Thursday, June 29, 2006


Jean just sent out her photos from the June Ladies Activity Club party and our family trip to Santa Cruz! This is a shot of the girls hard at work in the dining room. And here's a photos of Jean with the cupcake spread and the delicious final results. Next month's LAC party is going to be a trip to a Giants game!

And, last but not least, my favorite photo from Santa Cruz: me kicking a humpback whale. My dislike of whales has been a family joke since our trip to Alaska several years ago.

When in Rome?

Hayfork beckons and I am trying to decide if taking my old pair of Justin cowboy boots is a good idea.

I bought these boots in high school when I had a massive crush on the president of FFA and delusions that I would make a great cowgirl. I think I may have even bought them at Farm Supply. Simply growing up in a town where there is a store called "Farm Supply" is pretty amazing. As for my cowgirl aspirations...let's just say they were misguided. I am a fairly good rider, but couldn't be called "rustic" by any sense of the word.

So the boots...The downside is that they are hot, require knee socks and take up a lot of packing room. The upside is that they are very area-appropriate and may help take the edge off of the absurd designer-jeans-and-DVF wardrobe I have planned. What do you think?

Things I love today: Pedestrian Safety

This article just made my day! A campaign for pedestrian safety in San Francisco? Nineteen officers dedicated to the cause? It's wonderful! Hooray for the San Francisco Police Department! If I run across a police office today, it will take all my willpower to stop from giving them a big bear hug!

As a daily member of the pedestrian masses in San Francisco, I know first hand just how scary it can be out there. (Mom, cover your eyes) I can't even count the number of near misses I've had with cars and buses. One time, I was crossing an intersection covered with bright green "State law: yield to pedestrians" signs only to have a police car nearly run me down.

I hope I'll see lots of bad drivers getting those $155 citations in the next few weeks. I couldn't possibly be more happy about this campaign! Now if only they could get NextBus to work properly and find a way to shorten the lines at Safeway!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Things I love today: Chinatown

Jean and I took the 9 bus downtown last night for a shopping trip to Chinatown. We found the perfect parasols at a small shop right inside the gate. Isn't the scalloped edge adorable? I bought four for this weekend's wedding and managed to bargain the price down a bit to $3 each. Not too bad considering they sell online for $6. I would have gone for a better deal but Jean is embarrassed by bargaining and was cowering next to the jade counter!

We also bought some adorable silk travel cases for jewelry from Asian Image next door. Armed with parasols, jewelry cases, two new dresses, a lot of sunblock and a lot of books, I'm almost ready for the trip. Not your ordinary wedding, this is going to be a three day affair on the grounds of Molly's family cattle ranch in Hayfork. Forget Nicole Kidman, this is the wedding of the year! Rob is picking up the small RV we rented for the weekend tomorrow and has almost finished his best man speech.

We're heading off tomorrow night and won't be back until the middle of next week. I promise to make up the break in posting with lots of details when we return!

Urban girl tip: Juggling perfumes

I love perfume! Have you ever noticed that using an old shampoo or perfume can bring back a rush of old memories? You can make the most of these memory cues by picking out special perfumes for special events. Here are some tips:

Vacations - I always take a new perfume with me on long vacations. Those little samples that come with Sephora orders are the perfect size for packing. When you are back home, one whiff of that perfume will bring back all your vacation memories. My tropical vacation perfume pick - Michael Kors Island.

Big Business - Job interviews, conferences, presentations. The right scent can help you feel more confident. Go for something a little more musky than usual or even blend a floral perfume with a men's cologne. My business perfume picks - Azzura and Neroli.

Weddings - Molly is getting married this weekend and has picked out DKNY Be Delicious for her bridal scent. My friend Amber chose Vera Wang for her special day. My wedding perfume pick - Chanel Gardenia.

Special Nights - Feel extra feminine for a night out to the opera or a fancy dinner. Choose something that is super floral and fun. My special night perfume pick - Une Fleur de Chanel.

I'm off to Macy's to buy the DNKY perfume for Molly. In the meantime, what are your perfume picks? Share your favorites in the comments section!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Bargain finder: Sale at Old Navy

I'm starting to look like such a snob! Posts about parasols and Hermes scarves? As much as I imagine myself to be quite "fancy," it's not the reality. Sure, I do love Gump's and going to the opera but it's more common for me to take the stinky 22 bus to work, eat $4 takeout Chinese food for dinner, drink PBR and shop at Ross. I also love an occasional bargain from Old Navy. They are having a big sale online right now with some great finds:
  • Denim jacket - You can never have too many coat choices in San Francisco.
  • Woven bangle - Very "visiting morocco"
  • Flip flops - My closet has eaten my last two pairs. I know being flip-flop-less is a cardinal sin in Jean's eyes, so I need to stock up. I like these in "rattlesnake"
Don't forget to use the $10 off coupon for your online order for extra savings!

Things I love today: Hermes city scarf

Hermes is really outdoing themselves these days. First they came out with the peony tea set and now this lovely silk scarf.

I love the design of city roofs at night, complete with pigeons and stray cats. I'm not sure that I would actually wear it. But for $320, it's fairly affordable art! Wouldn't it be so nice framed on a bedroom wall?

