Friday, December 29, 2006

What to Wear: Sales!

Just when you feel like giving up shopping forever, the after-Christmas sales lure you back! This is a perfect time to stock up on classic pieces to get you through the rest of the winter:
  • Ruffled Blouse - Ruffled blouses are a pain to iron but do wonders for "boyish" figures. This one was once $79 from J.Crew and is now listed at $29.
  • Scarf - Enormous and soft! Perfect to help me kick my pashmina addiction at $22.
  • Jeans - I bought a similar pair of Paper Denim & Cloth jeans that were marked down from a staggering $190 to only $80 at a discount boutique, Dizzi, in SLO. I don't know how they get their designer jeans; I may not want to know.
  • Coat - I have this coat, now marked down to $79, in black. It wears well!
  • Shoes - Farylrobin always has fun designs! Even better at 40% off.
  • Purse - Hello cheetah! This bag is 33% off from Boden.
  • Earrings - Not broke yet? These garnet earrings are almost half off from The Met.
I can't wait for the blouse and scarf to arrive. I'm still deliberating on the coat, purse, shoes and earrings :)

Things I Love Today: Silver Storage Bags

I was so, so lucky over the holidays! Mom wanted to thin down her collection of family silver. That meant that Jean and I made out like true bandits! I came home with eight new pieces including, my favorite, a coffee pot that pivots to pour on top of a warming stand. I love each one for all the Simmons, Bemis, Stockton and Williams history they come paired with.

I also thought I had inherited the process of wrapping each piece in paper and a plastic bag each time I used it to prevent tarnishing. This is something my grandmother and mother both labored over. Preparations for any major dinner resulted in a lot of rooting around and a huge nest of scraps. But I think I might have found a better solution!

Gump's has a pretty affordable set of flannel storage bags designed just for sterling and silverplate. I think I'll go in Saturday with my measurements to get stocked up. Add a small tag to the outside to indicate what is what and voila! Instant easy access to each piece. I may miss polishing everything constantly!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

What to Wear: Is it Spring Yet?

It is mighty cold out there. And San Francisco still has many rainy days ahead. But I am starting to feel ready for Spring now that Christmas is over. Maybe because I saw that the ferns had sprouted on my walk to work this morning. The city ferns magically appear on rocks and bricks all over the city (especially on the Armory) with the first rainstorms. They're our version of crocuses!
  • Sweater - Heather gray is back on my palate now that I have dark hair.
  • Skirt - I just received my order from Boden from before Christmas.
  • Flats - In "moss" suede...how appropriate!
  • Coat - This cheery green coat is lined with really bright fabric for an extra kick.
  • Purse - Mine has started to look a little worse for wear. Of course, right when Zappos stops carrying this Michael Kors bag on super discount.
With a pair of tights, a scarf and a some gloves...you'd be set to brave the cold today!

Free Invitation Templates

My aunt Sally gave me a copy of the Real Simple Celebrations book over the holidays. It is full of some really cute ideas for throwing all kinds of parties. And one of the features included is free invitation template downloads. You can browse all nine online at realsimple.com/celebrations.

Most of the invites are pretty basic, but I really like the dinner party invitation and the idea behind the cheese tasting invitation.

Holiday Round-Up

What a lovely Christmas! The last six days have been full of family, feasting, generosity and celebrations. This is a looong post:

Rob and I drove down on Thursday night to San Luis Obispo and arrived to a huge bowl of spaghetti and hungry family. We had a delicious dinner with my parents, aunt Lucie, brother Joe and nephew Cameron before hitting the sack.

The next morning was disrupted before dawn when Jean text messaged from Salt Lake City saying that her plane had an unscheduled landing due to technical troubles. Instead of being in San Francisco, she was trapped in an airport that her airline didn't serve on a day of blizzard-fueled holiday travel nightmares. We spent the morning looking up flight, rental car and shuttle options in our pajamas and calling back and forth. At one, Rob and I left for our friend's wedding with the news that Jean was on a plane to California.

