First Time February

2016 is off to a great start. I have successfully done something new in January and now in February. In February I went to three new restaurants and completed Yin Yoga training. You can read about Yin Yoga Training HERE.

The three new restaurants were kind of a bonus for February. For my birthday we had lunch at Saint Marc at Pacific City in Huntington Beach, CA. Pacific City is new and, in my opinion, still having some major birth pains. Parking is limited and the validation didn't work for any of the people in our party so everyone had to pay $8 to park for a 2 hour lunch. Lame. And while the idea of Sant Marc was fun, this place could also improve. We went in mid-February so maybe things did already improve but not when we were there. Things that need improvement:

Chef and waitstaff communication. We ordered a meat board that was supposed to be the "Chef's Selection". When the board arrived (like a cheese board) we asked what everything was and were told "It's the Chef's Selection". No kidding. But what did the chef decide to give us? They didn't know so we asked them to find out. No one ever did. To me, this was a bummer. There was a bacon sampler on our meat board but they didn't know what bacon it was, or what kind of salami we had. These items can be ordered a la carte, but if I don't know what I have, then I can't reorder it.
Prices on the menu items. Saint Marc has iPad menus that you use to order. Though a bit confusing at first, we got the hang of it. The thing that was not good about the iPad menu was that most items didn't have prices. That wasn't cool. The good thing about the iPad menus was that you could order anything you wanted without waiting for the waitstaff.

One other thing that was a bit of a bummer.... we went there for my birthday and our first waitress (we ended up having a few and I am not sure who we were assigned to) made a big deal out of this saying they had a great birthday dessert. Somewhere in the hustle and iPad menus, this got forgotten and the big birthday dessert never made it. Not a big deal, but something else that points to customer service that can be improved.

Things I liked about Sant Marc is that you can order wine by the ounce so you can taste as many wines as you want and it has a seating area that takes advantage of the great weather.
I might go back, but only once to give it one more try...

The next restaurant I tried was Fig and Olive in Newport Beach, CA. This one was fabulous! You can read about the Walt Pinot Noir 2013 Las Brisas HERE. I went with a friend for her birthday and it was amazing. Beautiful space, perfect waitstaff and amazing food. I was trying not to be that crazy photo person during lunch and only grabbed a photo of the roasted chicken. I can not wait to go back to this restaurant! It is excellent.

The third restaurant was Mastro near Southcoast Plaza. T and I went there for our anniversary and it was good, but not worth the price and not really our vibe. There was an undercurrent of a club atmosphere and the place seemed just a little over the top. We split everything and had an amazing "tomahawk ribeye" that went really well with the 2011 Stag's Leap Petie Sirah. I had some great wines in February! But at the end of the meal we agreed it wasn't worth the price and it was good to try it once, but we would probably not go back. No big deal.

I am liking the yearly theme. It helps me do new things, but also help me be more aware of the things that I do in my everyday life. March had some surprises and I will update you on those in the March report.


Welcome Spring 2016

Happy first day of Spring!

I will be honest and say I want winter to hold on a little longer, but I live in Southern California and "winter" is a word that doesn't mean a lot here. The days are shorter and colder and it means we get rain and snow in the mountains. We could use some more rain and snow.

But as today is the first day of Spring, let's think of spring!

Daffodils make me think of spring. They don't grow very well were I live but you can buy them in a pot or as cut flowers. They remind me of the time I lived near Seattle for the winter and spring season. The winter was so dark and rainy, but all of a sudden daffodils were everywhere and it was spring. The splash of yellow against all that green really brightened my days when they bloomed.
Asparagus. I always think of asparagus in spring. Maybe because I notice it more or start to eat it more. The skinny sprigs call to me and I love roasting them for dinner.

Spring Break! I know I am one of the few lucky adults who has Spring Break and I am very grateful for that. I love Spring Break.


