Tuesday, April 30, 2013

We've arrived!

We've arrived to Heathrow. It's 7:30am, and we were able to take showers in the arrivals lounge at the airport. :)

We probably won't be able to check into our hotel until mid-afternoon, so that was a really nice option. :)

SFO --> LHR Upgrade!!

We're off to London for a few days! Yay!

Big surprise of the day: my ticket got upgraded (we used miles for biz class) to First Class! (They needed my seat for airline personnel.)

I insisted that Dick take the First Class seat. He looks happy. :)

See you on the other side of the pond.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Trina's Tip of the Day: BofA Cash Rewards Credit Card

This is a BIG tip that I just learned.

One of our credit cards is through Bank of America. We have the BofA Cash Rewards Card which gives you 1% cash back on all purchases, 2% back on groceries, and 3% back on gas.

This is all well and good, and returns to us a decent bit of money. Something is more than nothing, right?

I just got off the phone with a representative to let them know about our upcoming travel plans. It's important to do this if you're traveling out of state or especially out of the country. Otherwise, if they're good, they might block the usage of your card, as the use of your card in an unusual location should raise some red flags for possible fraud.

When I was finishing my phone call with the rep, they let me know how many reward points we have on our card, meaning, how much $$ we have from our cash rewards.

But then, he told me the big news that I was not aware of.

If you have a BofA checking or savings account, and you deposit your check rewards into that BofA account, they will give you another 10%!

(here's the exact wording from their website):
Plus a 10% customer bonus when you redeem your rewards into a Bank of America® checking or savings account

We've been "collecting" our cash rewards for a couple of years now, so it's a decent amount, and an extra 10% on top of that is extra bonus cool. I've had a BofA account since I was a little kid, so this was a no-brainer.

Good to know!

...and that's your handy dandy webTrina Tip of the Day!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Birthday Dinner

Tonight, I celebrated my Birthday with my family at Roy's- one of our favorite restaurants.

I have often said that this Is one of my favorite meals, from appetizer, to entree, to dessert.

Appetizer: blackened ahi sushi

Entree: Miso Butterfish

Dessert: Molten Chocolate Suffle.

Thanks to my Parents, my Sis, Graham, Christopher, and my Husband, for a wonderful Birthday dinner and celebration!!!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Early Birthday Dinner

My Birthday is tomorrow (!), but Dick took me put for an amazing evening to celebrate early tonight.

We started off with drinks at the Eureka Street Lounge. It has a great bar upstairs. As we sat down, the bartender was prepping 12 martini glasses with ice. I thought that might make a neat photo/possible painting. :)

Next, we walked down to 17th Street for dinner at Frances. I've been wanting to go here for quite sometime, and was finally able to get us reservations two months ago. It's one of those places that's so popular that you can only make reservations no more than two months ahead of time, on open table. Basically, you have to figure out when you'd like to go, figure out 8 weeks in advance, and check opentable at midnight. That's what I did (but had tried several times before with no luck!), and was finally able to score a 7:45 reservation for two.

Oh, my. It was worth the wait. My expectations were high, and they exceeded them all. Everything we had was out-of-this-World good.

Bonus: we had a gift certificate from the Holidays from Dick's Boss that covered the entire meal.

Double Bonus: walking distance from our house! Hands down, best place in the neighborhood!

Triple Bonus: glassybaby on every table!!!

It had all the makings for an amazing evening, and it really came through.

Thanks, Dick for a wonderful and memorable evening. My Sweetie 3.1415926. (My new nickname for Dick)

Noe and the Cat Bus

I caught a photo of Noe mimicking the Cat Bus. :)

The Finch Files feature The Immediate Impact Walk and The Snark Jar!

You may remember that I went out on a pre-season training walk with my team two weeks ago. We gathered early because we had an opportunity to be interviewed by radio personality, Peter Finch, to have our walk featured in one of his 3-minute podcasts on KGO radio.

