Monday, August 31, 2009

Weekend Round-Up: Outside Epic

Wow...what a weekend. This is another one for the record books!

On Friday, a heat wave hit the city. Temperatures in the high eighties slowed us all down dramatically. Rob and I had a beer after work out on the fishing pier in the bay.

We briefly joined the Critical Mass ride on our tandem but it was too hot for those sorts of shenanigans. Margaret came over and we made nectarine ice cream and sweltered with no AC.

The next day, Rob and I rode the bike downtown to meet with family friends, Yvette and Tom. (Backstory: Yvette was my nanny for a time when she was a teenager. She had a fortunate career with a start-up company that turned Fortune 500. And now spends her time traveling, going to concerts, taking lessons and seeking out fun events.) We met up with them to pick up extra tickets they had to Outside Lands.

After our happy errand, Rob and I had breakfast at Blue Bottle Coffee and aparently saw a rock-star based on the the excited pack of teenagers in line.

A few more errands and then straight to the beach to cool off in the ocean breeze. I was very pleased with the new Ikea beach umbrella, especially now that I've sworn off the sun for good.

At 4:30, we checked the bike at the concert and met up with Yvette and Tom. We caught the end of Jason Mraz on the mainstage and saw some side acts before the Black Eyed Peas came on.

Towards the end of their show, we walked over to a side stage to see Connor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band. Admittedly, I hadn't heard of them before. But the kids around me were crazy excited and the music was really good. A highlight was a guest appearance by Jenny Lewis. Oh, and it turned out that the rock star from coffee that morning was the drummer for this band. Small city.

After that show, it was time for the main event. Dave Matthews Band on the mainstage. Fun, high energy and with a guest appearance by the Black Eyed Peas for a silly dance-off. The fog rolled in, ending the heatwave during the start of this show. A blessedly cold bike ride home after the show ended at 10. Watched Annie Hall on TV before going to bed.

Breakfast the next morning. Rob left to go volunteer with the bike coalition. I caught up on some blogging while watching the excellent Met version of Madama Butterfly. At 2:00, I bundled up (when the fog comes back, it really comes back) to head back to Outside Lands. This time with a VIP bracelet that let us all into the media tent with free food and drinks!

I saw two of my favorite bands, The Avett Brothers and Brett Dennen, standing only a few feet from the stage.

And had an almost front row position for Jack White's new band called The Dead Weather.

Back at the media tent (free beer!), I joined up with Rob, Yvette and Tom to see the end of M.I.A. and Tenacious D (in for the poor Beastie Boys had to cancel) from the fancy seats. I walked about six inches away from Brett Dennen on my way back from the restroom at one point! Back home on the bike at 9:45.

All in all - an epic weekend and the most fun I've ever had at a music festival. It was so great to see Yvette and Tom. I can't wait for Outside Lands next year! You can see all my photos from the weekened here

Friday, August 28, 2009

Have a Good Weekend!

I get my stitches out today and more biopsies taken. Not looking forward to it, but it is an excuse for a lazy morning working in my pajamas with coffee and croissants.

Have a great weekend!

Update: All is well. I have a clean bill of health and nothing "atypical" left in my wrist. Very happy!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

What to Wear: Arizona Italian Wedding

Here's a recent request from Ashley:
I am twenty-eleven years old, 5 foot 9 inches tall and weigh about 165lbs. I have long naturally curly brown hair and green eyes. I have no style what so ever....I am a jeans, vintage tee and chuck taylor/flip flop kind of girl.

My cousin is getting married September 5, 2009 in Scottsdale Arizona. It is going to be an outside wedding at 5pm followed by an indoor reception. The wedding and reception are taking place at a very elegant Italian villa styled restaurant. Here is what the restaurant website says "SASSI is a celebration of the best of Southern Italy in a stunning restaurant in north Scottsdale, Arizona. This fine dining experience transports you to the hospitality of an Italian farmhouse which has flourished into a classic villa in every sense of the word."

She said that I should wear something "dressy casual". I have NO IDEA what to wear to an event like this. Please help me with a few ideas so that I can feel confident that I am not going to show up looking totally out of place.
Sounds like a fun! Here's my recommendation for an outfit that's simple to throw together, comfortable and a bit dressy:

Dress - This printed, ruffled dress is elegant and easy.
Wedges - In a red to match the pattern on the dress.
Clutch - In recycled leather from Etsy.
Earrings - Pearl studs.
Flower - A bit of red dahlia or bougainvillea in your hair.
Wicker Wine Bottle - A unique, antique wedding gift idea.

