Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Party Round-Up: Tour Finale

Last Sunday's Tour de France party was a big success, if I say so myself! Great guests, good food and plenty of competition. This photo is of Jill and Stacey watching Contador win the race.











Food
I stuck to the basic menu I'd planned out earlier in the week. I made the big veggie tray first, blanching the asparagus quickly by pouring boiling water over the spears. I prepped the tart in advance too, mixing fresh blueberries, raspberries and blackberries in a tart pan and covering them with a crumble mixture. Sandwiches were assembled right before the party. Tip: only bake the cambozola until it is just barely melted, otherwise the oils separates and it gets a little gross.











Decorations
I made a yellow rose and flowering basil arrangement the night before. The dining room table had on my "frenchiest" tablecloth on along with a bowl of fruit and artichokes.

Drinks
We went with Red Bicyclette wine and Fat Tire beer.

Contest
The Tour de France challenge was the best part. Each guest was assigned a bike team name and earned points for various challenges during the commercial breaks. We had tour trivia, card games, drawing contests and a race to inflate a balloon with a bicycle pump. Plus, bonus points for dressing in theme and for completing a marathon earlier in the day (Stacey and Ben). Prizes include a bike cap, reflector stickers and a pack of vintage bicycle playing cards.











Eric was our grand prize winner for the day!

Things I Love Today: High-Waisted White Skirt

It's really about time that Club Monaco joined the rest of the 21st century online. If they had already set up their web store, I could show you this fantastic white skirt I bought there last weekend instead of just describing it and tossing up some completely unrelated photo.

Anywho...I love this skirt! It hits right below my ribs and has a delicate a-line cut. I've paired it today with a ruffled short-sleeve blouse with a pink and orange flower pattern and a coral cable-knit sweater.

I'm perfectly dressed for lunch at The Palace, although I'll probably just get a burrito from Dos Pinas!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Buy my car!

I'm so sad to be selling my lovely Miata. I'll feel much better about the whole thing if I can find it a really good home. You can view the ad up on craigslist.

Haven't you always wanted a convertible?

Weekend Round-up: Kobayashi & Friends

This weekend felt really long for some reason. Maybe it's because we traded our normal routine of exercising for new adventures. Not a single bike ride, kayak or climb all weekend long!

We had a quiet Friday night at home with dinner of really good chicken and zucchini tacos and Deja Vu on DVD. We turned in early because we had to get up Saturday morning at 7:30...to buy our new car!

Rob and I drove in the Miata out to Vacaville to pick up the new gray Honda Fit! We got a great price thanks to Rob negotiating with dealers by email all week long. This is the first time either of us has bought a brand new car; we were really excited and nervous. After about 2 hours of test driving, paper work and hand shaking, we hit the road back to San Francisco.

We've decided to name the car "Kobayashi," as in small Japanese character that can hold an amazing amount of stuff.

Back in the city at 1:30, I barely had time to help Rob get the cars parked before zipping off to the subway. I met Calie downtown for a shopping trip at 2:00. We found some really awesome sales (BCBG is a must hit) and had a great time hanging out. Calie is awesome! I can't believe that we managed to shop for 4 hours straight.

When I got back to the apartment at 6:30, I was fully exhausted. I motivated just enough to go to Safeway for groceries and party supplies. I managed to make a few quesadillas with the leftover chicken from Friday and a big fruit salad. We tried to turn in early, but our loudly snoring next door neighbor (not piano man) kept us up late.

Sunday morning! Rob and I woke up pretty early to get a head start on cleaning the apartment. While Rob did dishes, I made a hearty breakfast of French press coffee, Irish oatmeal (I accidentally got the kind that takes 30 minutes to cook) and blueberries. At 11:00, we took the Miata to get detailed and took some glamor shots by the park. Poor little Miata, I'm really going to miss it.