Elizabeth, my friend from Junior High days, married Jason on schedule, outdoors and in the sun at 2:00 that afternoon. She looked so beautiful in her dress; so much so that she received a few hoots from a nearby construction crew! Her wedding was a lot of fun. We expected to see Jean when we got home at 8:00, but she was delayed again and wouldn't make it home until late that night.











The next morning, we were all home and busy preparing for that night's "Christmas Dinner." Because Joe and Cameron were leaving Sunday, we decided to move up Christmas morning one day. We had a huge feast of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, creamed onions, cranberry sauce and snap peas that night.

Christmas morning was Sunday for our family; and it was mighty! We each received big stockings from "santa" and lots of thoughtful gifts. A few favorites included a cake decorating set and a silver vanity set that belonged to my great grandmother. We finished the day with the Christmas Eve service at our funny church full of familiar faces. And we followed that with a big lasagna dinner with "cousin-Jane" and her son.

On the actual Christmas morning, Rob and I had an unexpected visitor. A huge policeman banged on the door at 8:00 am to see if we were the owners of the car outside. Our car had been side-swiped by a drunk driver late the night before. The police had already found him (passed out in his car down the block) and arrested him before alerting us. We got the full report and called the insurance company before breakfast. The story even made the local paper the next day.











We borrowed a family car and drove out to visit with Rob's sister, father and four nephews on Christmas morning. The adorable boys were so excited about the military-issue canteens that Rob had bought them. We took a hike with the boys later that afternoon with the canteens and their new walking sticks and headlamps. We stayed at the top of the hill until the stars came out and walked down in the dark.









Rob and I zipped back home for dinner and one of the funniest parts of the holiday. An outsider stumbling across our "Christmas" dinner would have thought we had had a very bad year. We were at the table around a bowl of salad and a box of crackers; bundled up in the cold. Of course, we were too stuffed to eat anything other than salad after three days of excess, and the heater was off because my mother prefers to live at sub-polar temperatures. We had a good laugh about it and kept joking that, "it will be better next year. Daddy will find work."

Trent arrived on Tuesday morning when we were preparing for the third, and final, Christmas. My aunt, uncle and cousins arrived at noon for a festive lunch of turkey leftovers, cauliflower soup and scalloped potatoes. My oldest cousin had gotten engaged just a few days earlier. She is the first of the "Williams girls" to get engaged, a big deal. After lunch, we drove out to Morro Bay to pick up some fresh crab for dinner. Mmm...cracked dungeness crab with sourdough bread and melted butter is my favorite holiday tradition! After dinner, we opened our last round of presents and took a dip in the hot tub.

We did a little shopping and had lunch with Jean and Trent on Wednesday before packing up the car and driving home to San Francisco. It was great to be back at home although it felt really quiet without the family talking, the dog barking, the dishwasher running and the kettle whistling. What a great Christmas!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Happy Holidays!

I'm going to be out of town and offline for the holidays Friday through Thursday. We're going to my friend's wedding tomorrow night. And will then be celebrating Christmas with my parents, sister, sister's boyfriend, brother, nephew and aunt. It is a full house this year!

Our family holiday traditions involve a lot of relaxing, dungeness crab, sailing (weather permitting), talking to the dog, Williams-style worrying, cranberry bread, ice skating on TV and tea. It's really a lovely mix and I am looking forward to being home!

Merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah and see you next week!

Things I Love Today: Ice Cream

Watch out world, I have an ice cream maker!

I got to open my big Christmas present at home last night (because it wouldn't fit in the giant waterproof duffel bag full of gifts that we strap, santa-style, to our Miata trunk rack each year). Rob bought me a stainless steel cuisinart ice cream maker. I am going to make soo much ice cream! Here's the recipes I want to try first:

Yum! I can't wait to try this out at our next dinner party.

Recipe: Tomato Soup

Mmm....We had the best dinner last night! Matt came over and I decided to finally complete that tomato soup I started with the tomatoes we picked in Fresno. I paired it with grilled cheddar, apple and bacon sandwiches and a salad. I'm not usually a fan of tomato soup but this batch made me a believer!


