Summer Recap

I haven’t posted in a while. Or much this year at all. Turns out, life’s exhausting.

Baguette finished TK in June, and we promptly left for a week’s vacation in Santa Barbara. Where I drank a lot of coffee, we went to the zoo manymanymany times, and she lost a tooth! We don’t usually go that early, but it turned out that there was a week-long gap between the end of school and the start of summer camp.

label on coffee dispenser reading "Obama Blend: an optimistic blend of Kenya, Indonesia, Hawaiian"

small girl sitting on small statue of elephant, with a hat on its head

Naturally, she was sick for the first few days of summer camp.

Then, after not-a-week of camp, she started summer school. This was by virtue of a revision to her IEP. In theory, fine. In practice? We weren’t so sure.

The challenge was that summer school only ran until about 12:45. That’s far short of the end of the workday. Neither of us works nearby, and it would be really hard to drop her off mid-day anyhow.

That meant Baguette would need to take the school bus from summer school to camp.

This was not her actual bus.
This was not her actual bus.

We had severe doubts about this. It just didn’t seem like something that would work. She’d never been on a bus of any kind, and she’d never been in a vehicle without one of us or a grandparent (and, let’s face it, that mostly means us).

The first couple of days were rough, as they worked out the details of the route. The ride was too long, and Baguette would arrive at camp screaming and crying. But she never balked at getting on the bus, and we started packing Dr. Seuss books so that she’d have some entertainment.

She decided she loved the bus. She started telling her aide that she wanted to ride the bus, long before it was time to leave for the day.

After four weeks, summer school was over, and it was back to all day at camp. No bus. Baguette was disappointed, but she rallied.

And after another three weeks, it was time to start kindergarten. So here we are, in kindergarten. We’re still trying to figure things out, primarily because there has been a lot of change–new special ed teacher, new principal, new classroom, and more.

Fingers crossed.

School bus photo by dfirecopy, via Flickr. Public domain.

What We Ate on Our Summer Vacation

When we decided we wanted to go back to Santa Barbara, that naturally meant that we wanted to revisit some of the restaurants we particularly enjoyed.

First, though, we decided to cut down on breakfasts out–we rented a studio unit. However, it turned out that what we imagined to be a kitchen was actually a mini-fridge and microwave. I don’t think the place was misrepresented, I think we brought some faulty assumptions. But the mini-fridge did mean that we could pick up a few things at Albertsons and Lazy Acres (which is like if Whole Foods and Bristol Farms had a passionate affair that resulted in a really classy baby) and cut down on our meals out.

So where did we eat?

Some local friends introduced us to Cajun Kitchen, where we ordered a plethora of pancakes, eggs, and sausage. (Just assume we ordered this everywhere unless otherwise specified–one of our goals is to get Baguette to eat, and this meal is pretty much a sure thing.)

El Pollo Rico in Goleta featured BBQ chicken and “tri-tip” (actually skirt steak). Everything was a little dry, but the flavors were great and we did not go away hungry.

We had two dinners at Mesa Pizza Co.–I really liked the crust and toppings here, and Baguette is always a fan of cheese pizza. She’s also a fan of pepperoni pizza, although she’s as likely to discard the pepperoni as she is to eat it.

We also made two trips to Mac’s Fish and Chips Shop on State Street. While most of State could pass for a fairly generic mall that happens to have a street running through it, Mac’s was a find. Between the two visits, we ate fish and chips, bangers and chips, beef and onion pie, clam chowder, and Toad-in-the-Hole. Oh, and mashed potatoes. All delicious. We’ll be back when we’re here next.

Mac's Fish and Chips Shop

If you haven’t had McConnell’s ice cream, you may be able to find it in a Whole Foods near you. We were able to go to their actual brick-and-mortar location, and were not disappointed. While Baguette was intrigued but reluctant to share either Mr. Sandwich’s Golden State Vanilla or my Santa Barbara Strawberry (in a waffle cone, no less), she eventually mustered the courage to take a taste of my ice cream–at which point she yelled, “It’s a party!”

So, naturally, we went back for another party the next night.

By the way, Mad Dogs may have great hot dogs, but I’d pass on the shave ice. It’s not real shave ice–what they’re selling is essentially a sno-cone, and believe me, there is no comparison.

Our return visits were a mixed bag:

Farmer Boy, while one of our favorites last year, dropped from “leisurely” to “so slow we tipped badly.” The food was fine, but not good enough to make up for the incredibly slow service. I was on my third cup of coffee before the meal came, and that included waiting for the fresh pot–and a side order never showed up at all.

