The temporary hiatus was really a wonderful vacation – no email, no blog posting, and (mostly) no internet. I feel rested and relaxed. I like having a break from my normal routine. Upon return, the routine seems not quite so routine.
I didn’t get much chance to cook while I was away. Just one batch of anise biscotti. My sister didn’t have brandy, so I substituted 1 tsp. of almond extract and increased the vanilla extract to 1 tsp. as well. It was a tasty change that you might try if you don’t like or want to use brandy. We were able to enjoy biscotti all week. Ironically, they fit nicely in an empty Costco biscotti container. It fooled the visitors quite nicely.
Our trip to San Francisco was rather low-key. It was mostly dictated by the moods and schedule of my 4-month old niece – baby A. I might be slightly biased, but she is really adorable and a very happy baby. Since my last visit, she has learned how to smile and laugh, how to clasp her hands, suck her thumb and hold up her head. She can also hold things and kick the dangling toys. She is almost sitting by herself! Baby A was the star and leader of our trip. We took her to the beach and to the park. We went on walks while she napped.
We were very fortunate to have amazing weather. I’ve been to the beach in San Francisco before, but usually it’s for a brisk walk where we’re trying to pretend that it’s not freezing. It was actually beach weather this time! We spent an afternoon lolling at the beach – no small feat for four adults, a baby, and a dog. I commend my sister for her stellar planning on this. We picked up sandwiches and had a picnic. The dog had fun working on his fetch skills and seeing how dirty he could get. We lolled as much as we could with all of the activity around us and small beings that needed our attention.
We also went to the California Academy of Science in Golden Gate Park. This is a fairly new museum, designed by Renzo Piano. One of it’s main features is a green roof with over 2 acres of plantings on 7 “hills.”
These hills contain mini weather stations and windows to help regulate the inside temperature and humidity. Inside the building underneath the largest hills are two globes – one contains a planetarium and the other contains a biosphere with a rainforest. In one afternoon we were able to go the bottom of the ocean via the aquarium exhibits, and the top of the trees. Amazing!
The elements of the building were expertly incorporated into the exhibits. I like how you could look up through layers of exhibits and see the fish, the rainforest, and the sky all at once. It was a very strange experience. This building is an impressive feat of architecture and construction. I’ve been reading about it for awhile, so I was excited to finally experience it for myself. I can now understand what all the hype is about. It is inspiring to see how a building can shape a situation, a mood, and an experience through a unique and intelligent design. I’m sure the construction budget was no small sum, yet wouldn’t you rather see a smart, creative building that challenges how you interpret space, than a building that looks like this?
The lower level of the Academy of Science contains an aquarium. I love visiting aquariums, and this one did not disappoint. The exhibits were extremely family-friendly. Tanks were at all different heights to accommodate even the shortest young visitor. Although this was not as large as the New England Aquarium in Boston, it had an extensive and varied selection of marine life from waters all over the world. There were many new species to discover, like this guy below. There was also a “petting” zoo where you could play with sea urchins, starfish and other crustaceans.
If you are in San Francisco and are looking for an activity, I would highly recommend a visit to the Academy of Sciences. On Thursdays they also offer a club night for the over-21 set. The changing exhibits and animal activity will make this a place to visit repeatedly if you live in the area. There is something to appeal to all age groups and levels of scientific curiosity. I saw families, couples on dates, and individuals from all over the world. Everyone had a smile on his or her face. I can’t wait to go back with baby A when she is older and will do more than just nap her way through the museum.
I think baby A enjoyed our visit. I know I certainly did. Now you can see how I was distracted over the past week. I’m settling back into my routine and I have some new recipes I hope to share with you soon!