Subaru Forester Review

Wednesday December 4, 2013 at 6:06 AM | 2 Comments

Stella, subaru road trip

Stella ready for Carmel, California road trip

This post is sponsored by Subaru

Those of us who travel with pets know that they do not want to be left behind. You would think our dog would relax when she sees us packing her dog bed and dog food into the SUV. But no, she wants to jump in the Subaru Forester so that we can’t possibly forget her.

Carmel, California road trip

Our family of two teenagers, two adults and Stella planned a road trip to Carmel, California. Over the freeway and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go!

Now I realize that as a California girl, I don’t know anything about cold weather, but I am digging the all-weather package with heated front seats. Bum warmers, baby!



Subaru Forester

2014 Subaru Forester SUV Review

As I am the travel writer in the family, I pack light. My children and husband – they do not take after me. We planned to haul two sets of golf clubs, a laptop computer, camera & video equipment and luggage, lots of luggage.

Unfortunately, my husband had to work late the night of departure, so we drove two cars to Carmel. Truthfully, it would have been a tight fit for the Subaru Forester with four adults, the dog and the golf clubs – the clubs are what put us over the edge. Without the clubs, the dog had plenty of room in the back.

I thought the kids would be all over the SiriusXM radio. Instead, they each tuned out with their iTunes and headphones and left me to sort out the endless choices on the satellite radio. With no one to veto my music selections, I happily listened to Christmas carols the entire drive to Carmel.

Unlike many SUV’s, getting in and out of the Subaru Forester was easy with my total hip replacement. The three-hour drive from Walnut Creek to Carmel (with Thanksgiving traffic) was a breeze as the SUV provided a car-like ride. On long car rides, or if driving while sleepy (not recommended) the lane departure warning system* was certainly an added bonus that might even save lives.


Subaru Forester Leather-wrapped steering wheel

Subaru Forester Leather-wrapped steering wheel

Fuel smart, tech-friendly

The 2014 Subaru Forester comes with all-wheel drive – did I mention that I have two hunters in the family? We need a vehicle that goes anywhere and this SUV would easily handle snow, mud and dusty road conditions. I like a car that gets good gas mileage. At 32 mpg, driving to Carmel and back used less than one tank of gas. (Subaru estimates the annual fuel cost of the 2014 Forester crossover SUV to be $1,950.)

Subaru tech safety

The Subaru comes with 4-wheel disc brakes, anti-lock braking system and (optional) eyesight drive-assist system – this last feature comes in handy when deer jump out from the road at night or you are backing out of a grocery store parking lot the day before Thanksgiving.

The Subaru Forester has airbags galore. If you are a parent of teenagers, feel good that there is a driver’s side knee airbag, front seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and whiplash protection front seats. There’s even a harness for your dog, but our Forester didn’t come with this optional item.


LCD Touch-Screen GPS Navigation

LCD Touch-Screen GPS Navigation

Bells and whistles

With kids in the back of the car, dual-zone automatic climate control is important. The LCD Touch-screen GPS navigation system comes with large font size for the baby boomer in the front seat. Of course an am/fm stereo with cd player is standard. It’s the SiriusXM satellite radio and Harman/Kardon speaker system that caught my son’s attention when they delivered the car. I like the Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity. “Yes, grandma, we’re almost here.”

As for the keyless access and start, I was a little concerned that I would lock the keys in the car. Due to my paranoia and only one set of car keys, I kept the key fob with me at all times.

If you were looking for engine performance and “under the hood” reviews, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

For more insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter and follow @Subaru_usa on Twitter.

For additional information visit Subaru

Article written by, video and photos courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. As a member of Subaru Forester blogger program, Subaru of America asked me to review their car in exchange for the short-term use of their vehicle. All opinions are my own.

*lane departure warning & lane sway warning system, optional equipment

See Saw Seen Eyewear; Travel Vacation Necessity

Friday November 29, 2013 at 5:05 AM | 1 Comment

See Saw Seen Eyewear

See Saw Seen Eyewear

I’m not a fan of shopping for anything; clothes, shoes, groceries. If I can buy it online, I’m happy. So when the folks at See Saw Seen Eyewear asked me if I wanted to review their prescription glasses from the comfort of my house, I jumped at the chance. Have you ever heard of an eyewear company that makes house calls?

See Saw Seen Eyewear

Family owned and operated by a San Francisco, California-based optometrist, See Saw Seen Eyewear was started by Jenny and Eric Tse who saw an opportunity to offer high quality and fashionable prescriptive and non-prescriptive eyewear at affordable prices, combined with in person try on services in the greater bay area. The company offers a wide variety of glasses, available online, without the costs associated of a brick and mortar store.