Have a great time in Arizona. Don't forget to wear plenty of sunblock!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Things I Love Today: Grease Pencils

I've got a thing for old-fashioned, paper-wrapped grease pencils today. You can use them to write on glass and metal, or just to accessorize a perfect tweed pencil skirt.

It must be the combination of back-to-school season and watching too much Nova. Take a look at sugaroni's entire photo series on art and office supplies for a pencil overdose.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Recipe: Preserved Lemons

Just when I was thinking I was completely sick of this whole cold-salad-for-lunch kick, I stumbled across a new favorite.

On Sunday night, I tapped into my stock of preserved lemons to make a big batch of Moroccan chicken with preserved lemons and green olives along with a side of Israeli couscous. This bright and simple recipe is a dinner party standard of mine.

Afterward, I cut up the chicken and mixed the rest of the leftovers together to make an impromptu cold Moroccan salad for lunch the rest of the week. Delicious served over mixed greens with a side of those gorgeous black grapes.

Preserved lemons are the kicker in this recipe. Packed away with salt, cinnamon, cloves, coriander and bay leaves, they're an easy and tasty way to save a bounty of summer lemons for the rest of the year. And they make a pretty gift, too!

Preserved Lemons (about two small jars)

8 to 10 lemons, Meyer is preferred
1/2 cup of kosher salt or more as needed
2 cinnamon sticks
6 cloves
6 coriander seeds
6 peppercorns
2 bay leaves

Deeply score the top of each lemon into four, attached pieces. Rub with salt inside and out. Put a little salt in the bottom of each jar and stuff with as many lemons as possible, adding spices as you go. Press the lemons to release their juices. You should be topped up when the jar is full. If not, add more fresh lemon juice.

Seal the jars in boiling water per the canning directions. Give the lemons at least 30 days to cure before using. The resulting lemons last forever (I used lemons from a few years ago for the chicken on Sunday) and don't require refrigeration once opened thanks to the acidity.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Weekend Round-Up: Mini Adventure

Rob and I went on a little bike adventure this weekend. It was a great example of how inexpensively and easily you can plan a getaway from the city.

On Saturday morning, Rob and I packed up the tandem and attached our Burley cart full of camping gear. Rob had booked a free campsite in Marin's Tennessee Valley a few days ago and our plan was to pedal out there for the night. We rode through the city and had lunch at our favorite cafe.

After a very sunny Friday with temperatures in the 70's, we were expecting the best weather. But, of course, San Francisco didn't play along. It was freezing, overcast, windy and with a 20% chance of rain. Summer in the city at its finest! Going over the Golden Gate Bridge was especially brutal. We caught a tiny bit of sun in Sausalito with a view of the city:

We had to make a detour down into Marin Headlands to pick up our backcountry camping permit first. The back, down to the water, along to Mill Valley and then across to the coast again. The fog and mist was really getting heavy as we approached Tennessee Valley. I know you love my sweet neon jacket:

We set up camp tucked away in a little valley with eucalyptus trees, lots of birds and little creek. Pretty sheltered from the wind, a nice perk. A few other bikers from the city were also camping there for the night:

Rob and I didn't pack much food, so we decided to pedal back to Sausalito for dinner at Tommy's Wok. We looked a little out of place among the yatchers, socialites and elegant seniors in our camp clothes! Back to the campsite just in time for dusk. We watched a bevy of about 50 quail and a shared a mini bottle of champagne:

When it got dark and the predatory birds started to come out (a shocking amount of hawks and screech-owls), we retreated to the tent for the night. The next morning, we woke to light rain...not what we we had planned for. Eventually, Rob and I packed up the sopping tent, threw on a strange hodgepodge of camping and cycling clothes and hit the road back to the city. Here's Rob freezing at the Golden Gate Bridge:

Back at home, we took a very long bath with cups of black coffee to warm up. A few errands, some laundry, organized the medicine cabinet, made a batch of oatmeal flax cookies and prepared for the week ahead! You can see more photos from our bike trip to Tennessee Valley here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

To Do: Flowers in Hair

I am all about flowers in my hair lately. It must be an offshoot of my campaign for corsages. In the last few weeks I've sported a giant maroon dahlia, white garden roses and a cluster of nasturtiums with jasmine for various events.

Such an easy and inexpensive way to dress up an outfit for a party or night on the town. Very "new economy." For advanced maneuvers, channel Billie Holiday and Frida Kahlo.

