Thursday, May 15, 2014

Loving Fullerton

The upcoming LOVE FULLERTON event has inspired me to think about the reasons why I personally love Fullerton. While May 17 will surely be a day of kindness and giving, it’s a reminder that this day of community should be a year round movement. It’s fairly simple really, to be kind and care for those around you, particularly when you love where you live.

With that, I will give you my very unofficial Top 10 Fantastic Things About Fullerton, in no particular order. 1. The food. Fullerton is a foodie’s paradise. In my head, I’m a West Coast Contessa, and admittedly, Fullerton is not the Hamptons, but we do have gourmet restaurants and specialty stores catering to all palates. We boast established and expanding restaurateurs and those just beginning, knowing the demographics of a city that loves independently owned eateries. I’ll never forgive Frati Gelato for moving to Napa, but am grateful for the extra pounds I sentimentally sport thanks to their fine dessert.

2. The people. Fullerton is a town of givers and doers. The sheer number of service organizations that exist just to lend a helping hand is humbling. Nearly every weekend there is a fundraiser happening somewhere to support the arts, education, humanity, or conservation. This town is full of people with big hearts. Members of the community genuinely care about its future. They voice their opinions when opposed to an issue and rejoice with favorable news. The community is committed to keeping Fullerton a great place to live, work, and play.

3. The parks. I’d be remiss not to mention the recreational green space our city offers. Fullerton’s parks and recreational trails are to be envied--approximately 26 miles of them. The trails offer something for equestrians, joggers, mountain bikers, walkers, hikers, and stroller brigades. Fullerton’s trails are famous among the outdoors crowd, with biking clubs meeting to enjoy the famous Fullerton Loop, or MOMS groups planning weekly outings at one of more than 50 parks. If I sound like Leslie Knope, it’s because I love her and I love our parks.

4. The housing. The housing in Fullerton is one of the main attractors for property owners and investors. Most famous are the vintage homes, surrounding the downtown. Charming Spanish bungalows and craftsman homes dating from the early 1900s make for great starter homes and investment properties. Further into the hills you can find sprawling ranches with horse property, and for those that are seeking an urban vibe, live/work spaces near the Transportation Center downtown. The city is continuing to see development too, with new condos and townhomes selling in the south. Fullerton is diverse, desirable, and offers something for everyone.

5. The education. Fullerton is known as “The Education Community,” with five colleges and universities as well as top-notch public and private institutions. The Fullerton Public Library offers programming for babies through seniors. Education is paramount in the city, and it’s evident that residents continue to want learn.

6. The shopping. It’s a no-brainer to support the local economy, and Fullerton’s retail stores offer unique gifts, apparel, and accessories. Vintage stores dot the downtown, as well as hip designer boutiques. You can even find something for that person who has everything.

7. The history. Fullertonians love their history and preservation. Walking any number of vintage neighborhoods, you’ll find local landmark homes. The Fullerton Public Library has a top-notch local history room where homeowners can seek out stories of their home’s past, as well as research any number of events from years gone by. Fullerton Heritage, a volunteer non-profit organization, champions preservation efforts, including the recent restoration of the Amerige Brothers Realty Office.

8. The nightlife. Let me be clear, “nightlife” in the context of my life means from 6-9 p.m. Many moons ago, I left the house at 9 p.m. to begin an evening on the town. Yet, Fullerton has options for even the grandest of grandmas. While there is a young crowd whose nights span two days, even those of us with human accessories can enjoy an evening out, complete with libations and adult conversations. The monthly Artwalk is a family-friendly affair, as well as the downtown Farmers Market which runs April-October. Both offer wine, and the latter beer, so if you don’t stay up until 2 a.m./have a 3 a.m. human alarm clock, you too can still enjoy the evening!

9. The diversity.Fullerton’s population mimics much of the United States-it’s citizens come from a variety of cultures and bring that influence to schools, businesses, and neighborhoods. Cultures learn from one another and ultimately create a unifying bond among residents.

10. The events. This community loves its Independence Day festival, New Year’s Eve celebration, and honoring our veterans. The summer concert series at the Sports Complex is anticipated year long, and packed even on the hottest of nights. The previously mentioned Farmers Market brings the community together each week for socializing and camaraderie. Fullerton embodies the family-friendly atmosphere Fullerton is known for, and remind neighbors why they love living in this city.

No city is perfect, and certainly there are improvements to be made (ahem, parking), but most commonly you’ll hear visitors and residents alike declare how small-town the city feels, though it spans just over 22 square miles. And while the Love Fullerton event will draw out many help improve and beautify parts of the city, the concept should never end. We cannot expect a Utopia, but we can remember in the most heated situations that our common concern is where we call home-Fullerton.

Full disclosure: I did previously work at the Chamber of Commerce, I currently serve on the Parks and Recreation Commission, but the Barefoot Contessa does not know who I am...yet.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Vive le Macaron

This morning, I got to spend a few hours perfecting my pastry chef skills with my very talented friend Andrea at Sur la Table. Our task: macarons. We were quickly corrected that American macaroons are the coconut desserts, where the French macarons are the shelled sandwich creme cookie. There's your lesson of the day.