Tomato Soup

About 2 pounds of fresh, ripe tomatoes (cherry are good because they often have more flavor)
1 onion
1 small potato, grated
1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
1/2 teaspoon fresh garlic
Salt & pepper to taste

Chop the tomatoes and onions coarsely. Cook down the tomatoes and onions with a bit of olive oil in a large pot. You can freeze this mixture once it is cooked and save it for a later date.

Add the grated potato and spices and simmer for about 10 minutes. Use a hand mixer to blend the soup until there are no large chunks. Strain the resulting mixture with a fine sieve over a bowl to remove the seeds and other large pieces. Your final result should have a nice bisque texture. Return to stove top and complete your seasoning. Serve with a sprinkle of fresh basil and parmesan. Serves four. Lycopenerific!

Advent Calendar: December 21

This is the last advent calendar post before I take off for the holidays! In honor of that, I've chosen Rob's fantastic Christmas card photo as our final picture:












It is a tradition each year for Rob to stage an over-the-top photo of me for our Christmas cards. Last year it was in Union Square at night. The year before that it involved a 6 foot tall chainsaw and a pine tree. It is one of the perks of living with a photographer. This year's photo is one my all-time favorites! Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Praise for the Mighty Taco Wagon

Despite what you may hear, San Francisco does not really have good Mexican food. At least not compared with what you can get in Southern California. We have plenty of taquerias, but most are filled with not-warm-enough beans, not-spicy-enough salsa and inappropriate fillings like steamed eggplant and tofu.

There is one saving grace: San Francisco has glorious taco wagons! They are really the only source for authentic Mexican food in the city and the skeezier looking wagons are usually the best of them all.

My favorite for tacos is the wagon that parks outside the climbing gym on Harrison and 19th. Two tiny corn tortillas topped with grilled chicken, spicy salsa verde, chopped onions, cilantro and fresh limes. Heaven!

And, joy of joys, I have just found the best burrito in the city! It was from the taco wagon outside of Best Buy on Harrison and 14th (apparently Harrison is the taco wagon mecca). Smoky shredded chicken, whole pinto beans, diced onions, not too much rice, spicy red salsa, queso fresco and cilantro served up hot. It's a Christmas miracle!

What to Wear: Christmas Morning

Since your outfit will be recorded for posterity forever in family albums, it is worth taking a few minutes to plan what to wear on Christmas morning :
  • Pajamas - I am a bit of a connoisseur of satin pajamas. The kind with the brushed back are best (more breathable and warm) and white always seems the most elegant.
  • Kimono Yukata - I love the blue and white graphics of these traditional cotton summer kimonos. I bet you could get them for a great price in Japantown.
  • Socks - I'm not much for slippers. These gray wool socks with a snowflake design will do the trick instead.
I can't wait! Only five more days to go.

Advent Calendar: December 20

Christmas cookies, the kind that are decorated until unrecognizable with frosting and sprinkles, are a favorite tradition. Rob is a very creative and detailed decorator, the kind who will meticulously sort and line up sprinkles. I take a much more abstract approach.

Today's advent calendar photo is of our final creations. A mass of sprinkleage and holiday cheer!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Things I Love Today: Being a Winner!

The candle I won in the giveaway-a-day contests over at DesignMom just arrived today! It's a Fresh Currant (cassis, citrus peel and fir) candle from KOBO.

The best part is that it comes with it's own matches. And these are definitely not of the "safety match" variety.

Movie Review: Blood Diamond

Rob and I went to see Blood Diamond last night after work. A friend of a friend works at the Dolby Sound Lab offices down the street and we had free tickets to see it in their private screening theater. We have another invite to watch The Holiday tonight, but our laundry situation at home is getting dire and we may have to pass.

Anyway, I was pretty impressed with Blood Diamond. They filmed the whole think on location in Africa. It's awfully gory in many places and sort of flip-flopped between an action film and a preachy documentary, but overall it did a good job of conveying the message. I certainly left feeling smug about my commitment to only buying estate diamonds. Plus, Leonardo DiCaprio was really amazing in it. He's certainly changed his look a lot since the Titanic (ick) days.

