Oakland to SF Ferry Boat Adventure

Playing tourist is one of my favorite things to do when I go home to the Bay Area. I’ve been gone for 13 years living in other parts of California (Humboldt and Sacramento), and now Michigan, so even old familiar places sometimes feel new.

I wasn’t sure how much exploring we’d be able to do with Ziva being just 3 months old on our trip this spring. When my Dad and his girlfriend Stephanie suggested taking the ferry from Jack London Square in Oakland to the Ferry Building in San Francisco, it sounded like a great idea, just maybe not with a baby… but, as I’ve said before, I waaaay underestimated my little Ziva. I’m so glad they convinced me to give it a go!

Once the decision was made that we were headed to SF by ferry, it was a mad dash to get from El Cerrito to Jack London square in time for the afternoon boat. We made it with just minutes to spare. The boat wasn’t too crowded and there was plenty of room for us to all sit together in the front with a great view of the ship yards and the slowly approaching San Francisco skyline.

It was a much shorter ride than I’d expected and before long we were pulling up under the bay bridge.

 First stop was the Ferry Building. We were a bit too late for the Saturday Farmers Market, but all the vendors and booths inside the ferry building are worth the visit on their own.

My favorite stop is always the Mariposa Bakery booth. They have absolutely Devine gluten free baked goods. I’ve never gotten something from them that wasn’t delicious, and the loaf of facacia bread I picked up this time didn’t disappoint.

We walked around inside for a while before heading out to the water front to enjoy our treats and coffee. The sky that day was impressively blue.  

We brought a stroller for Stella, and Ziva road most of the afternoon in he Baby Bjorn since she LOVES forward facing. Our next carrier is going to have to be the Ergo 360 (though she is starting to like her inward facing carriers more recently). Ziva was enthralled by all of the people and new things to see. She just took it all in, looking around until she eventually fell asleep.

Next we crossed the street to check out the makers fair and all of their goods. My sister ended up getting a beautiful necklace and I picked up some earrings.

We decided to walk the Embarcadero past the tourist filled Pier 39 to catch the ferry boat back to Oakland at Pier 41. Along the way both babies began to get a little restless, so we stopped to nurse them. The girls ended up switching for the remainder of the walk so that Ziva could ride in the stroller (and give my back a break) and Stella could ride in the Bjorn (satisfying her need for mama-snuggles)! She was just weeks shy of 1 year old, but she is never to old for baby wearing!

If you know San Francisco, than you know how once that fog rolls in it can make a sunny day grey and chilly. By the time we reached the pier it had gotten cooler and the wind was blowing in. Perfect timing to cross back over to the sunny side of the bay.

We ended up beating the fog across the bay and were able to enjoy almost another hour of sunshine in Jack London square. There is a wine tasting room right next to the doc were the ferry lets you off and my dad and Stephanie are members and had a case to pick up, so we stopped in for some tasting (Ziva enjoyed a tasting from the boobie bar while I enjoyed some tasty water). Surprisingly, we weren’t the only group with babies enjoying some wine and sunshine that afternoon on the patio of Rosenblum Cellars tasting room, there was what looked like a mom and baby group a few tables away too!


So, somewhat surprisingly this ambitious adventure across the bay and back turned out to be one of my favorite memories from this last trip home. Ziva loved taking in all of the sites, she happily napped in the carrier (yay baby-wearing), and I loved every moment of the bay breezes and California sunshine. Grandpa Gilbert for the win :0)

Ziva Takes The Bay

I’m finally starting to hit my stride again since returning to work a few weeks ago. The last few weeks of maternity leave were like a whirlwind, and though I’m only back 3 days a week at first, keeping up with life, house maintenance, and figuring out our new schedule has kept us all very busy. Not to mention the birth of our brand new nephew!

And of course, isn’t it almost predictable that I would get sick for the first time in almost a year right in the middle of it all? The body just knows when it’s a convenient time, yaknowwhatImean?


With all of that going on, it already seems like it was ages ago that I took our sweet little baby Z on her first trip to California. Daddy staid home since we planned the trip sort of last minute and he had to work. I hadn’t thought I would be ready to fly with Z so young, but when my company extended their parental leave policy right before I was originally supposed to return to work, it gave us another 7 weeks to hang out and travel. Flying with a 3 month old sounded a whole lot less terrifying than flying with a 2 month old. You know, that month of parenting experience makes a huge difference.


