Bakesale Betty

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This is a post I’ve been afraid to write because it features my absolute favorite lunch spot and I’m worried that if I let the not-so-secret secret out it’ll be so popular that the line will wrap around the block. Today, I HAD to write about Bakesale Betty. If you’ve ever done a Google search for the best chicken sandwich in the Bay Area, you probably already know about this place.

Open Tuesday-Saturday, Bakesale Betty opens up shop in a nondescript location in the Temescal neighborhood in Oakland, California. You’ll know the place by the long line that always forms just after opening. The ironing boards for tables outside are also a dead giveaway that you’ve found the right place.

We go here at least three times a week for the incredible fried chicken and coleslaw salad. The chicken is mildly spicy and the cabbage slaw is every bit of the crunchy, vinegar goodness it looks to be.

My sweet tooth rules my life and Bakesale Betty has my favorite cookie…ever. The Ginger-Molasses cookie is TO DIE FOR. All caps are absolutely necessary here. Go get and I’ll await your freak out.

A couple of weeks ago, we noticed a new, sweet item on the menu – a homemade banana nut bread. I’ve always loved banana nut bread, but they go for gold with the sandy, sugar topping. The top is a crusty brown sugar mixture that they lovingly refer to as ‘sand’.

The banana nut bread was so good that we went back for a full loaf the next day. Ben made a big deal about it being amazing and lo and behold THE Bakesale Betty overheard him and lit up, “Thank you! I made that.” We couldn’t stop gushing about how good it was and what idiots we were for not getting more.

She remembered us because when we saw today’s new menu item – Rhubarb Orange Pie – we knew we needed to try a slice. Betty overheard our order this time and pulled us aside to give us a full pie because she knew we were going to die and go to dessert heaven. Meeting Betty was how I imagine meeting the Pope might be – a holy, divine culinary goddess.

Now you know my best kept secret;)  Bakesale Betty is Oakland’s finest.

What to Know

Bakesale Betty is open Tuesday – Saturday from 11am-2pm. The line moves faster than it looks!

They offer fried tofu for our vegetarian friends – it’s equally amazing.

Check out their Facebook page for more enticing photos.

Mikkeller Tasting Room and Bottle Shop

My brother and his wife were in town for a quick visit this weekend so we headed down to the Rockridge neighborhood in Oakland, California. Rockridge is a friendly neighborhood with a busy main street, College Avenue, that runs through the middle. There is everything from Irish dive bars, to Pilates studios, to ice cream parlors and ramen shops.

My brother and his wife are big beer drinkers – which is something I know nothing about. Fortunately, a new specialty beer shop and tasting room just opened up next to my favorite coffee spot. Walking in to Mikkeller Tasting Room, you immediately feel like you are walking into the lobby of a brewery gearing up for a tour.

The space is narrow but designed to draw your attention to the fully stocked cooler and shelves. There you’ll find a vast and impressive spread of specialty beer and, in our case, mead. It is like a library of interesting flavors. You could easily spend a half hour just perusing the selection.

The walls have really rad art tying the space together. The register is also a tasting bar where you can find even more delicious draft beer. The bartender was extremely knowledgeable about every unusual product on the shelves and was happy to talk about what made each special.

Jake & QianQian ended up going home with the EvilTwin Brewing Imperial Biscotti Break stout and the D.O.T.D. Chili Chocolate Black Lager. Ben picked up the Simcoe Mead Kitchen.

What to Know

Mikkeller Tasting Room and Bottle Shop is open from 11:30am-11pm daily. Check out their website for selection and upcoming events.

Tree for Pilates Reformer

A lot of the exercises I’ve been focusing on this week are especially great in promoting spinal articulation. This exercise is called Tree and it’s an intermediate level exercise. It’s important to maintain an engaged core to support your spine. I love the leg stretches at the beginning of this exercise – it feels especially yummy as a hamstring stretch.

Here’s how to do Tree:

Keeping one foot pulling taut on the strap, extend and flex your gesture leg three times.

After the third time, keep your gesture leg extended and bring both hands to meet at your ankle.