If you have boxes full of diamond jewelry wrapped under your tree, you might want to skip this movie until after Christmas. The guilt could be overwhelming. If you don't, go see it!

Advent Calendar: December 19

One of the most ubiquitous sights in San Francisco during December is brightly lit Christmas trees in apartment windows. It seems like our famous Victorian houses and bay windows were designed expressly for the task.

Today's advent calendar photo comes to you from a Victorian house in Duboce Triangle. It is even prettier at night with the lights on!

PS: The photos from last weekend are up now!

Monday, December 18, 2006

WeeMe

Jean has one. Sara has one. Now I have one:











And Rob does too:











You can make your own WeeMe online here.

Things I Love Today: Joseph Schmidt Truffles

So much for the resolution I made on Friday to never touch another gift basket. Or the resolution I made last weekend to give up Champagne forever. As soon as a box of Joseph Schmidt truffles landed in the conference room, I went straight for the champagne truffle. Delicious! And made in San Francisco right on Folsom Street!

Resolutions are for breaking, right?

Weekend Round-Up: 3 days, 3 parties

This was the official party weekend for Rob and I! Now it is really starting to feel like the holidays! On Friday night, we had Stacey, Ben and Matt over for a small dinner party. The food all came out well (aside from the pork being a bit dry), the conversation was lively and I think everyone had a grand time. Here's a photo of the aftermath:











Saturday morning I grudgingly woke up and drove to SOMA to have my hair done for the office party later that night. Nikki did a great job of straightening it again! After a quick lunch with Rob, I took the most delicious hour long nap on the sofa. What a luxury! Feeling fully restored, we bundled up in puffy jackets and drove out to the archery field to meet Matt for some extreme, cold-weather, shooting. I did pretty well closer to the target but lost my mojo when we were back 30 yards. When our fingers finally froze up, Rob and I headed home to get ready for the party.

We met Jill on the subway downtown at 6:45. It seemed like every single person in the city was out for a holiday party and cabs were accordingly hard to find! The party's huge raw bar loaded with oysters, ahi and jumbo shrimp made up for the tricky commute and the rest of the menu was equally delish. We luckily managed to find another cab home pretty quickly when the party wound down at 1 am.









I tried to sleep in a bit on Sunday but our neighborhood gets an early start on the weekends. Between the drills at Firestation No. 6 ("pride of the Castro!") and the church bells, I didn't have much luck. Instead, I made a pot of tea and baked a batch of sugar cookies for the open house later in the day. After the house was scrubbed and the dishes washed, Rob and I had a lunch of brie and avocado sandwiches, decorated the cookies and watched a video. Rob is a master cookie decorator! Finally, it was four and time for the open house.











I was so nervous that no one would come that the final meager turn out of two was a delight. Both neighbors who came by (now known as "the first people I'll notify should the building catch on fire") were friendly and chatty. Rob and I learned a lot about the other neighbors, the people who lived in our apartment before and the history of the building. We also got two really nice notes from people who couldn't make it. One said that this was the first time in the 17 years he lived here that someone hosted a party for the tenants and that "such good neighbors are hard to come by!" So overall, it wasn't a huge success. I am still really glad I tried and will work harder at getting people to come next year.

We had originally planned to go to the movies after the open house. Instead, we made a dinner of unfinished veggie/cheese platters and champagne while watching Charlie Brown Christmas specials on TV. What a perfect party-for-two to end this fun weekend!

Advent Calendar: December 18

Shoot! I forgot my camera today. It was loaded with tons of photos of the city decorated for the holidays and of our three parties this weekend. I promise I'll get them posted tomorrow.

