for families in need with the AugustineIdeas team, I met some friends at Mikuni Kaizen and walked around the Fountains at Roseville, followed by dessert at Big Spoon. Saturday after church at Bayside I headed back downtown (fourth time in a week) to see the "Art of Kings" exhibit at 3Fold Communications as part of Second Saturday. With artwork by Elevendy and other great companies from the …

Christmas Dinner

It all started with a trip to Costco (doesn't it always?). Monday at Costco I purchased Crush 29 gift cards and food for my dinner guests on Friday (pasta with Alfredo sauce, bacon, asparagus and shrimp). Tuesday I went to Crush 29 with some co-workers to celebrate a birthday and I got my Diamond Level pin from Royal Caribbean. Proof that the two things I enjoy a lot go hand and hand ... eating and cruising. The AugustineIdeas office got some new signage and decor on Thursday, it looks pretty cool with a new sign in the reception area and graphics on the cubicle walls. On Friday I had friends over for dinner, they enjoyed the wine, pasta and, of course, brownies. After cleaning my house on Saturday I headed to Bayside to watch them light their giant Christmas tree as they get ready to host their Christmas services later this month.

Thanksgiving at the Bradley Lodge

My family has celebrated Thanksgiving at the Bradley Lodge a lot over the last few years and it's always fun. This year was no different, we ate fantastic food, I ran off a few of the calories, we watched football and we enjoyed a few games of Pinochle. We also had my parents former neighbors come join us on Friday afternoon through Sunday, they brought their dog and we had more food (and wine). Saturday we headed to Arnold to do our part to support Small Business Saturday at The Outhouse Collection (and get $25 back from American Express). I got some really fun Christmas gifts for my family.

Once back to Fort Bradley on Sunday, I put up the lights on my house and turned on the lights on my Christmas Tree (formerly a Thanksgiving Tree).

30th Birthday Week

I normally don't celebrate my birthdays, it's pretty much just one day older than I was the day before in my book, but this year was a little different, mainly by accident. It started off on Sunday with cake at my brother's house, then continued on Monday with dinner at Chevys (they send a free entree coupon for your birthday), followed by dessert at Bayside'sVision Nights.

Tuesday (my official birthday) was full of fun as well, one of my co-workers brought in donuts (my favorite) and balloons, then we headed to lunch/happy hour at Tahoe Joe's. I wrapped up the night with friends at Lucille's BBQ and saw Skyfall.

The fun continued on Wednesday as I headed to Napa and The Meritage Resort and Spa. I had lunch with my client, then headed out on the Napa River for a kayaking adventure that will be part of an upcoming video on, we finished the filming in the vineyards behind The Meritage Resort and at the Grape Crusher Statue. The next stop of the night was…

Lyla's Dedication

It was a quick trip, but totally worth seeing my niece get dedicated at her church, the South Campus of Central Peninsula Church (which meets in a Jewish church), and I got to see my brother and his entire family for the first time since July. After the dedication we headed over to the Stanford Mall for some shopping, where I saw my first ever Microsoft Store, conveniently located next door to the Apple Store, both were packed. Before leaving we had a quick celebration of my birthday too, my nephews led the chorus.

Halloween, Happy Hour, Car Repair and a Movie

It has been far from a typical week. Starting with handing out candy on Halloween last week to kids was great, however the rain ended the night early, leaving me with candy that had to be eaten before it went bad (it's all been safely eaten now). To wrap up the work week my office headed to Tahoe Joe's for some appetizers (too cold for our original plan, mini-golf). Then it was my car's turn. A few months ago my dad heard a weird noise, when I took it in for an oil change and said there was weird noise, the problem was officially diagnosed and it got fixed (under warranty) this week. The two day repair meant I got to see my car while it was at the "doctor's office" and allowed me to drive the smallest car ever, a Toyota Yaris, barely large enough to fit my gym and work bags in. Wanting to avoid all things election (I didn't post anything on Facebook or Twitter about my political viewpoints), I also avoided election night politics on TV by seeing ARGO wit…

Gutter Clog

There's always something to do at the Bradley Lodge. From raking pine needles to replacing stairs and snow blowing, we stay busy, but also have fun. This trip was no exception. As we were cleaning the Lodge gutters, we noticed a problem, the downspout that has a long extension that goes underground and around our cabin had a clog. After an hour or so of digging, we were able to remove the section of underground pipe, remove the 3.5 foot long clog and get everything back in place. We then headed to Arnold'sAce Hardware to buy a guard for the downspout to make sure that doesn't happen again.

