Kourtney’s Top Fives of California: Experiences

We’ve done a lot of things during our two short months in California, and we barely scratched the surface of the outings offered in the Bay Area. While we missed some big things like Alcatraz and walking across Golden Gate, we have done some amazing things during our time. These five will definitely be repeated if/when we return to the Bay.

1. “The Big Lebowski” at the Paramount


If anyone talks to Matt and I long enough, you will discover our affinity for “The Big Lebowski”, the Coen Brothers 1998 masterpiece starring Jeff Bridges, John Goodman and Steve Buscemi. We watched the movie together for the first time at the very beginning of our relationship and it immediately became a staple in our home. We quote it, tell others about it and watch it frequently. So, you can imagine my excitement when I discovered that our favorite film would be featured on the big screen during our first weekend in Cali. The Paramount Theater, which I have previously written about, is a stunning venue and made our first weekend here amazing. Plus, they served White Russians during the film. The Dude abides.

2. Walking down Haight Street


During our second trip into SF, I knew we had to visit the infamous Haight-Ashbury area. The mecca of Hippie culture in the postwar 1960s, Haight Street still vibrantly reflects the olden days, with head shops, tie dye and murals lining the walk. We spent a good while walking, popping into nearly every store. We encountered many oddities: a man who told jokes for a quarter,a pair of giant legs sticking out of a wall, and a crystal shop with a meditation area in the back. With so many interesting shops and oddities, I could definitely spend another day strolling down this street.

3. Getting Tattooed at Temple Tattoo


I already knew I’d be getting some new ink before we’d even set off for California. Being an area know for innovation and creativity, the Bay has some AMAZING tattoo shops and artists. After I had finally decided on my design, I searched for the man (or woman) for the job. I finally found Heath Preheim at Temple Tattoo in Oakland and knew he was the guy for me. Heath was amazing, dealing with my weird ramblings and occasional yelps of pain during our two hour session. I’m so glad I decided to add another tattoo to my collection while we were out here. If you’re ever in this area, I HIGHLY recommend this place.

4. Sailing


One of our fellow Airbnb-ers invited out onto his sailboat one random Friday and we eagerly accepted. While I’m not a huge fan of boats, sailing is a way of life in this area so I figured I should give it a try. We stayed out for a few hours and the views were stunning. We happened upon a neighborhood of house boats, which were pretty amazing. Furthermore, sailing is definitely a team sport, meaning Matt and I had to pull on ropes, open sails and steer more than once. I can completely understand why people up here enjoy it so much: the breezes are wonderful and you definitely feel a swell of accomplishment when you finally dock for the day.

5. Saturday night comedy


There is ALWAYS something to do in the Bay area, most of which are pretty inexpensive. Our favorite example of this would have to be comedy night at the It’s Your Move game store in Temescal. Every Saturday night, the game store converts into a comedy space for the Critical Hit Comedy Show, complete with a stage, couches and amazing performers. Cover is only $5 and it’s BYOB, so it isn’t odd to see people walking in with six-packs and full bottles of wine. The show last about two and a half hours and is a great way to spend a Saturday night. We visited multiple times and will definitely make a point to drop in again!

Kourtney ‘s Top Fives of California: Meals

Well, this is it. Our last week in Cali. We officially start our journey back on Saturday and I am SO ready to get back to the thunderstorms, barbecue and proper sweet tea of Oklahoma. However, despite my homesickness, California has given us so many amazing experiences, meals and stories. To properly illustrate all of these things, I thought lists would be the best format! While I’ll pick a top five for each, the items on the list will be in no particular order. I’ll be putting out multiple lists this week, so keep an eye out! So, without further ado- Kourtney Top Fives of California: Meals!


Restaurant: Homeroom

Location: Oakland

Meal: Smokey bacon mac & cheese with grilled chicken and bread crumbs

IMG_1667.jpgThe first, middle and last place we enjoyed during our time, Homeroom definitely has a special place in my heart. A classroom-themed mac & cheese restaurant with local craft beer and amazing desserts. I never thought I would enjoy mac & cheese for dinner so much. They even sell a cookbook!