Back home again at 12:30, just in time for a run to pick up fresh baguettes for the party. I spent a few hours leisurely chopping, cooking and cleaning which was really relaxing. The photo is of me in a bike hat with my "French" floral arrangement. At 4:30, our guests showed up! We had a fantastic time watching the tour. I'll post something separately all about the party.

The party ended at 8:30. We did some dishes and picked the rest of the trays clean for our dinner. Whew. Just writing about this weekend makes it feel even longer. I've got a busy work week ahead, so look for fewer posts than usual!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Urban Girl Alamanac: Summer Bliss

This has been a really nice week. The work bully disappeared, I went to the gym, I made apricot crisp, I went to the movies. All around, a very good week. Here's what I learned:
  • Yay for work bullies getting what they deserve.
  • I'm getting certifiably buff from all this climbing, walking and biking.
  • Having a clear vision for the wedding is so helpful.
  • Watching Quicksilver makes you want to talk to bike messengers, which almost always turns out to be a mistake.
  • Darn you Vino and Rasmussen.
  • Apricot crisp is one of my favorite things.
  • I heart Nick Lowe.
  • A courtyard guitar sing-along with your buddies Wednesday night at 11:00pm is not a good idea when that courtyard happens to be surrounded by apartments full of people trying to sleep.
  • The sushi restaurant in the Metreon is actually pretty good.
  • Ocean's 13 is worth renting.
  • Good wardrobe foundation pieces are important.
  • Our caterer's latest menu proposal sounds sooo delicious. Baby artichokes with lavender aioli!
  • The Fit is go.
Rob and I are hopefully going to buy our new car tomorrow morning (anyone in the market for a great little 2001 Miata?) The rest of the weekend is going to be full of shopping, biking and Tour parties. And I hope a lot of sleeping too. I need to rest up for a very busy week.

What to Wear: Work Wardrobe

Trends are great but having a closet full of basic foundation pieces is even better. Calie wrote in with a question about building a work wardrobe:
I was looking in my closet this morning for something to wear and realized I'm so tired of everything I own. Everything looks worn or unsuitable for the unstable weather in SF. I'd like some good basics to mix and match outfits. I also need clothes that won't leave me feeling too cold or hot.

I'm in the process of launching my own Interior Decorating business and ultimately need outfits that I'm going to feel confident in when networking and working with clients/vendors.
I think we've all had a few of those "tired closet" moments. It's days like that where having a good foundation of basic pieces ready to mix with trendy items is so key. Here's my list of absolute must-have wardrobe pieces for any working girl:


















Work Dress - A wrap or shirt dress with sleeves is so versatile. I have one in a dark denim fabric that I wear all the time. I like a neutral color dress that you can play up with a bright cami and accessories.
Cashmere Sweaters - In as many colors and cuts as possible.
White Trousers - Wear them with bright tops in summer and brown cable knit sweaters in fall. Find a pair in a thick, flattering fabric.
Black Pencil Skirt - Works for the office, happy hour and the theater.
Trouser Jeans - A perfect casual office piece that can be dressed up or down.
White Blouse - Find one that is super flattering on your figure. This ruffled pick is great for a smaller chest like mine.
Trench Coat - Ideal all year round.
Black Pumps - A must have for dresses and trousers.
Brown Boots - Perfect for colder days with a skirt or under jeans.
Blazer - Have a couple in different fabrics and colors. You need them all year long in foggy San Francisco.
Tights - Nude fishnets lend a little extra warmth to summer skirts and dresses. Opaque tights are a must have for winter.

How many of these basics are in your closet right now? What am I missing from your list of must-have's?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Inspired: Cottars 1920's Safari Camp

Grab a popsicle and fire up your imagination for a quick afternoon daydream break! Cottars 1920's Safari Camp is a small luxury resort near the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.

The six tent camp is outfitted with antiques, folding safari furniture, oriental carpets and "discreet, yet attentive" butlers. Check out the main lodge room. I think I could picture myself having an evening sherry on that particular veranda.