Update: The more I think about this scarf, the more I am sort of weirded out by it. Yes, it is still lovely. But the concept of Park Avenue ladies walking around with a $320 scarf that depicts a scene of looking down from your high rise on to a slightly ghetto neighborhood? That part is too strange.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Shopping challenge: Parasol

The weather reports are in for the Hayfork wedding this weekend and it's looking much better than expected. A few days ago they were predicting temperatures in the 100's. Now it looks like we'll be in mid 80's, which is still hot for a San Franciscan but not quite as fatal.

I'll be out in the country sun on Friday, Saturday and Sunday for our friend's wedding. As a freckled Scot this means massive anti-sunburn preparations. I am planning on taking a few bottles of aerosol sunblock, a lot of light layers, some hats and two paper parasols (one for me and one for Margaret). Rob thinks that we will end up looking more like tiki cocktails and less like fashionistas. I say, at least my skin won't be the color of a maraschino cherry.

I have a trip planned to Chinatown tomorrow night with Jean to shop for parasols. Any tips for good stores to visit? In the meantime, browse this source for unique parasols online.

Sale Alert: Anthropologie

Most of Anthropologie's clothes fall into one of two categories. a) Look at how lovely this $300 shirt is or b) I would rather throw myself under a bus than wear this. Fortunately, their accessories and home items have a third category. c) awesome.

Once in a blue moon, an item fits in to category c. I think I found it on sale today: leather watches. These used to be $90 and they are selling for $20. Lots of cute colors!

Weekend Round-Up: Santa Cruz

Hooray for being a weekender! On Friday afternoon, Jean and Trent picked us up and drove from the heat of San Francisco to the fog of Santa Cruz. Our family rented a beach house for the weekend to celebrate my mom's birthday. Within minutes of arriving we had blanketed the place in New Yorker magazines and triscuits, the family's method of marking territory.

Our particular vacation rental came with a 40-page instruction manual, an all-cherub-and-potpourri decor and a laundry list of restrictions. We joked that we should set an extra place at the table for "the deposit" since it would be our constant companion for the weekend. Lighting the wood stove, allowing in boisterous children, sitting on the arms of the sofa or having nail polish on the premises were all potential violations that would revoke "the deposit." The beds even had plastic covers on the mattress and the pillowcases! Despite all this, it really was in a lovely location and quite cozy.

On Saturday we had a slow morning of figuring out how to use the coffee maker, working crossword puzzles and cooking a big breakfast. Dad headed off to the marina to look at boats and the rest of us walked over to the boardwalk. After watching some speedo-clad South Americans playing footvolley, we rode the Giant Dipper, ate kettlecorn and drove bumper cars. We had lunch at a brewery and went down to the beach to catch the sun that had just come out. Instead of getting an all-over-glow, I managed to get sunburns on my neck and my bum. Not exactly mission accomplished! We had dinner on the pier and a round of Scattegories before turning in.

Another leisurely morning on Sunday. Dad and I packed off to the marina and everyone else went to the beach. We took the free water taxi up and down the harbor a few times before spotting an ideal sailboat. We worked up quite an appetite with all that hunting and had a seafood lunch at Aldos. A few hours of napping and relaxing back at the cottage with everyone before dinner on the patio of the Crow's Nest. Thoroughly stuffed and sunburned, we drove back to the city late last night.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Urban Girl Almanac

It's been another busy week in San Francisco. The last few days were full of fabulous weather, fun parties and a few challenges. Here's what I learned:
  • The only thing worse than serving jury duty is being put on jury duty standby. I had to talk to that bossy voicemail system more than ten times this week.
  • Baking almost 100 cupcakes in one night is surprisingly easy.
  • Cobb salad! One of the best foods on the planet.
  • Cheesy summer television shows are lovely (and extremely formulaic, where do they find all these crabby brits?) ! I love Hasselhoff!
  • When you host 12 ladies for a cupcake decorating party everyone will have fun but very few will actually admit to planning on eating their besprinkled creations.
  • "Besprinkled" is my new favorite word!
  • San Francisco's normally charming hills become death hikes when the temperature passes 80 degrees.
  • Pride week! Rock on fabulous San Francisco gays!
  • The Grand Cafe is a fun place to have breakfast.
  • Giving directions to confused tourists is a good deed and a good test of your bus/train knowledge.
  • Don't ever, ever eat chips and salsa on the bus.
  • An effective defensive move for kickball shortstops: jump around with your arms over your head and yell "kick it to me." It's very distracting to your opponents.
  • Two bikinis, two books, two pairs of pants and two sweaters is all you need for a weekend at the beach in Santa Cruz.
  • Don't forget about free public transportation on Spare the Air days this summer.
I'm off to the beach for a nice relaxing weekend!

Things I love today: Shirt dress

I l-o, l-0, l-o-v-e this dress! Wouldn't you feel just like Katherine Hepburn wearing this around town?

Throw on a cute belt, a few bangles, a skinny clutch and some bright shoes and you're ready for anything. Avoid white accessories that could possibly turn it into a nursey-looking ensemble.

BCBG Pinstripe Shirt Dress - $160

My name is Emily, I may have OCD

Wow! I have been amazingly fidgety this week. It started on Tuesday when I prepared for the LAC party by obsessively walking around the house and arranging things at 90 degree angles.

