Life has been so busy lately it has been easy to forget things. Leaving for work without grabbing breakfast, throwing in the laundry without starting the dryer, running to the store and leaving half of the important things, putting meatloaf in the oven and forgetting to set the timer resulting in a meat brick covered in smoking ketchup, all uh-oh moments that have found themselves condensed within the past week or four. A month long schedule that included babe getting used to longer work days (yay for his new promotion!), watching him spend hours upon hours on school work to complete his masters, family coming and going, a couple of unexpected medical procedures (all are doing great), adjusting to early morning work outs squeezed into our normal cooking, cleaning and making sure the cat is still alive routine. Most weeknights we are lucky if we make it through a solid rerun of Big Bang Theory before passing out by ten. It’s been one of those sink or swim, test to our home-life sort of adjustments.

Fortunately, for our own sanity, we have had the smarts about us to stop and take breaks as needed. What good is all the work if you can’t reap some benefits? And we have reaped.

Besides some mild shopping, to prepare for fall, of course, and our monthly trip to the coast house, we have done some pretty descent eating out. Sadly, cooking has been one of the responsibilities that has taken a back seat during all of our new adjustments. Happily though, my husband has amazing taste in menus and knows my favorite spots to substitute home cooked meals from. It is extremely rare for us to eat out on a week night, it is even rarer when we do it twice. This past month we have leaned on the excuse of celebration to eat at two of our top fave local restaurants.

On what I call the back side of Railroad Square, in sort of a borderline undesirable location, sits Stark’s Steakhouse with it’s undeniable vintage hollywood appeal. From the exterior neon lights to the tiled roof, black trim and awnings, the outside makes me feel like I am walking into a night lounge from the 1950s to watch a woman sing sultry break up songs by a piano. The interior immediately feels dark and moody, thanks in part to the dim lighting and heavy leather club chairs that great you in the waiting area. Opening into what my husband calls, “the inspiration for his future man den,” the dark slate and brick walls, fireplace, deer sculptures and leather bound books are all enough to make a modern day Ron Burgandy weak in the knees. As if they didn’t have you at hello, wait until you eat. Food that has created it’s own local caliber, we have yet to find one thing on the menu we don’t boast over. I can’t go there and not have the calamari. Mashed potatoes, multiple macaroni and cheese options from the “Oodles of Noodles” section (you can imagine how well that goes over with us), truffled french fries and steaks upon steaks upon toppings for your steaks. Although I usually go for the classic New York with Peppercorn sauce, I have ordered one of their aged specials and literally had to call my parents to tell them how good it was. My only complaint, other than the wait staff being rather hit or miss, is we have never made it to dessert. We are always so full when we leave there that we end up with doggy bags. No shame in our game.


For somewhere we don’t go to that often, the prices are not exactly your common Tuesday night meal out, I felt it only fitting I pick something out of the back of the closet that also doesn’t go anywhere often. Enter, the all black jumpsuit, or as I call it, the onsie. There is something about a good jump suit that makes me feel like no matter where the night may go, I will be ready. Me and my onsie, unstoppable. My personal highlight of the evening was wearing a recent surprise, for no good reason at all, gift from Ryan. Taking into consideration my pride of being a born and raised Californian, and my obsession of all things gold, Mr. O found an amazing jewelry artist named Julie Godsey creator of theFolk, on Etsy, that creates handmade to order pieces of art. Big on personalization, her states, initials and even customized name necklaces are officially on my good find list. I love it.


Not but a week later we made a visit to somewhere close to my heart (stomach) and close to home, subsequently it is also a location featured not too long back in one of my previous posts, and happens to be a part of the same restaurant group as Stark’s, Willi’s Wine Bar. Not much left to say that I haven’t already touched upon other than the fact that is flawless and I got much better photos of our favorite menu selections this go around due to us being seated on their adorably quaint outdoor patio. Other than the crab tacos, mac and cheese and bbq pulled duck (the best thing in the world), this time we added something new for us to the mix of small plates and tried the crab and artichoke flatbread. I am not sure why it’s not just called pizza, but am so happy that we stepped out of our shell and tried it. We will absolutely be ordering that again.


Willi’s came at the end of a very long day, in the middle of what had felt like a hundred long weeks. Although I don’t brandish myself a complete materialist, sometimes a tangible object can add just the right level of sentiment to an evening. My tangible sentiment was a vintage multi chained necklace that I decided to add to my otherwise somewhat dull maxi dress. It was given to me by one of my mother’s very best friends as a hand me down from an older woman who passed away some years back. The woman lived a few houses over in my childhood neighborhood and although I have no way of knowing what the necklace meant to her, to me it means a reminder of the village I came from and the people in it. A reminder we all need every once in a while.


Rounding out the month of September with a trip to the coast house for the annual Little River Golf Tournament allowed us to endure our last week of such heavy transitions with food for our soul. The weekend always consists of the same cast of characters, story swapping that often becomes legendary (partly to my Uncle Al’s unique ability to BS), lunch with the ladies, Grandma time and lots of wine. This trip even presented some unexpected photo ops when I  suddenly found myself falling in love with an abandoned train compartment.


As we enter into October some the stress and new adjustments have settled, the rest at least have a light ended tunnel ahead. We made it, as expected, and as much of a whirlwind it all seemed to be it was well worth it. I am so proud of where Ryan has gotten himself and proud of myself for not completely falling apart while cheering him on. They say that behind every great man there stands a great woman. I am not sure if I completely believe that in it’s entirety, but for now, I’ll take it.