Beyond the work, we made sure to eat. Highlights included Chocolate Carmelita Bars and nachos with a bean/salsa dip base. We also played Pinochle and watched the Giantswin game three of the World Series.

Downtown Napa Culinary Crawl

I go to Napa a lot for work, but this was the first time I got to participate in an entire Culinary Crawl. Culinary Crawls happen every other month and make stops at three restaurants in Downtown Napa. This one started at Andaz Napa, then headed to the Grand Hand Gallery (food provided by Cole's Chop House) and finished up at The Thomas. It was a lot of fun to see each place, try the food, enjoy a beverage and, of course, hang out with many of my friends from both AugustineIdeas and The Meritage Resort, while meeting a few tourists and Napa locals.

Back to Work

After 17 days of vacation (11 were work days), it was time to get back to work. Luckily I had been checking my email throughout the trip, some may disagree with this philosophy, but I really hate coming back from vacation and then having to go through 1,000 emails. I would rather look at 50 or 60 a day, respond to the important ones immediately and respond to the remaining few when I get back.

The week also included three special events. First, while I was out, my manager accepted a new position, so our team took her to P.F. Chang's (this helped me avoid cooking for yet another meal). Next, it was off to Del Paso County Club to celebrate the official re-branding of HMH Builders to Swinerton Builders Sacramento (another meal I did not cook). Finally, I enjoyed my Saturday at the Denio'sScarecrow Festival and Parade. I helped hundreds of kids paint pumpkins, decorate Trick-or-Treat bags and, of course, ate a corn dog and nachos.

Back in the USA

I wish the 17 days of travel didn't end. Now it's back to reality. Work is fine, but cooking, cleaning and not having a Chauffeur? I'm not sure about those. The flight back on Lufthansa was long (12 hours), but we did get to stop in Munich and, unfortunately, LAX. I finished another book on the flight, got a little bit of sleep, then once in Sacramento slept at my parents' house, got my car out of their garage and headed back to work. Not wanting to admit to myself that I had to get back to reality (and because I had no food to bring for lunch), I went to Yard House for lunch and got dinner at Costco (Rotisserie Chicken). My mom and I also planned our next vacation ... Cruising the Pacific Coast on the CelebrityCentury in April 2013.

A Royal Caribbean Mediterranean Experience on the Serenade of the Seas

17 days of vacation is pretty amazing, especially when 12 of them are aboard Royal Caribbean'sSerenade of the Seas visiting eight ports along the Mediterranean Sea. This ship itself is due to be revitalized in just a few weeks, but all of the staff was great, the food (new menus are coming out soon too) was scrumptious (including my add-on Surf & Turf - think very thick Filet Mignon and 2 pound Maine Lobster). As Diamond members in the Crown and Anchor Society (pretty much means we cruise a lot), we were treated to a nightly cocktail/wine hour, a behind the scenes tour with the entertainment staff, which was surprisingly informative and fun, plus a few extra events. We also took the opportunity to play lots of miniature golf, climb the rock wall, watch sunrises and sunsets and just relax by the pool between workouts at the gym and stops in fabulous ports.

Each port has a separate post ... Getting Ready to Cruise, Barcelona and Montserrat (Spain), Cannes and the Villages of Pro…

Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast, Italy

Pompeii was once buried by a volcanic eruption, but much of it has since been painstakingly uncovered and now sits as a giant classroom for everyone to learn about the city and what life was like nearly 2,000 years ago in Italy. They were pretty smart, they would throw their garbage in the streets then nightly flush water through them to wash it away, so they created raised crosswalks so people could cross without getting wet. To get their carts past the crosswalks they made sure to leave spaces between the stones just wide enough to fit the wheels through too. They also had brothels, with directional signage on the streets (they didn't need to be as secret as Ephesus I guess).