Sleeping for a few minutes on the flight there.
Sleeping for a few minutes on the flight there.

Our flight there was very smooth considering what my expectations were (picture screaming baby and angry passengers). Ziva didn’t cry a bit and spent her time attempting to woo the woman sitting behind me with big smiles, batting lashes, giggles, and coos.

I will say that changing her diaper in the microbathroom (with no changing table) was a challenge, as was keeping her in my 17 inches of personal space at my seat. I purchased a travel boppy nursing pillow off of the Ann Arbor mom2mom list for $20 at the last minute and it was SO worth the money. The pillow extended my lap area to give Z more space and helped keep my back from aching while holding her for hours on end. What makes it a Travel Boppy is that it folds in half and zips together, and has a strap so you can carry it like a bag (I stuffed it in my carry on when we weren’t on the plane). The other thing that helped was my Skip Hop Pronto Diaper Clutch (again, I bought used for cheaper). Those bathrooms are small enough without trying to manage a diaper bag as well as the baby!

Ziva with Grandpa Gilbert

We spent the first few days in CA at my Dad’s house. My dad is always ready for an adventure so the second day in town he and his girlfriend, my sister and her 1 year old daughter, and Ziva and I all decided to take the ferry boat from Jack London Square in Oakland to the Ferry Building in San Francisco. I was really skeptical about how we would fare being out for so many hours without a fast easy way to come home if Ziva couldn’t handle it. I severely underestimated my little one.

On Friday night my Dad hosted a delicious Mexican feast for shabbat dinner and invited many of our close friends and family to come and meet little Ziva. When we were thinking about whether or not I should take Z to California one of the main pros of going was that people in my world would actually get to meet her as a baby, rather than as an almost 1 year old when we go over the winter holidays. It was incredible getting to see people who have known me and held me since I was a little one, holding my own little girl. Pretty mind blowing.

Ziva with cousin Stella and Auntie Rachel
Ziva with cousin Stella and Auntie Rachel

On Sunday my sister and I headed to Alameda to hit up a sale at Tot Tank. We spent a few hours with our two little girls meandering on Park street, popping in and out of shops. I’ve always loved how Alameda feels so “small town” even though it’s right in the middle of the bay. We headed to the new In & Out on the island before heading to my moms. I try to get a double double protein style, animal style at least once a year or so. It’s worth the extra calories ;-). Unfortunately, the traffic heading across town and off the island was horrific that day (not sure why… maybe cause of the Warriors?), and with 2 under 1 in the car it was a sad ride. Ziva was ready to be held and nursed, not sit in the car seat.

My baby and my bestie. You can see the spit-up on my shirt. Mom life is messy stuff.
My baby and my bestie. You can see the spit-up on my shirt. Mom life is messy stuff.

My mother threw us a wonderful women’s gathering at her house (our family home) that evening with many of her long time friends and some I hadn’t met before. Again, it was amazing seeing people I’ve known my whole life with my baby girl. My mother has always fostered such a wonderful sense of community and I’m happy to know that we can be part of it when we are in town.

This is where our visit took a turn for the worse. During the party that evening I started to get what I thought were allergies and by morning I was full blown sick. Fever, body aches, mucus, the whole shebang. We ended up having to cancel all of our plans for the second half of the trip, which meant many of my friends didn’t get a chance to meet little Ziva. I was pretty sorely disappointed in our luck. Thank goodness I was at my moms though. I would have loved to be able to do more the second half of the trip, but it was such a blessing I was there where my mom could take care of me and Ziva while I was in the thick of it.

At first I felt like the second half of the trip was a wash since we had to cancel everything, but my mom pointed out that for her it was great since she got 3 straight days with Ziva, playing with her and bonding. Once she put it in that perspective I was really glad we were there. We live so far away I have often wondered how strong a bond Z will have with my family, so any chance we get to give them time together is a big plus in my book.

