Monday, August 31, 2015

Restaurant - The Hidden Cafe

Time for a restaurant review because we all like to eat and we all like good places to eat at.  And this time, its a local place for me!

So Bakersfield, California has a new restaurant - The Hidden Cafe.  No lie on the name, its kind of in an out of the way spot.  I'm thinking its actually busy during the week though since there are nearby businesses like Hall Ambulance and Channel 17 News.  We went and ate there on a Saturday and it was very quiet which made it very pleasant.  I'm not a fan of long waits and my preference is for intimate dining experiences, which is exactly what I got.

I'll get the picture of the phone booth in a moment.

So when you walk in you see some very secluded booth seating, which is a little ironic since they are right by the door.  As you make your way into the restaurant there's counter seating like an old fashioned diner would have.  You get to pick your spot too, no one seats you.  The further into the restaurant you get you see more booths and also tables, its a small diner.

Its decorated with some very retro items, like that phone booth - which by the way does not work, however, they do keep current phone books in it - and old movie posters but its not overdone.  In fact, I think they could have gotten away with adding more items but it was fine how it was.

The food was great.  We were there for breakfast but they are open through dinner, have a bar, and traditional restaurant gimmicks like Happy Hour and Taco Tuesday.

Online reviews for it are very good and well deserved.  The service was excellent, staff was attentive, and the food was really good.  I had the french toast and my husband had the pork chop and eggs.  They offered selections for sides too so you weren't stuck with just regular hash browns or a side of bacon if you didn't want those.

Definitely worth a try if you're in the area.  I'll be stopping by again, but for lunch or dinner, the best way to rate a diner is actually by the quality of their burgers and for those of you who know me well, you know that I view a burger as the perfect meal.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Places to Visit - Getty Museum

I've been meaning to write about this for a long time - in fact check the date stamps on these pics - but seriously one of the best museums ever to visit is the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.  For those of you who have never been there, or even heard of it, it's specifically an art museum. Not just modern art either, but they carry original art from the old masters like Van Gogh, Monet, Degas, and Rembrandt to name a few.

I'm a museum freak for sure.  I've been to a lot of them.  When I go on trips I go find museums to visit and the Getty does not disappoint.

A lot of people avoid museums thinking that its a costly visit but its actually not depending on the museum you are going to.  In the case of the Getty Museum you pay $15 (at least the last time I was there) per vehicle for parking and that's it.  There's no admission cost.  For a large family this is actually a great, inexpensive and educational day trip. 

When you arrive you are directed to a vast underground parking structure.  Its deep and cave-like and kinda scary but worth it to get to the museum.

Once you park you take an elevator to the surface - see how scary - and from there you actually get to take a little train/tram whatever you want to call it up a steep hill to the actual museum itself.  The tram runs all day.  Here's a shot of the waiting area:

The tram drops you off right at the entrance of the museum.  You'll want to wear comfortable shoes by the way.  You can see the entire museum in one day - it will take you 6 to 8 hours and its a lot of walking.  Here's the entrance:

The buildings are modern which seems odd considering all the old artwork they have.  One building will be set aside for their current art display.  These displays include things like modern art and photography.  The rest of the buildings are dedicated to traditional and classic art.

The courtyard area is very large and has food stands and eating areas so no need to leave for lunch.  The main building (see next picture) has the largest of the gift shops.  You'll see little gift booths in random areas but the main gift shop is in the very first building.

And then comes the art.  Each type of art is separated by section.  Some is by country, so there's a section for Italian art.  Others are by time period so there's even Baroque rooms which are actual rooms you would see in a Baroque style home.  They'll even tell you where each piece in the room originally came from.