Begin to slowly walk your hands down your leg and you roll your spine down vertebrae by vertebrae.

Once you feel your sacrum level on the short box, release your head to look back – keeping your hands on your leg for support.

If you feel like you want more – extend your arms over head and grab on to the rails of your reformer to enter a full spinal extension.

Take an inhale to tuck your chin and your draw your arms back up to the gesture leg. Begin to walk your hands back up that leg as your spine peels off the box.

Once your spine is back in neutral, bend your knee and set your gesture leg down.

Here’s what that looks like all together:

This exercise is best done towards the end of a workout. Making sure your hamstrings and abs are warm and firing before putting them to the test.

Developé for Pilates Reformer

One of my favorites things about Pilates homework is getting to do some delicious stretches. The Developé is one of my favorite Pilates exercises. It’s an intermediate level exercise because of the coordination required and the core strength necessary to keep your spine supported with one moving leg. Once you start to use the correct muscles – at the right time – you find a flow that is so satisfying. It’s a full body stretch and roll that feels like a full body yawn.

Here’s what the Developé exercise for Pilates Reformer looks like:

Start by placing your right toes on the footbar and your left leg extended out to a 45° angle – toes pointed.

As you push your right leg out to straight, bend your left leg to move through bicycle before extending the left leg straight up to the ceiling.

Straight leg to ceiling – point your toes!

Keeping both legs straight, drop your left leg down to tap the foot bar before raising that leg back up to the ceiling.

Stay here. Flex both feet – dropping your right heel under the footbar. Point both feet.

Bend your right knee to control the return of the carriage as your left knee bends to move through bicycle before extending back out to your starting position at 45°.

Here’s what that looks like all together:

What to Know

I’m teaching a free Community Pilates Reformer Class at Truve in Oakland, California every Monday morning from 9:30am-10:30am. Visit TruveFit.com to register.

Oaktown Spice Shop

Oaktown Spice Shop

“We have to go to Oaktown Spice Shop.” Whenever we are in the Lake Merritt area of Oakland, Ben is drawn like a moth to the flame. This place holds the most delicious part of any homemade dish. The flavors lined along the shelves provide a rich perfume throughout the store. I wish you could smell these pictures. There are spices for everything here – baking, diy tea blends, bbq rubs, salts and peppers, and everything in between. Check it out next time you’re strolling around Lake Merritt.

Cocoa Powder, nutmeg, and baking powder - oh my!

The wall of spices for baking are a dream for any one with a sweet tooth and an imagination.

Spice racks Herbs

The herb shelf is where Ben spends a lot of his time. He’s always adding complex flavor with inspiration from these shelves. (See his Garam Chicken Masala Recipe.)

I love the second room because of this little knickknacks shelf. They have vintage spice cans on display right next to modern kitchen accoutrements. I feel like I have to look at everything before I can move on.

Cute shelves with fun extras This jar smells like spring

I can’t even begin to convey how amazing this jar smells – it’s like spring. There were jars of dried lavender and chamomile – if you close your eyes you’ll swear you’ve been to heaven.

How cute are these shopping baskets? I felt like I was foraging.

I love the grocery basket.

What to know

Oaktown Spice Shop is a full-on treasure trove. This place smells incredible and it’s directly across the street from Lake Merritt.

Estate Sale Shopping in Oakland

SALE Estate Sale

There’s nothing I love more than a bargain. It’s in my blood. Growing up, my cousins and I would load into minivans at the family reunion and head off to all the garage sales, thrift stores, and antique shops we could find. The goal was to nab the most unique treasure and to have never paid full price. With this in mind, I was excited when we stumbled upon this estate sale in the Warehouse District in Oakland – Something to Sell About.

Oakland's Warehouse District Something To Sell About

As we start construction on our home, we’re keeping our eyes peeled for pieces to start decorating the new space. Most of the time, I don’t find anything but I’m always fascinated to see the items people decorated their homes with. I wonder about the stories behind some of them…especially the creepy dolls and that weird, stone cat.