Restaurant: Forge

Location: Jack London Square

Meal: Cheese Curds and Pepperoni Pizza


This one was also featured on Hawk’s list of favorite places! Definitely the best pizza we had during our time. The patio is perfect for lunch on a warm Saturday. Plus, the cheese curds were AMAZING. Hunks of fried cheese? Yes, please!


Restaurant: American Oak

Location: Alameda

Meal: Flat Iron Steak and Mashed Potatoes


This place was definitely the most expensive meal we had, but extremely worth it. American Oak houses over 200 American whiskey’s in their restaurant and feature flights, allowing you to try multiple. Of course, I had to try some! While I don’t think I’ll ever be a straight whiskey sipper, the experience was great. Plus, the food was amazing. After an appetizer, two entrees, two pieces of chocolate cake and a few amazing cocktails, we were both definitely ready for a nap when we got home.


Restaurant: Boudin

Location: Fisherman’s Wharf

Meal: Dungeness Crab Spinach and Artichoke Dip and Crab Mac & Cheese


Hands down the best crab I have ever had. Our first stop in San Francisco, Boudin’s definitely go us into the SF mood. I would have taken a picture of the mac & cheese, but we ate it too fast…


Restaurant: The Sparrow

Location: Haight Street

Meal: Simple breakfast with amazing eggs and fancy hot chocolate


While not the most glamorous, indulgent or expensive place we visited, The Sparrow was great. We sat on the back patio, which almost felt like dining in a friend’s beautiful backyard. We split a breakfast, with me having a great coffee stout and Matt having an AMAZING rosemary and white chocolate cocoa. The simplicity of the meal definitely let us take a small break from the craziness of Haight Street.


A New Addition 

After a year of being a three unit household, Matt and I are adding a new canine to the mix.  Everyone, meet Bella!

We first met Bella, a seven-year-old poodle, schnauzer mix, when we moved into our new home for the summer. One of the other tenants was her owner. She definitely was not a social dog, hiding in her room and scuttling away any time she heard us (or Hawk) headed up the stairs. Slowly, she grew used to us all, especially me. Because Matt works on weekdays, I stay at home, hanging out with Hawk. Bella’s owner also worked during the day, so she slowly began coming out to see me. First, just outside of her door, then into the kitchen when I cooked. Finally, she’d sprint down the stairs every morning, barking at my bedroom door until I let her in. She also warmed to Matt, happily welcoming the new treats and attention.

 Of course I’d noticed the new attitude Bella exhibited, but apparently so did her owner.  One afternoon, he knocked on our door and asked if we’d like to adopt her.  Apparently, Bella had previously been abused by a man. Therefore, she was more hesitant and distant around males. Her previous owner quickly realized this and had been hoping to find her a home she would be more comfortable in. After thinking it over, Matt and I knew we couldn’t leave her behind.  We are so happy to welcome Bella into our weird little family (even though the bed is much more crowded now). 

Five Facts about Bella:

1. She’s afraid of tennis balls

2. She’s graying around her snout and eyes 

3. She HATES when Hawk tries to eat her food

4. She likes to stay right next to you at the dog park 

5. She sleeps right up next to our heads. No matter how many times we scoot her away. 

Five Fun Bella Nicknames:

1. Bells

2. Hells Bells

3. Belly

4. Bellasaurus Rex

5. Belloni 
We can’t wait to bring Bella back to Oklahoma. New tag, new toys, new home. Plus she’ll be able to experience the abundant amounts of grass in the plains, which I’m sure will be a nice change of pace from the dead lawns of Northern California. 

It’s crazy to think that we are now a two dog family.  We have had a blast with Hawk and are excited that she will now have a sister. Yes, we will have to buy more food. Yes, that’s double the poop to pick up. But the copious amounts of love, cuddles and happiness we will surely experience with two pups is definitely worth it. 

