Splash cafe. (Pismo Beach, CA)

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Splash Cafe is one of the most popular restaurants in the little town of Pismo Beach.  There’s typically a line down the block by 11 am, which is why I came around 10 am to get their infamous Clam Chowder (I hate lines!).  Splash Cafe is a really casual seafood restaurant which means no reservations!

I’ve been here once before about 5 years ago, and I couldn’t wait to try their clam chowder again.  It was even better than I remembered…perfectly creamy and a nice amount of clams stuffed in a buttery bread bowl.  It was a tad salty, but not enough to stop me from devouring every morsel.  Surprisingly, the Fish and Chips was a very big disappointment–well, just the fish.  The fries were decent enough, but the fish tasted frozen and tough which I don’t understand since Pismo Beach is right by the ocean (as its name implies…).  I’m sure they could have gotten fresh fish to fry every day if they wanted to.

The inside of Splash Cafe is decorated with promotional stickers customers place on beams and various other places as well as hand-painted murals with odd-looking clams.  So, if you have a business or simply want to promote a product you like, make sure to bring a sticker for your visit!  It’s also a good idea to call in your order and take a short walk to the beach to eat.  That way, you’ll have beautiful scenery along with tasty chowder 🙂  Be warned that it can get quite windy by the ocean, though.

I also remember seeing this restaurant featured on Tori Spelling’s reality show “Tori & Dean:  Home Sweet Hollywood”.  It’s the episode where Dean surprised Tori with a tour bus so they can take a trip to San Francisco for her book signing of sTORI Telling.  From what I remember, they ended up with 6 (?) styrofoam boxes full of food for the 4 people on that tour bus.  There was a HUGE line on the show, too.  Being the B-lister that she is, Tori Spelling obviously didn’t have to wait in line like the rest of us common folk…


Splash Cafe

197 Pomeroy Ave., Pismo Beach, CA

(805) 773-4653


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Change of heart. (Jodi Picoult, 2008)

Change of heart. (Jodi Picoult, 2008)

“One moment June Nealon was happily looking forward to years full of laughter and adventure with her family, and the next, she was staring into a future that was as empty as her heart.  Now her life is a waiting game.  Waiting for time to heal her wounds, waiting for justice.  In short, waiting for a miracle to happen.

For Shay Bourne, life holds no more surprises.  The world has given him nothing, and he has nothing to offer the world.  In a heartbeat, though, something happens that changes everything.  Now, he has one last chance for salvation, and it lies with June’s eleven-year-old daughter, Claire.  But between Shay and Claire stretches an ocean of bitter regrets, past crimes, and the rage of a mother who has lost her child.

Father Michael’s decisions as a young man led him to devote the rest of his life to God.  But when he comes face-to-face with Shay, he is forced to question everything he’s been taught to believe about religion, about good and evil, about forgiveness.  About himself.”


This was the first Jodi Picoult I read, and I have to say I’m excited to read more of her books.  It’s not that Change of Heart was particularly suspenseful or surprising.  I guessed the main plot by page 10.  I think I just like her writing style–very easy to read and I didn’t have to look up the definitions of words too many times.  During this leisure reading experience, I learned a few things about medicine, theology, and the justice system.  Not bad for slightly over 400 pages of one-and-a-half spaced medium print.  The characters are interesting with a little romance and a little mystery intertwined with a lot of spirituality.

Sorry, I need to gripe about another ending so you might not want to read on if you don’t want a spoiler.  I just don’t get June Nealon’s character.  I tried being sympathetic towards her, but it became increasingly harder as the story progressed.  By the end of the novel, I couldn’t stand June Nealon.  I don’t know how it feels to have my children taken from me by a murderer or, for that matter, have children at all.  I don’t know if it would be possible for me to reconcile with someone who’s killed a person so dear to me, but I know I would at least try for my own sanity.  I know that whenever I felt hate in my heart, it caused me more internal torture than anything else.  I find that it’s easier to accept people as they are.  If someone’s wronged you, remember what they did but move on and forgive.  That doesn’t mean you have to completely trust them again.  You can choose to not include that person in your life anymore while forgiving them at the same time.

Anyways, back to the story, the reason I don’t like June Nealon is because she decides to take Shay Bourne’s heart to save her second daughter even after she discovers that he might not have murdered her husband and elder daughter.  She was fine with not only stealing 11 years of Shay Bourne’s life as he rotted away in a penitentiary for a crime he might not have committed, but also killing him through capital punishment.  I don’t think I could live with killing someone else to save my own child, especially if the person I’m killing is innocent.  The guilt I’d feel would be endless because the person I’m killing must be loved by someone as well.  Yes, Shay Bourne insisted on giving his heart to June’s daughter, Claire, and was willing to die to do it.  That still doesn’t make it right.  June never contested or even questioned if what she was doing was right.

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I recently bought a 2-month membership for BookSwim.com from KGB.com, and in my first shipment of three books were Jodi Picoult’s Change of Heart and Plain Truth and Stephenie Meyer’s The Host.  For those unfamiliar with BookSwim, it’s basically the book version of NetFlix where you receive shipments of books for a monthly fee that includes shipping and handling.  The number of books you receive depends on the plan you signed up for and how fast you read.  The particular discount I bought was $20 for two months of the Light Reader plan (3-books-at-a-time)–a considerable deal since the plan typically goes for $23.95/month.

