Sorry for the long absence. I assume we will be back someday but for now you might just have to call or email us to get our attention. Work has been overwhelming for me and Claire is just trying to keep up with work and everything else that demands her attention.

We will update about our summer though, at least I think we will.

Also it's hot in Austin. 2 months of 100+ weather is no good.

golden gates and cable cars

We finally made it in to San Francisco on Monday. Monday was beautiful. First we traveled down into Muir Woods to see the Redwoods and they are big! At first we didn't think they were even going to be as big as the piney woods in east Texas.

We were wrong. They are pretty amazing trees and it's understandable why people make trips out to see them and walk among them. We stopped up on Hawks Hill to look at the Golden Gate Bridge then drove down to Point Bonita and walked over to the light house out on the edge of the continent. This was by far the best view we will get the whole time we are here. It was breathtaking and amazing. Just as we were driving up the hill it started to get foggy. It was simply amazing. We were both in awe that something like this existed and it isn't all that talked about.

The Golden Gate is an amazing structure but the Lighthouse has the real views. You can look back at the bridge, or off into the ocean, or down at the waves crashing on the rocks. It almost feels like you're off in New Zealand. It was a surreal afternoon.

Then we took the scenic drive back, made a stop at Sausalito beach and headed through a tunnel to get back to the bridge. We made one more quick stop at Fort Point for one last look at the bridge. Then we made our way over to our hotel which is awesome and just west of Downtown and Union Square. We are staying at Hotel Vertigo (which was once the York Hotel, which was the building called the Empire Hotel in Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo). It has recently been renovated (well halfway, they haven't finished yet). We both think it's got a lot of character. It's definitely a cool place to stay.

That night we made our way down into the mission, which turned out to be quite an experience. Lets just say its a very diversified and not the safest feeling place at night. First we headed over to Bi-Rite to try the famous Ice Cream. It was pretty good, actually really good. But, I have to give Austin credit on this one. We both felt like Amy's Ice Cream was a better experience and was more fun to go to. After that we walked over to Weird Fish were we waited for our table outside on a bench. Well we enjoyed the people watching until we were approached by a really, really drunk hobo who was preaching on love. At least that's what we think he was talking about but being Hispanic and drunk, he was a little hard to understand. Oh well, we got a good laugh out of it before dinner. Weird fish didn't really meet my expectations. It was a cool place but the food wasn't as great as I thought it was going to be. Oh well so far we were striking out in the SF food scene.

The next day we attempted to eat breakfast at Mamas in North Beach only to find a line at 9am on a Tuesday that was about 30 people. Instead we opted for Cafe Greco and had some good coffee/chai and a smoked salmon bagel. We did the normal peir 39/fishermans warf tourist thing and enjoyed the seals for a while.

These guys are loud and boisterous. They just lay around and yell, climb on top of each other, and fight. We could probably have stood there for a couple of hours watching these guys.
We checked out Ghirardelli square and had a cupcake at Kara's Cupcakes (Delicious -watch out Sugar Mama's). Then we headed to the Ferry Building (The last operating World Fair Building) and strolled through the farmers market. Snacked on fresh cherries and fruits. We had lunch there at the Slanted Door (also good, very fresh, but not up to expectations). Maybe our expectations were just too high. After visiting a few shops and riding a bus through Chinatown we ended up strolling around in some cool galleries and checking out Union Square. It was busy and full of tourists. I think it is one of those things you have to do while you are here but I don't really care for the hustle of it. For dinner we headed over to Little Star Pizza, who gets the Best Meal of San Francisco Award so far, and is way up there in our Top Pizza places ever list.

The pizza had this thick, crunchy cornmeal crust that held all the toppings in place. It was deep dish but you could it eat with your hands without it all falling off the crust. Perfect, woo...it was good. We then walked over to Alamo park to check out the Painted Ladies and the "Full House" houses (although it wasn't actually the house they lived in). We took a few fun pictures and enjoyed the scenery. Claire was enthralled with the detail of all the Victorians. This area is a stark contrast to the mission area.