Hawk’s 5 Favorite Spots in California

While Matt and I have had some great experiences in Cali, we can’t forget about an equally important member of our family: Hawk. As our partner in crime, Hawk follows us everywhere. Lunch on the terrace at Forge, a trip to the ocean, or just cooking dinner, she is always somewhere under foot.  Of course, she enjoys some places more than others. So, because I’m sure you’ve all been dying to know, I have compiled a list of Hawk’s five favorite places in California!

1. The windows in our house 

You can’t put a price on a good view and no one knows this better than Hawk-o.  Because our house relies on breezes to cool the place down, there are large, open windows everywhere.  Hawks personal favorites are the upstairs kitchen window, which has a lovely view of San Francisco, and our bedroom, a perfect place to stare at the chickens in the backyard.

2. The Ocean 

Hawk was definitely apprehensive when we first stepped onto the beach at Fort Funston.  An off-leash dog beach, Fort Funston was COVERED in canines. After we unclipped her, Hawk stayed close for a while but quickly acclimated to her new, free range environment and began sprinting in every direction. While she was not a huge fan of the waves, the other pups as well as ability to break into a dead run anytime she liked definitely helped Hawk fall in love with the ocean.

3. The Patio at Forge

After a walk through an outdoor market, Matt and I stumbled upon Forge, a pizza place in Jack London Square with the best cheese curds I have ever had.  Because we’d brought Hawk along, we sat on their massive patio which, much to Hawk’s delight, has many other furry friends on it.  To our right was a group of women with two dogs, a Yorkie and a Labrador (yes, the difference in size was hilarious).  Not only did Hawk get to sniff some new doggies, she also got some love from the other owners. Also, as is common anytime we eat near Hawk, she got scraps galore, from cheese curds to pizza crust. Hawk loves to join us on human outings, especially when it involves food.

4. The car 

While Hawk loves the car no matter where we are, California drives are something special. New smells, new sights and amazing breezes. Plus, she knows that every time we hop in the car, there will be people who want to pet her wherever we go.  Hawk is cute and she knows it.

5. Next to us 

This may be a cop-out, but whatever.  No matter where we go, Hawk always sticks by our side. While new people and new dogs are cool, we are still Hawk’s biggest fans. From California to Oklahoma, we always have our co-pilot with us. I’m so thankful we were able to bring our pup with us on this adventure.

Missing Oklahoma 

Well, it happened. I never think it will, but it always does.  I miss Oklahoma. 

img_0536While California has been very kind to us, I’m starting to miss the summer storms, delicious barbecue and familiar faces of the good ole OK. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so happy we came out here.  We’re only halfway through and have experiences ton of new things. For example:

Delicious food

photo jul 08, 1 20 58 pmphoto jul 08, 1 01 37 pmAmazing shopping 

photo jul 06, 1 23 47 pm (1)photo jul 06, 2 01 04 pm (1)Beautiful scenery 

photo jul 06, 2 40 07 pmphoto jul 07, 1 41 22 pm

However, there are a lot of things that definitely distinguish Cali from home. First of all, I’m missing my Fam-Bam.  While I still live an hour away from everyone when I’m home, this distance has definitely been difficult. Of course I call very frequently to check in, but nothing can beat a real, face to face visit with the people you love.


After my family, I’d definitely say I miss the apartment A LOT. My bed, my couches, my kitchen. I miss our quirky posters and messy bedroom. You really can’t put a price on living alone (with Matthew, of course). It will be a great day when I can once again walk to my kitchen with no pants on. img_0061

Finally, and this will seem weird to anybody who’s never lived there, but I miss Stillwater. Stilly has its own unique, indescribable charm. Local shops, low traffic and beautiful sunsets, Stillwater will have a piece of my heart no matter where I end up. The city has my favorite school, my favorite coworkers and my favorite grocery store (Don’t worry Neighborbooh Market, we’ll be back soon).  I cannot wait to see the ‘Welcome to Stillwater’ sign when we get home. It  really is a truly special place.