After the success of the first flight I was a bit less stressed about how Ziva would fare on the flight home. What I didn’t plan for was an extremely long time waiting on the runway before take off. I started nursing Z as we pulled away from the gate, but by the time it was our turn to take off she was already done and I couldn’t move quickly enough to grab a pacifier or something else for her to suck on as we took off. Word of advice- have your back up soothers on the ready or baby will absolutely cry. Being the chill baby she is, it was only about 172 miles of crying (according to the track your flight app on board the plane), but it felt like forever. Once she was settled down it was an easy flight.

The flight home in her own little lounge.
The flight home in her own little lounge.

Delta was able to move Ziva and me to an empty row of two seats so I was actually able to put her down in the boppy on the seat occasionally during the flight which was such a life saver. Definitely ask at the gate if you haven’t purchased a seat for your little one.

All in all, it was a successful trip. I always love going home to California, and it was so meaningful to create these memories with Ziva in my hometown and with my community. I can’t wait to take her back in December when she is bigger and more able to interact with her surroundings. Just imagining the way she and Stella (our niece) will interact then makes me smile! One thing is for sure though, I won’t be itching to travel alone with a little baby any time soon. Ziva was a champ when it came to every aspect of travel, which I’m so grateful for, but even with a “good” baby it was challenging and exhausting! I’d much rather bring along a second set of hands. Thank goodness her daddy will be joining us on the next trip!



Strangers on a plane

Santa Barbara Labor Day Weekend

We just returned from our first trip back home to California since the fateful trip in April. Though I had some underlying anxieties about traveling home again, knowing full well that the trip home did not cause what happened, it was actually a pretty positive experience.

We enjoyed a few lazy days the Bay Area after a long Labor Day weekend in Santa Barbara celebrating my cousin’s wedding with my sister, my new baby niece, my mom, and my mother’s side of the family. Brian broke out our new-to-us DSLR and got to becoming a bona fide [amateur] family photographer. It was, all in all, a very good trip.

Birthday walk on the warf in Santa Barbara. Gorgeous view which ever way you look! (Image by Ready Set Sarah)
Birthday walk on the wharf in Santa Barbara. Gorgeous view which ever way you look! (Image by Ready Set Sarah)
My precious niece Stella. Those stunning eyes! (Image by Ready Set Sarah)
My precious niece Stella. Those stunning eyes! (Image by Ready Set Sarah)
Who can resist those cheeks? I could have spent forever snuggling this little lady. (Image by Ready Set Sarah)
Who can resist those cheeks? I could have spent forever snuggling this little lady. (Image by Ready Set Sarah)

I was dreading our early Sunday morning flight home. I’m never really ready to leave my California home. Reluctantly, we rose at 4am PST and packed the last of our things. We enjoyed a last few minutes with my gracious dad, our ride.

Making a connection

Through security and waiting at our gate, I began to get my typical pre-flight jitters and pestered my husband until he agreed to move closer so that I could hear the gate agents better. Standing alert, waiting for the cue to board, a woman approached and asked for my help understanding the boarding process. I explained that she was Zone 2, and would have to wait until the priority and zone 1 customers had gone.

Another woman, older and with a more frazzled expression, approached me as the first left. She also needed help understanding when she should board. Her boarding pass was crumpled and her hands were a bit shaky as she held them out so that I could examine her pass. I explained her zone and the system for boarding, she explained that it was her first time ever flying alone. She asked if I flew often and if she’d be allowed to use her phone on board. I gave her a few pointers and answered her questions before we parted so that she could line up with the other zone 2 passengers.

I didn’t think much of our interaction, I try to make a point of helping people when they need a hand understanding a process or finding their way. This seemed no different. I can understand the feeling of being anxious, jittery and afraid of somehow missing something or getting left behind. We boarded the plane with the other non-elite (who forgot to check-in early) passengers in zone 3.

A few hours into the flight, waiting for the bathroom, the older woman met me with a startled look as she left the teeny lavatory. We met eyes and I saw that hers were red and glossy. Coming right up to me she explained with liqueur laden breath and wet eyes that she had been very upset earlier when she’d asked for my help because it was her first time flying alone. Her husband had died the day before.