There's an impressionist's room which houses Van Gogh's Irises as well as a variety of Monet, Degas and Renoir paintings:

There's also areas for specific artists and their contemporaries like Goya and his circle and Rembrandt and other Dutch masters:

And through out the whole museum there's very impressive statues:

For art lovers out there this is one place that should be on your list to visit.  Most of us will never get to see the Louvre in Paris so the Getty Museum is an accessible way to be able to study and see classic art up close and personal.  Also, since it is in Los Angeles you'll be able to also visit and experience plenty of other things as well.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Rebranding and a Second Etsy Shop

So, you may have noticed, I'm no longer Stitchy Impressions.  I'm now Sixth and Durian.  I'd like to take the time to explain the reason behind the change, why I chose Sixth and Durian and some fantabulous suggestions if you ever choose to rebrand and/or start another Etsy shop.

First of all, even though Stitchy Impressions was a cute name, it was something that was decided on in haste during a moment of frustration.  Goodness knows I carried that name for five years.  Marketing, promoting, listing stuff, growing my inventory, ordering business cards, ALL with the intention of making the name Stitchy Impressions into a great empire of handmade and vintage goodies.

It didnt happen.  Meh, sometimes things just don't work out.  But I decided it needed to work out.  I wanted my Etsy shop, not to replace my day job, because seriously I love my day job, but I wanted the supplemental income of it and that's what I didnt have.

So I dug in and did my research.  I discovered that I like whimsical names, but that doesn't necessarily make them successful.  Names have to also be memorable - Stitchy Impressions doesn't roll of the tongue.  Weirdly it was hard searching Etsy for inspiration in a new name, so I turned to Instagram and looked at the names of shops that I liked and I noticed that the majority had a This and That name - Otter and Fox was one, Pen and Thimble another, so I thought that may be something to actually look into.

Here's the part that took some doing though, in addition to wanting a This and That name, I also wanted something that had meaning to me.  And was representative of me in a way.  Stitchy Impressions didn't have that.  I also felt it limiting because really, who's going to go to a store called Stitchy Impressions and hope to find vintage items?

My first step was to tap my aunt, Robin, for ideas.  She's the really creative one in the family, for sure.  No such luck though, however, it did give me the ability to easily brainstorm which led me to Sixth and Durian.

So obviously Six is a number, but what the heck is a Durian?  A Durian, and despite the meaning behind the name which you'll find out in a moment, I did have too Google it, is a smelly yet very tasty fruit.

So why would a number and stinky fruit matter? Well, it just so happens that the corner of Sixth and Durian is the closest intersection to where I grew up.  And by grew up, I mean it.  We moved to that intersection when I was in the first grade and my parents are both still there.  And since my Mom is one of the makers for my Etsy shop, the name Sixth and Durian made perfect sense.

After deciding on the name I made a series of mistakes trying to get everything all set up and then a couple days later made the decision to separate out all of my vintage stock into a secondary Etsy shop - was born!

But, like I said, I made a series of mistakes.  So, in an effort to assist those of you Etsy sellers out there who may be interested in changing shop names or opening a second shop, I've got a checklist here of stuff you ought to keep in mind for it:

