Fun Stuff To Do

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

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Looking for the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for that special someone?  Here are some ideas.

Red Crystal Paperweight from Tiffany & Co (pictured above)

Bronners Christmas Wonderland (from whom I order lots of my ornaments), also has Valentine’s goodies:

 Dragonfly Cakes, maker of adorable petit fours (precious little cakes) for many seasons and occasions including Valentine’s Day:

Jelly Belly gift box:

More Tiffany Valentine’s Gifts:

This Tiffany Cupcake charm is darling:

I love this Tiffany Pink Ring:

Valentine Gift Baskets

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Valentine Cookie Bouquets


Valentine’s Day Appetizer: Mini Heart-Shaped Chicken Quesadillas

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Ingredients (for making 7 minis):

2 large/burrito-size flour tortillas

1 heart cookie cutter                                  

½ cup diced (really tiny) cooked chicken

½ cup grated Monterey Jack cheese

Using heart cookie cutter, cut out 14 (more or less depending on the size of your cookie cutter) hearts from tortillas.  Mix chicken and cheese together in bowl.  Top seven tortilla hearts with spoonfuls of chicken/cheese mixture, and top with remaining tortilla hearts.  Broil in oven or toaster oven about 5 minutes, turn over and broil another minute.  Serve with salsa, sour cream, and/or guacamole.  You can add more spice to these by using Pepper Jack cheese instead of regular Jack, or by adding chopped green chiles (from can) to chicken/cheese mixture.

Top Table with Red Roses on Valentine’s Day

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KISS — Keep It Simple and Stunning with rich, red, classic roses, petals and candles.

Prime Steakhouse in Ventura

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I’ve been meaning to give a nod to Prime Steakhouse in Ventura since eating there about a month ago with my husband and some friends.  What a fantastic restaurant.  We were all impressed by the ambiance, service, wine, and food. 

As soon as we walked in the door, we were greeted by the very personable owner who showed us to our table.  We were soothed by the romantic and relaxing mood set by the dim lighting, charming arty décor, and talented jazz trio.  Our waiter was very friendly and helpful, and guided us in our food and wine selections.  We all ordered the special – a four course meal that included choices of appetizer, salad, entrée, and side dish.  I chose the grilled shrimp appetizer and my husband had the tuna tartare (ahi tuna with avocado and spicy Thai chili sauce).  Mine was good, but I recommend the tuna tartare.  I had the Steak House Wedge (iceberg lettuce, hickory bacon, tomato, red onion and blue cheese dressing); my husband had the Caesar Salad.  For my entrée I ordered the filet mignon, and my husband ordered the prime rib.  For our side dishes we both had the twice baked potato (other choices of side dishes include Smokey Six Cheese Mac & Cheese, fresh asparagus spears, creamed spinach, and more).  It was all outstanding.  The four of us also shared two bottles of red wine from an extensive wine list, and, even though I can’t recall what they were, they were wonderful.  The owner and wait staff is knowledgeable about the wines on the list.  We were too stuffed to order dessert, but I imagine it is great too.

I look forward to dining at Prime Steakhouse again in the near future, and highly recommend it as a top dining establishment in Ventura.  Visit

More Favorite Places to Eat, Etc. in Monterey Bay

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 First Awakenings, in the American Tin Cannery in Pacific Grove has a charming outdoor patio (with fire pit).  Dishes include California Crepes, Sonoran Frittata, Heartland Frittata, pancakes, eggs Benedict, and more.

 Trail Side Café and Coffeehouse on Cannery Row, along the walking trail, is a charming little place where you can dine inside or on the outside heated patio.  Along with traditional breakfast fare (including Eggs Benedict, omelets, pancakes, etc.), they have breakfast burritos, Huevos Rancheros, French Beignets, and more.


 Hula’s Island Grill and Tiki Room in Monterey has a fun vibe, tropical setting, great food – BBQ ribs, fish tacos, burgers, sandwiches, wraps, bowls, salads, sweet potato fries, etc. – and specialty cocktails.

 Campagno’s Market & Deli in Monterey makes substantial sandwiches and delicious broccoli salad, which are great to take on a picnic at the beach. The sandwiches here are made to order and really are the best!  They’re also huge, so it’s a good idea to split one with someone or order a half.  Located at 2000 Prescott Ave., Monterey. 831-375-5987.

 17th Street Grill in Pacific Grove is casual and inexpensive.  You can eat outside near the big fire pit.  It’s known for its wraps and burgers, but I really like the Chinese chicken salad.  617 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove.  831-373-5474.