Photo May 09, 8 22 06 PMimg_0534I feel extremely thankful for the oppurtunity we have had. To be able to experience a place like Northern California for such an extended period of time.  However, I am pretty homesick.  I’m excited to get back to the plains, where it actually rains and where I can get a home cook meal from my mama whenever I want.  Only another month, Oklahoma. We’ll see y’all soon!

“The Dude” and the City, a Weekend in The Bay 

This weekend, Matthew and I shed our introvert skins and ventured into the wild unknown. Because Matt works every weekday, weekends are our time to frolic throughout to Bay. Last week, I saw that a local movie theater was showing “The Big Lebowski” on the big screen, one of Matt and I’s favorite movies. We both decided it would be fun, so Friday afternoon, we headed out. First, to get some food at a local food truck event and then onto the theater.  Unfortunately, we didn’t end up eating anything. This brings me to my first lesson of weekends in California.

Lesson 1: Parking is a nightmare.

After 30 minutes of no street parking, a cash refund for a full parking garage and my anxiety shooting through the roof of the Altima, we decided to skip the food and head directly to the Paramount. photo jun 30, 6 53 55 pm-2

Opened in 1931, the Paramount Theater is a stunning monument  in Uptown Oakland. The theater now shows old movies and up-to-date television shows and live acts under their magnificent curtain.

photo jun 30, 7 05 00 pm-1
Our tickets were $5 each and allowed us to sit anywhere we liked in the 3,000+ capacity theater. The theater sold concession food for $3 an item and featured a White Russian cocktail at the bar, the signature drink of the movies main character, The Dude. Before the show, the theater raffled off some tshirts and coupons to local businesses. We, unfortunately, did not win. Before the main feature, an old “News of the Day” from the 50s was played.  An old Looney Tuns cartoon was also shown. Our experience at the theater was wonderful. Stunning, homely and  affordable. We will definitely try to catch another flick here before we leave.

Lesson 2: There’s always something to do. You just have to look. 

On Saturday, we planned a lazy day in. But anyone who knows me should know I’m terrible at lazy days.  Around noon, I started looking for things to do, with Matt rejecting most of my ideas. Farmers Market? No. Museum? No. Comedy show? Ding, ding, ding! A board game shop in Northern Oakland called It’s Your Move apparently hosts a local comedy show called Critical Hit every Saturday at 8:30pm, for $5 a person.  Matt agreed it sounded interesting, so we decided to try it out.  After it closes at 7, the shop is converted into a comedy space, complete with a stage, seating and speakers. Also, the event is BYOB, so patrons are aloud to bring food and drinks in with them. We had a blast, sitting in the front row getting picked on for being from Oklahoma by a few of the comics.  Also, we won a raffle! We received a bottle of Ethiopian Honey Wine for signing up for the show’s newsletter. We will definitely be back, probably this upcoming Saturday!

Lesson 3: Local businesses are magical. 

photo jul 01, 7 48 55 pm
Trashcan spotted in Northern Oakland

Finally, Sunday. Big trip day.  Our first venture into the city of San Francisco. I’ll admit, I was nervous about our first trip across the Bay. Bright lights, big city and all that.  We started out journey by taking the San Francisco Bay Ferry from Jack London Square in Oakland to Pier 41 in San Francisco, also known as Fisherman’s Wharf. The ferry kind of felt like an airplane on the water. Same type of seats, overpriced drinks and crying children. However, the breeze and the views were to die for. 

Stepping off the ferry at Fishermans Wharf, we were immediately ingulfed by the crowds. Every where you looked: people, people, people. We stumbled into the first restaurant we could find, which ended up being Boudin’s, famous for their sourdough bread. We ended up splitting an appetizer and an entree because of the prices, but we were more than pleased with our food. 

Lesson 4: California crab is crazy. 

Dungeoness Crab Spinach and Artichoke Dip

After our meal, we headed into the craziness, passing street performers and packs of tourists on our way to Pier 39. A magic store, a carousel and a store dedicated to left-handed people, our journey down the pier was definitely a lot to take in. We ended up leaving without having purchased anything.  Though the streetcar-shaped chocolates were extremely tempting. 