Only $600 per person, per night. Isn't it unfortunate that you often have to be actual rich person in order to safari like one?

PS: It's apparently one of the places featured in that Vogue spread with Keira Knightly.

Tour Fever: Quicksilver

Picture Fame, Taxi Driver and Footloose but instead about a group of ragtag bicycle messengers in San Francisco.

Rob and I rented Quicksilver last night as part of Tour de France movie marathon. According to the 1986 movie poster "Kevin Bacon is Jack Casey. He traded in his three-piece suit for a ten-speed and the streets. Winning is a feeling you never lose." Awesome.

Recipe: Cold Summer Night Dinner

Mmmm! Rob and I had the best dinner last night! It was freezing cold in the city, but it didn't stop us from making the most of all the good summer fruits and veggies. With a quick $10 stop at the produce market, I threw together a warming meal of corn chowder followed by apricot crisp. Here are the recipes:

Corn Chowder
Crispy fresh corn niblets and green onion make this soup feel like summer. The turkey bacon makes it taste a lot less healthy than it actually is.

1 large shallot
1 strip of turkey bacon, diced
1 baking potato, peeled and cubed
1 cup chopped cauliflower
2 sticks of celery, diced
1 yellow zuchini, diced
1 green onion, diced
2 ears of corn, stripped (I used one white and one yellow)
1 can of chicken broth
1 pint of 1% milk
Olive oil, butter, salt & pepper to taste

Brown the shallots and bacon in a soup pan with a little oil/butter. Add the diced potato and cook until slightly softened. Add cauliflower and brown a bit more. Add chicken broth, milk, celery, zucchini and a handful of the corn. Simmer until veggies are softened, about 10 minutes.

Use an immersion blender to lightly puree the soup in the pan, leaving some chunks. Boil until thick, another 5-10 minutes. Turn off heat and mix in remaining corn and green onion immediately before serving. Serves 2-4.

Apricot Crisp
Extremely simple and fast to make. A cheater's version of apricot pie.

4-6 ripe apricots
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of white sugar
2 amaretto cookies, crushed (optional)
Heavy dash of cinnamon

Cut the apricots into 4-6 slices each and put into individual rammekins. Make crisp topping by combining the remaining ingredients in a bowl with your hands. Top the apricots with the crisp mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before eating. No ice cream needed!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

To Do: Popsicles at Work

During the summer, I like to keep a couple boxes of popsicles in my office freezer. There's nothing better than a fudgesicle for an afternoon break. Or how about an it's-it for an extra special treat.

Sure, it might be a foggy 60 degrees outside and an air conditioned 65 degrees inside, but it's definitely summer at my desk.

Things I Love Today: Nick Lowe

Don't you love it when you "discover" a musician that you never really knew before but liked several of their songs? I just had one of these moments thanks to Terry Gross and iTunes.

I listened to a few minutes of the Fresh Air interview with Nick Lowe last night on my way home. I really liked his on-air performance of Hope for Us All and made a mental note to look him up. Only after downloading that song did I realize that this is the same guy behind the 1970's hits Cruel to be Kind and So it Goes.

His smooth British voice and vintage beats are just perfect for a foggy day like today. Along with The Underdog from my new Paste CD, I'm really rocking out ;)

Party Recipe: Tour Finale Menu

New doping scandals haven't broken us of our Tour de France fever just yet (darn you, Vino and Rasmussen). Just like the actual Tour, our Tour party must go on! Time to start thinking about the menu for Sunday's event:

Drinks:Bordeaux & beaujolais
Fat Tire
Lemonade

Appetizers:

Lavender marinated olives
Baked cambozola with toast squares

Main:Big platter of baguette sandwiches (turkey and artichoke, ham and mustard)
Crudite tray

Dessert:Mixed berry crisp with vanilla ice cream

Yum. I love a menu that is basically just all my favorite things thrown together at once!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Fit is Go

Rob and I might be buying a new car this weekend! Our two-seater Miata convertible has been heaps of fun in the city these past two years, but it can be a struggle as our only car. Time to get something that has four seats and a semblance of a trunk!