Here are some other bad signs:
  • The day before visiting a new restaurant, I go online and look at the menu. I like to pick out what I'll order in advance. Does anyone else do this?
  • My obsession with punctuality has reached new heights. I will show up an hour early just to avoid being late.
  • I freaked out a bit about how gross it was for this guy to eat chips and salsa on the bus. Never mind that there were several transvestites and druggies on the bus, I was concerned about the salsa only.
Despite all these OCD tendencies, I have still been a major scatterbrain this week. I think it's the heat playing with my head. Last night, I completely forgot to prepare for a breakfast business meeting today and nearly skipped getting cash for the housekeeper again. Hopefully, going on vacation this weekend will help me chill out a bit!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Things I love today: Colored pencils

I rarely travel without packing an unlined journal, a glue stick, a good dark pen and a set of colored pencils. I started keeping these trip journals on a family trip to Alaska many years ago. The formula is always the same: I draw small pictures of the things I've seen, write about adventures and paste in items like train tickets, flowers and receipts.

After a few years, I now have big books of memories from trips to Italy, Ireland, France, Spain, Greece, China, Costa Rica and Argentina. One glance inside and I am taken straight back on vacation! I consider it an investment in my mental health as a future bored old woman in a retirement home.

I think I'll take my well-traveled colored pencils to Santa Cruz this weekend and to Hayfork the next weekend. There's some room in the back of other journals that I can fill in with a few memories. Not sure how to start your trip journal? Look to One Special Summer or one of Bemelman's travel books for inspiration.

Sale Alert:

Are skimpy summer tops calling attention to the fact that your bra straps might be looking a little tired? Good news! is having a big summer sale on all kinds of lingerie, pajamas and swim suits. Even my all time favorite bra in the world is on sale! The Bodas cotton basic bra is my daily staple. I have two in every color!

And you can't beat the customer service at this UK based company. Call about an order and you'll be patched through to a polite and helpful brit!

Heat wave!

It is so hot outside! According to the weather reports San Francisco is in the mid-eighties today and I am wilting like a southern flower. I am so bad about dealing with the heat. I never know what to wear (I changed outfits five times this morning) and have a tendency to get heat stroke if left in the sun for more than 10 minutes. It may reach 90 degrees tomorrow! Despite my distaste for the hot weather, there are a few things that are nice about a heat wave:
  • San Francisco's street cafe culture. It's surprisingly robust seeing as how it is rarely nice enough to eat dinner outside. I passed a Mediterranean restaurant yesterday with a woman and seated at a little cafe table. Her poodle was in the other chair and they were sharing a snack. So French!
  • Sleeping with only a sheet and a blanket. It reminds me of being on vacation in Santa Barbara!
  • Happy tourists! Poor things are normally freezing in their shorts and tees during June.
  • Leaving the windows open at night.
  • Bikini weather! I am self-tanned and ready to rock my white bikini in Santa Cruz this weekend!
  • Iced tea. Nothing is better on a warm day. My southern and Scottish roots team up for excessive tea consumption.
  • Summer television shows. Okay, so this one isn't heat dependent at all but I really love the corny talent competitions they put on in the summer. Team Hasselhoff!
Happy heat wave! Jean, you had better not be wearing your orange running shorts to work today!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Shopping challenge: Affordable monogrammed sheets for Jean

Jean and I were waiting for the fashionably late guests to arrive and browsing through Domino Magazine last night. Being utterly fabulous, of course all the apartments featured have monogrammed sheets. Jean was drooling over the monograms so I decided to do a little online research for her:

West Elm - Really cheap sheet sets with a fun modern monogram. I recommend the orange with white monogram for Jean. 230 thread count is more than a bit rough though.

Neiman Marcus - Definitely not cheap...but oh so cute. I like the willow set for Jean.

Pottery Barn - Jackpot! I like the big traditional monogram on these sheets. They are expensive but not unaffordable. The matching duvet cover is lovely too. 400 thread count.

What do you think Jean? Would any of these work for your North Carolina cottage?

Things I love today: Cropped peacoat

In San Francisco, you can never have too many coats! My hunt for good outerwear continues all summer long!

At kickball a few weeks ago, I saw a girl wearing an adorable white cropped peacoat. Her coat was trimmed with green stitching and probably came from a tiny boutique on Hayes. I asked Jean to go knock her down and steal the coat, but she wouldn't and ever since I have become obsessed with trying to find one of my own. I came pretty close with a cropped trench from FCUK, but it was pretty unflattering and $200 on sale.

Jean sent me a link to this option from Gap yesterday afternoon. For $39 it was worth a try! Of course, I feel a little silly buying a coat when it is a balmy 80 degrees outside...oh well! The weather will likely turn cold again in a few days.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Things I love today: Peony plaques

Oh Gump's! Why do you have to be such a wonderful purveyor of expensive goods?

I am currently obsessed with these peony decoupage plaques from your online store. I know that it is completely unreasonable to pay $135 for one of these to hang in my bathroom. Yet...I still want it. And maybe this turquoise jar to match?

Crafty: Cupcake mania!