My heart and stomach sank. I immediately felt a strong connection to the woman. The feeling of flying home, looking around at all the frazzled, happy, distracted travelers and wondering if they could see the pain and loss on my face. Feeling the overwhelming need to be taken care of, given space and consideration as I grieved the fresh loss of my own last April. The need to be held close as the feelings mixed with general travel anxiety.

I told her I was so, so sorry. I knew that wasn’t enough. I gave her a hug. I held her for a minute, her small frame and frizzy blonde/grey hair, her sorrow and her bravery in reaching out. I hugged her because it was all I knew to do. I hugged her because I knew how much it helped me to have Brian there to hold me when the sadness and newness of the pain took over me as we traveled home.

The other passengers who had been waiting looked on in surprise as we separated and the grieving woman slipped off to return to her seat. I didn’t even see which way she had gone I was so taken by the quick but weighty exchange.

This story needs no moral, but it was a heavy reminder of why I reach out, and respond when someone reaches out for a hand. Sure I’m a crotchety traveler sometimes, but it doesn’t hurt to open yourself up to the people around you. To hear them and help them when they ask a question or look befuddled. You never know what they are facing or where they are going or coming from.







Ode to Camp Tuolumne

Image by me
(Image by me)

It was just a place
Old boards nailed to stakes
Platforms floating in the sky

We were children, you and I

It was just a summer’s dream
Whittled by a river’s stream
Sun baked kisses by and by

We were children, you and I

It was just a passing time
Trailing off on memory’s line
Gaining height as we fly

We were children, you and I

It was just some wood and ash
Left to smolder in our past
Leaving holes to big to hide

We were children, you and I

Dedicated to Berkeley Tuolumne Family Camp, which was burned to the ground in the California Rim Fire August 25th, 2013. Located just of outside the gates of Yosemite National Park, BTC has been serving families since 1922, and will remain possessed in the hearts of all who knew and loved her forever. I spent only a few summers at Camp, but that was enough for the sweet smell of the mountain misery and a deep enduring love for the place to seep into my heart. 

I can’t wait to see you rise from the ashes. 

For more information check out the Friends of Berkeley Tuolumne Camp Website here.


Northern Michigan Day 2 in Petoskey

To capitalize on my recent urge to write, I figured I’d go back and complete the series of posts about our little family trip up north this February. We spent 3 cold but fabulous days in Traverse City exploring the region with my mom. Read about day 1 here.

We woke up to a partly sunny second day in Traverse City, the wind was heavy but the sun was shining so we decided it was safe to make the trek up to Petoskey. First things first, we needed coffee.

Our original plan had been to go snow shoeing in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. They offer guided snow shoeing tours in the winter that sound pretty awesome. We called too late to book the tour for Saturday (they were already full), and we decided we that was probably for the better since we lacked adequate snow gear.  If you haven’t been to the Sleeping Bear Dunes, I highly recommend a trip. The views are incredible and there are plenty of great hikes in the warmer months. I can only imagine the snowshoeing is awesome too.

Crow about it
According to Yelp, the only coffee joint near the Traverse Bay Inn is a local shop called Crow About It Coffee and Cakes. From the outside (strip mall) we weren’t sure what to expect, but we were impressed by the quality and thoughtfulness they put into their their coffees and treats. While ordering we got into conversation with the barista about their sugar-free flavor syrups. They have a TON of sugar free flavor options. Turns out all of the syrups they use have no dye in them, and the sugar free is sweetened with Stevia! They get their syrup from a local source who worked with them to remove all the dye and artificial sweeteners from the syrup they buy. The sugar flavors are made with organic sugar, too! You can taste the difference in the drinks, in a very good way. If you stay at any of the resorts along hwy 31 just east of Traverse City, this is a great little coffee shop for breakfast pastries and tasty drinks.

The drive up 31 took about an hour (it’s around 60 miles northeast around Lake Michigan). We drove through Charlevoix and planned to go back on the way home. Next time I would love to show my mom some of our favorite little shops there.

Roast & Toast
We rolled into Petoskey just in time for lunch. We spent New Year  last year in Petoskey and had some of the best gluten-free sandwiches at a place called Roast & Toast. My mom is GF too and I couldn’t wait for her to try it. Their menu is HUGE. So many sandwiches!!!