We were happier with Garrett’s Old Fashion, with fast, friendly service and good food. It was a marked contrast to the previous morning at Farmer Boy. When we made a final trip on our way out of town, not only did we again get fast service, but the waiter remembered that I’d ordered an extra egg for Baguette the previous day, and asked if I wanted that again. If we lived in Santa Barbara, I’d be a regular.

But I can’t decide: should I be happy or sad that Baguette can open a mini-fridge without assistance?

Bread & Porridge

This morning we had breakfast at Bread & Porridge in Santa Monica. I’ve eaten there a couple of times, and had good memories of it, but Mr. Sandwich had never been there before. Today it was a toss-up between this and Snug Harbor a few doors down.

This visit was less satisfying. Mr. Sandwich’s pancakes were fluffy, but dry and bland, and I found my cilantro sausage to be a bit too spicy and the eggs underdone (his were fine). Plus somehow the breakfast cost a fortune. ($3.15 for a cup of coffee? Really? I wish I’d checked that before I ordered it.)

On the plus side, Mr. Sandwich had a celebrity sighting; Dylan McDermott walked in shortly before we left. But on the whole, I’d recommend Snug Harbor instead. I’ve even seen Liv Tyler there.

Quality Time

Two of my friends–and one six-year-old–met for coffee on Sunday morning. (Not to worry. The six-year-old drank water. Her growth remains unstunted.) In an effort to find a location that was new, and was easily accessible from our three different points of origin, we settled on Jennifer’s Coffee Connection. In a corner strip mall in Studio City, Jennifer’s offers friendly service and a comfortable atmosphere. Oh, and the coffee’s pretty good, too.

From there it was off to the mall (just me) in search of a pair of grey slacks. This search was fruitless, as specific searches so often are. However, while at the mall, I found Healing Hands.

I’ve been meaning to find a new massage place, and this may be it. It’s not quite what I’m used to; the space is an open store with a combination of massage chairs, foot massage loungers, and massage tables. Everything is open, which is why you get your massages fully clothed. But you know what? It was pretty effective, and very affordable–I paid $35 for 30 minutes, which is a little more than I’m used to (I go to really cheap places) but certainly within my range.

Consumer Environmentalism

The best thing about moving to California is that Mr. Sandwich and I finally got to be in the same place. The next best thing is that I get to have coffee with my friends at least a couple of times a month, instead of a couple of times a year. Today was one of those days, so I met S for a hearty dose of caffeine. Although it’s not the most central location for us, Venice Grind has been one of our favorites since it opened a couple of years ago. They make lattes with coffee, which S likes, and with espresso, which I like (my favorite almost anywhere is a vanilla latte with skim, although I like pumpkin lattes in the fall and peppermint mochas around Christmas). Their pastries are good, too, although we didn’t have any today.

Next door is Soaptopia, my absolute favorite place to buy soap. Everything is all-natural, and their soaps have fantastic names. Anyone can sell a rose-and-vanilla soap, but only Soaptopia would call it “Rozilla vs. Dry Skinea.” Looking for sandalwood and peppermint? Maybe you’d like “Woody Wood Pepper.” Then there are “Staying A-Lime,”¬† “Sage Against the Machine,” and “Oatmeal and Clover Over and Over.” I also like their 50/50 body balms, which are half cream, half oil, and all moisturizing. Beyond that there are bubble baths, salt scrubs, loofahs, lip balms, and a host of other products.

S had other plans, so I went off to explore a store I’d read about on the greenlagirl blog. Siel writes about a wide range of topics dealing with environmental living in an urban setting, and recently she posted about The Green Life, a new store on Main Street in Santa Monica. The store has a nice selection of books, kitchen utensils and cleaning supplies, bath and bed linens, beauty items, and even chocolates. (For photos, visit the greenlagirl post that brought me to the store.)

Okay, the nail polish I bought afterward wasn’t even remotely green. Nobody’s perfect.

Coffee

I know Starbucks isn’t good coffee. I know. But here’s the thing: I like their lattes. And I’m not making you drink them. So get off my back.

Peet’s: I tried, really I did. The people and the pastries are great. But the espresso is just too strong, now that I drink coffee once or twice a week. Obviously my tolerance is shot. I have to say, though, that I don’t enjoy it as much when I have the jitters afterward. On the other hand, their tea is good.

Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf: Vanilla powder. Nasty.

Tanner’s: I’ve tried it a couple of times, and I’m not taken with it. Something’s off, and I’m not sure what. Besides, there isn’t one close enough to bother. Also, do they not have a web site?

Ideally, I’d find some local coffeehouse that wasn’t a chain. But I’m all about the convenience, and I don’t live in a neighborhood with non-chain coffee. Well, not non-chain lattes. The regular coffee at the corner donut shop is pretty good, actually.

If you’ve got anywhere to suggest in the general vicinity of, let’s say, the Westside Pavilion, leave a comment.