I felt like such a PTA parent last night! Jean came over around 7:00 and we proceeded to bake around 100 cupcakes for her Ladies Activity Club Party tonight. One batch each of chocolate, white, funfetti and toxically-pink strawberry cake! Our measuring wasn't very even and we burned a few cupcakes (and a few fingers), but it was otherwise a success.

For the cupcake decorating party tonight, Jean has prepared a buffet of toppings. Along with five different kinds of frosting, there are sprinkles, gummy bears, coconut, food coloring, chocolate chips, candy bars, cocoa powder, jams and more. While baking last night, we also made a veggie platter and a cheese plate for the guests. Every single one of the silver trays I own are making a showing at tonight's party.

I'll post some photos of the party tomorrow. I think it will be a blast! It's such a fun idea for a summer afternoon.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Sale Alert: L'Occitane

L'Occitane is my all time favorite soap/lotion/candle store! But their normal prices could make a sailor blush. Take advantage of one of their rare sales to stock up on your favorite French goods. On their site, you can even sort by percentage discount! The deals are incredible:

Guest soaps (sold out) - Box of 12 shea butter soaps in a wooden box. Used to be $25, now $6. Keep a box wrapped in your hall closet for unexpected hostess gifts. Or use them yourself!

Shea butter lip balm with SPF - L'Occitane's shea butter is the only things that kept my lips attached to my face during San Francisco's unusually cold and rainy winter. Half off!

Irridescent rose powder
- Does anything more feminine exist on the planet? Half off!

Check out the website or their stores (there are six in San Francisco, including one on Castro) for more great deals on lotions, soaps, candles, creams and home fragrance.

Ladies Activity Club party tomorrow!

The June Ladies Activity Club party is tomorrow! Jean is hosting a cupcake decorating event for about 12 of the members. We have a lot of baking to do tonight in preparation.

Jean also just sent over a few photos from last month's LAC party. Betsy hosted the May bowling event at Yerba Buena Lanes. Click here to see a photo of the group and here to see Shelly celebrating a strike. That's me in the photo posted above. I am looking depressed by my paltry score of 34 for the night. I am definitely a better baker than bowler!

Weekend Round-Up

What a perfect weekend! The weather was lovely, we threw a party and I had some wonderful time to relax.

It all started with the "Evening Brunch" party on Friday night. A quiet dinner for four quickly turned into eight (and we almost had ten). Bloody mary's and bagels with lox were set out for appetizers. I made turkey bacon, sausage, blueberry coconut pancakes in advance and kept them warm in the stove. The buffet was completed with a fruit salad and a green salad. What a feast! Sarah and Charlie were spending the night and we gave them keys to the apartment so they could hit the town while I hit the sack.

Rob left early for a run in Marin the next morning. When the rest of us got up, we had a delicious leftover breakfast and watched the DVD of A Room with a View (so good!). By the time we were up and ready to go, it was time for lunch. We drove over to Geary and 23rd in the Richmond to go to a Dim Sum place, Golden River. How did I possibly manage to eat all that food?! We had BBQ pork buns, shrimp stuffed crab claws, potstickers, shu mai, asparagus, mango pudding, pea shoots, hot and sour soup, chicken in foil and more! The food was great but more expensive that Lychee Gardens on Powell in Chinatown.

Feeling terminally stuffed and overheated (it was about 80 degrees out), we went to the Kabuki theater on Fillmore street to watch Nacho Libre. It was a funny and odd movie. Sarah then peeled off to her friend's bachelorette party, Charlie drove home and Rob and I headed back to the house to relax. Jean and Trent invited us out for a late dinner at BurgerMeister. After a huge garden burger and fries, my digestive system couldn't take it anymore. I looked like I was three months pregnant and felt like a beached whale! I waddled home and zonked out.

On Sunday morning, Rob went for a bike ride and I stayed home to "detox" with a pot of coffee and some good books. After Saturday's feasting, I couldn't even think about eating anymore. Jean came over at 1:00 and we took the M Train out to Stern Grove for a free Seu Jorge concert. The park was packed! Thousands of people were camping out on the hillside. It looked like a cross between a refugee camp and a Seurat painting! We squeezed into a spot right off the path in a thicket of blackberries with a great view of a eucalyptus tree. The Seu Jorge concert went by quickly as did our picnic. We left right at the start of Aimee Man and took the train home. A quick trip to Safeway with Jean, a nap and chinese takeout completed the weekend.

Whew! For how relaxing last weekend seemed, it certainly was busy!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Urban girl almanac

Oh my! Could the weather outside possibly be any nicer? We don't get many days like this in San Francisco...I need to get out there and enjoy it!

Anyway, let's get on with this week's urban girl lessons:
  • If Safeway is crowded and you just need cash back, go to the Starbucks counter and buy some mints instead of waiting in line for a register. They can give you cash and there is rarely a crowd.
  • Soy sausage is actually pretty good in pasta.
  • Arriving at the opera at 7:30 will give you just enough time for will call and coat check. You can also rent opera glasses from the coat check room, a must if you are on the balcony.
  • There is a great thai restaurant on 18th street across from the Post Office in Castro.
  • I should try to focus more while playing cards. For some reason I can never really grasp the rules and only win hands by accident.
  • Sleep is so important! I get grumpy and depressed without a good eight hours a night.
  • If you happen to see an ex boyfriend in a public place you have two options: either say "hi" to him right away or don't tell your friends about the sighting and do your best to hide.
  • The Taco Bell Crunch Wrap Supreme is quite possibly one of the best foods invented.
  • If you request nine books from the library, there is more than a slight chance that they will all arrive at once.
Get out there and enjoy this gorgeous weather! Don't miss the Stern Grove Festival this Sunday! Happy Friday!