Roast and Toast in Petoskey
Roast and Toast in Petoskey
Gluten-free Sandwich at Roast & Toast
Gluten-free Sandwich at Roast & Toast

I had the Peppered turkey with Swiss on Udi’s gluten-free bread. Mom had the  grilled barbecue chicken sandwich on Udi’s, and Brian got a chicken ranch wrap and creamy chicken noodle soup (not GF). We loved our lunch, and it’s been packed with people both times I’ve been here, I’m guessing others love it too.

It started snowing while we were eating lunch, but that didn’t stop us from poking around all the little shops in Petoskey. I had to restrain myself from buying my niece “Bean” (due in June) every little adorable baby item I saw. At Grandpa Shorter’s I fell in love with an adorable pair of Minnetonka Mocassins, but I couldn’t convince my mom to buy’em.

Minnetonka Kids in Hot Pink (Image from Zappos)
Minnetonka Kids in Hot Pink (Image from Zappos)

American Spoon is a northern Michigan staple like Cherry Republic. So, of course, we had to take mom there to taste all of the delicious preserves and jams! While there we took advantage of the many samples. SO GOOD.

American Spoon samples
American Spoon samples

We brought home some Blueberry Cherry preserve, and my mom bought a cherry salsa to give to my aunt and uncle in New York. The shopkeeper gave her a recipe to make a chicken dish with the Cherry Peach Salsa, which I since have heard was DELICIOUS! The recipe was from their website here.

We stopped in a few more shops, including the adorable general store (pics below), before heading to Kilwin’s for some Michigan fudge.

Quaint shopping streets and small town charm in Petoskey
Quaint shopping streets and small town charm in Petoskey
Petoskey General Store
Petoskey General Store
Petoskey General Store
Petoskey General Store

Scariest Drive Ever
It was pretty clear out, but the icy roads and high winds gave us cause for worry so we headed home while it was still light. Highway 31 on the way into Petoskey was pretty icy and treacherous, so we opted for the inland route back to Traverse City. Though it was plenty sunny, the high winds and tall snow drifts on the roadside made it the most terrifying drive EVER. There were moments when it looked like we were driving through an ocean of snow. By the time we made it back to Traverse City I was a bit rattled and felt lucky we had made it back safely. The sunset at the other end of the drive made it well worth it!

Traverse City sunset outside our friends home
Traverse City sunset outside our friends home

Om Cafe dinner
Tired from the long day of exploring and driving, we opted for a low-key dinner. Om Cafe was the perfect, cozy, low-key choice. There is an Om Cafe in Ferndale just a few miles from where we live, but we haven’t made it there yet. After our yummy dinner in Traverse City I will definitely be trying the Ferndale location. My mom and I split the mushroom burger and stir fry noodles. We absolutely loved the mushroom burger. My mom swapped the cheese for goat cheese and it was sooooo good. Would absolutely get  it again. We all shared the Cherry “cobbler” for dessert. The tart cherries and the nutty crumble topping were a great pair. It would have been incredible with a small scoop of vanilla rice dream ice cream!

Dinner at Om Cafe
Dinner at Om Cafe

Northern Michigan Adventure Day 1

My mother came to town last weekend and we took a little get away to Traverse City and Petoskey!

We drove from here to here!
We drove from here to here!

The Ride Up
On the way up north there were occasional snow flurries at first, but once we got past the cement and clutter of suburbia it was an enjoyable pastoral scene. We made a few rest stops, and as we got further north the blustering winds really started to pick up.