More coming soon!

sonoma, muir woods, and the golden gate bridge

So far it has been a whirlwind of a vacation. We have packed in about a week's worth of vacation in two days. Two days ago we ate at La Note for breakfast, shopped around Berkeley, ate at Chez Panisse for lunch, tasted at The Cheese Board, explored Berkeley campus, did a tour of the Pyramid brewery, and ate dinner with Shawn and Mandy. We got to see little Sutton for the first time and that was exciting. Thanks to Rick (Claire's Dad) we got to enjoy a nice dinner out with them.

Then yesterday we headed up to Sonoma. Beforehand we checked out the Alameda Aniques by the bay.

It had an awesome view, and Claire was in heaven with billions of vendors selling old antique stuff.

Surprisingly, even I enjoyed myself. Then we began our tasting at about 8 wineries (I think that would make Howie proud). Our favorites were Kaz and Imagery. Imagery does a unique artists' label for each bottle and Kaz is the smallest in Sonoma. Both had great wines and at Kaz the winemaker is the pourer so it was fun to chat with him. Before anything we stopped at Cornerstone Gardens, which is about 15 different intepretations of the word "garden". It includes a dead tree covered in blue christmas balls.

After that we had some amazing and delicious sandwiches at Angelo's Deli. That place is a great cheap lunch stop in Sonoma. From there on out we did our winery tour.

At Benzinger we did a awesome tram tour and then by about 6 we were worn out and ready to head back to our hotel in Tiburon. The hotel turned out to be awesome. It had a 2 person Jacuzzi tub in the room. Very sweet!

For our last stop of the day we headed over to Sausalito for Sushi. Although it was slightly disappointing food it was still good to get some food before bed (We might have made a stop afterwards at In-N-Out Burger for a burger and a shake). Today we are off to Fred's coffee for breakfast, and then we are sightseeing at Muir woods, Sausalito, and the Golden Gate bridge. By tonight we will be in San Francisco. Woo Hoo!


Its 6am day 3 and we are about to be off to Alameda Antiques by the Bay. Nothing there under 20 years old. Claire is excited. Then we are off to Sonoma for the day for some wine tasting.

I don't have pictures up yet for yesterday but we did a lot of shopping at CB2 and Urban Indigo and a few other places. We had breakfast at La Note, lunch at Chez Panisse (INCREDIBLE, in the top 5 meals of my life), and dinner with the awesome Shawn and Mandy at Levende East. It was a good day, a very good day. I should be back soon with more pictures.

twin peaks and dosa

We got to San Francisco at around 7pm on Friday night. On the recommendation of our fellow passenger and San Franciscan (who was once a Texan, and also had a very unique proffesion) we rushed through renting the car to get to the top of Twin Peaks to catch a great view of the city. If you can't tell from the following pics then let me just tell you it was AMAZING. It was the perfect start to our vacation and I couldn't have found a better view of this city.

After traversing the steep hills to get to Twin Peaks we made our way down into the mission for our planned dinner at Dosa (Indian Food). It was excellent food. We started with a teeny-tiny $9 cocktail, it is expensive here! Then we had a couple soups, one was a spicy tomato broth, the other a creamy, smoky cauliflower dish. Of course we had to actually have the dosa at Dosa. So we went with the traditional masala dosa and added an extra 5 chutneys. All in all it was delicious and we were stuffed and exhausted. We were going to attempt dessert but both were way too full. So we headed across the bay bridge to our hotel in emeryville. Then it was night night.

Today we are off to La Note for breakfast, then we are gonna check out all the shops in Berkeley. Were also gonna hit up the Berkeley Campus, the gate at Pixar, just for a picture, Pyramid Alehouse, Chez Panisse, Beard Papas, The Cheeseboard, and CB2. By the end of the night I am sure we will be exhausted but it will probably be our only chance to see Shawn and Mandy, so we are having dinner with them at Levende East.

california here we are

We arrived safely in San Francisco today. Now we have 8 more days! I couldn't be more excited to be off from work and at a place that has so much going on as far as shopping, food, tourism, culture, and a just plain cool factor. Not only are we going to SF but we are doing one day stops in Berkeley, Sonoma, and Saulsalito/Muir Woods. I have a about a billion places that I want to eat and Claire has a billion she wants to shop at so combine we have a jam packed 8 days. If you are really curious you can check out our google map for our trip. Just go here. Don't be too shocked. If you know Claire and I you know we had to plan every detail of the trip and this map is proof. I think we both plan on trying to update while there and allow you to travel with us through photos!

finally, a baby!