Normally dedicated used car buyers (aka: cheap), this little 33-mpg Honda Fit Sport seems too perfect for us to pass up. Rob has worked out a pretty good deal with a salesman in Vacaville and we're going to make the trip this Saturday to see it in person (and maybe visit Nicole and Dave?).

What to See: Shoe Shopping in San Francisco

Tourism season is really heating up now that San Francisco isn't entirely encased in fog. Just last weekend we saw the bridge packed with visitors and the line up to Lombard Street two blocks long. Laura is planning her own visit to our favorite city and wants some tips:
I'm going to San Fran to visit a friend in August - and to scope out the city for a possibly move in my future. {editor's note: yay!}

But my REAL concern at hand is shoe shopping. What are your top five places that I have to hit up? I LOVE flats and pumps – girly shoes. But I could use a nice pair of sneakers too – plus that’s what the bf would probably be interested in as well.
How fun! San Francisco has some great shoe stores. Here are my top 5 picks:
Mecca - Call me old fashioned, but I love the shoes at Nordstrom. Both the BP and woman's shoe departments are full of creative groupings and killer finds. Their anniversary sale is on until August 6. Macy's is also good (and usually on sale).

Discount - Loehmann's on Kearney is your best bet for killer deals on designer shoes. Forget DSW, their prices aren't that good.

Sneakers - The Puma store on Market Street is my favorite source for sneakers and sporty clothing. They've got a huge selection for Laura and her boyfriend.

Castro - Drop in to my neighborhood shoe shop, De la Sole, on 18th when you are visiting the Castro. Fantastic small selection of urban-style shoes for women and men.

Golden Gate Park - If you take the N train out to the park to see the Japanese Tea Garden, de Young museum or Conservatory of Flowers, be sure to stop in at Citi Shoes on Irving. They usually have a nice sale section.
Enjoy your visit to San Francisco, Laura. Don't forget to bring comfortable shoes and warm clothes!

Celebrate!

I don't like to talk about work things on my blog, but I have reason to celebrate this morning! The "office bully" who has been causing me so much stress for the last four months stopped working here as of last night.

Everyone, have a piece of cake for me today!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Introducing: Wedding Vision!

After a bit of a freak out last week about not having a clear "vision" for the wedding, I buckled down and mapped it out. I feel so much better now!

It looks clean and put together and nice. (I just need to find a yellow upholstered chair somewhere!) I have a copy of this taped inside my medicine cabinet and it makes me smile every time I brush my teeth.

Weekend Round-Up: Our Fair City

I'm exhausted! This was a fun-filled, exercise-filled weekend. On Friday night, we decided to bail on our normal bouldering session in exchange for a quiet night at home. I was super worn out from the week and it was nice to just be "tucked in" for the evening.

On Saturday morning we had a quick breakfast to prepare for our big day of cycling. Seth and Amy arrived from Sacramento at 11:00 and we went directly out on our bikes. We rode all the way through Golden Gate Park to Ocean Beach.









From Ocean Beach we rode south past the zoo to Lake Merced. Around Lake Merced and back to Tour de Fat in the park. After our 17 mile ride, we were starving. The unfortunate food situation (largely vegan) was balanced out by the beer sponsorship by Fat Tire. Circus Contraption put on a surprisingly good show. I guess I'm a sucker for anything involving tap dancing.









After the show, we rode out of the park and down to SOMA for the big sale at Performance Bikes. Back home via 17th street put us at a grand total of 20+ miles for the day. A new, rear-crushing record for me.

After a little recovery, we all went for dinner at our favorite Ethiopian restaurant. Seth and Amy decided not to spend the night, so Rob and I had a quiet night of watching Breaking Away and trying not to move.

