Friday, July 31, 2009

LAC: Field Trip to SFMOMA

The San Francisco Ladies Activity Club went on a field trip last night. We met at SFMOMA for a peek at the Richard Avedon exhibit. Despite the crowds, it was a lovely show. It's incredible to see his photos up close and personal, especially the later work which is so intimate about wrinkles, freckles, expressions and tailoring.

We also toured through a video work and the Georgia O'Keeffe and Ansel Adams exhibit. Some nice pieces but a little overly packed for my taste.

After the museum, we indulged our inner tourists with margaritas and dinner at Chevys down the block.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Jean's Wedding: Invitations are Done!

Five Gocco screens, a little stress and a lot of ink....Jean's wedding invitations are done! I finished the text printing last night while Rob was off volunteering with the Bike Coalition. The final result looks bright, fun and handcrafted - just what they were going for.

Recipe: ChowMein for Lunch

This week's cold lunch salad is a little late - it's been a crazy week with all my craft projects.

I try to always keep a package of fresh pancit canton noodles on hand. They're easy to find in the Bay Area and make the perfect foundation for odds and ends in your fridge. Like many Chinese dishes, this tastes great cold the next day. Here's my basic chow mein recipe:

Veggie Chow Mein
1 package of fresh Pancit Canton noodles
1 large carrot
1 yellow squash
1 stalk of celery
1 cup of shredded cabbage
2 green onions
1 1/2 cups of cooked chicken (rotisserie is fine, other proteins will also do well)
1/4 cup of soy sauce
2 cloves of minced garlic
1/2 a lime or equivalent with other citrus
Tablespoon of olive oil
Few drops of hot chili oil and/or sesame oil
Pepper and ginger

Soak the noodles in warm water for 5 minutes and drain. Chop your vegetables while soaking. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet on high. Cook the drained noodles until slightly browned - season with a bit of soy sauce and pepper during cooking. Remove the noodles to a pan.

Mix the soy sauce, lime, garlic and chili oil in a small bowl and dilute with a tablespoon of water. Brown the vegetables and chicken in the same hot skillet. Add the soy sauce mixture and cook until barely softened. Return the noodles to the pan and mix together.

Let the chowmein sit off the heat for a few minutes and season to taste. You may need to add more oil, soy sauce, etc at this point depending on your preferences. Top with the fresh diced green onion.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wedding Wednesday: Long Tables

Weather permitting, the plan is to set one giant table down an olive tree-lined road for Jean and Trent's wedding reception. I love the visuals impact and romantic symbolism of having all your guests share a single table.

Outstanding in the Field seems to be the expert at setting long tables both indoors and out. Browse through their gallery for images of long tables at farms, near lakes, crossing bridges and in the heart of Chicago.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Things I Love Today: Semikolon Albums

I am up to my eyeballs in craft projects this week. The whole dining room looks like the intern quarters at Martha Stewart - glue, silk screens, paper scraps, ink, scissors,'s madness.

One of my new favorite finds amidst all this creativity is Semikolon. They make excellent albums in a rainbow of colors, all surprisingly affordable. The European albums come with heavy paper with protector sheets. Perfect for scrapbooking or putting together big photo albums. If you're in the city, I suggest going to Flax to drool over the rainbow display in person.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Weekend Round-Up: Touring

Wow! How did we possibly fit it all in this weekend?

Let's start with Friday night: Rob and I dashed home, had dinner and ran back out to meet Allison at The Mint for a birthday karaoke session. Lots of fun songs and some pretty good singers. Back home a little early... I could wake up at 6:00 on Saturday morning, exhausted. I showered and dressed in the dark - only to check my email and realize that the conference I was prepping for was actually on Sunday. Arg! Back to bed. I slept until 9:00, had a big breakfast with Rob and went out to run errands in the neighborhood. We met up at lunch with Jackie and her friends from Davis - they were in town for the Marathon. A great dim sum lunch at Big Lantern. Margaret joined us and we followed lunch with a walk around the Mission.