Social calendar: Free admission to the Asian Art Museum

Visit the Asian Art Museum for free this Saturday or Sunday. The museum is celebrating it's 40th anniversary this weekend and opening it's doors to the public for free.

This is a fabulous museum! Wear sneakers because it is huge and plan on having lunch in their great cafe. Also, the gift shop has some really nice items for sale.

Grumpy: Things I don't like today

I am so tired from a week packed full of superfun activities and small annoyances. Truly, TGIF because I wouldn't make it another day! I usually try to refrain from using this blog to air grievances, but I am grumpy this morning and convinced that it will help. Here are a few of things I don't like this week:
  • Super crowded rush hour buses that arrive 40 minutes late. I took these photos as evidence and Mr. Ford got a nasty email from me.
  • Running into ex-boyfriends. Along with renaissance fairs, this is my most hated thing in the world. An ex (let's call him Jorge McFly, which is close but not Google-able) showed up at our kickball game last night. I stupidly told some teammates and Rob about it and it turned into a major junior-high-style debacle. Puke!
  • Earthquakes. Maybe I wouldn't be so tired today if I hadn't been woken up at 5:30 am by an earthquake yesterday morning.
  • People who don't dress appropriately for the opera. Seriously folks. Backpacks, jeans, hiking boots, etc are not okay for opening night. If you paid more than $40 for your tickets, you should wear a skirt. I am close to protesting outside the War Memorial Opera House with a big sign, like those omnipresent "Jesus Loves You" folks.
  • Forgetting about the housekeeper. Darn it! I completely forgot that Juana was coming yesterday. I didn't pick up the apartment at all and didn't leave her any money. Thus, I am a slob and a bad employer.
I am feeling better already! My double latte is starting to kick in and this post did help a bit. Feel free to air your grievances in the comments section below. Go for it!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Things I love today: Honeydew cami sets

For the first time in a few weeks, it is actually gorgeous and warm outside in San Francisco today! Summer weather means summer pajamas. Usually, I am a satin pj kind of girl. But during the warmer months they are a little too much.

When it is warm, I switch over to Honeydew camis and bottoms (link a bit NSFW). Look at all the fabulous colors! These sets are perfect combined with a pair of light cotton "lounge pants" from PJ Salvage. Fun, comfortable and affordable...what more could you want from pajamas!

Crafty: Letter holders

I love repurposing antiques and making them usefull. Along with the gold mirror, I also recently inherited a heavy brass letter holder (sort of like this). Not having many letters in need of "holding," I turned it into a napkin holder for the kitchen. It works perfectly and my everyday paper napkins have never been so elegant!

There are all kinds of fun antique letter holders available online. Here are a few of my favorites:
I bet you could find some great options in your local antique stores as well.

What to wear: Rock show

Tonight's the big Scissors for Lefty show at The Independent! Time to get decked out in your best rock show gear.

I always have a hard time picking out what to wear for these shows. I think it has to do with the fact I rarely wear jeans and have a propensity to look more girly than "punk."

Here are some of my picks for going to a rock show:
  • Tight jeans with knee high boots - This combo is more suited for fall, but I still like it. Tuck my skinny Kenneth Cole jeans into my favorite vintage brown boots and match it with a cute v-neck top.
  • Low belt - I bought a low suede belt (cuter than this one) from Therapy in San Luis Obispo just for going to SFL shows.
  • Tunic tee - The perfect thing to go with the belt. I bought this one from Nordstrom last weekend. It would be way cooler if there was something printed on top. Time to go to My Trick Pony.
  • Flats - Don't wear high heels to rock shows. I know this..yet still it is always an issue. Maybe these shoes would be a good alternative.
  • Guitar pick earrings - It is a rock show after all! These are pretty cute!
  • Bangle bracelet - This completes the outfit. Toss on a black headband and you are ready to rock in style.
See you at the show tonight! Don't forget to get there early to hear our other favorite band, The Faraday Effect. Rock on Peter, James, Alex and Julia!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Crafty: Restoring antiques

I recently inherited a gilded mirror in need of repairs. One side of the decorative plaster was broken into about 20 pieces. I am determined to repair it myself, relying on my crafty and obsessive nature instead of actual skills!

I bought some plaster from the hardware store and just ordered something called PoYo Putty in order to make silicone molds of the fruits and flowers from the unbroken side. How cool is this stuff! Once the putty arrives, I plan to create new plaster for the other side, smooth everything down with a dremel tool and give the whole mirror a fresh gilding. I think I'll hang the mirror somewhere in the hall when it is done.

How exciting! I feel like a real antique restorer already!

Hostess: Brunch party!

I bought a set of ten linen napkins from Nordstrom last weekend on the vow (to myself) that I would throw a dinner party soon. Sure, I already have more than a few sets of napkins...but these were so cute with an orange and white Moroccan pattern! Time to get to entertaining!