Walt Pinot Noir 2013 La Brisa Sonoma County

A few days ago a friend and I celebrated her fortieth birthday at Fig and Olive in Newport Beach. It was my first time at Fig and Olive and I was very impressed. Everything was stunning and welcoming. But it was also very “Newport Beach”. I was glad I had worn my animal print scarf (thanks Naya!) and a black dress. I mostly fit in. And I can fake extreme confidence with the rest of them, so I held my own as I waited for my friend to arrive.

We ended up sitting outside and we were the kind of table I would love to have when I waited tables years ago. We ordered all kinds of items and they were really good. We were chill, but went with suggestions and kept things easy. We are going to go back for sure, but the thing I seem to salivate over the most when I think about our lunch is not the food but is the bottle of wine we ordered.

Walt Pinot Noir 2013.

When looking over the wine list I noticed the wine and saw that it had a female winemaker listed. It caught my eye and had a nice wine notes as well. When I asked our waiter Isaac about it, his description sold us on the bottle. I remember him saying something about a peppery finish and he was right. But it wasn’t overwhelming, just very complimentary to the rest of the wine. I took a photo so I could remember the bottle, and am on the look out to add a few bottles to my “collection”. And by “collection” I mean the bottles of wine I drink at my house...


Yin Yoga training

During my 200 hours of Yoga training one of my "Omies" said she was really into Yin Yoga and wanted to see about getting some training. She asked the rest of the class if anyone was interested and I said yes. While I am not running out to teach yoga, I am interested in learning more about it and I really liked the people I had my original yoga training with and looked forward to spending some more time with them. Alice (my Omie) organized a ten hour training with Melissa Christensen and I spent two Saturday afternoons with eighteen other yoga students learning about Yin Yoga.

So what is Yin Yoga? It is the opposite of Yang Yoga.
Exactly. As in, I wasn't sure either.

I had taken a few Yin Yoga classes at the Yoga Tribe and they involved live music, dim lights, and lots of props. It wasn't exactly relaxing yoga (they call that "Restorative Yoga") but it didn't involve "muscling" into a pose. It was the kind of yoga where you get into a pose, and then hold the pose for 3-7 minutes. Almost all poses are on the floor versus standing. The trick is finding a point where you can hold the pose in stillness for the 3-7 minutes. It is not easy. At least, it is not easy for me.

"Yang Yoga" is what most people think of when they think of yoga. It is the movement of one pose to the other with the flow of breath. It is the balance of strength and flexibility. It is the poses and their alignment and how they tone and strengthen the body while also working on flexibility. In Yang Yoga the body is only truly relaxed at the end of the class in Savasana.

"Yin Yoga" is a balance to Yang Yoga. If Yang Yoga is the "go", Yin Yoga is the "stop". In Yin Yoga the breath is natural. There is no special yoga breathing. The poses are designed to allow opening through complete relaxation of a specific area of the body. Props are used to support the body and alignment is not something that is taught. The overall shape of a pose is described, but each person is encouraged to "do what feels best for their body". A word that is used a lot is "discomfort". "You might feel a slight discomfort. Go to your edge, but be able to hold the pose for 3-5 minutes in stillness". In a Yin Yoga class you might only have 4-5 poses in the whole class. But you hold each pose for awhile. I have issues with my feet and I can really feel this class in my ankles. When you release a pose it feels amazing and at the end of class I am glad I went. It is just during class that I question my sanity sometimes. I know I am really selling Yin Yoga to you.....but it is a great compliment for the body if you do any kind of "Yang" activity which is pretty much everything but sleeping.

Our Yin training was an umbrella training. It had a big overview of Yin and then had a few in depth details about some of the poses. Melissa Christensen was very knowledgeable and a great instructor. A lot of the yoga philosophies of Yin were different than the Yang philosophies, but it was nice to go in with an open mind and learn new things. Half of the class were my former classmates and the other half were other yoga instructors from Southern California and even one yoga student who just wanted to learn about Yin. This class was meant to serve as an introduction to Yin and it did. I left with a better understanding of Yin Yoga and with tools to learn more about it. I understood how Yin "worked" and look forward to attending my next class.

Yin Yoga training was part of my 2016 theme of try something new each month. This was something new I tried in February and I am happy I did. You can read more about new things I try HERE.