Paxton Gate Kids
was a favorite for the adorable little girl in our lunch party. And the adults had a great time at the original store and at Bombay Ice Creamery. Scoops of fig, jasmine tea, saffron pistachio, coconut and mango rose ice cream.

Back at home around 3:00. I started work on Jean's wedding invitations and enlisted Margaret to help with envelope liners. We managed to finish printing the first round of rsvp cards and invites on my Gocco machine.

At 6:00, we waked down for a pre-race pizza dinner at Little Star with a couple of Jackie's runner friends. Back at home, a little more invitation work before an early bedtime.

Jackie got up the next morning at 5:00 for her half marathon, Rob left at 7:00 to volunteer with the bike coalition and I left at 7:30 for my speaking engagement with Dress for Success. I was honored to be invited to speak on personal finance for an hour at their national Success Summit. An amazing group of women! You can read more about it here.

Back home with a Sunday Times at 11:00. Jackie and Rob trickled back shortly after. We went for a big pancake breakfast at Sparky's Diner. And a quick jaunt to Performance Bike and Sports Basement for gear shopping.

At 3:00, we said goodbye to Jackie and hopped in the car with Peter, Jill and their 6-month old, Cole. We drove over the bridge to Muir Woods in Marin. Parked the car and hiked about a mile to the secret German nature chalet. Lovely and warm day. We shared a pitcher of beer, pickles and pretzels with a view of the woods.

We hiked back to the car at 6:00 and grabbed dinner at In-N-Out on the way home. Back before 8:00, I had time to paint my nails and read the paper before another busy week ahead! There are a few more photos here.

Friday, July 24, 2009

What to Wear: Suddenly Slimmer

Sheri has slimmed down significantly and is looking for a new wardrobe:
I have been reading your blog for sometime. I love all the outfits you put together. I have a special request if you have the time. I recently won a weight loss contest over a blog. I won 2nd place and $600. I now am having trouble buying clothes. I have gone from 14/16 to a 6/8. I am 5'3" with blonde hair blue eyes. I have not really done much shopping in the last couple years because I have had 3 kids and gained so much weight. I really like to look nice and put together but I feel like I have lost all since of style.

Here is where I need your help. I have this $600 plus about another $300 of my own to spend. I need to come up with a wardrobe that can mix and match. I will say I hate my upper arms so I don't wear tanks or sleeveless. I layer in the summer because all malls and restaurants crank the AC so I am cold. I do have a nice pair of seven jeans that fit great. Other than that it is all clothes that look like I am pregnant because they are so big. I am a mom so I prefer machine washable but will dry clean for the right piece. I need items for church and for going out with my hubby(more dressy) then causal cool everyday wear.
Here are a couple basics that would be a great addition to Sheri's wardrobe for the whole year:

Dress - I have this black dress and love wearing it to work. Macy's has it for even less in person. The sleeves, neckline and highwaisted cut are modern and forgiving. Wear it with a bright sweater or blazer to church. Add a pair of fancy heels for a night on the town.
Boots - Brown boots with a black dress is super trendy in the city. It's a fresher, younger variation on the little black dress. These are especially well-priced from the Nordstrom anniversary sale. Amazing with dresses, skirts or jeans tucked in.
Earrings - Handmade gold hoops from Etsy.
Shirt - A classic chambray top is perfect for casual days. You can also layer it with a pencil skirt or trousers for fancier days.
Skirt - A coral pencil skirt.
Sandals - Show off your new gams with a pair of wedge sandals in tangerine. On sale.
Necklace - A lovely beaded necklace from Etsy.

Have fun on your shopping spree, Sheri!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Spotted: Commuting to Work on the Tandem

One of my favorite things about the new job is my new commute. Rob and I pedal together down Market Street on our old tandem, baskets full of laptops and lunch. We zoom around taxis and tourists and buses. He drops me off at my office and doubles back to his building across town. Repeat in reverse for the way home.