My patient husband, holding on tight to the wheel, navigated us through as the snow got heavier and the wind stronger. At points where there were open fields along the roadside, the wind, uninterrupted by barns or tree banks, whipped up over the road blinding and tossing us about.
Snowy ride. (image by readysetsarah)
Snowy ride. (image by readysetsarah)
Lunch in Traverse City
After hours of white knuckle driving, we arrived in Traverse City safe and sound. Brian has a good friend who lives in town with his wife and toddler and he recommended we dine at Amical on Front Street.
Front Street Traverse City (image by ReadySetSarah)
Front Street, Traverse City (image by ReadySetSarah)
Like most adorable vacation towns, Traverse City has a great walkable downtown district, with the main drag along Front Street, just off of the lake. In the summer all of the Northern Michigan vacation towns are crawling with people, but this time of year it’s easy to get a table pretty much anywhere. Yelp rated Amical as $$$, but had we not gotten drinks with our lunches it would have been reasonably priced. It was certainly delicious. Brian ranked the Amical Reuben among his favorites he’s had, and thought the pasta salad it came with was a great match. I had the chicken Caesar. As far as Caesar salads go, it was good. The dressing  was tasty and had a bit more mustard flavor than usual (I use mustard powder in my Caesar dressing, but this had a strong mustard flavor). My mom got the special pumpkin seed encrusted whitefish on a bed of wild rice with arugula salad. We all cleared our plates and seemed to really enjoy it. Amical had a sweet atmosphere, good food, and a nice location. I would definitely recommend it!
After lunch we went for a brief, blustery stroll on front street. Even covered in snow and whipped by wind this place has the charm. We popped into Cherry Republic (for those who don’t know, cherry republic is a staple of northern Michigan offering a bevy of tart cherry products ranging from chocolate covered cherries, to cherry salsa and barbecue sauce). We chatted a bit with the shopkeeper, I was so pleased by his good nature and welcoming attitude. He explained to us about how Northern Michigan produces about a 3rd of the tart cherries either nationally or globally (check that), and about how 2 crops ago the early thaw and re-freeze led to loss of crops. Polish cherries came to the rescue, which is why a sign of gratitude to Poland hangs in the shop. We left with a bag of dark chocolate cherries and a jar of original cherry salsa (two of my favorites).
Next we stopped into a clothing shop, Glicks, which I had been in when we visited Frankfurt, Michigan a few years ago (link to post). Glicks is a trendy but sort of funky-cool boutique with reasonable prices and some great finds. The young woman tending shop was also a great personality and fun to talk to. My mom and I both picked up some fleece lined leggings, and I got some uber cool patterned leggings.
Crazy pants. Literally, the softest leggings ever.
Crazy pants. Literally, the softest leggings ever.
Overall, the shop keepers were all super nice, friendly, and funny (unlike the snobbish treatment I’ve received in some California vacation towns). Even the barista at a local coffee shop we ducked into to use the restroom was all smiles and conversation. This has been my experience in most of the shops we’ve gone to in Northern Michigan towns over the last few years. I love it up here! It’s beautiful, and the people are awesome.
Filling Station
We checked into the townhouse at the Traverse Bay Inn in the late afternoon ready for a nap. For the price, you can’t go wrong with this place. Our room had a small entry/lounging area with a studio style kitchen. The upstairs bedroom was cozy with two full size beds. And the downstairs bedroom had a queen and quaint view of snow-covered trees.
We met up with Brian’s buddy Dave, and is family for dinner at the  at the Filling Station Microbrewery. The restaurant is cozy, and in what looks like an old train station. My mom and I were delighted to find that they had great gluten-free pizza. We shared on with basil oil, and an out of control sweet s’mores desert pizza  (minus the graham cracker crumble. It’s not  a gf kitchen, but we did ok (no cross contamination sickness). The pizza was really good, Brian enjoyed his regular (non-gf) pizza too. Good prices, “very good” beer (according to Brian), delicious food and a creative menu. Again, the staff was friendly. For how cold it is up here, Up North is warming on me.
Old Friends
Old Friends
The Filling Station
The Filling Station

Filling Station2


(a Portuguese word meaning an ineffable longing for something lost in time).

Does a place ever call to you, like it has fingers reaching out to you from across the miles and memories?

Has your soul ever found root in the damp rich soil, or between the cracked concrete of a place now long out of reach?

Does the breeze ever waft with tales of people and days long forgotten?

Do you ever close your eyes, breathing in the rich cadmium sunlight, and think to yourself, “to return to there, would be to return to my soul,”?

Image by Ready Set Sarah
Saudade –  on the ReadySetSarah.com (image by Ready Set Sarah)

Wedding Planning at the Airport

I’m headed to Atlanta for the week for what I hope will be an awesome health communication conference. Exciting right?