In the meantime, today's advent calendar image represents one of my favorite holiday traditions: Christmas cards! I think I've finally finished all my cards (a whopping 95 in total). We've received about 20 cards from friends and family so far. Checking our tiny mailbox each day for new cards almost feels like an advent calendar.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Urban Girl Almanac: A Rainy Week

Whew! It was starting to feel like last spring again in San Francisco the last few days. The rain and mist just would not stop. Luckily, we got a break today in time for Rob to make his sailing trip in the bay. Unluckily, it is supposed to start again tonight. Oh, well. I guess it makes it more "wintery" and festive. Here are some notes for the almanac:
  • Boden is having a big, big sale today. Buy lots of these skirts.
  • Dark hair is super fun. Although, I haven't quite mastered it just yet.
  • This year's Christmas card total was one for the record books: 93 so far and a few more still in the queue.
  • Viva Pinata is insanely addicting and cute. You should have seen how happy Rob and I were last night when we go the pretztails to mate (oh man, what is up with the dorkage?).
  • I'm really not that good of a baker, as hard as I try.
  • I am also really not at all good at straightening my own hair.
  • Wrapping plain vases with colorful paper is a good way to avoid having to buy, and clog up your cabinets, with new vases.
  • The holiday Ladies Activity Club party is a favorite tradition.
  • Does anyone get what this week's New Yorker cover is supposed to mean? I'm stumped.
  • The beeswax candles I made and gave out this week were a big hit.
  • I would be happy never seeing another office gift basket again in my life. I want to barf just thinking about all those mixed nuts, chocolates and cookies in the conference room.
  • Take the MUNI survey and help improve the system.

Design Inspiration: Diamond Stars

I guess it started with the Timeless Tiaras book about Chaumet jewelry design. Over the last year, I have been increasingly fixated on vintage pointy star designs. The brooch pictured here is a good example, as is this brooch and this tiara. Why don't these types of lovely designs show up more often in other places? I'm officially on a star hunt:
  • Star Mirrors - Pier 1 has two examples of star mirrors, but both are not quite pointy enough.
Annnnddd...we're finished. Seriously! I searched the internet high and low. I thought there would at least be a few examples of classic star designs on stationary or a few more mirrors. I came up 99% open handed and I am honestly surprised.

Imagine how pretty these stars would be around the hem of a skirt. Or on a throw pillow. Or one big star in the center of a duvet cover. Is this another example of "only-Emily" taste that sometimes surfaces?

Party Recipe: Holiday Dinner

I brought a bag home from Trader Joe's last night full of all that is good and holy in the world: smoked salmon, Neiman Ranch bacon, brie, blue cheese, pork loin, champagne and blackberries. It's time for a dinner party! Three friends are joining us tonight to celebrate the holidays, here's the recipe:
  • Start with champagne paired with a smoked salmon roulade and water crackers.
  • Follow that with a dinner of a mesclun and pear salad, bacon wrapped & cranberry stuffed pork loin and new potatoes paired with some good red wine.
  • Set the table in red and white. I didn't have any red vases so I covered some glass versions with red tissue paper instead. I'll reuse the flowers (freshened up with a few new buds) for the open house on Sunday.
  • Turn on classic holiday tunes like "Baby it's Cold Outside" and "the Christmas Waltz."
  • Finish with coffee and New York Cheesecake topped with blackberries.
Between this and our office party on Saturday, I think I will gain at least five pounds this weekend!

Advent Calendar: December 15

Today's advent calendar photo is so sweet, it might give you a cavity!

It's a photo of my latest gingerbread creation! As you can tell, I have more creativity and enthusiasm than actual skills. Still, I thought my fish tank design was pretty clever and Rob was really happy to get it :)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

What to Wear: Open House

We're past the point of no return on the open house party, the invitations went out earlier this week. Now, all I can worry about is the food (TGFTJ's) and what to wear:
  • Tunic - I'm intrigued by this top. It seems like it would either be really cute or pretty terrible in person.
  • Tank - In chocolate brown.
  • Jeans - With a dark wash.
  • Shoes - Fun flats in oxblood leather. I tried them on and they are indisputably cute in person.
  • Bracelet - Along with my seed pearl obsession, I am also into garnets lately. They look just like pomegranate seeds to me.
I like this outfit for casual entertaining. It's versatile, festive and seems like it would put guests at ease.