No, we're not pregnant. We're still not planning on having a baby ANY TIME in the near future. Let's stop that train before it starts. BUT, our friend Emily who I photographed here finally gave birth to a precious baby boy.

We're pretty dang excited. I'm pretty sure Emily is too, after 9 hours of labor - and 24 hours of 5-minute-apart contractions prior to that, she was ready to have that baby in her arms. I was blessed, along with our best friend Brooke, dear friend Betsy, and a majority of Em's immediate family (her parents, sister, and husband Charlie to get to witness the whole thing alongside the Doctor and nurses (which included on of Em's good friends, Kelly).

I'll spare you the gory details, but birth is a pretty amazing thing. I never thought I'd be willing to SEE that happen to ANYONE...but at the time, all modesty and preconceived notions totally fell away. It was unexplainable, but one of the coolest things I've ever seen that will stay in my mind forever. It is a beautiful process - painful, yes, but beautiful.

Emily gave birth to Najib Laith Rajeh on May 17th (awesome because his namesake - Charlie's father, Najib - had the same birthday) at 1:00AM. He weighed 8lb even, and was 21.5 inches long. His hair may account for half an inch or so - because it is LONG! (:

Charlie and Emily got to spend their first night at home with Laith last night, so I'm anxious to see how that went!

I'm sorry I'm just now posting about this - I felt like I already had, since I've been posting photos to Em's facebook account as well as a special page for her family. I've been tweeting about it, updating my facebook status...and making phone calls. I didn't mean to leave you guys out!

Without further adieu, I give you photos:

Here's Em, right after she got admitted. Her water hadn't broken yet, which you can tell because she's still smiling.

Seconds after Laith was born - literally. The nurse was handing Laith to Emily as this shot was taken.

Charlie, Emily and her Nurse and friend, Kelly - all admiring precious Laith in his first few minutes of life.

He wasn't too keen on being measured, poked, and prodded. Then again, who is?

Chance holding a day old Laith.

Look at that hair! Seriously!

Getting in his car seat for the first time. Not so sure what to think. (:

cuts so throwed

I am sad to announce the closing of our neighborhood barber shop "Cuts So Throwed". I am not sad because I went there, nor would I go there. I am not sad because I have any idea what Cuts So Throwed means or refers to within the culture that it stands for. What I am sad about is that I can't drive by this local establishment every few days and laugh at my naievity of a language and culture that is foreign to me. Regardless of my cluelessness I will now present to you things that I have found in the last year and things coming up in the next few weeks that I think are "So Throwed".

Feel free to check out the links as I am sure you won't be dissapointed. We will possibly expand on each of these subjects in the future or maybe have a "So Throwed Two" edition.

Tomunchi so throwed: The best yogurt place in Texas. Also the one place that can put me in a good mood instantly.

Obees so throwed: The best deli in Austin serving up traditional deli fare and world class meditternian items as well. Run by the amazing Charlie and Emily.

Polvos so throwed: The best Interior Mexican food this side of the interior of Mexico. Try the Guajillo Fajitas.

Thai-Fresh so throwed: Amazing Thai food prepared by the awesome Chef Jam. She also teaches cooking classes in the Thai-Fresh kitchen. We took a class with her and the Tipsy Texan and it was awesome.

Barcelona so throwed: They just released a new album and it is great. Check it!

Mumford and Sons so throwed: We discovered these guys during SXSW and they are amazing. Haven't stopped listening to them since.

Seabird so throwed: Discovered these guys a while back. Saw them for the first time during SXSW. They had one of the top two shows during the whole festival.

