Wednesday, June 27, 2012

IKEA with Sue & Dixie

My Christmas gift to Sue, my 99-year-old friend, was a day of shopping at IKEA, lunch included.

It took us until this week to finally get there. Dixie came along with with us. We arrived shortly after opening time and started wandering through the room displays.

Even if I am not shopping for furniture, or for anything for my home, I am always fascinated with the rooms. I get ideas for ways I can change things at home. I love the detail that IKEA puts into its room displays. Not only is there furniture, lighting, wall treatments, and flooring, but there are books on bookshelves, items on other shelves, and all cabinets are packed full of dishes, linens, and everything else that most of us put away out of sight.

What is so special about the room displays is that you see actual room or apartment layouts and can see how the space works and, of course, try out the furnishings. We all took advantage of chairs for short rest breaks.

This was our favorite chair; it can be covered with a wide variety of fabrics, made out of different woods, and comes with an optional foot rest.

We stopped for lunch in the IKEA restaurant.

By the time I got around to taking this picture, we'd finished our lunch which included Swedish Meatballs in Gravy, a Chicken Caesar Salad, Vegetable Medallions, Steamed Vegetables, Apple Cake, Marzipan Cream Cake, Coffee and Tea.

Just about all the foods that are served in the Restaurant, and many more packaged items, are sold in IKEA's Swedish Food Market, which is right in the store. Both Dixie and Sue came home with bags of Swedish Meatballs...Sue also bought Lingonberry Jam, Dixie added cookies to her purchases and I bought Apple Cake.

 And, all of us made other purchases from the store: Throw rugs, hangers, bag fasteners, a laptop lap desk, and more. We are already planning our next outing to IKEA.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Land's End on a Sunny San Francisco Day

Francine is in town for the week. On Friday I met her and Harriet for a day of hiking and visiting. As luck would have it, this was a sunny warm day with not a bit of fog...a perfect day to be outdoors even on the western-most end of San Francisco.

We met at Land's End at the new Visitor's Center, which has been open for about a month and a half.

 The Visitor's Center is a spectacular building which looks out onto the Sutro Baths and toward the Cliff House, all with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean everywhere you look.


 The Center has an information desk, interpretive displays, a gift shop, and a café. There is lots of bench seating in a sheltered area by the Center's entrance and lots more, and more wind-swept, seating along the path in front of the parking lot (lots of free parking here).

Land's End, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, is at the Northwest end of San Francisco.


 The Visitor's Center is at the trailhead of a scenic 2-mile long footpath that follows the shoreline all the way to the Legion of Honor. We first walked the less rigorous El Camino Del Mar Trail to the Legion of Honor and then took the hillier Coastal Trail on our way back. Parts of the Coastal Trail are narrow and steep, with steep flights of rickety steps, but most of it is fairly easy to walk, especially with stops along the way to take in the views. Those who want to hike further can continue further past the Legion of Honor into the Sea Cliff neighborhood and all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge.  Back at the Visitor's Center trailhead, there are still the Sutro Baths down below to explore.

 After a few hours of walking and talking, we were ready for a hearty lunch. Choices in the immediate area include the Visitor's Center café, Louis', a family run café that has been here for over 74 years, and the Cliff House.

 We decided to indulge ourselves with lunch at the Cliff House Bistro, the Cliff House's more casual dining room. The Bistro serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, but does not accept reservations. On a busy sunny Friday our wait was only about 15 minutes. We were seated by a window on the south side, with views of Ocean Beach.


 Our lunch began with a basket of warm popovers! What a treat!

 We all ordered meals that included Bay Shrimp, probably inspired by Fran's mentioning that in Bethesda, where she now lives, she never finds Bay Shrimp on a restaurant menu. Fran had the Shrimp Louis

Harriet had the Seafood Omelet

And, I had the Ocean Beach Sandwich, which was served open faced.

The other dining options in the Cliff House include Sutro's, a more formal restaurant; it serves lunch and dinner daily. For Sunday Brunch, there is the Terrace Room on the lower level; it is open on Sundays for brunch only. Reservations are accepted and advised in both of these dining venues.

Just a note about Louis'...I have never eaten here, but, knowing it is open daily from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. had planned to have breakfast here before meeting Fran and Harriet. But, I got diverted at the Visitor's Center and had coffee and a pastry there instead. As we were walking to the Cliff House, we noted lines of people waiting outside of Louis'. Curious about it's attraction, we stopped in on our way back. It has great views...almost as good as those from the Cliff House...and a menu that is very much like that at the Cliff House Bistro, but with more modest prices. There is seating at a counter and at tables. Some of the people waiting to be seated told us that it is a local favorite and, from what I saw, it looks like it is just as much a favorite with visitors from near and far who come to Land's End to hike. Next time...

All the Cliff House dining rooms (and their bar) have spectacular ocean views, as does Louis'. And, of course, you can always pack a picnic or buy something to eat at the Visitor's Center and sit outdoors there.