Things I Love Today: Holiday Shopping Ringers

Christmas is just eleven days away. And while that may seem like ample time, consider all the holiday parties, pedicures and travel that comes between you and then. And usually by this time of year only the hardest to shop for people are still on your list. Time to call in the ringers; the stores that always have something perfect:

MOMA - Just like museum restaurants, museum shops are always a good bet. Between the stationary, housewares and quirky accessories this online store is a life saver.



NPR - Anyone with ears and a love of lovely things should be glad to get one of the Tivoli radios carried by the NPR store. They also have an amazing collection of CD's, books and toys for any taste or interest.





Oxfam - Buy a camel or a sheep for an impoverished country in the name of your friend or relative. Oxfam will send them a cute card and use the donation to do good around the world.



Who is left on your Christmas list? A picky uncle? A doesn't-want-anything parent? Share your shopping challenge in the comments section.

Homebuyer Extraordinaire

My dear friend, Nicole, is in the process of buying her first house! It has been her goal since she moved to Napa a few months ago. So, so exciting!

And with a new house comes a new address and an occasion to send moving announcements. I love moving announcements! When Rob and I relocated to the city a year and a half ago, we ordered our announcements in yellow Crane's paper with dark gray thermography from FineStationary.com. I think Nicole would probably go for this design with Japanese cherry blossoms.

Advent Calendar: December 14

Today's photo is also from the kitchen. (All that rain must be limiting my photo options!) This was part of the process of baking a couple batches of my mom's famous orange cranberry bread. Here's the recipe:

Orange Cranberry Bread

1 orange
A few tablespoons of frozen orange juice concentrate
2 tablespoons of butter
1 egg
3/4 cups of sugar
1 cup fresh cranberries, chopped
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
2 cups of flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Grate the rind of one orange and squeeze its juice into a bowl. Add the frozen concentrate to make 3/4 of a cup. Microwave this to a boil and add the rind. Stir in the butter until melted.

In another bowl, mix together the egg and sugar. Once blended, combine with orange mixture and add the cranberries and walnuts.

In yet another bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Stir this into the first mixture and pour into a buttered 9x5 loaf pan. Bake for an hour at 325 degrees.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Party Recipe: Gingerbread House Decorating

Jill hosted the club last night for the second annual holiday gingerbread house decorating party. She lives in a gorgeous old Victorian above Castro with high ceilings and lots of molding. Along with a nine foot tree in the living room, Jill had decorated and prepared the rest of the house beautifully (I forgot my camera, so sad!).

After an hour of appetizers and wine, we all headed to the dinning room to start on our projects. Jill had made super icing ahead of time and doled it out in individual ramekins. The table was loaded with candy, graham crackers and cardboard for the bases. As predicted, I ate enough candy to put myself in the hospital while working on my own creation.

Instead of a standard house, I decided to make a gingerbread fish tank for Rob this year! It was complete with Swedish fish, spice drop coral, sweet tart bubbles and Necco wafer goldfish. Pretty cute, if I say so myself. I'll try to take a photo tonight before Rob starts eating it :)

One member, Allison, was a real pro and jumped in to help some of the struggling builders after she finished her perfect San Francisco Victorian gingerbread house! Once we were all frosted and candy coated, Jill snapped a photo of us with our final creations and we bundled up to head home around 10. This is becoming such a fun annual tradition!

Advent Calendar: December 13

Today's advent calendar image is fresh out of the oven! I baked these festive "ginger bees" last weekend to pair with the honeycomb candles I've been working on. It all came together as a fun gift when I tied them up with ribbon, soap from L'Occitane and a bee cookie cutter.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

What to Wear: Rainy Day

Brrr. When is it going to stop raining? I love it when it rains on the weekend, such a good excuse to stay in your pajamas with a book. But during the week...when you have to take the bus...and walk to the post office? Time to do some serious layering
  • Umbrella - I am sure I would feel better about taking the rainy, wet bus to work if I had a $500 Hermes umbrella. Actually, if I had a $500 umbrella I would feel better because I would also have a towncar and a driver and I wouldn't have to go to work.
  • Jacket - A kimono jacket will be as cozy as a bathrobe.
  • Turtleneck - My new favorite from Victoria's Secret.
  • Scarf - Eggplant cashmere.
  • Jeans - I have recently switched over to Citizens instead of Sevens.
  • Boots - I'm wearing plastic rain boots today...these would be much better.
  • Purse - A bright pattern canvas tote from Anthropologie.
  • Trench - Top all this with a classic black trench coat. I have this jacket in traditional beige and love it.
The December Ladies Activity Club party is tonight. I need to come up with something cute and warm like this to wear for our night of gingerbread house construction!