Our creations included strawberry with Champagne (eh, sparkling wine, we saw the bottle) buttercream, bacon with maple buttercream, and mint with dark chocolate ganache. While I don't see myself making these very often--they are pretty labor intensive and apparently not for the amateur baker-I could see a batch for a special occasion as definitely doable.

A very fitting way to spend Bastille Day :) Vive le France!

Make way for baby

I'm trying to keep a pretty minimalistic approach to baby gear considering our sprawling estate and the space available. While some of the minimalistic suggestions have included keeping baby in a laundry basket and downsizing to one car, I'm not quite that extreme. The child will have a crib. And his own room. Space must still be made, thank goodness for Craig's List.

In the past week, I've sold my desk and set of dining chairs. Still have my grandmother's vintage sewing machine and cabinet up for grabs (and to any family reading, I was given the ok by my mom!) to anyone locally interested.

Come to find out I was strangely attached to the chairs, since they were a CL purchase and project. But, they are on to another great home and we are creating space for this child.

Since the desk sold, my plan to was to turn our front closet into an office closet. My desk primarily acted as storage and a dumping ground for bills; it was rare that I sat there to work. So, this past 4th of July, I did some major purging and organizing, creating the office closet, cleaning out the garage, and rearranging what will be the baby's closet. And then I took a lavender epsom salt bath.

The vacuum has to go somewhere. Somewhere is next to the party supply box.
These people require more space than a laundry basket.

Friday, June 7, 2013

6 Months

Six months ago we were traipsing our way around Peru, making our way to Machu Picchu. It provided a lot of thinking time. Time for me to plot and plan Scott's 30th birthday. I had it pretty well envisioned by the time we reached the ruins and last weekend, executed it.

The theme was inspired by "Downton Abbey," essentially an homage to the finer things in a gentleman's life, including leisure activities. Libations were enjoyed, cigars smoked, croquet and badminton played, and a photo booth enjoyed. It's safe to say that Scott welcomed his 30s with a well-dressed group of family and friends who love him.

And, I'm hanging my hat on the party planning until my own 30th, six months from now, as a major rejuvenation is in order after back to back weekends of baby shower throwing and 30th birthday party executing.

Also, I'm six months pregnant today. BAM!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Cheers to Moms

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms, especially those near and dear to me, particularly the two I'm blessed to have in my life!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

TJ's Womp Womp

Well Trader Joe's, strike three in the bread department. I've lost track of the count of times I've purchased bread, rolls, English muffins, bagels, and tortillas that have gone moldy in no less than two days. And, this is dating back to the days when we lived in Irvine and it was convenient for me to return the product (but honestly, not THAT convenient because Irvine is the land of no left hand turns so it still took twice as long.)

There is no Trader Joe's in my city. I drive nearly five miles (!!) to Brea or coordinate my shopping to align with the stores in Orange, and even Costa Mesa to stock up on everything else I enjoy there. Any remaining Catholic guilt I possess eats me up as it relates to my job and spending my money outside of my city.

So Trader Joe's, what's the deal with the moldy bread? Is it so fresh that an entire artisan French loaf must be consumed in a day? I surely can do this with a wedge of brie for breakfast, lunch and dinner but then I wouldn't have room for the peanut butter English muffins. I should note I always grab from the back of the bin too.

This won't stop my shopping habits but it does throw a wrench in my stocking of the bread. Do I freeze it and defrost it as needed? That's time consuming; like most Americans I like instant gratification and not extra steps just to make panini.

Am I alone in this first world problem?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Technology advances, society slowly accepts, and new norms are formed along with (in my opinion) grievous habits. The culprit: incorrect use of the hashtag/#.

I'm no social media guru but it's my general understanding (and reconfirmed by the excellent source that is Wikipedia-tangent, you won't find scholarly links here) that the point of a hashtag is to document, archive, and group discussions.

I want to put a hot fire poker through all of the Instagram photos, tweets, and Facebook users who essentially slap that pound sign on a sentence and call it a day. Few things annoy me more. Furthermore, the hashtag function is not supported on Facebook. While I get that Instagram and Twitter feeds auto post there for some, eyes are still rolling.

I'm hopeful that anyone new (toddlers, seniors?) to using these mediums might research the proper use (hah) of the hashtag, and Google might bring up this little exercise. I've heard the argument the great and mighty "they" have tossed around the idea of getting rid of cursive. While I don't agree with that potential decision, maybe a social media lesson is in order, as it's certainly not going away.

Exhibit A: A photo taken on the third best day of my life, meeting Ina Garten.

Possible hash tags for people searching to learn more about Mrs. Garten from the photo that I did Instagram: #InaGarten, #BarefootContessa, #FoolproofBookTour2012. All of these hash tags could be archived for someone just learning about the fabulous Ina, wanting information about her books, or a fellow fan(atic.)

Incorrect hash tags might be #InaandJeffrey4eva, #oopsmybrastrapisshowing, #TodayIMetInaGartenAndItWasAmazing, or #InLineToMeetInaGarten!. The latter two are sentences-just caption the picture that way! The first needs no explanation. Never do that and curse your 13-year-old self for ever writing in that manner.

Does every picture really require a hash tag? Break the habit.