Sale on sales

This place had sales on top of sales on top of sales. Huge pieces of Victorian furniture acted as walls for tiny nooks filled with knick-knacks. I love a good rocking chair, but I didn’t find the one today. img_2611

Need a spear? Sure you do. You didn’t know you did, but you you did. Of all the things to uncover in this place, a spear? These are the kind of things that make me wonder about the original owner. Who? And, why?

Creepy Stone Cat

Since we’re asking the hard-hitting questions here…what’s up with this stone cat? It looks like it’s staring directly at you no matter where you’re standing. Also – this lone doll wearing an over-sized communion dress sitting in the foreground of yet another creepy painting of a little girl. Imagine walking into this room at night…

Creepy doll Lamps

Lamps and a pushy salesman. Hey, some people like that, but I’m just here to look. I’m here to look at things like this random Hoosier Want List. My dad is a native of Indiana so finding a Hoosier Want List from 1908 felt like fate. I left it there, but the list is interesting.

Hoosier Wish List

This is no ordinary piano – it’s a Melodian. It’s a type of pump organ which means you have to be constantly peddling it to make it play. Ben attempted to break it down on this bad boy, but one of the keys was stuck so we moved on.

Melodian

We didn’t go home with anything but that doesn’t mean we didn’t find some treasures.

What to know

Something to Sell About is located near Jack London Square in Oakland, California. They open up their warehouse once or twice a month to let shoppers take a look. Check it out next time you’re in town. You never know what you’ll find.

Bubbles By The Bay

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It’s supposed to rain in Northern California for the next week and you can feel it in the air. Our drought-plagued part of the world really needs this rain, but there’s something so deflating and drowsy about days and days of rain. Yesterday was our calm before the storm – the last real day of sunshine for the next week.

But, when USPS sends new Champagne flutes you make a night out of it! Plus, who doesn’t love a good un-boxing?

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Our household has been obsessed with bubbly rose for the last seven months. Part of the joy of grocery shopping is stopping by the wine shop and perusing the extensive collection. We searched high and low for the perfect wine flutes and we’re STOKED with these new Waterford Champagne flutes. The design is clean, geometric, and the way the bubbles move in the glass is mesmerizing.

We stepped out on the porch to enjoy our new flutes and the view of the Bay Area transitioning from day to night.

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As the sun snuck behind the horizon, we watched as the tiny, flickering lights began turning on in unison  – like stars dotting the landscape. Their brightness constantly moving, like the bubbles in our glass – dancing and illuminating life.

What to know

These Waterford Champagne Trumpet Flutes are a great bang for your buck.

Ramen Shop

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Ramen is not something I’m used to going out of my way for. I have a massive sweet tooth so when it’s my turn to decide where to eat – it’s usually for dessert.

Last night, Ben had a craving for ramen so we headed out for date night. Right down the hill, sandwiched in the heart of the Rockridge neighborhood in Oakland, CA, lay an unassuming but super yummy spot, Ramen Shop.

We always go early on for dinner service and by the time we arrived shortly after 5pm the place was already starting to fill up. This is a great sign for a restaurant you’re trying for the first time – it means people like it enough to leave work early.

We started off with the pickled veggies – sancho cabbage, yellow carrots with jalapeno, watermelon radish with chilis, and lime kohlrabi

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I mean, who doesn’t love a good pickle plate?

Next up, we ordered the Spicy Chicken Karaage – with fermented guava chili sauce and glardiniera pickles.

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The chicken was perfectly tender and not crazy spicy.  I can’t handle too much heat, but this had just the right amount of kick. Plus, my Atlanta roots keep me ordering fried chicken anywhere I find it.

Finally, we both ordered the Veggie Meyer Lemon Shoyu Ramen – with a salt-cured egg, maitake and king oyster mushrooms, broccolini, shaved Toyko turnips, roasted purple carrots, and mizuna.

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Holy God, this was SO SO GOOD! The broth is something I’ll be dreaming about for a while. I’m glad this place is close!