Party Recipe: Urban Open House

Throwing any party requires a certain amount of guts. You invite, decorate & cook...and there is always a distinct possibility that no one will show up, the flowers will wilt or the food will burn. Now combine all this risk with one of the scariest things in the city: apartment building neighbors. Yikes.

I am determined to be brave and go forward with my plan to host a holiday open house for the residents of the eleven other apartments in our building. I'm inviting all those people I studiously avoided in the halls for the last year and a half into my living room. I must be out of my gourd.

Anyway, the party is going to be next Sunday in the afternoon (and it is going to be fabulous). Here's the plan so far:
  • Old fashioned Christmas candy - Mini candy canes, ribbon candy and peanut brittle will make a festive display.
  • Cookies - Frosted and sprinkled.
  • Veggie platter - With a hearty hot artichoke dip in my small chafing dish.
  • Finger sandwiches - On rye with radishes will be festive.
  • Hot cider & champagne - Two easy options that please anyone.
  • Red and white flowers - Roses and white lillies in a silver bowl.
  • Name tags? - I'm on the fence with this one. It would certainly be helpful for me and I could grab the names from the mailboxes.
  • Music - Holiday classics.
I'm halfway in a panic just thinking about it. I'll keep you posted!

Advent Calendar: December 12

Today's advent calendar image comes to you straight from my living room! A place where I have been spending a lot of time lately due to this huge rainy storm in the Bay Area that won't go away. Luckily, I have our Christmas tree, stacks of presents and Christmas cards to keep me company!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Weekend Round-Up: Rainy Days

(So, so busy today! Sorry for the lack of posts)

Rob and I had a delightful weekend of relaxing and waiting out the big storm that passed through the Bay Area. On Friday, we made it home from work just a few minutes before it started raining and spent a quiet night together.

The sun was out again on Saturday morning. Rob went to work and I seized the moment to run a few errands. I dropped out our Christmas card photo for processing and took the train downtown for a little shopping. Gump's, Crate & Barrel and Zara were all amazingly empty and perfect for finishing up the last of my list. Rob came home at lunch and it started to pour again. I made it through half of my holiday cards before getting sucked into the vortex that is "Viva Pinata" on Xbox. That game owes me more than a few hours of my life.









It was raining hard on Sunday morning but I managed to bribe Rob will cinnammon rolls to go get the Sunday paper. I just love staying in bed with coffee and the Times, especially on a dreary day. Eventually I went back to work on my Christmas cards and baked a bunch of gingerbread cookies for Peter and Jill. I was putting on the last of my stamps when Jordan arrived at three to make beeswax candles. By five, we had made a huge bounty and Jordan headed back home. Is there any sight more lovely than stacks of finished Christmas cards?









Jill and Peter picked us up at 7:30 for dinner across town at A16. We had a lovely dinner with lots of Italian meats together on the back patio below a huge magnolia wreath. It was freezing out when we finished dinner so we hustled down the brightly lit Chestnut Street back to the car.

Advent Calendar: December 11

San Francisco is such a funny city. I was on my way to the subway on Saturday when I saw this motley group of Santas walking down Market Street. At the exact same time, a troupe of teenage carolers were coming up the escalator!

Duboce Triangle residents may also recognize the bulldog standing in front of the crowd. He's a favorite local mascot and has an owner who matches perfectly.