After nearly missing my flight due to takeoff time confusion (you mean my flight is at noon? Not 2pm? Crap!!!) and a harrowing drive from Royal Oak to DTW; I made it to my seat just in time to learn the plane was broken. Sad. face. Sarah.

We sat patiently on the plane as our takeoff went from 12pm to 1:30, then from 1:30 to 3pm… They finally let us off to get food only to ask us to get back on the plane to grab our stuff and head to the other side of the airport. And now, as I wait for a 5pm flight to Atlanta what else should I do but plan my wedding?

Thank you Delta. Thanks.

So- here are some inspiration boards I have been piecing together with Picstitch using images I have found on Pinterest. Here is a link to my pinterest board where you can find links to all of the image sources (these are not my images).

Bridesmaids and Groomsmen (Images from multiple sources, see Pinterest here)

I really want a warm feel for the wedding, classy but not uptight. We chose a Wtoo bridesmaid dress Macadamia (tan/champaign colored) for my ladies, which means the men will be in rich navy blue suits instead of tan linen as Brian had hoped…. But I think it looks fabulous!

Since more than half of our guests will be coming from out-of-state (the wedding is in Berkeley, CA where I’m, from Brian’s from Michigan) I want to draw in a few little nods to our home states. One of the ideas I’ve had for this is to find vintage travel postcards for Michigan and California cities to use in place of table numbers. Brian says if we do this the bridal party is sitting at “Detroit“. I’m down with that.

Greetings from California- Image from here
Greetings from Detroit (Image from here)

My mother and I both love cobalt blue glass. I thought it would be cool to make our centerpieces from little clusters of different size and shaped blue glass containers (bottles, vases, pitchers, jars), and to fill them with fluffy flowers like peonies and vintage roses in white, pale yellow and pale orange. Like this-

Potential table settings for the wedding (Images via Pinterest)

Oh look, now the sign says 6pm takeoff. I’ll be done planning before I reach Atlanta at this pace! Ok, I was nearly done already, but you’ve got to look for silver linings right? Thank goodness for iPhones and charging stations.

I’m really liking how the blues, yellows, golds, oranges and tans are all coming together. It will all go nicely with my dress which we found when my mom was in town last week! It’s a stunner if I might say so myself… and it is much more dramatic than I ever would have thought I’d choose. Since I can’t show off the dress, I’ll just share a few pics from the dress shopping adventure.

My dress shopping crew! Mom, Bride (me with raccoon eyes), Bridesmaid Teja (Image by Ready Set Sarah)

I ended up falling in love with the first dress I pulled off the rack and tried on a The Wedding Shoppe on Woodward. It was meant to be! The consultant, Natalie, at the Wedding Shoppe was awesome. I would definitely recommend her if you are looking for a wedding dress in the Detroit area. When we went back to take pictures of the dress the next day I noticed the adorable sign welcoming the brides with appointments! I’m the first one on the list!

The welcome sign for ladies with appointments at the shop. (Image by Ready.Set.Sarah)

Update- I finally made it to my hotel in Atlanta at 10pm… that’s a 12 hour travel day for what should have been a 2 hour flight. I could have driven here at that rate and seen a whole lot more of the country!

12 hours and 13 minutes drive from Detroit to Atlanta? I’ll take it (Image by Ready.Set.Sarah)

I Said Yes!

We had already been enjoying one of the best trips we’ve ever had back to my home state. There wasn’t too much more that could make it any better… so I thought.

Brian (formerly the Beau) had a little Thursday morning surprise up his sleeve.

Engagement day images by Ready.Set.Sarah.

Since most of our trip was centered around seeing family, Brian had requested that we take one day to do something alone together. He’s an adamant baseball fan and really wanted to see AT&T Park (where the San Francisco Giants play). I figured since this was his day I’d stay out of the way and just go along for the ride with whatever he planned…

When Thursday morning arrived we were planning on having a little breakfast at home with my mom before taking BART into the city for the mid-day game against the Houston Astros. Instead we were woken by an early morning phone call from my dad- there had been a fire on BART and the track was melted in Oakland heading into the city. Flustered, I started checking ferry boat schedules to find another way into the city (figuring we should get a move-on it since we would be making the trek with the bazillions of other people headed to work, the game, and the US Open also happening in SF area that week).

