Livermore Wine Festival 2008

We went down to Livermore this weekend, bypassing MakersFaire, given the age of our children.  MakersFaire is not stroller friendly, and the streets of Livermore are.

It is basically $30 for ALOT of wine and/or beer.  There are a lot of great local wineries and this is the 17th year, they used to incorporate honey as well, but since wine is now all the rage…

We did stumble upon a great catering company, Blue Sage catering.  We had an awesome Kaluha Pulled Pork sandwich, and a dill potato salad.

Our favorite wine of the day was a chardonnay from Red Skye Vineyards.

Here are the pics!

Weekend in Sonoma

We headed to Sonoma this weekend and made Train Town our first stop. For those who are not familiar Train Town it is a station modeled after the 16st Station in Oakland from the 1930s, and is, “The Most Well Developed Scale Railroad In The Americas”. You embark from the station at $4.25 a head and ride through a nicely scaled forest of green trees and green water. Your journey will take you over five bridges and trestles. There are two tunnels, one 140 feet and one 40 feet long and end up in “Lakeview” a fictional town with really old characteristics, like a horse drawn fire engine. You always get the feeling like you should able to spend more time “Lakeview” but they want you back on the train you came in on. It is probably easier to regulate traffic that way, but the $4.25 begins to feel like less of a bargain.

The girls were showing signs of hungriness, and it was H-O-T, so we decided to pull into the station and head to the Plaza (or Square depending on your generational experience in Sonoma).

We found a parking spot right in front of the Cheese Factory which is next to impossible to do in a short period of time. You usually either end up circling the Plaza for 30 minutes or parking really far away from where you want to be. We browsed the factory and sampled cheeses, but we really were thinking more about a full meal. As we headed down 1st Street, passing some amazing restaurants and shops, we stopped in front of the Sunflower Caffe. We had been here before, but not when it was Sunflower, remembering the garden in the back and seeing the menu had a both a lamb burger and a hot dog on the special menu we knew this was our place for lunch.

The girls found a table in the shade under some trees and flowers, with all the shrubbery you would expect bugs to be a problem…but they are not. We ordered some salad and Chardonnay while we decided on the actual meal. Tina decided on the Parisian Ham on a bagette and I had the Bistro Steak Sandwich.

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The Parisian Ham minus the Dijon was good, but would have been better if it was served as intended. The Bistro Steak Sandwich was out of this world, the meat was tender and melted on each bite and the other flavors and ingredients went together wonderfully with this sandwich. My coleslaw was great too, very unique and original tasting all at the same time.

pics are here

Mariners Kick A*s

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The Seattle Mariners came to town on Wednesday and we went to see them.  Tina lived in Seattle during her formidable years and feels a real fire for her Seattle Mariners.  Ichiro is one of my favorite baseball players, he just gets what is to be a baseball player and it is so embarrassing to watch these other guys and their egos.

We had a great time rooting on the winning Mariners, and Emma stuffed her mouth with peanuts and chips.  Pics are here

Giants Opening Day 2008

The only person still optimistic was cotton candy salesman Jesus Ortiz, who was giving away cotton candy to little kids, perhaps to ease the pain. “The team is great,” he said. “Cotton candy is great. It’s going to be a great year. I’m always hopeful in April.”

more pics can be found here

Program your Comcast remote to 30 second skip

  1. Choose an unused or unneeded button on the “silver” remote to be the 30-second skip command. I used my “A-lock” button, and in retrospect (with two kids) that’s probably not the best choice, but I wanted it near the other DVR controls. Other choices are the PIP buttons at the bottom, (maybe there’s a hack for those too?) or the “help” button (there’s no help either).
  2. Press the “Cable” button at the top of the remote to put it into Cable Box control mode.
  3. Press and hold the “Setup” button until the “Cable” button blinks twice.
  4. Type in the code 994. The “Cable” button will blink twice.
  5. Press (do not hold) the “Setup” button.
  6. Type in the code 00173.
  7. Press whatever button you want to map the 30-second skip command to.

Snow Day 2007, er, 8

After missing every weekend in winter 2007, we put our collective foot down and headed for the mountains. It was a gorgeous day, and the snow as still plentiful as we headed into the Tahoe National Forest. We found a cute little red farm house, which would have provided an awesome backdrop to take a few pics, except it was open house weekend and the neighbors were a little perturbed by the additional traffic. So we headed up a few more hundred feet in elevation, to an exit with no services and no traffic, providing a perfectly safe location for playing in the snow. After playing in the snow and taking *several* pictures, we had worked up quite an appetite.

We headed down the mountain and into Auburn, a cute little town with wintery charm. We didn’t see the clock tower that is pictured on their website but we did see plenty of charming gold-era themed shops. Thanks again to the iPhone and what ATT service we could get on the mountain we settled on the Auburn Alehouse via yelp.com.

A critical 2008 tax law change

Round Cents to Dollars – Beginning with the 2007 tax forms,  round cents to, the nearest whole dollar. For example,  round $50.50 up to $51 or round $25.49, down to $25. If you do not round,  FTB will disregard the cents. This change helps, process your returns quickly and accurately.