After Pompeii we had lunch and wine, followed by limoncello and a drive along the picturesque Amalfi Coast. Although it started to rain, it was still a great drive and compliments to our driver who navigated the entire stretch that should really be one lane, but in typical Italian fashion is intended for tw…

Mykonos, Greece

Wow. Ephesus may have had the best ruins, but this was one of the most beautiful ports we visited. With whitewashed buildings, dozens of churches, iconic windmills, narrow streets and more shopping, Mykonos had everything, not to mention the color of the water was breathtaking. We went to Fato a Mano for lunch and to use their free WiFi, we were their first customers of the day, but seeing what a great time we were having, all the outdoor tables quickly filled. The staff was great and as a thank you, ended up giving us a free dessert fruit plate. From what I understand Santorini is even better, but this was a spot not to miss and I'll have to go back to do a comparison.

Athens, Greece

Athens was interesting in its variety. On the one hand it was a very sad city. We were there the day after a large protest, so the graffiti on some main buildings was still very fresh. Weeds growing up through Olympic venues used just 12 years ago was also difficult to see. Then there were the impressive parts. The Acropolis, the Acropolis Museum, shopping in the Plaka and seeing the very first Olympic Stadium of the Modern Olympic Games.

Kusadasi and Ephesus, Turkey

This was really a country that surprised me. I had no idea what to expect and it was probably one of my favorite stops. We took a tour to Ephesus, which was truly amazing. The ruins at Ephesus, including the Terrace Houses, were spectacular. To walk on the same streets that Paul walked on was cool. To see one of the world's largest libraries (with secret tunnel to a brothel across the street) was breathtaking and there was so much more. We had lunch overlooking a harbor full of sailboats (and in full costume), then went to a rug demonstration back in the port city of Kusadasi. Although I didn't buy a rug for $30,000, it was interesting to learn how they are made and see how much they change just by the direction you look at them. After our rug demo, it was off to the real shopping, three bazaars with thousands of vendors offering everything from real silver to genuine fake watches.

Civitavecchia, Italy

We already knew that people in Rome thought that traffic lights were just Christmas lights left up year-round from our trip there about 12 years ago, so my family decided on a restful day in the port city of Civitavecchia. We walked around the city, found a restaurant with WiFi (we did this in just about every city ... good excuse to drink, check email and post photos to Facebook). While in port we also saw a beautiful sailboat, an Italian aircraft carrier and a lifeboat that had seen better days - sadly the ship also had a sign on it that clearly said "Safety First," either someone forgot or they painted it after the life boat crashed.

Cinque Terre and Florence, Italy

This was a partial exception to what I mentioned in my post from Cannes and the Villages of Provence. We had been to Florence before and my mom did go there, while my dad and I ventured a little further north, past Pisa, mountains made of marble and over to the five seaside towns, collectively known as Cinque Terre. Although devastated by landslides in October 2011, these primarily one street towns with no vehicle traffic have all bounced back and are thriving. I loved the colorful buildings, pizza and beer made for a good lunch and the boat ride between each of the cities was fun with 5-foot waves making it a little more challenging to get on and off at our stops.

Cannes and the Villages of Provence, France

Before I graduated from high school my family took an amazing bus tour of Europe with Insight. So whenever the Serenade of the Seas would port in a city we had been to before, we wanted to do something different. We had visited Cannes, Nice and Monte Carlo before, so this time we went to two tiny, hillside villages in Provence (Fayence and Seillans). With narrow, cobblestone streets, centuries old buildings and filling beer, I would say it was a good choice.

Barcelona and Montserrat, Spain

We only had three days to explore both Barcelona and Montserrat, but we crammed a lot in and I can speak for our entire group, we fell in love with Barcelona. Although we were all very tired from our long flights to Spain from California we managed to make it to La Rambla our first night to experience some of the nightlife in the city, check out the Columbus Monument and even caught a very popular traditional Flamenco show (think Hawaiian Luau, but in Spain and with Sangria instead of roasted pig).