Brian headed downstairs to the bathroom and I stayed behind in bed intently focused on my task. All of the sudden Brian was back, wide awake and handing me is iPhone. “I need you to watch this video,” he said. “Ok baby, sure,” I replied still distracted. More insistent, he put the phone in my hand and said, “No, I really need you to watch this video. Watch the whole thing, don’t push any buttons or turn it down or anything. When it’s done come find me downstairs”. And with that he turned around and left.

This is what I watched:

BJL Studios Engagement Trailer Video

By the end of this first video I was shaking and laugh-crying. Then another video started. I was stunned, excited, nervous, tickled, and head-over-heels in love the whole time I watched.

When the second video ended I ran down stairs to look for Brian. The rest was a bit of a blur. I remember holding hands with Brian as he told me more sweet things. I remember seeing my mom there and being glad she was part of this. I remember thinking that I should try and remember everything he said… but not being able to hear over the blood rushing in my ears. As he said my full name and began to get down on one knee I think I started saying yes, I’m not sure he even got the question out all of the way before I was jumping into his arms saying yes!

Lands End Images by Ready.Set.Sarah.

After what seemed like a million phone calls and text messages later, my mom let us barrow her car to drive into the city to the game. We were in no hurry, busy basking in the afterglow of the excitement (and staring at the new sparkler on my left hand). We didn’t end up watching much of the game. Brian was amazed at how awesome the stadium is and we fully enjoyed walking around checking out the view of McCovey Cove and soaking in the sunshine.

After a while we decided to leave and enjoy the unusually perfect sunny day in other parts of the city. We made our way across town to Lands End since Brian had read about a new visitors center that just opened at the location of the old Sutro Baths. If you’ve never been to San Francisco- or even if you have- you should check out the new spruced up Lands End. The views of the Pacific Ocean are epic on either a clear or foggy day and the new visitor center has a ton of information and old pictures of what it all looked like back in the day.

We ended the day with a delicious early dinner at Greens in Fort Mason. Brian had made a reservation for 5:30 pm so that we could get a seat by the huge windows looking out over the docks and a the mouth of the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Best. Day. Ever.

Engagement dinner at Greens Fort Mason Image by Ready.Set.Sarah.

Berkeley Bound

Home sweet home! Image by Ready.Set.Sarah.

After spending an awesome weekend in Calistoga for the vineyard wedding, the Beau and I headed back to Berkeley to the house were I grew up. His parents had visited my mom’s home once before for a brief brunch, but this trip was the first time I have really had a chance to show them around my home turf.

It was a big group of us for the day with his parents, his sister Rachel and her boyfriend Jeremy (now Fiance), Jeremy’s uncle, and my mom and I. After a short visit to our favorite shopping and snacking haunts on 4th, we walked through the sunny streets of West Berkeley to my very favorite mexican restaurant, Picante, where I have been ordering Pollo Asado Burritos since I was nigh 6 years old. Ah the chipotle flavored memories of youth.

UC Berkeley Campanile image by Ready.Set.Sarah.

After lunch my mom went home to rest and we met up with my Dad up by his office, which is right next door to UC Berkeley. It was fun to walk around campus seeing it through fresh eyes. It really is such a beautiful place even with the grime of downtown Berkeley around it… I’m still a UC Davis Aggie all the way (and maybe a little Wolverine), but I can appreciate the bayside beauty that is my hometown. Apparently, at the top of the bell tower (Campanile), The Beau asked my father a very important question… wink, wink. I was down below with The Beau’s sister hanging out in the shade, there really was no bad option on this gorgeous Northern California day.

View from the Lawrence Hall of Science Image by Ready.Set.Sarah.

We ended the 1 day Berkeley tour by taking in the vista from the Lawrence Hall of Science parking lot (one of my favorite views in the Berkeley Hills).

Bay Area Image by Ready.Set.Sarah

That is the city of Berkeley and the campus in the foreground, followed by the bay bridge to Treasure Island and finally landing in San Francisco. Man, I hella love the Bay.