Last Friday, we pulled over at a Bike Coalition station for free coffee and protein bars. I just ran across this photo a volunteer snapped of us in action. For the record, this is a more sensible bike outfit compared to most of mine recently - wide leg jeans, flats, this shirt in lilac gray, a leather jacket, pashmina, earrings and helmet. Rob's rocking his usual jeans and blazer combo.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wedding Wednesday: Bachelorette

As someone who has dabbled in marksmanship and is currently reading about zombie-slaying Bennets, I loved hearing about Meg's surprise bachelorette shooting party. What a fun idea!

Of course, what we've got lined up for Jean isn't too shabby either. I just bought my tickets to Maui for her a long bachelorette weekend in October. I haven't been to Hawaii in -gasp- sixteen years. We'll be staying with a bridesmaid who that lives on the island. Bikinis, blended drinks, beach time...I can't wait.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Recipe: Roasted Cauliflower and Black Rice Salad

I'm trying to get in the habit of making big batches of a cold salads each Sunday night to take with me to work for the start of the next week. At my new job, we all eat at our desks so it makes extra sense to bring my lunch instead of eating out. Plus, it's a good exercise in coming up with new recipes with whatever I have on hand.

This week's first salad would be especially appropriate for fall. It's a healthier spin on my favorite broccoli rigatoni recipe. Despite being incredibly healthy (vegan even) it's delicious.

Roasted Cauliflower and Black Rice Salad

1 head of cauliflower
1 cup black rice
1 cup green olives
1/2 cup of shelled pistachios
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Salt and pepper
Red chili flakes

Start your black rice in a rice cooker according to the directions - it will take about a half hour. Preheat the oven to 450.

Cut the cauliflower into chunks about 1-2 inches wide. Toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes, turning once. In the meantime, shell your pistachios and chop the green olives. Once the cauliflower is done, toss it with the pistachios and olives.

When the rice is finished, rinse it a few times so it won't bleed purple on the cauliflower. Toss everything together and season to taste.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Weekend Round-Up: Domestique

So nice to be in the city this weekend with warm summer weather and no more bronchitis. This weekend was all about cycling and home-keeping, hence domestique.

On Friday night, Rob picked me up from work on the tandem and we rode home. Dinner for two at Little Star Pizza and then over to the Victoria Theater for the Bicycle Film Festival. Great short films, especially the last one about two men biking outside of Paris to deliver an urn of ashes. Walked back home around midnight.

Up early the next morning for breakfast of coffee and banana muffins. I whipped up a batch of peanut butter cookies and a batch of brownies. Quick jog to the post office and back home to work on a special project for a bit.

At 12:30, Rob and another NERT volunteer came by to pick up me and the cookies for their drill in the park. I helped out with my "public information officer" duties while they ran through radio and dispatch tests.

We barbecued hot dogs in the park before finishing the emergency response drill and returning home. Margaret came by in the afternoon and the two of us went shopping downtown. I found a decently cute pair of jeans at Gap for $14 and an adorable pair of Dolce Vita boots (these in black) on sale for $120 at Nordstrom. We had a big sushi dinner in the neighborhood and went to the used book store. Back at home, she stayed up with me watching Fiddler on the Roof. Rob came home late after an eventful night of volunteering with the Bike Coalition.

Slept in the next morning before a quick bike ride around town. Rob and I pedaled through the closed Sunday Streets in the mission - big turnout!, down to Glenn Park, up Twin Peaks and over to Velo Rouge cafe for lunch. To the produce market for supplies and then back home. I worked for a few hours on prepping food for the week ahead and getting organized. A laundry run and walk through the neighborhood to feed a friend's cat. Nice and quiet!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Things I Love Today: Maidenhair Ferns

Maidenhair ferns are one of my all-time favorite plans. Vivid green, delicate and elegant. Unfortunately, they're also very fickle and difficult to keep alive. I picked one up at the market for a few dollars recently. It seems to be surviving alright in our bathroom under daily care.