I’ve already had a couple of issues with the company even though I just signed up a week and a half ago.  Firstly, they charged my credit card $23.95 when I first signed up despite entering my redemption code in the appropriate box.  I contacted their customer service department through the website the day I signed up, but it took them over a week to get back to me.  That’s poor customer service in my opinion.  Not only did it take a long time for them to reply, but their response was that I forgot to enter the redemption code.  Completely false!  I didn’t argue since they issued a refund back to my credit card.

Other quibbles I have are their shipping times, the condition of their books, and which books you actually get.  It took a full week to receive my books from the time I signed up.  That’s a really long time, especially if you take into account that it’ll be two weeks roundtrip.  Their policy is that they’ll only send out more books when they receive (in my case) 2 of the 3 books back.  That means I’ll only have one book to hold me over during the 2-week wait.  The condition of the books are about the same as those found in the library, but the ones in the library don’t cost you anything (unless they’re lost or extremely damaged).  Finally, out of the 30 books I placed on my waitlist, the three that were shipped to me were ranked in the 20’s.  This means that at least 20 of the books that I had greater inclinations to read were not available.  After the first shipment, you do get to choose one “guaranteed” book for the next shipment.  I haven’t gotten far enough to know if they keep that promise or not, but I’ll be sure to update when the time comes.

All in all, BookSwim.com is probably a better deal for people near the East Coast where their headquarters are so that shipping times are quicker.  The regular pricing is steep in my opinion, so I would’ve never signed up if not for the KGB deal.  I promptly intend to cancel my subscription once the 2 months are over.  The library is cheaper AND faster.

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Mo’s smokehouse bbq. (Pismo Beach, CA)

Mo's Smokehouse BBQ. BBQ Sampler w/ ribs, bbq chicken, shredded pork, beans, cole slaw, and corn bread. Pismo Beach, CA


Mo’s Smokehouse BBQ is right off the Pismo Beach Boardwalk on Pomeroy Avenue where there’s a strip of restaurants and souvenir shops.  It was the first restaurant we tried during our little mini-vacay, and it started our trip off on a decent note.  Apparently, this bbq establishment is part of a franchise, but this is the only one I’ve seen.  I went at 8 pm on a Friday night and almost all the tables were full though the line wasn’t too bad to order.  It’s the kind of restaurant where everyone orders with the cashier, you get a number and place that on your table so a waiter knows where to put the food once it’s ready.  I’m not sure what you call that…half service?

The BBQ Sampler (pictured above) looks a lot better than it actually was.  The ribs and shredded pork were both tough.  My jaws actually started hurting by the end of the meal.  The corn bread muffin was dry, but the honey butter it came with was quite good.  The chicken was the best thing on the plate.  The only problem was there wasn’t enough of it.  The chicken meat was smokey and tender.  Smothered in their house bbq sauce, it was heaven.

Homemade Potato Chips

These potato chips are 10 times better than any potato chip I’ve ever had.  I don’t know if it’s the fact that they’re freshly made or the salty sweet seasoning, but they sure were addicting.  Definitely the best thing and the must-try item off the menu.  My boyfriend was hesitant on ordering this since he couldn’t imagine anything better than Kettle Chips, but my insistence paid off!  He even liked the chips more than the garlic fries he ordered, which happily gave me an opportunity to say “I told ya so!”  The garlic fries were also good (A LOT OF GARLIC!), but the chips just took the cake.  The chips were still addicting after sitting over 24 hours in the hotel room’s mini fridge though admittedly not as good.

Garlic Fries

Mo’s Smokehouse BBQ

221 Pomeroy Avenue

Pismo Beach, CA  93449

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Avila valley barn. (San Luis Obispo, CA)

Avila Valley Barn is, as its name suggests, a farm.  Out in the front, they have a petting zoo with the usual goats, pigs, chickens, and geese.  They also offer a hay ride where you go into their fields to pick a fruit that’s in season to your heart’s content.  The best part of the hay ride is that it’s completely free, even the fruit you pick!  On that particular day, peaches were up for pickin’.  The boyfriend and I resisted temptations of greed and got just 4 peaches between the two of us.  I ate one of the peaches a few days later, and I must say, it wasn’t very good.  It was so sour that I took two bites and had to throw the rest away.

Avila Valley Farms. (San Luis Obispo, CA)

From the photo, you can see that we took home goodies besides the peaches as well 🙂  The Caramel Corn Nuggets and Blueberry Crumb Cake weren’t free, though.  Both items were extremely tasty.  The crunchy Caramel Corn Nuggets had a good balance of sweet and just the teeniest bit of saltiness.  I’ve never had a bad experience with a crumb cake, and this Blueberry Crumb Cake was no exception.  The crumbs and blueberries were a-plenty and paired quite well with Brownie Moose Tracks Ice Cream which I happened to have at home.

Other items we enjoyed at the farm were a cinnamon roll, corn on the cob, and coffee.    The cinnamon roll was a tad too sweet, but not sweet enough to prevent me from devouring almost half of it.  One roll was enough to share for my boyfriend and me on empty stomachs (besides coffee).  The corn was freshly roasted.  There was a table of condiments with salt, pepper, spray butter, lemon juice, parmesan cheese, chili powder, garlic salt, and paprika.  I put a little of everything on my corn, and it was reminiscent of my childhood in Los Angeles where a man pushing a shopping cart pulled steamed corn cobs out of trash bags passed by my house every few days.

Avila Valley Barn

San Luis Obispo, CA

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