I've had the idea of throwing an "evening brunch" for a few weeks now. With it not getting dark until around nine, these summer evenings would be the perfect time for mimosas and a casual feast!

A few mini bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon would be a perfect starter. Follow that with blueberry coconut pancakes, sausage, bacon, green salad and fruit salad. Yum! I am getting hungry already! Who wants to come over on Friday night?!

Social calendar: Marriage of Figaro

Rob and I were at home eating leftover pizza in our pajamas when we got the call. Ikon (visiting from San Diego) had tickets for us to see Marriage of Figaro at the San Francisco Opera. We had fifteen minutes to get ready. A quick change into our best opera clothes and a ten minute subway ride and I was in heaven. Going to the opera here is one my favorite things. In the past we've gone to see Doctor Atomic and Madama Butterfly.

This was my first time seeing Figaro. I was amazed at just how funny it was! One doesn't usually associate Mozart with being a great comic but this performance had the audience laughing at every turn. The performers did an excellent job of being scheming women and jealous men. And the stages for this show were the best I've seen at the War Memorial so far. Every time the curtain came up you were transported to another detailed part of the Spanish villa, complete with beamed ceilings and pine trees.

Marriage of Figaro has show dates through the end of the month. I highly recommend attending. Don't forget your ostrich feather purse and a little spare cash for an Irish coffee during intermission!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Social calendar: Scissors for Lefty

Rob and I had lunch with Peter, our favorite rock star, today. Peter's band, Scissors for Lefty, is back in the US for a week in between European tour dates. They have a big show here in San Francisco on Thursday at The Independent on Divisidero. Buy your tickets online before it sells out! Plus, they'll be filming a music video before the show. Let me know if you are interested in being an extra during the shoot!

Up next, Scissors for Lefty is off to Los Angeles and Berlin before playing at the Reading & Leeds Festival in a few weeks (that's them in the tiny print at the bottom of the poster). How exciting! See you at the show on Thursday!

Things I love today: Evening chores

After last night, I think I have officially decided on my favorite part of day. It was 10:30, Rob was doing the dishes in the kitchen, I was addressing a few letters at the dining room table and picking up the house. It was perfect! I really think that this last little clean up session before bed is my favorite part of the day. It's so nice to turn in with an apartment that has been polished up a bit. The coats are hung up, the teeth have been brushed and all that's waiting for you is a few chapters of your book.

I especially like this part of the day if we've had dinner guests over. Sure, there is more to pick up but you also get to settle in and reflect back on the fun you had. Am I the only one who loves the evening chore ritual? Is this completely weird?

Book report: A room with a view

To me, summer reading is all about old favorites and a little romance. On Saturday last weekend, I settled in with my copy of A Room With a View. This book is perfect for a quiet summer weekend! Read about darling Lucy Honeychurch's Italian adventures and oh-so-handsome George Emerson. The characters in E.M. Forster's book are so incredibly vivid that you almost forget that it was first published nearly a hundred years ago.

I recently placed nine book requests through the library for my upcoming trips to Santa Cruz and Hayfork. Until these books arrive, I am re-reading Pride and Prejudice. I found an illustrated copy on my bookshelf that I hadn't read before. It's another summer classic!

What are you reading this summer? Let me know in the comments section!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Meet my new wallet!

It is apparently "Beige Day" here on! Beige is really my least favorite color but I do love these pants, these cards and my new wallet! At least it is more of a pearl color than a true beige. I bought the Hobo International Cate wallet at Nordstrom on sale for only $34 this weekend. Hooray for half off!

Mine has a floral yellow lining to go with the gold-ish, pearl leather. I couldn't find an exact match only. Very cute. Somehow, it even manages to carry more than my old larger Isaac Mizrahi wallet.

Sale Alert: Crane's

Three pounds of clearance Crane's stationary just arrived in the mail. I am soo happy with my purchase! Especially these correspondence cards with gold star engraving.

I completely forgot about how nice the Crane's boxes are (click here for a fuzzy camera phone picture). Each set came packaged in it's own dark blue box with a white ribbon tied around the notes. How elegant! It makes me want to send out notes to people right now!

The Crane's clearance sale is still going on. I highly recommend it!

Things I love today: Super trousers!

What a fabulous name for cute pants - Super Trousers! Honestly, I think they deserve the title. I bought these pants on sale from French Connection yesterday and love them! Mine have tiny brown and blue pinstriping. Paired with some tall, brown Kenneth Cole pumps these pants make my legs look a mile long.

Weekend Round-Up: Foggy days

Last weekend felt entirely too short. With the weather taking a turn for the cold and foggy, I wasn't feeling very motivated. On Friday night, Rob and I had planned to try out the new seafood restaurant in our neighborhood. It turns out that Woodhouse Fish Company was more expensive than we anticipated and we decided on a dinner of gnocchi, artichokes and strawberry shortcake at home instead.