This Parisian wedding complete with etched glassware, silver candelabras and maidenhair ferns in birch pots has completely blown my mind. Click through for more incredible details. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Introducing the Ladies Activity Club website!

I drove to San Mateo last night for another fun meeting of the newest Ladies Activity Club chapter. We had bruschetta and played board games. Between this nice event and planning a special field trip for the San Francisco chapter in July, the LAC is doing quite well these days.

Perfect timing to unveil the official Ladies Activity Club website! Look up chapters in your area, learn about starting a club or connect on the forum. Let me know if you have any feedback or suggestions!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Things I Love Today: Ikea World Map Pillow

I love Ikea. We had such a great shopping trip there last weekend. I picked up dishtowels, napkins, lunch containers, twine and a potted plant for my new desk. Plus, my new favorite throw pillow: KETTY VĂ„RLD.

It's a hand-embroidered world map on soft blue fabric and signed by the artist. Also available in red and black. Here are more examples of cartography textiles - apparently a big trend.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

To Do: Visit Newborn Twins

Rob and I spent last evening at the hospital visiting Matt and Amber and their new twin boys. Delightful, sweet smelling babies that barely cried at all. Lucky parents!

As usual, I brought my favorite hospital gift of gardenias floating in a small bowl. Thanks to the gals at Church Street Flowers for the hook up once again. Rob also chipped in to put together a basket of magazines and groceries for the new family.

And I was happy to see that my shower gift to Amber was being well used. I got her an Aimee nursing gown and robe in black. A stylish and super comfortable gift for any mom, I highly recommend it for your next shower gift. Congratulations to Matt and Amber!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Weekend Round-Up: Taylorsville

Rob and I joined his parents up in Plumas County for a solar cook-off festival this weekend. Rob's dad has recently taken up solar cooking and has built different types of sun-heated ovens based on his own designs.

Unfortunately, the cook-off turned out to be more of an outdoor music festival. I get the appeal of these sorts of events: hang out with your friends, listen to music, eat international food, drink as much as you like and walk around. Those are basically the benefits of city life. But fun in San Francisco doesn't involve copious tie-dye, bongos or heatstroke. Not exactly our scene.

The saving grace of the weekend was the lovely location. I'd never been through this gold-rush country between Chico and Reno. Big valleys, clear rivers and cute towns from the turn of the century. We spent most of the day Saturday exploring Taylorsville. They have a great old general store, church, schoolhouse, scenic creek and post office.

After eating our delicious solar-cooked dinner of turkey, stuffing and green beans, we drove out through Genesee to Antelope Lake to do some birdwatching. Very pretty! To bed with a few light summer showers rolling through the sierras.

The next morning, Rob made a second batch of his famous blueberry pancakes for everyone, we packed up camp and drove to Indian Falls. A fun little swimming hole with pretty waterfalls.

From there, we parted ways with Rob's parents - they're continuing up to Lassen. The five hour drive went quickly and we got to stop at Ikea on the way. Back at home, we had a nice dinner and prepare for the busy week ahead.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Inspired: Katharine Hepburn's Watercolors

Katharine Hepburn is endlessly inspiring. Just thinking about her makes me want to wear collared shirts and wide leg trousers, buy a canoe and take up tennis. (Actually, I did ride an old tandem bike to work while wearing slacks and a blouse yesterday. That's pretty good Hepburn.)

Like my grandmother, Katharine was a talented amateur painter, especially in watercolors. It's hard to find samples of her work. This is from Antiques Roadshow and there are a few images here.