PS - As per popular demand, here is a bonus photo of my new dark hair!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Urban Girl Almanac: Bye bye, baby

This week has flown by. A combination of too many business lunches and too many activities have made the last five days go by at the speed of light. Here are some notes from the city:
  • Buying almost all your Christmas presents online and having them shipped to work seems so convenient. But then you have to carry home all your boxes on the bus...not so convenient.
  • Jersey Boys is a fun show, just avoid sitting in seat #2 on the back row and be prepared to have "Sherry" stuck in your head for three days.
  • The Slanted Door is good, but doesn't quite live up to all the hype.
  • Blowfish Sushi totally lives up to the hype.
  • San Francisco is a city that feels strongly. The Kim family ordeal and tragedy is just one example.
  • Changing your look is really refreshing! I recommend ample amounts of hair dye to all who are willing.
  • My pale skin and new dark hair combined with a black shirt results in Chris Gaines. Not pleasant.
  • I'm really good at playing Sneak King on the Xbox. Way better than Rob even!
  • The amount billed to insurance for a hip MR Arthogram: $8,000 (!)
  • I'm through the D's on Christmas card list...only about 80 more cards to go.
  • Get ready to batten down the hatches: storms a comin'!
  • It's odd, but you can really miss people that you've never met. Our neighbors across the back drive moved out yesterday. We only knew them from their occasional passes through the kitchen facing our living room but we've watched as they were pregnant and became parents over the last year and a half. I feel like my favorite TV show has been canceled :(
With the big storm coming, Rob and I are going to have a mellow few days of wrapping presents, baking and playing video games. Have a great weekend!

What to Wear: Not Black

Being a raven haired beauty has one downside: you can't wear black! I tried on my old favorite black ballet tee this morning only to see a goth staring back at me in the mirror. And my black wool coat? It's a goner. I need to think fast about my alternatives:
  • Turtleneck - This white cashmere blend turtleneck arrived right when I got home from the salon. Perfect timing! And I love the extra length at the bottom.
  • Scarf - Jewel tones are my new best friend. This cashmere scarf is on clearance.
  • Coat - Pretty cute cropped in Navy.
  • Skirt - Great pockets on this tweed skirt from Nordstrom for only $48.
  • Boots - I'm in love with the low heel and stylish cut of these J. Crew boots.
  • Purse - Now on super, super sale at Zappos. I adore this bag and get compliments on it all the time.
Whew! That was tough.

Advent Calendar: December 8

Today's advent calendar photo is geared toward our four legged friends.

I snapped this picture when passing by our neighborhood dog and cat grooming shop. The store's owners recently adorned their front window mascot with a little holiday cheer!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Bonhams Jewelry Sale

Bonhams, the San Francisco auction house and my favorite daydreaming spot, has posted their December fine jewelry catalog online and it does not disappoint. For the exceptionally hard to shop for they are offering a $50,000, 19 carat, diamond tiara. Picture it under the tree!

For significantly less, you could instead get this lovely French seed pearl and gold bracelet (I have a minor obsession with seed pearls right now) or this gold and platinum star broach.

Gift Idea: Lacquer Tray

I love the bright simplicity of this red lacquer tray from West Elm. Since the tray is smaller than the average breakfast-in-bed variety, it would actually fit on a non-king-sized bed along with a newspaper and a two people. It is also stylish enough to be a part of a coffee or entrance table.

You could make a great gift out of this tray, a subscription to the Sunday paper and a bag of gourmet coffee. Perfect for a city dweller with more style than space!

Hair today, gone tomorrow

Yesterday was my final day as a redhead! I went to the salon last night and asked my stylist to give me Eva Green's dark hair from Casino Royale. Now I am a raven haired beauty instead of a fiery red head! What I've learned so far:
  • Much easier to be mysterious with dark hair than with red.
  • The people on the bus may not know your name but they will comment when you change your hair.
  • You need a few extra layers of eyebrow pencil and mascara with dark hair.
  • It's a lot of fun to spook your co-workers when they don't recognize you.
  • Dark hair makes my big blue eyes even bigger and bluer.
  • Nikki at G-Squared is a blow-out master.
Now I just need to go shopping for a fresh wardrobe and updated make-up to compliment my new look!