On Saturday, we luxuriously slept in until about 10:00 before meeting Matt and Amber for some kayaking. It was only slightly less foggy in Sausalito and kayaking was a choppy, wet adventure. We tried to go to the German Tourist Club in Marin afterwards but it was closed for a private party. Instead we had a fancy lunch "up among them" at the Mountain Home Inn. On our way home, we passed an estate sale along Marina Boulevard. This home was huge by San Francisco standards. Five bedrooms and decorated in the "in" styles from the 1950's. I can't even imagine having such a big house in the city. Actually, I can imagine! I would love it and would throw fabulous parties! We didn't buy anything at the sale but it certainly was fun to snoop around. Rob and I spent the rest of the evening recovering from our Marin adventures.

Rob had an orienteering race in China Camp on Sunday and I had a leisurely day of coffee shops and used bookstores planned. I was barely sipping my first latte when Nicole invited me out for a bit of shopping downtown. What started as a brief jaunt downtown turned into an epic eight hour search for a new black business suit for Nicole! After visiting Nordstrom, Club Monaco and Macy's we finally found a perfect option at Zara. It wasn't all suit shopping though, I got some great things on sale at Nordstrom and French Connection. Rob and I ordered a pizza from Deja Vu pizza and relaxed the rest of the night.

It looks like the weather is already improving! We have a busy week ahead of us including dinner out with friends, yoga and a big Scissors for Lefty rock show at The Independent on Thursday. Scissors for Lefty is only in the US for a few weeks before going back on tour in Europe. Buy your tickets now before they sell out!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Sale alert: Buy one, get one free movie tickets

Nicole just alerted me to this great deal! If you are planning on seeing "The Break-Up" this weekend, book your tickets with Fandango using your MasterCard. The two companies have teamed up to offer a "buy one ticket, get one free" deal for this movie. With a movie ticket in San Francisco costing at least $10.50, this is a great sale!

Urban girl almanac: Windy city

What a week! It seems like this summer is already flying by. Now if the wind would just stop, the weather outside would be ideal. Here are some of the things I learned this week:
  • Shoe Wiz in the San Francisco Shopping Center does a great job but they are a little expensive.
  • The Body Shop is the place to buy a sleep mask.
  • Silver bunny spoons and embroidered blankets make nice baby gifts.
  • At the Post Office, express mail is faster and more expensive than priority mail. So confusing!
  • The Crane's stationary sale is an excellent way to stock up.
  • If you overdo the hip stretches in yoga'll be sore for days.
  • When it is windy, a headband is a saving grace.
  • If you run ahead, you can catch a 22 bus that passed 14th street again two stops down on the corner of Hermann and Fillmore.
  • Don't turn down an invite to a business cocktail party. You may meet some nice people and get to see some lovely courtyards.
  • For a delightful summer dessert buy angel food cake and strawberries at Safeway.
  • Pencil skirt, pumps, light sweater and headband is a winning ensemble.
  • Japantown is awesome.
  • Two cups of strong coffee in the morning may leaving you feeling slightly unhinged the rest of the day.
  • A good defensive position in kickball is standing with your arms above your head and your feet wide apart...according to me.
I think Rob and I are going to the movies tonight and kayaking in Sausalito tomorrow if the weather is nice. Should be a very relaxing weekend for us. I hope you have fun plans too!

Things I love today: Japantown

Rob and I arrived at kickball a half hour early last night. Instead of just going to wait in the park (my idea), Rob had the good plan to walk around Japantown. This is one of the only neighborhoods we hadn't yet explored. We were missing out!

From the outside, Japantown doesn't look inspiring. Unlike Chinatown, everything is inside a big mall and immaculate. There are so many tiny stores selling pottery, sweets, kimonos, furniture, stationary, books, car accessories and crepes. Lots of restaurants and even a Japanese supermarket. The Japanese flower arranging club that I was interested in a few months ago is also inside the mall and has their arrangements on display in the window. At one shop, I was enchanted by what I thought was bubble bath in adorable giraffe and bear shaped bottles. Good thing I eventually saw the sign that read "sale: toilet cleaner" before buying it!

It really felt like Rob and I had somehow teleported to Japan, except everyone spoke English as well as Japanese. After buying a lucky cat charm for my cell phone, it was time to head back to our kickball game. We'll definitely be back in Japantown soon!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Recipe: Grilled peaches

Toynette, Trent's mom and a reader of this blog, sent over a great recipe for grilled peaches today. I don't currently have a barbeque, probably since I also don't have a yard or balcony. But if the good weather continues, I just may have to invest in one for the back stairs. Or I could cheat and use a pan like this. This recipe seems perfect for a warm summer afternoon. I bet they would be really good cold for breakfast the next day too.

I might try a slightly different variation, grilling the peaches plain and making a flavored whip cream as a topping. Maybe a basil cream? It's from a passion fruit gelees receipe (jello, for those of you who don't speak "snob") in this month's issue of Gourmet. Or ginger cream would be really tasty too!