Lex Land so throwed: Amazing, amazing vocalist. Incredible live. Her recorded music doesn't do her justice.

Resident Hero so throwed: In Austin, May 22nd-23rd. It's actually just Ryan White acoustic but it will be incredible.

Paper Route so throwed: In Austin, May 20th at the Mohawk. Great Electronic/Rock out of Nashville.

Laith so throwed: Our dear friend Emily should be having a baby any minute now! Laith Rajeh will join us soon!

San Francisco so throwed: We are vacationing there Jun. 5th-13th. Can't wait for Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, Shopping, The Ferry Building, Wine in Sonoma, The Mission, and everything else about this city. The food: A16, The Slanted Door, Chez Panisse, The Creme Brulee Cart, and most importantly Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream.

photoshoots and things...

I might have mentioned in the last blog that we stink at blogging. I might have also mentioned that we've been busy as heck. Chance has been working a lot, and I've been trying to catch up on work, as well as do about a billion other things.

One of the things I've been doing (well, at least attempting) is shooting some friends. Wait, that sounded bad. Photographing friends. Better?

I did a photoshoot with Candace Christiansen, our Realtor and friend, the last day of March. She needed some temporary headshots for business cards and such. I haven't shot portraits outdoors really (besides just playing around with Chance)...so it was definitely an experiment. But...it was fun for me, and free for her, so hey! It all worked out, I think.

We played around in the arboretum for a while,

And then we headed to Mayfield Park for some different (and better) scenery.

Finally, we stopped on Burnet Road for some of my favorite shots of the day.

All-in-all, it was a relatively good shoot. It made me realize my level of inexperience, and it solidified the fact that I couldn't ever be a professional photographer. It's way too much pressure for me (even though I was shooting in a totally pressure-free situation). I put too much pressure on myself to do well, and when I don't succeed (or meet my own standards) I get disappointed. Also, shoot- photography can get expensive! I shot with my Rebel XT, cheap-o 50mm f 1.8 lens, and the onboard flash - with a DIY diffuser I made from a film canister. If I had better equipment...more experience...anything, these might have turned out quite differently. Makes me respect the Hafners, as well as some of my other photographer friends like Stacy Reeves, Rachel Brooke Stricklin and Michael Cummings even more. But Candace sure is a perrrrrty gal. She was so much fun to photograph (and even more fun to grab a margarita with afterwards)!

I also volunteered to shoot my buddy Emily's maternity photos (I know, you hear a LOT about her, get over it - we spend a lot of time together). I had my concerns, especially since we were shooting so late in the game (she was a month away from her due date). I had even MORE concerns after our failed attempt at a shoot the previous day. We had gotten a very late start, Emily hadn't eaten and got sorta dehydrated/nauseous/terrible feeling, I got devoured by mosquitoes, and the light at the botanical gardens hadn't been what I thought it would be. We went out again that next day - hoping for better, and better we got. I've only edited a handful of these so far, but I'm sure one of us will post more of them on facebook (well, as soon as I give them to her). We shot for the better part of a day, but...I'm glad we did. We got plenty of good shots (although the ones of she and Charlie didn't turn out wonderfully because we ran out of light. Ohhhh well). We headed to Mayfield (one of my favorite new places), and shot a lot at her house, in her own territory. It definitely helped that she's absolutely freaking beautiful.

There have been plenty of other things going on...Em's baby shower (also late in the game, but fun, nonetheless), painting furniture for her nursery, my sister coming in town, re-planting our flowerbed and trying to fix our yard. And that's just the tip of the massive iceberg. Still haven't gotten around to going through the photos from our SXSW adventures back in March (but you SHOULD check out one of our new favorite bands that we heard during SXSW for the first time, Mumford and Sons).

Alritey. That's still all I've got for you. Pretty darn sure we've lost all our readership (and our credibility - well...maybe only from those of you who follow me on twitter). (:

Maybe we'll get better at this whole blogging thing. I think we're both just waiting for things to get less busy, or for something to change...but pretty soon we'll be giving up on that whole thing.

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