Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Rob and I are off to Healdsburg this weekend! We're celebrating Halloween and 30th birthdays with Amber, Matt and their twin boys. She'll be running the half marathon...and we'll be cheering her on.

Have a great weekend!

Inspired: Turkish Bath Towels

My friend Jackie travels often for her research on mosquito-born diseases and always brings back the coolest gifts. Just returned from Turkey for my birthday, she gave me a bar of handmade soap and a turkish bath towel, or hammamas, in sage and white.

In light woven cotton, I can see how they'd be great at my imaginary beach house or even in my non-imaginary apartment where drying terrycloth bath towels has been a problem.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

To Do: Cornhusk Leaves

Our chili last night was served along with a little cornbread muffin sitting on a cornhusk leaf made from tamale wrappers. Christine got the cute idea from Martha Stewart.

October Ladies Activity Club

Christine hosted the Ladies Activity Club for a fun pumpkin carving party last night. She's always one of my favorite hostesses - an easy entertainer and an excellent cook!

Christine served us prosecco, pita chips with hummus, chili with chicken sausage, cornbread and Paula Dean's pumpkin bars. And she decorated her apartment festively with candles, candy and pumpkins.

That's my creation over on the right - called "pumpkincello" due to the inadvertent resemblance to Monticello (inspired by Martha Stewart) You can see more photos from the party here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fall Favorites: Tights

I've hardly bought anything new for fall this year, but I did pick up at least three pairs of tights for my growing collection. I added a red pair (inspired by adorable new-mom Jill) , a yellow pair and a plaid pair. Each was from Hue.

A great, inexpensive way to make a simple dress or a pencil skirt feel brand new. Find some excellent tight-outfit inspiration here, here and here.

Fall Favorites: Tartine's Gingerbread

This continues to be the only recipe I've mastered from the Tartine Bakery Cookbook. Their soft glazed gingerbread (with cocoa powder and pepper) is a sophisticated take on the classic and very easy to bake - ideal for Halloween parties this weekend. (You don't even need the cookie stamp pictured, they work fine with regular cookie cutters)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me

It's my 30th birthday today. My feelings are mixed about the whole thing. However, the thoughtful gifts from friends, well wishes and cake are all helping to ease the transition quite nicely.

Back tomorrow to kick off a brand-new decade.

Photo of dreamy red velvet cake from Sugadeaux

Monday, October 26, 2009

Weekend Round-Up: Indian Summer

Summer is finally here in San Francisco - of course, it arrived the day after I packed up my summer clothes and put out the tweed. Regardless, it was a lovely backdrop for this relaxing weekend.

On Friday night, Rob and I rode our tandem bike from work downtown to Hayes Valley for dinner and the opera. We dropped in on a sushi place called Otoro that turned out to have great food and a nice atmosphere. At eight, we joined the opera crowd to watch The Abduction from the Seraglio - pure camp! Irish coffee at intermission and home around midnight.

Rob left early the next morning for an all-day mountain bike trip, leaving me to have a nice lazy day. I stayed in bed reading until 11:00, ran some errands in the neighborhood, came home for a big salad lunch, had a bath, ran more errands in the afternoon on Union Square, switched out all the kitchen cabinet knobs with new ones from Anthropologie and worked in the evening on our wedding album and decorating the house for Halloween (with contact paper and my favorite rubber rats).

On Sunday, Rob and I had a leisurely breakfast of coffee and gingerbread pancakes. We've both been so busy lately - so we promised each other this relaxing day on our own. We took the tandem bike out in the late morning for a ride to the Legion of Honor. We saw the John Baldessari exhibit and had a tasty lunch in the garden cafeteria. We had plans for all sorts of chores in the afternoon but ended up reading and having naps. In the evening, a few of my oldest friends came to town for dinner out.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fall Favorites: Hard Cider

One of my new favorite things in San Francisco is grabbing a cider (cider is so trendy this fall) served in a traditional french ceramic bowl at Ti Couz Creperie on 16th Street.

What a lovely accompaniment to a bowl of hot onion soup or a crepe with lemon and sugar on a rainy fall night.

Fall Favorites: Spicy Perfume

Musky, spicy perfume is a perfect fit with chunky sweaters in the fall. I like to borrow Rob's cologne and mix it with a splash of Chanel No. 5.

