Tag Archives: College Avenue

An Unusual Sight

I love oak leaf hydrangea.  There is just something wild about it to me–the mix of frou frou hydrangea blossoms and something as strong and iconic as an oak leaf.  I spotted this one on a rare jaunt on “the other side” of College (i.e. the northeast side) and found it striking due to the mix of white and pink blossoms.  While hydrangea bushes are known to grow different colored blooms, and even grow blooms of different colors depending on the stage of the growth season, I’ve never seen anything other than a pure white oak leaf hydrangea.

oak leaf hydrangea

oak leaf close

The pink blossoms near the base of the dominently white bloom

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Dark Chocolate/Caramel/Sea Salt Reinforcements

I still love Fran’s–that’s what is readily available at Market Hall–but there are two other brands I’m loving that I discovered at Lulu Rae

I made a special trip to the upper Rockridge College Avenue confection boutique for Barlovento and Poco Dolce.

reinforcements

As far as fleur de sel chocolate caramels go, Fran’s is a great staple.  Barlovento packs the biggest caramel chew (a big hunk of chewy caramel with a thin coat of dark chocolate) and most salt (high points for the latter).  Poco Dolce has the most sparing smattering of salt, but, in my opinion, the highest quality chocolate taste.  Poco Dolce is a small crispy center of caramel toffee and a solid sea of dark chocolate surrounding it.  

Bonus: Poco Dolce has a large variety of flavors all topped with sea salt.  YUM

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Flowering Fruit Trees

I’ve been reveling in the warmth of the past two weeks.  So too have our fruit trees apparently.  SF Citizen reports on the early flowering of our fruit trees due to the unseasonable weather.  More evidence is available all over Rockridge.  Here’s one early bloomer on Lawton en route to College Avenue:

cherry

It’s hard to know whether to be happy or terrified by the onslaught of pink blossoms.  

Perhaps in Obama’s high profile first 100 days he could ratify the Kyoto Protocols.  I didn’t see this speech, but the rest of the world took note.    

Here’s to a summer of serious water rationing in California.  Plant some lavender.  

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Things that Soothe: I do not live in New York!

It was a beeeeeeooooooooo-tiful 67 degrees in Oakland today (compared to the 40s in NYC).  I had an early meeting, which I was through with by 9:30, so today felt like a good old day of playing hooky from then on.

A friend and I had lunch (which included Concord grape spritzers) and then did a Rockridge to Elmwood walk along College Avenue.  We soaked up the sun and ended up at ICI, honestly one of my favorite places in the WHOLE world.  MSP and RCR got ice cream, while I soothed with a Blue Bottle iced latte since I. and I are having a no-sugar contest to kick off 2009.  The bench outside of Ici was taken, but who cares?  It’s not on the sunny side of the street!  So we went to take advantage of the one good and useful thing about the strange and mysterious yoga-fitness business known as Lululemon (who shops there?  and why?): the bench in front on the north-west corner of College and Ashby, which is ALWAYS sunny.  

Afterwards we stopped in at Tail of the Yak, otherwise known as my favorite place in the world #1, right before Ici at #2.  I picked up a simple black silk fan for $10 and some beautiful mini-tapers for $8.  FYI: the mini-tapers that TotY carries in many colors may not be available for much longer.  Get them while they’re hot!

fan

PS: Regarding my favorite places in the whole world at spots #1 and #2, both of these establishments have INCREDIBLY wonderful scents.  Ici is like sitting in a old fashioned glass canister of super-fine sugar and Tail of the Yak has equal parts rose, sage, and juniper.  Love it!  So soothing.

In other news: Ranunculus are back!  More on that in the next post!

Changez-les idees!

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Last Minute Christmas Shopping Part II

I had some good luck.  Santa was on my side.  Now allow me to make some recommendations.  Most gifts are in the $20 range.

For the lazy gourmand:  Truffle salt, in 5 and 10% truffle content.  $20-$30 at Pasta Shop.  Amazing on pasta, french fries, or any vegetable.  Who needs to cook?

For anyone who loves Paris, tea, or both: Pasta Shop has an excellent selection of Mariages Freres tea.  I picked up the Provence Green ($22.50) for my sister in law who lived in Kyoto and speaks French.  Porquoi pas?!

mariage

For book lovers: Diesel does soothe, but Pendragon is the place to go if you’re looking to save some dollars to keep food on the table in the new year.  They have some AMAZING deals right now.  Tons of new Taschen coffee table books (Atget, Doisneau, etc.) on sale for less than $10 (!!!).  I got my aunt- and uncle-in-law Art of the 20th Century, also published by Taschen.  So beautiful.  I found it in the used section a month ago and have been lusting over it.  It’s almost impossible to even tell that it is “used,” and priced at $50.  

art

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For a good laugh: I’ve never had success at Rockridge Home, but I have to give it to them.  That place is banging for the holidays.  The price is right and options abound, so much so they get their own section.

The “NPR Map of the United States” is amazing for the liberal Rockridge/Berkeley business traveler in your life.  Maps local AM/FM NPR channels across the US.  

For the Catholic grandfather who has done it all I suggest the How to be Pope book.  

For the miscellaneous and omnipresent oppressed woman in a committed relationship with a messy man: I suggest Porn For Women now available in the XXX version.   

I picked up the necktie napkins for my adorable MBA holding brother-in-law who can’t get through a meal, much less a business meeting, without spilling on himself.

tie

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For the girls who work too hard and just want to have fun:  I picked up $20 gift certificates at Pretty Penny and Crush on College.  Pretty Penny has an AMAZING selection of vintage shoes, denim, and (just for the season) gold lame and sparkly dresses.  It’s a brilliantly styled place AND the accessories are phenomenal.  Prices are gentle too.  Crush on College was the perfect place for my high school-age cousin-in-law who digs fresh styles at low prices and hasn’t gotten into the vintage thing.  

prettyThe Pretty Penny window

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Last Minute Christmas Shopping

I was so relieved that my family finally decided to do Secret Santa this year.  I’m not a fan of Christmas shopping, and although I was blessed with a lot of toys and fabulous gifts as a child, I come from a religious Christian family where the focus actually was more on the Advent Wreath than counting down the shopping days.  

For the third year in a row I’ve considered banning myself from buying ANY Christmas presents, sort of in an anti-materialist protest.  But there’s a catch: I have a large family of in-laws who get me tons of gifts.  I haven’t figured out how to navigate this yet, all I know is that not getting them anything makes me feel like a giant schmuck. 

Ergo, last minute Christmas shopping.  Oy ve.  

Determined not to be oppressed by big box stores and the like, I’m grabbing some reusable bags and heading up to College Avenue (I know, I sound so effing Oaklandish right now).  I’ll be finding little trinkets from my local businesses and business owners.  We Rockridgers just can’t get enough of mom and pop and small business.  Call us crazy.  

If you’re interested in following suit, I recommend checking this website if you are unfamiliar with the area.

I’ll be checking out: Market Hall and Pasta Shop, Maison D’etre, Bloomies Flowers, Bella Vita, Pendragon Books, Rockridge Home, The Alta Bates Showcase Thrift Shop, Diesel Books, Atomic Garden, Pretty Penny, Body Time, Crossroads Vintage, and Recapture.  Find more info on these shops here.

I might also cruise Telegraph (the “Temescal” district) for Scout Home Hardware and Sagrada Sacred Arts.

Ho ho ho.

diesel_books_largejpg

Diesel Books really soothes me. 

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