It helps that they sell gardenia corsages for only $1.50 at the sidewalk flower stands downtown. They'll even wrap them in a delicate bubble of green tissue paper for you to take on the train. I think I'll get one tonight on my way home.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

To Do: Scarf as Bandage

Upside: Wearing cute handkerchiefs wrapped around my wrist. This one coordinates with my coral sweater and navy slacks. Roses by my bedside from Rob. Mom happening to be in town to take me to and from surgery. Shopping for a new hat to take to Hawaii in October.

Downside: Stitches that look like spiders for another nine days. Googling biopsy punches. Skin that's disturbingly pleated where the missing piece used to be. Going for a full body scan and many more biopsies next Friday.

This is far - miles away - from the worst thing that could happen to a person. But it is terribly annoying. Wear sunblock kids!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wedding Wednesday: Bridal Shower

Jean's bridal shower was a smash success last weekend. Her bridesmaids, April and Leslie, did a great job hosting. Here are a few details:

Invitations - These poppy cards from Shutterfly were lovely and just right for Jean's "farm fiesta" theme.
Food - Chips & salsa, veggies, taco salad with grilled chicken & black beans, fruit salad, apple & berry pies. All served on April's great grandmother's wedding china.
Drinks - Champagne punch with peaches, lemonade, tea and coffee.
Decorations - Sunflowers, balloons, bright painted chairs on a sunny deck.
Games - A quiz about Jean & Trent and a mad-lib "blessing."
Favors - Canning jars filled with Mexican hot chocolate mix and marshmallows.
- Very pretty and enjoying the party heartily!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Recipe: Angel hair Pasta Salad with Lemon and Tuna

I'm a bit conflicted on this week's recipe because it involves canned tuna. Not great because of the mercury and also because it has a tendency to stink up the office. But it is tasty.

Angel hair Pasta Salad with Lemon and Tuna
1/2 a box of angel hair pasta
2 cans of white tuna in water - drained
4 stalks of celery, diced
1 lemon, juice and zest
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon of finely chopped rosemary
Good shake or two of parmesan cheese
Onion salt & pepper (lots of pepper)

Cook the pasta for four minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Toss with the olive oil first and then mix in the other ingredients, parmesan last. Season with lots (lots) of pepper. I think it would be really good with pine nuts and substituting leftover grilled fish for the tuna.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Weekend Round-Up: SLO Times

Another great weekend full of friends, family and big parties. This seems to be a theme for August.

My sister, Jean, arrived from North Carolina late Thursday night. She had a day to explore the city before we left for San Luis Obispo on Friday afternoon. We picked up Margaret in Burlingame on the way down and had a lively drive. Watching classic Sesame Street clips on YouTube is a great way to pass the time through all those farm towns. We arrived at the family home shortly before midnight.

Up the next morning for errands and breakfast together at the local diner. We scrambled to prepare and change for Jean's bridal shower. The lovely party was hosted by her friend from elementary school and started at 1:00. It was a great event! Just right for Jean. Photos coming soon!

Back home at 3:00 - we watched an AMAZING video that was put together for my dad's birthday. A lot of the footage of us as kids was shot on 16 mm film and hadn't been seen in decades. We had a nice pasta dinner together and a big apple pie for his birthday.

After the family celebration, Rob and I met up with friends at the Madonna Inn. This place really defies description. Think: pink pleather, gold cherubs, rock sculpture, animatronics, a live band playing jazz standards and blue-haired ballroom dancers. It's special.

We sat at the bar with shirley temples and occasionally ventured to the dance floor for a slow waltz or swing piece. Back home around midnight.

Waffles, coffee and the Sunday Times the next morning. Rob and I joined Shane for a bike ride through Perfumo Canyon. A very steep climb to the top rewarded by a nice view of the coast.

Back down the other side and around to the house for under 20 miles total. A short, but pretty epic ride. Just enough time for lunch, showers and chatting before we hit the road back to the city. Paul came over after we unpacked to give us a sneak peek at the wedding paintings. Cooked, cleaned, prepared for another busy week to start...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Reading: The Little Book

All these ads for the Time Traveler's Wife reminded me of a book I recently read on a similar theme. The Little Book also involves time travel within a family - this version set between America in the 20th century and Vienna in the 19th.

The novel is the life work of an English teacher - he started writing it in 1974 - and his devotion shows in all the little details. Its a good choice for the beach and one of those books you'll rush to read through quickly to see how it turns out.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

To Do: Wear Sunblock

I am sulking. A small mark on my wrist was checked out and returned from the lab as "atypical pathology." Luckily, it's just a pre-cancer and was caught early. Unluckily, this means stitches next week and a big scar thanks to my dermatologist.

I like my skin and my wrist. I don't want either to be cut into. And this will be my first time with stitches.