Nancy D. Brown wearing her glasses from See Saw Seen Eyewear

Online optical boutique

While I love my optometrist, her office doesn’t always carry the frames I’m looking for. With See Saw Seen Eyewear, patients go online, upload a head shot of themselves and begin trying glasses on virtually. Next, send your eyewear selections to the website and See Saw Seen will bring the frames to your house (or a mutually agreed upon location) for you to try on.

In my case, Jenny Tse selected several additional glasses for me to try on, as I was purchasing computer glasses and prescriptive sunglasses. The company offers three categories of eyewear; light and flexible, wooden and retro – think thick plastic frames. There is a frame-fitting guide on the See Saw Seen Eyewear website and live chat is available online.

The in person try on service takes about an hour and provides professional advice on fit. The glasses are then sent to a professional lab and mailed to you within one to two weeks.


All glasses start at $88, including frames, single vision cost and shipping. Bifocals and progressive lenses are available for an additional cost.

See Saw Seen sunglasses

See Saw Seen sunglasses

Safety, fits, performance eyewear

While glasses can be a fashion statement, everyone from children to adults should wear sunglasses to protect their eyes from damaging UV rays.

“You don’t see the effects of UV damage until your older years,” says See Saw Seen Optometrist Jenny Tse. “Be proactive to delay early onset of cataracts and macular degeneration.”

Eyewear should reflect the personality and style of the wearer. “Since we are a San Francisco based company and we live in San Francisco, it made sense for me to name each frame after a San Francisco street,” said Jenny.

For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter and follow @SeeSawSeenEye on Twitter and visit their Facebook page for tips on eye care.

Where to buy:

See. Saw. Seen Eyewear  (415) 603-202 or (855) 683-2093

Related Posts:

Guideline Polarized Prescription Sunglasses

Guideline Sunglasses Travel Gear Review

Article written by and photos courtesy of  Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. See Saw Seen Eyewear supplied me with these single vision prescription glasses for review.

Flavor Napa Valley: Celebrating California Food and Wine

Wednesday November 27, 2013 at 6:06 AM | 2 Comments

chefs, Appellation Trail, Flavor Napa Valley

The Appellation Trail underway at the CIA Greystone, Flavor Napa Valley 2013

Wondering what wine to serve at your holiday dinner? Looking to travel to Napa Valley wine country in the off season or perhaps you simply enjoy fun food and wine events? I recommend the California wine country event Flavor! Napa Valley.

The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone is the belle of the ball at this multi-day event, as proceeds from Flavor! Napa Valley support programs and scholarships at the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone campus in St. Helena, California.

Flavor Napa Valley

Currently in its third year, this November food and wine event is a favorite for locals, as well as wine connoisseurs from across the country.

“A signature event in Napa Valley was long overdue,” said CIA graduate and Bottega Chef and Owner Michael Chiarello.

Chef Bill Heubel

Chef Bill Heubel at Flavor Napa Valley

November in wine country

With the grape harvest over and the crowds dissipated, November is an ideal time to travel to the Napa Valley before the Thanksgiving holiday. From wine lovers bootcamp to cooking demonstrations, The Appellation Trail: Tasting Napa Valley, interactive lunches and Dinner with Napa Valley winemakers, there is an event for everyone.

I attended The Appellation Trail Friday evening at the CIA at Greystone and Saturday night Dinner with Napa Valley Winemakers. Both venues offered excellent opportunities to taste a wide array of wines, many new to me, as well as old favorites.

At the Dinner with Napa Valley Winemakers, the evening began with a wine reception at Meritage Resort and Spa, followed by a dinner with twenty five Napa Valley winemakers.

I had the pleasure of being seated with Dario De Conti, owner and winemaker of Ca’ Momi Napa Valley and his wife and business partner Valentina Guolo-Migotto. It was at The Appellation Trail event that I discovered their bignes from Ca’ Momi Enoteca and learned of their Italian restaurant inside Napa’s Oxbow Public Market.

Ca'Momi Reserve Pinot Noir

Ca’Momi Reserve Pinot Noir

As I mentioned, both events offer consumers an opportunity to taste the food and wine and interact one-on-one with the Napa Valley chefs and winemakers. Our table hosts introduced me to several Ca’Momi wines, including the 2011 Pinot Noir Reserve from Carneros (my Thanksgiving dinner wine) and the luscious 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve.

Bing also introduced their new Food & Drink app for Windows, designed for use in the kitchen. The app offers access to recipes from top chefs to food bloggers and a wine encyclopedia with information on over 1.5 million bottles of wine.

Insider Tip

Whether you plan to attend one event or multiple food and wine events, I recommend you bring a designated drive or stay overnight at a Napa Valley hotel.

For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter and follow @FlavorNapa on Twitter.

If You Go:

Flavor! Napa Valley

I was a guest of Flavor Napa Valley and Bing. All photos courtesy of food and wine writer Nancy D. Brown.

Related Post:

Things to See and Do in Napa, California