Might be time to take a class or break out my supplies. At least, I can browse Etsy for some lovely paintings. Check out Bigton, WaterColorStudio, and Jeliza. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Sale Alert: French Connection

French Connection has a sale on now with lots of light blousy tops for summer. I picked up a less expensive version of this top and this top is a solid lighter gray. Perfect with a pencil skirt or wide leg trousers for work. Pair with skinny jeans and t-strap sandals for weekends.

Update: Everything is Coming Up Roses

It's not even been a full week yet, but things are going exceptionally well. The new job is GREAT! A leap very well taken.

Oh, and I'm slowly getting over the bronchitis. Thanks for all your support!

{lovely photo of San Francisco available on Etsy from Blonde Bandit}

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Weekend Round-Up: Nothing

That's right, I haven't done anything at all in several days. My brilliant plan to take a few days off in between jobs was thwarted by a very bad cold. I barely got in a few errands and a dinner party during the whole week.

Adding insult to injury, my illness only got worse as the week progressed. Rob took me on a lovely architectural walking tour downtown on Friday for a few hours, but I spent the rest of the weekend in bed; watching countless dvd rentals, reading several books and trying different combinations of medicines. I can't remember the last time I was this sick...and in July to boot.

My new job starts tomorrow and, despite now having bronchitis, I'm starting to feel human again. I think I'll take a few days off to focus on work and recovery. Talk to you later this week!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Party Recipe: Welcome to California

Rob and I are hosting a dinner party tonight for a visiting friend from Japan. I tossed around ideas for classic "American" dishes (roast turkey, meatloaf, banana splits) and eventually settled on a menu that makes the most of California's summer produce and relaxed spirit.

California white wine
Pistachios in shell

Pan-fried artichokes with soy dip
Wine poached wild salmon with fresh dill
French cut wax beans
Roasted garlic purple mashed potatoes

White peaches baked with a crumb topping
Organic whipped cream
Decaf coffee

Recipe: Summer Salads

During family vacations at the beach, we usually made a trip to a deli in Montecito to pick up a variety of cold salads for one dinner. We each got to pick out a dish from the pristine glass display. It was so elegant!

Ever since, summer salads have been a special fixation. I made two great new recipes for dinner salads earlier this week. The first is a version of a salad from Tutti's in Montecito that I've been trying to perfect for years:

Tutti's Black Olive Noodle Salad
3/4 package of Trader Joe's Garlic Basil Linguine or another pasta with a good flavor
5 or so ounces black olives
Clove of garlic
Drizzle of hot chili oil
Pinch of red chili flakes
Tablespoon of olive oil
Salt and pepper

In a food processor, mix together the olives, garlic, olive oil and spices into a pesto consistency. It should have a subtle, spicy flavor. Might be good to experiment with adding a small amount of sesame oil or anchovies to the mix. Cook the pasta until al dente, drain and rinse with cold water until chilled. Toss the pasta with the olive pesto and additional olive oil as needed. Refridgerate and serve when ready. Keeps for several days.

Beet & Watermelon Salad
1 package Trader Joe's pre-cooked beets or 3 small fresh beets
2 cups cubed watermelon
1/2 cup cubed feta cheese
Tablespoon of chopped fresh mint
Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix together the beets, watermelon, vinegar and mint together. Refridgerate until ready to serve. Add the feta cheese at the last minute.

I made a classic potato salad and a thai chicken salad to go along with these two for the light dinner. A few leaves of romain, some white wine and slices of watermelon - you're set!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Ladies Activity Club: Henna Tattoos

Last night's Ladies Activity Club party was a lot of fun! Margaret hosted us for a tutorial on henna tattoos. First, food! She put together a spread of iced mint tea, curry chicken skewers, hummus and tzatziki with pita bread and veggie samosas. Yum.

After eating, we started on the henna. Margaret mixed up her own paste using a base she found online. We used little bags to pipe the mixture into patterns. Once it started to dry, we dabbed it with a sugar and lemon juice mixture. The final results looked great! My design was a little messy (the face on my right foot is an old, funny tradition) , but I think it will look great once I rinse off.