Dress your office in wicker and porcelain

Ah, the office! My home away from home. The start of summer serves as a reminder as to just how much time you spend at work. Luckily, I just finished a minor office remodel and my space is looking pretty nice. Here are my tips for a happy cubicle:
  • Wicker baskets - This basket from Crate and Barrel's bath department serves as an "inbox" on my desk. A fun tray could work too.
  • Candy - I'm always amazed at how effective a dish full of candy is for promoting office gossip. Offer up a few Hershey's kisses and you'll suddenly be kept completely in the loop.
  • Candle - Ross is my source for inexpensive office candles.
  • Beta fish - My beta is in a big hurricane glass (sort of like this one) with pink marbles and a green plant. It's nice having an "office buddy."
  • Bulletin board - Post important notes as well as photos and other happy reminders of your life outside of work on a framed bulletin board. I hung mine vertically to make it more appealing.
  • Calendar - An office essential! Avoid these and find a fun traditional calendar. I have a vintage fashion poster calendar up that was a gift from Margaret.
  • Vases - Add a splash of color with some bright porcelain vases. It would be lovely to have a plant too, but my office doesn't have enough light.
  • Mirror - A round mirror breaks up the squareness of your desk and walls. Framed art is also a great choice.
  • Coat hook - Pick one that is fun and matches your style.
  • Rug - I happen to have an oriental rug in my office. If you can, do!
Remember, you are spending 40+ hours a week at work! It makes sense to invest a little time and energy into your environment. You can use this famous Vogue office as an inspiration. Do you have a gorgeous office? Send me a photo!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Bargain finder: Inexpensive jewelry

Nicole's at it again. So demanding! Here's what my favorite unofficial editor has to say:
I think you should do a cheap...but nice jewelry/accessory section. I need to accessorize more. Not too trendy...some things I could wear for a while. I love Banana's accessories - they have a lot of them online now, but they are a little pricey...3 things could run $100. Any thoughts?
Nicole's the boss! When it comes to cheap jewelry, I usually go either bargain, crafty or vintage. Here are my picks for Nicole with each option:

Bargain - Forever 21 is a cheap jewelry mecca. Most of it is super-trendy, but some pieces would work for conservative-dresser Nicole. I pick this bangle, these adorable earrings and this ring. At less than $5 each, Nicole can afford to stock up!

Crafty - Feria Urbana is the ultimate city craft fair. Local jewelry designers come from around San Francisco to peddle their wares at discount prices. Since Nicole lives in Sacramento, we need the designers to come to her. Peggy Li was one of my favorites at the last fair and she has a website. It's more expensive than Forever 21 by far, but also a lot more unique. I pick these tiger's eye earrings and this bracelet for Nicole. Prices are even better in person.

Vintage - is a great place to shop for inexpensive vintage jewelry. You can sort results by price! Most of the pieces are a bit of a stretch for Nicole, but I think she should go for it! I pick this bracelet, this brooch and this bracelet.

How'd we do Nicole? Any good bargain jewelry finds? Did I beat Banana Republic?

Crafty: Baby blanket

For once I finally remembered to take a photo of one of my embroidery projects for this site!

This baby blanket is being mailed off today to Rob's sister. Her 4th baby boy is due on Friday. It's a freehand design of a frog and lily pads using chain and back stitches. The frog came out a little cross-eyed, which is adorable! Being a perfectionist, I wish the "R" had been more even. Oh well, I suppose it makes it look homemade!

I finished this project back in January, it took about six hours altogether. Fleece blankets like this are easy to find at department stores or Ross and they make a great canvas for embroidery. The soft weave is easy on your fingers. I made a similar blanket with a floral design for my friend Sarah a few years ago.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Things I love today: Le Petit Ecolier cookies

Along with my favorite ginger lemon creme cookies, I also love the Le Petit Ecolier chocolate biscuits. This is another box of cookies that I try to keep on hand for unexpected guests.

The Carters originally introduced me to these cookies when I was about 6 years old. The Carters were the epitome of stylish professors. Their house in Davis was decorated with art, Danish modern furniture and books. They spent their summers in Provence, wore stylish tweed, and always had Petit Ecolier cookies ready for visiting children.

Safeway has a sale on these cookies today. Stock your pantry with the milk chocolate and dark chocolate varieties and always be stylishly prepared for small visitors!

Shopping challenge: Sleep mask

After I picked up my repaired shoes (four pairs!) at the cobbler last night, Rob and I had a real life shopping challenge. He's been looking for a mask to wear so he can sleep while I'm up reading in bed. Since he's getting up early lately for morning runs and bike rides, it's lights-out around 10 for Rob. Everyone knows about sleep masks but where do you buy such a thing?

Our first stop was the Nordstrom men's accoutrements department. No luck! The saleswoman recommended Brookstone downstairs as a good option. Brookstone had lots of options but nearly all included "soothing massage," "lavender beads" and other flair. Victoria's Secret was also a bust. Finally, we found a perfect choice at the Body Shop for $12. He slept like a baby last night!

So now you know! The Body Shop is the place to buy a sleep mask in San Francisco.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Wallet dilemma

My Isaac Mizhahi wallet from Target is faling apart. This wallet has served me well for about six moths but the interior lining is starting to break where I keep my bus pass. Here's the dilemma:

Do I buy another Isaac Mizrahi wallet from Target, this time in crocodile for $15, knowing that I'll love it but that it will only last a few months? Or do I buy the Hobo International "Iris" wallet for $41, not knowing that I will really like it? What do you think?

Sale Alert: Crane's

With all these summer weddings, showers, baptisms and birthdays, I'm starting to run low on stationary! Good thing Crane's is having a clearance sale right now. This is a perfect time to restock!

My picks include these very "south beach" coral notes, the starburst announcement cards and the star correspondence cards.