We grabbed a Sunday Times and had a nice breakfast out on the patio at Chow. At this point, I had pretty much sworn off exercise for life. Somehow Rob managed to con me into a last minute kayaking trip in Sausalito with Matt and Amber. It was an amazingly gorgeous day across the bay. We paddled all the way to downtown, where I jumped out of the boat and took a dip. The cold water felt so good.

On the return, Rob said he would swim with me if we beat Matt and Amber back to the dock. I paddled like mad and went straight in the water when we landed. It was so nice to swim! We even got Matt to join us in the water. Fully cooled off, we drove down the street for lunch at Fish. It was really good but pricey, I recommend just getting the big bowl of ceviche to share and some jars of lemonade.









Back home over the bridge at 4:00. We drove around the city a bit looking at real estate signs. This $1.9 million home on one of the best streets in our neighborhood is especially heartbreaking.

Rob and I watched the Tour back at home and rested our sore bodies, trying hard to move as little as possible.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Urban Girl Almanac: Summer Favorites

Another busy, long week. Movies, club parties, bike racing, rain and sun...it's been a good one! Here's what I learned:
  • IMAX 3D movies are so worth it.
  • Coffee, watermelon, nectarines and oatmeal cookies...a breakfast of champions.
  • Thai food isn't that hard to make once you have the ingredients.
  • Newman's Own spicy salt and pepper pretzels are a new favorite.
  • Wear something with character to your next job interview.
  • Bed, Bath & Beyond is not my favorite store, but they do have nice cheap curtains. (PS: ours is two stories with an escalator just for shopping carts, pretty fancy)
  • There is a lot of power in just simply deciding that you aren't going to be stressed or overwhelmed.
  • Old friends! It's so nice to talk to them.
  • Dishes and sheets are two things that always nice in blue and white.
  • I'm under budget on the wedding. Hooray!
  • New resolution for the month: make the bed in the morning.
  • My mom just sent me her copy of Dennison's Bogie Book: Suggestions for Halloween and Thanksgiving. It is delightful!
We're off to the climbing gym tonight. And our friends are coming into town tomorrow for a bike ride and an overnight stay. It should be fun. Have a great weekend!

Sale Alert: Velvet Curtains

Rob and I bought these curtains in Marine earlier this week for our bedroom. They were such a good deal, I had to pass on the tip!

Each velvet, near black-out, panel is on clearance for only $24.95. They look wonderful hanging in our bedroom with blue and white sheets and antique celadon gourd lamps.

Things I Love Today: Alstroemeria

Having flowers at home is so nice but can be so expensive! Enter our hero: alstroemeria! Alstroemeria (aka: Peruvian Lily) is my favorite flower for everyday arrangements. You can find them in a wide array of colors and I love the "freckles" they display when open.

Buy two bundles (about $3 each at Safeway) with tightly closed buds. You'll have enough for one big arrangement on the dining room table and two small bunches for your bedside and bathroom. If left with enough water, the flowers can last upward of two weeks.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Inspired: Nantucket Wedding

The guest blogger on Frolic this week has me feeling completely inspired...and at the same time really overwhelmed about my wedding.

Yes, I still have a whopping 443 days to plan. But I feel like I have seen so many amazing wedding ideas recently and have no real vision myself. Well, that's not exactly true. I have a venue and probably a caterer. And a dress (although it needs a good seamstress). And a show.

At times like these, it's nice to take a deep breath and a close look at some of the weddings I love. Like this yellow Nantucket wedding and its red and white cousin from Artfool that were featured on Frolic today. They're both so simple and wonderful! I can do this!

Happy National Friendship Day!

According to one corner of the blogosphere, today is National Friend Day. And just in time too. With crazy work, crazy piano playing neighbor, crazy exercising and crazy wedding planning, I've been quite the bad friend lately. I haven't actually talked to my oldest friends in a long time (blog comments, text messages and brief emails don't count).