Peter creates 3-minute podcasts called "The Finch Files" which highlight local human interest stories. Peter had heard about our local, grass-roots based Breast Cancer Walk (The Immediate Impact Walk) by one of our walkers, and wanted to do a story about us. He joined us for the entire 6-mile walk, and interviewed people along the way.

The podcast about the Immediate Impact Walk aired last week. I think it turned out great. Peter included interviews with three of our walkers, including Linda Imlay, who is responsible for creating our event.

Click here to hear the Finch Files Podcast about the Immediate Impact Walk.

While we were walking, Peter either heard me talking about my Snark Jar Fundraiser, or he overheard someone else ask me about it. He stopped me and asked me to tell him more about it. I tried my best to describe the idea as succinct as possible (I'm sure I was rambling...) but he said he wanted to learn more. He took out his microphone and asked me to explain it all again. He told me that the story of The Snark Jar may make an interesting story in-and-of-itself!

I wasn't sure if he was serious or not about airing it as a separate story, and had pretty much forgotten about it until I received a text message from my friend, Catriona, last Monday when I was still in North Carolina. Catriona said that she had heard the Finch Files podcast about me and my Snark Jar played on the radio! What a wonderful surprise!

The podcast wasn't put up on the Finch Files website until Thursday afternoon, so it wasn't until then that I was able to hear it.

Click here to hear the Finch Files Podcast about the Snark Jar!.

What a hoot! I'm really happy with how it turned out, and I think Peter did a fantastic job explaining the concept. You can tell that he even did some research as to what WGI is all about! Thank you, Peter!

I'm thrilled to report that so far, we have raised $565 from the Virtual Snark Jar, plus another $357 from the Snark Jar at my SF WGI Party, for a total of $922.00!! That's a whole lot of snarkiness, but more importantly, that's a LOT of money generously donated by my friends for a great cause. My thanks to ALL who donated to the Snark Jar!

You can click here to see and hear all of the Finch Files Podcasts from KGO-AM Radio

Friday, April 26, 2013

Chinatown Painting: Session 3

After a week hiatus from being away in North Carolina, I returned to my painting lessons with Dean today. It was my third session working on the Chinatown painting.

His first suggestion today was to have me mix several colors, matching them carefully to the originally photograph. I mixed about 8 different colors before putting them to canvas. I think it helped me tremendously, as the colors were the correct tone and value, and the whole painting seemed more cohesive by the end of the session.

One of my favorite parts of the painting right now is the darker color blue, which is a shadow in the alley street towards the bottom right. I think it's a great color, and transitions well with the colors nearby. :)

I told Dean today that I realized recently that my sense and understanding of color is getting better. Color has always been a challenge for me, and I feel like I'm starting to have a better handle of it, or at least, I'm not nearly as intimidated by color as I used to be. Progress!

I really like the looser style of this painting so far. I find that I'm not worried about being as exact on this one, which is a little freeing. Dean told me that this is very common on night-scenes, as the lights in the darkness gives it more of a mysterious quality.

Chinatown: 3rd Session

detail of center of painting

detail of bottom right area

Birthday Celebration!

Let the Birthday celebrations begin!!!

I had a really wonderful lunch today with Buffie, Catriona and Tina - three friends who are on my walking team. We try to gather together for lunch every few weeks to catch up. Upon Buffie's suggestion, we met at the Presidio Social Club which was fantastic. I'd never been there before, and will certainly return!

Today is Buffie's Birthday, and mine is coming up on Sunday. Our birthdays was one of the reasons why our little group started to get together for periodic lunches about a year ago.

Much to my surprise, it was a flurry of unexpected fun gift exchanging when we all arrived! I had brought fresh tulips for Buffie, Buffie had brought cupcakes for everyone, Catriona had brought birthday cupcakes, and Tina brought amazing Godiva truffles! You can tell that we all enjoy food and desserts!!

We had a wonderful time catching up and enjoyed our delicious meal together. Thank you, ladies!

Birthday Girl, Buffie, Catriona and Tina

Yummy Birthday Goodies!!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Happy 87th Birthday, Grandma!!