 Fresh Cream in downtown Monterey (overlooking Heritage Harbor and Fisherman’s Wharf) romantic and elegant with a French touch and amazing food including filet mignon, lobster tail, sautéed sea bass and much more.  It’s a great pick if fancy schmancy is what you’re looking for.

 Cibo in downtown Monterey is an elegant Italian restaurant that has an extensive and authentic Italian menu – with lots of different appetizers, salads, pasta dishes, pizzas, and steak and seafood specialties.  It also features great live jazz, and is a fun place to come and have a glass of wine while hearing great music.

 Tarpy’s Roadhouse is located at 2999 Monterey Salinas Highway in Monterey.  It’s set in a 1917 roadhouse on five landscaped acres, and features Five Star American Country Cuisine.  Last time I was there, my husband and I had the Cajun Philly Steak Spring Rolls as an appetizer, and I ordered the Angus Filet (served in a balsamic-port wine reduction with asparagus) and my husband ordered the Smokey BBQ Baby Back Ribs (with corn on the cob).  The food and the atmosphere were excellent.


 The Chart House on Cannery Row has a Hot Chocolate Lava Cake that features chocolate liqueur, molten center, ice cream, warm chocolate sauce and Heath Bar Crunch.  This is also a great place to have dinner as the food’s really good, it’s right on the ocean, and has a romantic atmosphere.


 London Bridge Pub on Wharf No. 2 is a fun place to hang out and have a beer.  They also offer a large menu selection with fish and chips, bangers and mash, clam chowder, lots of salads, sandwiches, burgers, and more.


 A Taste of Monterey in Cannery Row overlooks and Monterey Bay and offers wines from over 70 regional wineries.  It’s a relaxing place to enjoy a tasting or a glass of wine while taking in the spectacular view.

Dining in Monterey

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Sardine Factory

When it comes to dining in Monterey, and nearby areas, you can’t go wrong.  There’s something for every taste.  One of my favorites is the world-famous Sardine Factory on (701 Wave St.), Cannery Row.  With a luxurious interior accented with historical remnants, this restaurant features an award-winning menu and wine cellar. 

The Sardine Factory opened in 1968 on a location that used to be a cafeteria for sardine cannery workers.  It has four very different dining rooms, all of which are decked out whimsically and elegantly.  The menu features steak and seafood, and has influences of continental, Asian, and Californian cuisines.  Some standouts are the seared Coriander Crusted Ahi Tuna, Cannery Row Cioppino, and a tasting plate with  all kinds of seafood delights.  The Lounge features live piano music and a happy hour from 5-7 p.m.


Another favorite is Schooners Bistro on the Bay, located in The Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa (400 Cannery Row).  It is a beautifully-designed and relaxing spot for cocktails, lunch or dinner.  Its interior was created to resemble an actual seafaring Schooner, with mahogany floors, mast and sails.  Its outdoor dining patio is an open air, on-the-ocean experience like none other.  This balcony offers the opportunity to dine just above the ocean while watching passing boats, kayakers, sea lions and dolphins and listening to the lightly crashing waves on the rocks below.

The menu features several choices of appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches and other specialties.  Among them are starters like nachos or steamed clams, a delicious dill-broiled sea bass BLT and the popular seafood salad featuring shrimp, crab, endive, mango, avocado, rare ahi and mango dipping sauce.  Also featured is the fresh fish of the day served prepared via a variety of choices – from macadamia crusted to blackened to roasted.  Also, I recommend the Mango Mojito — mentioned in this blog posting:

More Monterey dining suggestions to come.

Monterey – Water Wonderland

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(Continuing Monterey Series)

Monterey offers several ways to experience the ocean and sea life.  Among great vantage points are two parallel wharfs in the Monterey Harbor.  The well-known Old Fisherman’s Wharf is brimming with shops and restaurants.  It’s great for browsing, tasting clam chowder and for strolling in the salt air and taking in the views.  It is also where you can catch whale watching boat excursions.  The nearby Municipal Wharf II features wholesale fish companies, commercial abalone farm, and a few restaurants.  Sea lions are abundant there for obvious reasons. 



If you like being even closer to the water, you can rent kayaks from various companies and locations – including Pacific Grove’s Lover’s Point in Cannery Row or at the Harbor.

 Another great place to view whales from shore is Point Lobos State Reserve (off Highway 1, three miles south of Carmel).  It’s also great for hiking and just taking in the scenery.


Fisherman’s Wharf

Whale Watching

Kayak Rentals