We decided to venture farther into the city, searching for one of my most anticipated stops: The Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory. As we walked, the signs slowly shifted from English to Chinese. We traversed up the Sand Franciscan hills to eventually find ourselves smack dab in the middle of Chinatown.  Grocers, novelty shops and tea rooms lined the streets. Every place we popped into had something new. The food, especially, piqued our interests, as we tasted and smelled things we’d never seen before. One shocking sight was the basins of dead fish on ice on the sidewalk. Cuts of fish,as well as entire fishes (with eyes), warmed in the hot sun, occasionally being flipped by a buyer looking for their dinner. By the time we reached the fortune cookie shop, we were used to the massive crowds, waiting almost ten minutes to get a glimpse of the two ladies folding fortune cookies by hand. I would’ve taken a picture, but they charged 50 cents, so instead, I took pictures of the lanterns dangling above the streets. 

Lesson 5: Weird stuff is everywhere.  Enjoy it. 

 After our uphill battle to reach our destination, the yawning began. We ended our time in the City by walking to the San Francisco Ferry Building to board the 4:30 ferry back to Oakland. After we landed, we stopped by a Ben & Jerrys store (!!!) before heading back to the car. Sunburned and exhausted, I flopped onto the bed as soon as we got in, my mind already beginning to plan our next trip into SF. 

Lesson 6: Expect the unexpected. 

California in Lists

Things I have Learned about Living in California:

  • Stand right, walk left (on escalators)
  • Everything is recyclable
  • Watch out for the massive potholes on the freeway
  • It’s not smog surrounding San Fransisco, it’s just haze
  • The fog that rolls in has a name. It’s Karl
  • Motorcyclists can ride between cars totally legally
  • Fireworks go off A LOT
  • No one in the Bay has air conditioning
  • Thieves smash windows
  • Plastic bags cost 10 cents at EVERY store
  • You can by liquor in a CVS
  • Don’t put things in your back pockets
  • If you’re going into the city, bring a jacket
  •  The breeze off of the Bay is glorious
  • There are dogs everywhere

Things I Need to Learn How to Do to Live in California:

  • Park on hills
  • Recycle
  • Take public transportation
  • Carry reusable bags
  • Drive in traffic
  • Learn the names of all the neighborhoods, especially my own

Things that Scare Me About Living in California:

  • Gangs
  • Thieves
  • Gunshots (which we hear occasionally)
  • Crowds
  • Traffic
  • The price of gas
  • The unknown

Things I Love About Living in California:

photo jun 24, 10 58 53 amphoto jun 24, 12 32 19 pmphoto jun 24, 11 57 14 amphoto jun 29, 12 42 54 pm

  • Recycling
  • The weather
  • The sights
  • My house
  • The breeze
  • Bookstores everywhere
  • Kind locals who give you advice
  • Sounds of the city
  • Local political action
  • Farmer’s Markets
  • Natural lighting
  • The unknown

Final Thought: California is weird, but a good kind of weird

A Day at Lake Merritt

Matt and my’s first official outing was on Saturday.  We ventured to Lake Merritt, the ‘gem of Oakland.  3.4 miles around, the lake sits in the middle of the city, meaning there are a ton of cute shops and restaurants surrounding it. 

We arrived around 10 am and stopped for some coffee at Merritt Station before heading to the farmers market. Lake Merritt has a massive farmers market every Saturday and we wondered around it for almost two hours.  We ended up walking out with some fancy chocolates, apple cider, chicken broth and a cool spinach flatbread thing. Then it was on to the boats! 

We decided to rent a pedal boat, seeing as neither of us possess any kind of sailing skill.  After an hour on the lake, we were sunburned, tired and hungry. We ended up at a restaurant whose name I can’t even begin to remember.  But the food was decent and gave us the much needed energy we needed to go shopping. Tons of interesting stores surround the lake: metaphysical shops, a bookstore (where I only bought TWO books, which is impressive for me), a spice shop and the nicest resale shop I have ever seen were among the highlights of our strolling and window shopping. 