My Grandma's 87th Birthday was yesterday. We celebrated together today when I drove down to Milpitas to take her out for dim sum lunch.

We had a wonderful time. Happy Birthday, Grandma!! xo

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Home is where the Happy Kitty is. :)

It's always so nice to come home. :)

Homeward Bound

My water bottle has been refilled, and we're ready to go! Early flight (6:45am) means I'll (hopefully) sleep for most of it.

See you on the other side.


Monday, April 22, 2013

Replacements LTD Showroom and Warehouse Tour

I love a good factory/warehouse/company tour!

Today, on our way back from Asheville to Chapel Hill, we made a stop in Greensboro, NC to drop into the Replacements, LTD Showroom and Warehouse Tour! I've known about this company for a number of years, and have been wanting to visit it for awhile. Dick's father lives in Burlington, which is only a few miles away from Greensboro. We had some extra time this afternoon and thought it would be a good day to check it out.

I'm so glad we did! It was fantastic!

The Replacements LTD is a company that has been around for over 30 years. The idea is that you can find a replacement for virtually any piece of china, dishware, collectables, etc., It's a great way to complete a china set, replace broken or lost pieces, or have a piece restored. The company facility is over 500,000 sq feet! It is HUGE!

We arrived just in time to go our a company tour, which started in the showroom, then went through the entire (enormous) warehouse, as well as the offices, shipping area, etc., The entire tour took around 45 minutes.

It was a fantastic tour. We were very impressed with the space, as well as the company.

I took a bunch of photos, because really, it would be the best way to describe the enormous space and inventory.

the front entrance to the showroom

we made it just in time for a tour!

Our tour guide, beginning the tour in the showroom

The "Great Wall of China" :)
These are the most commonly sought china patterns

I was quickly able to find my parent's china set!

Part of the main warehouse - shows you just a peak at how many aisles and aisles of inventory that they have!

I believe this was the inspection area

more aisles of inventory - all categorized and organized by row, and shelf

The shipping dept.

another part of the warehouse where the most common items are stored

This whole aisle was full of Spode's Christmas Tree pattern

boxes of product from the manufacturers, before being sorted

The most colorful wall of shelves - the Fiesta Ware!

Banners marking commemorative company anniversaries

samples of chipped or broken pieces and how they are repaired

repaired and polished Silver pieces

The Replacements LTD Museums - the most rare pieces in the company

An antique cash register in the showroom. All of the furniture in the showroom which display the products are all antique.

If you're ever in the area, I highly recommend stopping in for a tour. We were so glad that we did.

I don't usually play with my food...

...but this time I just couldn't help it.

We had breakfast this morning with Kathy and Phil. One last quick meal together before we head back to Chapel Hill.

Thanks, Kathy and Phil, for a wonderful weekend, and congratulations again on your marriage!!!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Our Spring visit to the Biltmore House and Gardens

We had a free afternoon in Asheville today, so we decided to make a visit to the Biltmore House. The last time we came was with my parents in October 2004, then before that in late November, 2002.

I haven't mentioned this yet, but the first thing I noticed while driving around NC on this trip is how everything is in bloom, and is so beautiful! I've never come to visit in April (mid to late March, but never in May) and now I hear from everyone that April is the prettiest month in North Carolina. Spring is in full bloom, and the colors are all so bright and vibrant.

On that note, the Biltmore House has it's annual "Festival of Flowers" from March 21st through May 19th. Perfect timing!

We started with the gardens, as that was our main interest today. It was so beautiful. They had enormous flower beds filled with tulips - probably the largest beds of tulips I've ever seen. I could have strolled around the gardens for hours. :)

We did a tour of the house, which was fantastic, especially since we haven't been in quite some time. I think they may have opened a few more rooms since the last time we came. Photos weren't allowed inside the house, so the only photos I got today were of the gardens and the exterior of the house.

I'm so glad we were able to squeeze in another visit to the Biltmore House. It's such a beautiful and impressive estate, unlike anywhere else.