I'll try to make a bunch of calls after work tonight. In the meantime, I'll suck up to them with internet praise in alphabetical order:

Jackie - You're the most adorable person to ever work on a cure for Dengue Fever.




Jean - You're my baby sister, my maid of honor and a great scientist!




Liz - You were friends with me in junior high, which probably took some guts. I hope your medical residency is going well!




Margaret - You're the best activity buddy there is. I owe you a million thanks for all the wild stunts you've helped with over the years. (PS: Move to SF)



Nicole - You are, by far, the hardest working person I know. I love our funny, stubborn friendship!




Sarah - There's just something about Sarah. Everyone wants to be your friend. I think it's because you're so clever.




And a happy National Friend Day to all my new friends in San Francisco and anyone I've forgotten! Darn it...now I have that Girl Scout song stuck in my head.

Party Recipe: Tour Finale

French bike race, French food, French wine...sounds like a perfect party to me! Rob and I have invited a handful of friends over on July 29th to celebrate the final stage of the Tour de France. This is the conclusion of three weeks of hard riding and includes a race down the center of Paris.

In addition to the food and race, we're going to have our own contest for the yellow jersey involving trivia questions and challenges. I just need to come up with them first!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Amy Vanderbilt Success Program for Women

Rob and I haven't had friends visit in a long while (I guess SF's "June Gloom" isn't that appealing). But, hooray, we have friends coming to stay this weekend!

Luckily, I've been brushing up on my hostessing skills thanks to a generous gift from a family friend. She recently gave me a copy of the 1957 Amy Vanderbilt Success Program for Women booklet on hosting dinner parties. This thrilling series also includes:
  • How to Decorate with Color
  • How to Be Well Dressed
  • How to Help your Husband Get Ahead
  • How to Shop Wisely
  • How to be a More Interesting Woman
  • Easy Gourmet Dishes
  • How to Give Luncheons and Showers
  • How to Prepare Easy Holiday Menus
  • How to Be Safe in Your Home
  • How to Entertain Out of Doors
I wish I had the whole set! According to my booklet, I need to get a roast in the oven, a tomato aspic in the fridge and the maid ready to prepare morning breakfast trays for our overnight guests.

In reality, I need the air mattress pulled out of the closet, the fridge stocked with good beer and a reservation at our local Ethiopian restaurant. Maybe I'll make a cake, just for a little extra effort!

Party Recipe: Thai Cooking Lesson

The Ladies Activity Club summer cooking series continued last night with Thai curry hosted by Stacey! She and and her husband had taken cooking lessons during a vacation in Thailand and had returned armed with recipes.

Stacey had Thai beer, olives, spicy hummus and cheese out for us as appetizers and her apartment smelled deliciously of curry. Before we started making our own curry paste, she served us big bowls of really tasty vegetarian red curry that she made the night before with rice:











After our little dinner, it was time to get down to the business of curry making. Stacey had gathered ingredients from markets all over the city. We chopped lemon grass, garlic, shallots, chillies, basil and a some weird root and then combined it with roasted peppercorns and coriander in a mortar and pestle.









The final curry paste smells so good. I need to pick up eggplant, tofu, coconut milk and other ingredients tonight to finish the recipe for dinner!

What to Wear: Summer Job Interview

Behind wedding outfits, finding the perfect thing to wear to a job interview is one of the hardest shopping challenges there is. Jeanette wrote in with a request:
I love your style. I have a job interview coming up and I live in the DC area. I am looking for a nice interview outfit (not a suit), that will be comfortable in the heat and humidity. I am between sizes 12 and 14. I love open toed shoes but am not sure if that's appropriate for an interview.
Why is that we are expected to throw style and personality out the window for job interviews? A gray suit with a blue collared shirt is so boring. I say, unless you are interviewing with an investment bank, don't be afraid to get a little creative. Here's my recommendation for Jeanette:

Skirt - A tailored, high waited pencil skirt in summery linen is so classic and chic. Those with curvier figures shouldn't be afraid of this silhouette, especially when belts are involved. It's super flattering on most every shape. (The skirt I found isn't for available any longer, but I couldn't resist posting it anyway. Similar options can be found at Banana Republic).
Shirt - Classic button down short sleeve blouse from Anne Taylor.
Pumps - Patent leather red pumps with a surprisingly conservative twist. A great alternative to peep-toes.
Necklace - Big pearls are always fun.
Ring - The name of this ring is "Made it." How appropriate!
Bag - I love this Hobo tote for work. The dark red color is perfect with the shoes. It's pricey though and might serve better as a post-getting-the-job treat.

Good luck with your interviews, Jeanette!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tour Fever: My Favorite Knickers

Chamois bike shorts are terribly unattractive. No matter how you try to wear them - under other pants, on their own, under jeans - they always manage to make you appear to be wearing adult diapers. But riding for miles without them is a literal pain in the butt.

This pair of knickers from Sports Basement (SF locals - you have to check out their new giant store on Bryant) is about as cute as you can get with bike gear. They're like your favorite pair of yoga pants...with a diaper built in :)

To Do: See Harry Potter in IMAX 3D

Rob and I went to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix last night at the IMAX theater downtown. The last 30 minutes of the film are in 3D, hence the killer glasses that look sooo flattering on us in the photo.

I'm not a huge fan of Harry Potter (I think I maybe read the first book) but the movie won me over. I really enjoyed the story and some of the sets were amazing (including this office).

Plus, the 3D scenes were pretty cool. Imagine how scary it is to see a 30-foot tall Helena Bonham Carter lunging at you in 3D! If you live near an IMAX theater, it's worth the extra $5 to see this movie on the big screen.

Things I Love Today: Night Blooming Lily

There's always room for new perfume! Jill Stuart's Night Blooming Lily is the latest addition to my collection. It's super feminine and floral!

At first sniff, it smells sort of like the Jessica McClintock perfume (a scent burned into my brain since shopping for a prom dress a looong time ago. You know it too, I bet). But it develops into a much more delicate scent on the skin. Perfect with a crisp white blouse and a pencil skirt!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Things I Love Today: Martha at Macy's

I was at Macy's buying towels this weekend when I ran across the new Martha Stewart bedding line. I'm in full covet mode for the Trousseau linens.

Each white 300-count piece is embroidered or detailed in some perfect way making for a very inviting bed. The pillowcases are especially lovely. The set is on sale in the store but not online.

If I didn't live with a sweaty boy (hi, honey!), I would snap these up in a second.

What to Wear: Spa Day

Elizabeth wrote in with a question about San Francisco spas. Technically, she wasn't asking for an outfit. But it is always nice to stick with a theme:
I am headed to San Francisco for a week in October, and I’d like to hit up a spa while I’m there. Do you have any recommendations for good spas? I’m thinking I’d like to get a facial and a massage? Something in the $200-300 range?
I have far too little experience with spas in San Francisco! I usually go to this semi-horrifying, extremely-cheap place in the Sunset. I've had good experiences at the Bliss Spa in the W Hotel, Kabuki Springs & Spa and at Relax Now. My friend Jill raves about the Burke Williams Spa and I know someone who works at 77 Maiden Lane. I hope that helps Elizabeth pick! Here's my outfit recommendation:

Sweater - A cashmere hoodie is comfortable, soft and easy to get on and off.
Jeans - White jeans feel a little fancy for a day at the hoity-toity spa.
Sandals - Won't damage your new pedicure.
Sunglasses - For making the sans-makeup, post-extraction trip home.
Cream Puffs - My favorite apre-spa snack is a giant cream puff from Beard Papa on Yerba Buena Lane.

Now I'm craving a visit to the spa (and a cream puff)!