What to Know

Ramen Shop is a great date-night spot.
They’ll do a pop-up test kitchen at Starline Social Club in Winter 2017.
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Mountain View Cemetery

As they pulled around the turn-about to park his truck, she wasn’t sure why they were here. Looking across the perfectly manicured lawn, she saw gravestone after gravestone dotting the hillside. “Why would he bring me here on Valentine’s Day,” she wondered. It was a beautiful place, but she still hadn’t reconciled her feelings about death. The peaceful atmosphere of this place threw her for a loop. Death is terrifying…so, why is a place that houses the dead so…peaceful?

He came around to the passenger side door and opened it as though she were a Queen needing assistance from her carriage. “I’ve put together a picnic. Let’s go up to the top.” The sweetness of the moment was not lost on her. He had a dark sense of humor and always teased her about her existential fear of the unknown. In many ways, this was the perfect place for both of them.

The graveyard covered a huge swath of a steep Oakland hill overlooking the flats below and a sweeping view of San Francisco on the other side of the Bay. He led her to the top of of the hill, passing more and more grandiose graves the higher up they got. At the top lay Millionaire’s Row. A series of fancy mausoleums…mansions for the dead. He laid out a blanket and started setting up all the cheeses, breads, nuts, and sandwiches he made for her. She was suddenly aware that for a moment she lost herself; her fear of being around the dead. She realized that whether she could understand it or not, she felt at peace here. The warm sun, the green grass and tall, wise trees. There was a warm company here. Her fear, it seemed, was nothing but a reflex left over from childhood. This calm feeling of acceptance is something she had searched for her whole life. She wasn’t aware of how it happened, just that it happened.

What to know:

Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, CA is a must-see!

I found out there are McKee and Cobb graves via this.

East Bay SPCA

“We couldn’t do it without our volunteers. The amount of hours our volunteers put in each year equal that of eighteen full time employees. So, we’re really glad you’re here.” Our volunteer coordinator, Laila, seemed as excited to have us as we were to be there. After beginning our search for the perfect pooch for our family we wanted to find a way to use our time to help all those animals we were coming across that we couldn’t adopt. We contacted our local SPCA and said, “Let us walk dogs and tell everyone we know about them!” After what equated to a ‘hell yeah, come on down’, we pulled up to the East Bay SPCA facility to start our volunteer training.

“Ok, so we’ve talked about about physical characteristics that help us identify the dog’s behavior. Relaxed ears and mouth with a wagging tail would indicate a happy pup, while side-eye and tucked tail would indicate a more fearful animal. So, let’s test you. Mary, what do you see in this picture?”

“Oh, well, that dog is all like ‘What up, babe! Let me lean on you. Wanna play?’ and the other one is all like, “Ew, get this disgusting piece of trash off of me. ”

Silence.

Ben chimes in with, “I see alert ears and ‘whale-eye’ (i.e. side-eye) so I would say that dog is uncomfortable.” Laila looks to me, and then Ben and says, “Yes”.

Okay, so maybe I personify dogs. Maybe I see dogs as more aware, cute, little human babies. Whatever it is, I’ve never met a dog I didn’t immediately fall in love with and whose cheeks I wanted to squeeze. Volunteering at the SPCA to walk and play with dogs (or sometimes just spend time in the kennel with the more fearful ones) is one of the most uplifting parts of my week. There are too many funny personalities that I get to hang out with every week to not give shout outs and spread the word to all of you out there looking to fall in love with a special pooch. I’m just here to let you know about a few of my favorites. Today, I have a special guy to tell you about.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my pleasure to introduce you to….*drumroll*….

STUART!!

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Ugh, first of all, be still my heart. This is the happiest little man on the planet. I guarantee there is nothing you could do to ruin his mood. This chihuahua mutt is a little ball of energy who loves taking a break from running around the yard to come over and jump in your lap and beg for a belly rub. Last week, some one put a Santa harness on him and my heart almost jumped out of my body.

What To Know:

Check out which dogs are still available for adoption at the East Bay SPCA.

Head over to the Oakland or Dublin locations to meet some cuties.

Want to volunteer? There are many ways to help! Check it out here.

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