  • Make a list.  Ironic right?  The first item on my checklist is telling you to make a list, but seriously do it.  List out everything you need to do to make this transition and then date every item.  That way, if you're busy you have a good schedule put together for it and you wont feel under the gun.
  • Pick your name and dont settle on anything.  Give it your all.  This step may take several days even.
  • Google search your new shop name and also search on Etsy.  You dont want to get accused of trademark infringement
  • Create your banners and logos.  Whatever program you choose to use for it, that's your next step.  Take care of your graphic design right away, you'll need it later.  I did a shop banner and a square image with my new name centered on it - its important for further steps
  • Change your shop name.  You're more likely to do it and not suffer from cold feet if you take the time to make your banner and logos first.
  • Update ALL of your shop announcements, Etsy About page (and if its a secondary shop, take the time to create your About Page), shipping notifications, coupon codes etc.
  • Upload your banner.
  • Now, take your square shaped logo and hit the rounds on all your other accounts - Facebook, Twitter (you may end up needing to create a second account), Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, your blog etc.  And dont forget to go updating your bio for all of these too.
  • Shop photos - if photos for any of your items have your old shop name in them, whether it be watermarked or a picture of your packaging, you'll need to re-shoot. This though wont happen over night so again put a date on it.
  • Start printing - any of your tag labels that have your name on them are going to need to change. That's everything from the tags showing your fiber content to thank you notes you include.  This is another time consuming process (at least for me) so put a date on this.
  • Tagging - most Etsy sellers will use their shop name as a searchable tag.  I used 2 forms of it myself - StitchyImpressions and Stitchy Impressions.  All that is going to need to change BUT not anytime soon.  I started just including the new shop name on new and relisted items because people dont know Sixth and Durian yet, but they know Stitchy Impressions - this way my buyers will still find me and by the time everything has the correct tag people will know of the new shop name
And one final step for anyone who's creating a secondary shop - make at least 20 draft listings first.  I made 3.  Then I listed one.  And I had a lot of Shop Views come in and not as many Item Views.  So while that first item was bringing people to my shop, they had nothing to look at while there.  I suggest starting with 10 on the first day and then one or two items a day after that.  

Welcome to Sixth and Durian - Handmade and Vintage Goods!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Restaurant Review - Stone Brewing Company

So as I'm sure you've all noticed, I like to eat.  A lot.  In fact when I travel, that to me is one of the best parts of the whole experience, eating at places that I wouldn't get to and then telling everyone how awesome, or not so awesome it was.
A few months back I was in Escondido, California.  Its near San Diego for those of you not familiar with California.  Escondido happens to be the home of the Stone Brewing Company which was recommended to us by the place we were staying (that's a separate post on its own).
For those of you who like your restaurant reviews really quick and short - it was flipping awesome!
For those of you who like details as to why - keep reading!
When we arrived it was late, and dark, otherwise there would be more than the 2 pictures in this post.
The parking lot was also full so there was a wait, but it wasn’t long.  When you walk in to the building, it takes a while.  The walk I mean.  You enter a garden path which has stones and trees over head and it winds around and during your trek you hear voices and music and see glimpses of fire.  All in all the entrance into the building was pretty cool.

The waiting area itself was plain-ish.  There were cement walls, the hostess booth, a bench, and chains hanging from the walls.  For those of you unfamiliar with Stone Brewing Company, they are responsible for Arrogant Bastard Beer which features a chained gargoyle on the label. 

Adjacent to the waiting area is the gift shop.  I like gift shops, a lot, so that was really fun.  They had glasses, t-shirts, beer, tickets to tour the brewery, cookbooks and other average gift shop items.  Yes, we went shopping while there.

Then we got seated.  We did not end up in the garden which would have, I think, been better but since it was so hot outside we opted for indoor dining.  It was packed but still enjoyable.  The tables had cement blocks with succulents in them.  There was a separate beer menu and the dinner menu made suggestions of what beer was best for what meal

The meals themselves were really really unique.  I had the pulled chicken and boar sandwich while my husband had the buffalo steak.  There were also things like duck tacos.  For me that type of thing is actually really fun, trying foods that I wouldn’t normally have access too, however, if you are traveling with people be sure to keep your companions in mind when selecting a restaurant like this as not all people are open to trying things like that

The food by the way was excellent.  And you could see the brewery itself from the restaurant through big glass windows (see top picture).

I tried the first beer on the list.  It was good.  It was also the only beer I had.  Sometimes I’m fussy with beer but it was one I would definitely have again. 

Our waitress, who’s name I forget, was also a great waitress.  She was very personable and knowledgeable about the menu and beer options.

All in all, dining at the Stone Brewing Company was a great experience.  Despite the crowd, it was relaxing, which we needed since that day we had not only each spent a full day at work but we had the car trip all the way down to Escondido afterwards.

Also, Escondido itself is a great place to visit and the proximity to San Diego, Carlsbad and Julian make it a really good destination.