Bye, Bye Miss American Pie

Happy Birthday ‘Murica. Did everyone have a good 4th of July weekend? As usual, I look forward to our big family reunion on Great Uncle Jack’s almond farm in Modesto, CA. It’s the highlight of the summer as far as family events are concerned. My Japanese American side of the family (Dad’s side) literally planted their roots in California’s farming country (as did many Japanese Americans after the war) where they raised almonds, strawberrys, and peaches. Without giving you a history lesson since that’ll be it’s own book, I’ll just round up the highlights of this year’s festivities.

We grandkids have a very close relationship with our Obachan, aka “Granny.” So even with all that has happened to her this year, at 92 years of age she was able to enjoy the day (wheel chair and all with the special thanks to my mom and Auntie Kioko.) The boyfriend came with our fur baby Boo to meet the entire family which was incredibly fun. It was great to show him the farm and countryside as he’s never been before. Everyone adores Boo and everyone agrees Tracy fits right in with our big fam. And to verify acceptance, Great Auntie Fumi said “oh my, he’s so handsome” *winks*..so there’s that hehe :D

All us cousins are grown up now and as we’ve gotten older we’ve become much more connected, i.e playing multiple rounds of a boardgame called Tsuro. It’s challenging, and we were all really into it. Old photo albums were out to look at, most of which were from the 60’s-70’s, some earlier. I love looking through those polaroids, Granny and Auntie they were quite fashionable with their cat-eye glasses. Eerily, there’s a lot of facial expressions Auntie Kioko makes in these photos, and they are quite distinct so apparently it’s genetic as I have those distinct expressions as well…yep the older I get, I’m becoming more like my Aunt. Hmph.

It’s not a party without food, and we take it very seriously here. We’re all bakers and cooks, at least the women are. So every year we have an array of grass fed burgers, polish sausages, salmon patties, sushi, Japanese fried chicken, at least 5 different salads, and cousin Barbara’s 3 different homemade ice creams to accompany some sort of pie or cake. By the time everyone eats and rests and eats again, the sun is setting and we light some firecrackers and call it a mighty full day.

Family is really everything here and any third party observing can see just how strong our personalities, genetics, and sense of humor really trickles down to each person and generation. My Dad grew up in Modesto and he’s instilled this great sense of work ethic into my brother and I. It’s incredibly humbling and the respect for our parents and grandparents are of the utmost, that never goes away.

From my family to yours, we wish you the best :) As always, thanks for reading.

Greylin Collection Overalls and Kombucha on this very hot 4th. Cheers!
Greylin Collection Overalls and Kombucha on this very hot 4th. Cheers!

IMG_6435

Cousin Cyndy's rice crispy treats
Cousin Cyndy’s rice crispy treats
Great Uncle Jack's Barn. Many a basketball game played here.
Great Uncle Jack’s Barn. Many a basketball game played here.
Ever seen an almond? This is an almond, they're kinda furry.
Ever seen an almond? This is an almond, they’re kinda furry.
Observing the orchards :)
Observing the orchards :)
Auntie Kioko's Coconut Cream Pie. She's an assassin in the kitchen.
Auntie Kioko’s Coconut Cream Pie. She’s an assassin in the kitchen.
We got a bit festive this year, last year we didn't have these.
We got a bit festive this year, last year we didn’t have these.
Overalls, because I'm in the country but still chic. yes.
Overalls, because I’m in the country but still chic. yes.
We like our organic ginger beer. yes.
We like our organic ginger beer. yes.
The Farm
The Farm
Cousin Barbara's Homemade Ice Cream. Peach on left. Strawberry on right.
Cousin Barbara’s Homemade Ice Cream. Peach on left. Strawberry on right.
Alrighty, time to go back inside. Until next year!
Alrighty, time to go back inside. Until next year!

What I wore:

Sunnies: Le Specs

Overalls: Greylin Collection

Shoes: Teva

Wine Country

People are always shocked when I say that I’ve never really experienced Napa Valley, simply because as an adult I’ve been in Southern California the majority of the time. My parents go often, either for themselves or to entertain guests so I end up living and eating vicariously through them. Bouchon, The French Laundry, Ad Hoc…It seems like everyone and their cousins have been except for me. So to my surprise last Sunday after being bed ridden with what seemed like the plague, the beau decided to pack me in the car and drive on up to Napa for the day. Sweet, right?

IMG_6242

Trip highlights:

Perusing all the vendors at Oxbow Public Market. There’s just so much going on and so many wonderful smells of all kinds of cuisines permeating the place. It’s overwhelming, but in a tasty sensory overload kind of way.

Making a pit stop at Vallarta Market to try their famed burrito. Who goes to Calistoga for a burrito? We did…and it was divine….it’s hidden in this tiny little Mexican grocery store, luckily you can get directions to such establishment here: 1473 Lincoln Street, Calistoga, CA

Going to Bouchon Bakery to pick up gingerbread muffins for Mama and Papa. It’s a bustling little place that I call bread heaven: 6528 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

Ending our trip with a surprise dinner reservation at Ad Hoc by Thomas Keller. Each night is a different prefix menu and I’m still full just thinking about our meal. In all honesty, the Cream of Mushroom Soup was my favorite, served with a gruyere cheese crostini. The main dish was Veal Scallopini served on whipped gold potatoes and broccolini romanesco. And finally for dessert, Vanilla Ice Cream Sundaes with butterscotch, pecans, and strawberry sauce. Needless to say, I am back at the gym and hot yoga to work all of this off!

Model Behavior at The Model Bakery in Napa. How cool is their planter box sign? Little succulents make up their signage. http://www.themodelbakery.com
Model Behavior at The Model Bakery in Napa. How cool is their planter box sign? Little succulents make up their signage. http://www.themodelbakery.com
Had to try Model Bakery's world famous English Muffins. You'll never settle for store bought packaged english muffins again.
Had to try Model Bakery’s world famous English Muffins. You’ll never settle for store bought packaged english muffins again.
The Oxbow Wine and Cheese Merchants are inside the public market in Napa. I'm a big cheese fan, so of course we had to try their charcuterie and delectable cheese spread. The ideal lunch, really.
The Oxbow Wine and Cheese Merchants are inside the public market in Napa. I’m a big cheese fan, so of course we had to try their charcuterie and delectable cheese spread. The ideal lunch, really.
Pit stop to take in the view at Robert Mondavi Winery. Beautiful estate, and by this time we got there as the sun was about to set.
Pit stop to take in the view at Robert Mondavi Winery. Beautiful estate, and by this time we got there as the sun was about to set.
I love this view. It was very cold, but luckily my Lovers + Friends Moto Jacket kept me warm. Check out those endless rows of grapevines!
I love this view. It was very cold, but luckily my Lovers + Friends Moto Jacket kept me warm. Check out those endless rows of grapevines!
I was surprised by a wonderful dinner reservation at Thomas Keller's famed Ad Hoc. Every night is a different prefix menu, I think I'm still full from it all. Just perfect.
I was surprised by a wonderful dinner reservation at Thomas Keller’s famed Ad Hoc. Every night is a different prefix menu, I think I’m still full from it all. Just perfect.

>>>The Model Bakery<<<

>>>Thomas Keller<<<

What I wore: Lovers + Friends Babe Moto Jacket