There are so many quirks I’ve noticed throughout California.  Signs that read, “Proudly Progressive” and “Immigrants Welcome” are pasted in shop windows and on streetlights. Local businesses use their storefronts as a space for political engagement, something I’ve only seen a handful of times in Oklahoma. Solar panels cover roofs and professional looking paintings are splattered under overpasses and along random columns of cement. Everywhere you look, you see something worth calling home about. 

We’ve officially finished week one. So, closing thoughts from week one: The cool breeze that rolls in here at night after the sun comes down makes the whole trip worth it. 

Two Okies in California 

Look out San Francisco Bay, we have arrived! After 24 hours of driving, weird Airbnb hosts and non-stop Hispanic radio stations, we have finally settled in Oakland, California, our home for the next two months.

Hawk enjoying her first view of California

The drive itself had its ups and downs (and not just because we were driving through the mountains 😏). Long stints with no radio stations and a sleeping co-pilot often made it feel as if we were stuck in some never ending time loop. However, the scenery was nice, transitioning between mountains and deserts beautifully. Thankfully we have been through Arizona and New Mexico before, so we didn’t have to skip any big sights. When we finally reached California, we still had eight hours of driving ahead of us. Someone told us we would feel like we were in California forever, and they were definitely right.

All smiles on our way through Cali

Southern California is no joke. Everything is high: tensions, temperatures and gas prices.  I was so relived to finally start seeing orchards and grass again as we ventured North. Pulling into the driveway of our new home was both a blessing and a curse.  We had finally arrived, but we quickly discovered we have no idea how to park on the 90 degree hills littering Northern California. HILLS EVERYWHERE. But I’ll write about that later. Onto our accommodations!

Ney Farm is a gem.  Unassumingly seated on an average Oakland street, the house hosts a small farm out back, with chickens, flowers and fruit trees.  Five of the six bedrooms hold people like us: travelers, renting the space. The last room belongs to the house manager, Benjamin, a man who can stand on his head and loves French press coffee. The house is covered in windows, most of which are always open due to the lack of air conditioning (Northern Californians are weird). Hawk loves the windows, of course.

After we settled into our room, we ventured out for a bite to eat, choosing a restaurant in Oakland called Homeroom, a school themed restaurant that serves fancy mac and cheeses. It was delicious.

We’re now on day 4. Matt’s hard at work with computers and such. I’m attempting to keep our little space clean and our weird dog entertained.  My goal is to write about our adventures twice a week.

Final thought on the first few days: California gas prices are too damn high.

Spitting Image

I’m two, being paraded around to the out-of-town family. My face is hot as people I’ve never met tell me how excited they are to finally meet me. I cling to my father’s side, staring at the strange face in front of me.

“You are just the cutest thing. Oh, you look just like your father.”


I’m eight, rifling through a box of family photos with my grandmother. I stare amazed at the black, white and sepia images I discover, the names of people I’ve only heard about in old family fables scrawled on the backs. I pull a more recent-looking picture out of the box and see my baby face staring back at me. I pass it to my grandmother.

“Ah, I love this picture of your daddy. You looked just like him when you were that age. I think it’s those big brown eyes y’all have.”


I’m fourteen, sitting on the warm grass lawn of the amphitheater. I’ve given Dad the first birthday present I’ve been able to by him straight out of my own pocket: tickets to a Journey concert. We lean together and smile, looking towards the camera phone currently being pointed at us by a kind stranger.

“That’s a great one! Do people ever tell you guys that you look just alike?”


I’m seventeen, sitting in the front pew of the funeral home, where the family sits. Pictures of my father and I are positioned next to the flowers at the front, creating an arc of color around the black and red urn. I expect more tears, but I seem to be all out. As Kenny Rogers plays around us, the people in the other pews are encouraged to stand, stopping to offer their condolences to those in the family seats before filing out the door to our right. One of Dad’s friends from high school grabs my hands tightly. They are damp. She places her palms on both of my cheeks, bring her red face up to mine, new tears springing from her eyes.

“My god, you really are the spitting image.”