Weekend Round Up: Tour de San

Surprise, surprise! My weekend involved a lot of working out, as seems to be becoming the norm. On Friday, Rob and I met Matt at the climbing gym for some bouldering. I climbed my first on-site V1+ and completely wore myself out. Quiet dinner of poached salmon and white corn at home.

We watched the Tour in the Alps on Saturday morning in our PJ's and then motivated for a bike ride of our own. This was just a short ride: about 6 miles around the park and lunch at the de Young cafe. Back home for a bit before heading downtown to check out the Honda Fit (I want it!) and to buy some sheets and towels at Macy's. I had work to do, so we had another quiet night at home. This time with roast chicken and artichokes for dinner.

A quick breakfast on Sunday morning before being picked up by Matt for a big ride. Starting from their Russian Hill apartment, we rode down through Fort Mason and Crissy Field. We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge completely encased in thick fog and managed a steep two mile climb in Marin. On our way back, we posed for some great photos by the bridge:











Back over the bride and through the Presidio to finish the 14 mile trip. Starving, we decided to go with the Tour theme and have a French sidewalk lunch at Chez Maman on Union. We had the most delicious baked cambozola and roasted garlic to start and burgers and frites to finish.









Amber and I did a quick bit of shopping after lunch while the boys visited a bike shop. At 3:00, Rob and I faced another steep 2 mile ride home on the bike (not fun with a belly full of cheese and Chimay). I was so exhausted when we got home that I barely managed to get my shoes off before falling asleep for an hour long nap.

Rob and I had a quiet evening of epson salt baths, rehydration and rest for the busy week ahead.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Urban Girl Almanac: Vive la Tour

It's been a nice, balanced week. The weather is warm and the Tour's on TV. It feels like summer (that and the 4 pounds of cherries, cantaloupe and apricots we ate this week). Here are some things I learned:
  • The San Francisco Library photo collection feels like a yearbook for the city. This photo is of "Miss Boomer" from 1957.
  • A bowl of cold bing cherries and a glass of white wine makes for a perfect cocktail hour.
  • I love the Tour de France.
  • I kind of want this somewhat odd dress from The Sartorialist.
  • Orange blossom perfume is good for summer.
  • I need to do some home sprucing this weekend and buy new towels and curtains.
  • It's frustrating when a caterer is a little down on on your wedding venue.
  • The apartment behind ours is finally occupied again, which means I need to be better about not walking through the living room partially clothed.
  • Dinner parties are wonderful.
  • I wish I didn't talk quite so much when I am nervous.
  • Commuting on a tandem bike will earn you some funny looks.
  • Casual Friday = my favorite pencil leg jeans, a red knit swing top/dress and peep-toe wedges.
It's going to be nice and warm all weekend! Rob and I don't have too many plans already, thank heavens. I think we may go to Sonoma on Saturday and I plan to sleep in as much as possible.

To Do: Film Night in The Park

Except for maybe one or two times a year, San Francisco is always cold at night. Which is why I find it sort of hilarious that the city is so adamant about outdoor evening activities.

We have opera in civic center, shakespeare in the park, countless evening concerts and shows. Each event requires ample packing, a big picnic and plenty of down jackets.

One outdoor event I want to try again is Film Night in the Park. We went to see "It Came from Outer Space" a few years ago in the Presidio. On August 4th, they're showing Annie Hall in Union Square. I can't wait!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Tour Fever: French Countryside

One of my favorite parts about watching the Tour de France is seeing all the picturesque European farms and villages they ride through. Here's the complete map of the race.

The little barns, the sunflower fields, the churches, the cows. Some of these teeny towns are so perfect, they're almost unbelievable.

It would be fun to bike the route myself someday. Of course, probably not the mountain stages and definitely not doing 150 miles per day.

Things I Love Today: Embroidered Linens

If I was wildly rich and had a vacation house at the beach, every bed in it (all 10) would be outfitted in white embroidered linens. There's nothing more "summer."

This set from West Elm is affordable and a little modern to boot.