Browsing expensive bracelets to cover the scar helps a bit (the lovely platinum bow bracelet pictured is $16k - this antique gold bangle is $135). Asking you all to wear ample amounts of sunblock every day helps even more.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wedding Wednesday: Trousseau is Done!

I love checking things off my list. Dad's birthday book: done! Jean's wedding invites: done! Jean's bridal trousseau: done! I finished the last project and wrapped up everything on Monday night. There are about 14 embroidered pieces altogether.

If you are thinking about putting together a trousseau without embroidering everything yourself here are a few things I'd include:

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Recipe: Greek Potato Salad

This week's salad isn't a looker, but it sure is tasty. It also isn't really "greek" - I named it on behalf of the feta but the rest is ad-libbed. The dressing is particularly good.

Greek Potato Salad

2 lbs of red potatoes
1 lb jicima (or something else crunchy)
1/4 lb green beans
3 stalks of celery
1 can of kidney beans, rinsed
3/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup feta cheese

3 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
6 capers
6 green olives
Salt, pepper, dried dill

Boil the potatoes for about 15 minutes. Chop/rinse the rest of the ingredients and make the dressing while the potatoes cook. For the dressing, toss everything in a food processor or blender and pulverize. The capers are proxies for anchovies and give the final result a green-goddess taste.

When the potatoes are finished, rinse them with cold water and cut into slices. Toss with the dressing and the rest of the ingredients, season to taste. Seasoning will probably need a few adjustments after settling overnight.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Happy Birthday Dad!

My dearest father has a big, big birthday today!

Together with the family, I spent the last few months gathering letters from all his friends, relatives and colleagues. Everyone put so much time into their contributions - digging up old photos and stories of his adventuresome youth. We put everything in a giant album for a once-in-a-lifetime birthday present.

Jean and I are going down next week to celebrate with him in person.

Weekend Round-Up: New Families

This was a fun weekend full of new family units! On Friday, Rob and I biked to North Beach for dinner with Matt and Amber. We brought supplies from Trader Joe's and helped put the twins down for their evening sleep. Wine, cheese, salami, olives, salad, mac 'n cheese and cheesecake.

After dinner, we fed the babes and put them to bed with a four person reading of Brown Bear. They're just now four weeks old and our friends are doing so well with their new parenting duties.

Up the next morning for breakfast at home and then a trip downtown on the bike. So.many.tourists. Rob and I picked up a wedding present at Williams-Sonoma's flagship store:

Had lunch in Macy's basement and picked up a couple bags of coffee at Blue Bottle in Mint Plaza. Back at home with just enough time to change and drive to Berkeley for Meg's welcome picnic. That's right, I had the honor of attending Meg & David's wedding - THE Meg from A Practical Wedding. And Amanda from First Milk came too - awesome!

The big event was first thing Sunday morning, on an unusually warm and nice day. Rob looked cute in his yarmulke:

Beautiful ceremony with lovely singing and poetry, not a dry eye in the house. A wild celebration followed. Mediterranean for lunch, lots of dancing, lots of family, lots of love.

Well done Meg! It was a grand affair and I was so glad to be invited. They're off on their honeymoon now but I'm sure she'll have all the details for you on her site when she's back.

Rob and I spent the rest of the afternoon working on projects and chores for the busy week ahead. You can see more photos from the weekend here.

Friday, August 07, 2009

To Do: Wedding Present

Big, big - HUGE - wedding coming up this weekend. I'll fill you in on the details Monday. Trust me, you'll be excited.

Weddings bring wedding gifts. To me, a perfect wedding present is a bit extravagant, something you wouldn't normally buy. Durable, something you can use to serve cookies to your grandkids. And as lovely as possible.

I've got a trusty list of go-to wedding gifts and includes a lot of pewter. Talk about durable! Absolutely lovely with no polishing required. And just the right amount of extravagant.

I suggest spending a few minutes browsing the gorgeous photos of handmade italian pewter on the Match website today.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

What to Wear: Posh Camp Wedding

Sarah wrote in with this question:
I'm SO excited to have something to write to you about, I'm hoping that you can help us. I'm going with my MIL and two of my SIL's to a family wedding in Colorado in September. The first part of the problem is we're from Arizona, so the sunny days and freezing (well to us) nights will be difficult to navigate outfit wise. The next part of equation is the wedding which is at an outdoor location that is a camp where the bride and groom met as counselors. Such a cute idea it just presents a little bit of a challenge with the outdoor location and a request for formal attire. So I'm hoping that you can come up with a couple of ideas for what to wear to this wedding. Normally wedding attire is easy but with the weather and location I want to be warm but also dressed appropriately and of course stylishly and somewhat affordably (this is where I hope you come in).