The next day we all took the "Hop On, Hop Off" bus tour of the city. We started by visiting the cathedral that will still be under-construction for the next 14 years - it started in 1882 (Sagrada Familia). Next we got off the bus at a park/community designed by Gaudí (Park Guell) and did a drive-by of the 1992 Olympic Stadium and many more cool sites. My parents and another couple also took the opportunity to walk along the Mediterranean Sea, get our feet wet and eat tapas. Beyond …

Getting Ready to Cruise

It's been more than a year in the making. The packing is complete (Thanks Cortney), my car miraculously fit in my parents three car garage (yes we got three cars in a three car garage) and we completed 24 hours of travel from Sacramento to Denver to Toronto to Frankfurt to Barcelona. We even figured out how to fit 10 bags and five people (plus the driver and a few more bags) into a taxi. Although we made it, United tried to make it difficult by delaying our check-in at the counter in Sacramento, delaying our flight out of Denver for an hour (due to weight, but their website said weather) and finally by failing to give us boarding passes for our connecting flight to Germany, they nearly got us stuck in Canada. Once we made it to Lufthansa we were happy travelers ... all the wine we could drink (for free), tasty food (for airplanes), bathrooms that were downstairs and a personal TV screen for movies, although I read for most of the flight.

Perspectives 2012 and Elevendy

Thursday was a day of business and networking. I started off at the Sacramento Convention Center hearing five amazing speakers, all with a different perspective at the Sacramento Metro Chamber'sPerspectives 2012. What did I learn from listening to Peter Sheahan, Arianna Huffington, Vicente Fox, Howie Long and Dick Cheney? In a sentence, to continually innovate, ask questions and strive for change. Yes some focused on business, others on politics and their personal story, but it all broke down to looking at a situation from a new perspective and not settling for the status quo, even in the face of opposition. Perhaps the most inspirational quote of the day came from former President of Mexico, Vicente Fox ... "The American Dream is better termed a Dream of the Americas. We all share it." Arianna Huffington also had a good one, "Failure is not the opposite of success, it is a stepping stone to success."

After Perspectives I headed back out to Roseville to a long-t…

Unconditional - The Movie

Last night I had the opportunity to see Unconditional at a special screening presented by K-LOVE and Air 1. The movie, with some spiritual undertones, was really good with high and lows, a storyline that was compelling and an ending that inspired action. If you're the movie going type, go out and see it. It's not an action thriller or a romantic comedy, it is a great movie with a few great lessons. Like them on Facebook, Follow them on Twitter.

Ice Cream, Pizza and a Burger

It may have taken a week and a few trips to the gym in between, but I did treat myself (friends were along for company) to some delicious meals ... ice cream at Leatherby's, Papa Murphy'spizza with some wine from last weeks wine tasting (peanut butter brownies for dessert) and a mushroom cheeseburger with salted caramel shake from Smashburger. I think I'm ready to eat on the cruise now.

Convoy of Hope - Sacramento

It's a project with a simple mission ... getting neighbors to help neighbors. For the second year I was able to help Convoy of Hope Sacramento with media relations and once again the Sacramento media was hugely supportive of the event. From pre-event coverage in print, online, on TV and on the radio, plus day-of and post event coverage by everyone I couldn't have asked them to do any more. With their help and the help of thousands of volunteers thousands of people in need throughout the Sacramento region converged on Cal Expo to get free health screenings, dental checkups, haircuts, family portraits, tattoos removed, eyes checked and of course take home a few bags/boxes of groceries. It's also a great way for me to prove I can wake up at 2:45 a.m. and buy donuts for volunteers who I ask to be at early morning live shots.

Check out Tweets (mainly from me) and pictures below.

Placer Food Bank and Wine Tasting

As part of the marketing and communications team for the Placer Food Bank (which actually covers more than just Placer County) I got to attend an evening open house at the Food Bank. We wanted to showcase everything that the food bank does for those in need within the community and let people see the warehouse that helps feed thousands everyday.

After that event I was able to head to Lincoln'sFresh&Easy to pick up four bottles of Big Kahuna wines for a "Taste & Tweet" party. The aim of the project for Fresh&Easy is to invite bloggers/Twitter users to share their experiences online in a group setting and also share their thoughts with their readers and followers. The theme of the night "Chuck the Chuck" ... all wines were just $1.99 and for the price point the four I tasted were all very good. I'm not a huge fan of whites, but at $1.99 I'll drink to just about anything and both the Crisp White and Chardonnay did the trick. The reds, a Tempran…