I'm 5'5" and wear a size 6/8, green eyes and black bobbed hair. I love high heels and hate navy blue. I think for budget nothing more than a couple hundred dollars. I have lots of shoes so most of the energy should be spent on the outfit. I'm a mix of classic and fashion forward and my style crush in Gwyneth. You can see all of the fashiony items I've blogged about here, hopefully this gives you a little bit of insight into what I like.
Gwyneth is all about modern cuts, bohemian flair and lots of leg. Here's a great option for Sarah:

Dress - I picked this shift for a couple reasons: the cut is modern and a dressy, the satin and sleeves are good for shifting temperatures and the colors are a good match with a Colorado camp scene. I know you said no navy - but this is really mostly purple and a little bit of "midnight." With your dark hair and green eyes, it is going to be a knock-out.
Shoes - Sarah has a thing for purple pumps this fall - this is the perfect chance to splurge on a pair. Look for a stacked heel to give you a little assistance on rocky or grassy floors.
Earrings - Chandelier earrings are super festive.
Hair - Maybe a little braid?
Lantern - In vintage-style brass...might be a good accompaniment to a traditional wedding present.
Coat - Bring an inexpensive ivory coat for warmth that you don't need to keep pristine. This hooded coat is a little whimsical for a forrest setting and would be great with jeans and a long sleeved tee the next night.

Have a great time at the wedding!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Busy Day

If New York is the city that never sleeps, San Francisco is the city that loves to sleep in. I got to work at 5:00 this morning for an early start to a busy day.

It was startling to see that I was nearly the only one awake at that hour. No early morning street sweepers, deliveries to shops, investment bankers opening with the markets or lights on inside apartment buildings. Nothing is more quiet than San Francisco at five in the morning.

All this to say, I'm crazy busy today and will be back tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Recipe: Red Pesto, Broccoli and White Bean Salad

This week's salad is so good! I've been struggling to find ways to include protein in these salads - the beans and pistachios do the trick here. If you wanted to be extra healthy, omit the pasta and go straight veggie.

Another healthy salad for a busy week:

Red Pesto, Broccoli and White Bean Salad

2 small heads of broccoli
1 can of white beans, rinsed
3/4 package of bow tie pasta
1 cup of shelled pistachios
1/4 cup of crumbled feta
2 tablespoons of red pesto
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of butter
Dash of olive oil
Salt & pepper

Boil the water for the pasta and chop the broccoli into small pieces. Add the pasta to the water. Melt the butter in a separate pan on high, add the broccoli and garlic and cook until just barely browned. Turn off heat from the broccoli. Add the white beans and one tablespoon of the red pesto. Season to taste.

Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water. Toss with the broccoli mixture and pistachios. Mix the second tablespoon of red pesto with a bit of olive oil to thin and toss with the pasta. Season to taste and add the feta once it is fully cooled.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Weekend Round-Up: Angel Island

We had a fun adventure this weekend! Rob, Margaret and I left early Saturday morning on the ferry to Angel Island. Isn't our summer overcast lovely:

It was nice and sunny once we landed on the island. Just in time for Rob to bike up the dirt trail with all our camping gear. Our campsite was about two miles around the island, up the hill, facing Berkeley.

We set-up the tent, made sandwiches and put the food away before setting off to explore the island.

First stop, the Immigration Station at Ayala Cove. We saw the new instillations about the Chinese and Japanese poems carved into the barrack walls by immigrants, sometimes kept there as long as six months. We picnicked on the beach before heading south to Fort McDowell. This was a discharge base during WWII - complete with bowling alley, softball field and pub. The salty bay climate dissintegrated the buildings quickly after they were decomissioned in 1946.

From there we hiked the rest of the way around the island and back to the main cove. Beers in the cantina - we listened to a blues band, watched the final ferries back the city depart and painted watercolors of the island.

The island was now left to us, a couple other campers and a handful of rangers. We walked back to the campsite and made a big dinner of kebabs and Jiffy Pop while watching the sailboats return home across the bay. Racoons started to invade our campsite at dusk (aparently, they and deer can swim over from the mainland...nuts) - brazen little buggers. We played cards, watched the dinner cruises putter about and stargazed before bed:

The next morning, Rob made us a big blueberry pancake breakfast along with Pete's coffee and pine needle tea. We packed up all our gear and caught the 10:30 ferry back to the city.

A great little escape and I loved having time for a bit of lazy Sunday back home. Rob and I finished the weekend with grocery shopping, bike washing and book selling.

You can see more photos from our busy weekend on Angel Island here.