Currently, I'm using Lothantique Citron I picked up in Paris a couple years ago. Bonny Doon Uplands Cologne is another, more apple-y, choice.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fall Favorites: Cardigan

I have a jersey version of this fun striped cardigan from J.Crew (on sale!) and wear it constantly. Pair it with a tee, belt, pair of pencil leg jeans and flats for the weekend. With a mini skirt, tank, opaque tights, a long necklace and heels for the office.

Fall Favorites: Honeycomb Candles

Pure beeswax candles have a soft sweet scent that is just right for not-quite-cold fall evenings. Imagine them in basic glasses along with something warm cooked in a big dutch oven.

And at $4 a pair on Etsy, they're easier on the wallet than my other fall favorite, the Cinnamon Bark candle from Henri Bendel.

To Do: Fall!

I'm a huge fan of fall. With huge rainstorms kicking off the season and my birthday around the corner, I've embraced my favorite season.

Unpacked all my tweed, wool and cashmere. Started wearing a mix of cedar and Chanel No. 5 perfume each day. Cooked butternut squash. Wore plaid tights. Coveted Rachel's leaf garland. And started planning a whole new look for my closet and apartment.

My favorite picks for fall start today!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Jean's Wedding: One More

Oops, I forgot to post one of my favorite snapshots from the wedding day. Jean all dressed and ready to go. Pretty amazing to think that her whole "look" was essentially free: a family wedding dress and necklace, hair and makeup by friends and a homemade bouquet full of all her favorites. Her only new purchase was a pair of gorgeous Italian ivory leather wedges from a shoe store in San Francisco. You can take a look at all my photos from the wedding weekend online here.

And a special shout-out today to Brandy. She ran into me after my spin class last night. It's a blogger truism that you only ever seem to meet readers when dressed like a hobo.

Jean's Wedding: Flowers

The flowers for this wedding were crazy awesome, if I do say so myself. Rob and I went to the wholesale flower market on Friday and loaded up the entire back seat of the car. Dressed shabby and paying cash, I scored some great deals when vendors assumed I had a professional badge.

Our final arrangements included: dahlias of all colors, zinnias, yellow heirloom roses, orange spray roses, french marigolds, tuberose, orange firecrackers, blue thistles, black eyed susans, three kinds of ferns, cornflowers, some red spiky thing, equisetum and ornamental chili peppers.

With many helpers, we turned under $300 worth of flowers into 5 bouquets, 15 bouteneirs and corsages and 20 lush centerpieces. And had a lot of fun doing it! All the flowers survived the night just fine and were a great conversation piece at the wedding the next day.

Well done Jean and congratulations to the happy couple! I'm going to hold off with more details from the wedding until the professional photos arrive.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Jean's Wedding: Dinner

This wedding was the perfect example of how much you can get done on a small budget with a little creativity and a lot of elbow grease. Dinner was served at one long table set down on the olive tree-lined road. The table was decorated with mason jars full of flowers and candles. A team of Trent's friends spent the day before on a rickety ladder rigging those twinkle lights and lanterns overhead. The bride and groom arrived at the party on board a borrowed tandem bike.

Jean's caterer - Picante - provided organic and affordable Mexican spread, complete with tortillas made on site. Bottles of wine and custom-brewed beer were donated. Toasts were made on a portable PA system as a bright pink sunset lit up the farm.

After dinner, the guests picked up the flowers and candles from the table and processed to the barn behind the house for pie and dancing.

Jean's Wedding: Picados

The official photos haven't arrived yet but there are some great shots pouring in from friends and family online. I can't help but share a couple of my favorite highlights.

First, this scene! The walnut grove in the background framed by a few strings of paper picados bought in San Francisco. Jean wearing our great-grandmother's dress and a couple orange roses in her hair (picked from the garden at the inn where she was staying). Hair by bridesmaid Lesley, make-up by me, ceremony by their friend Amanda.

Right at this moment, a hidden mariachi band started playing on the porch of the farmhouse and surprised the whole crowd!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Jean's Wedding

Oh my! What a great wedding we had over the weekend. The weather was ideal, the flowers were bright and fresh, the food was delicious, the couple was thrilled...everything went off without a hitch. Jean and Trent are off on their honeymoon this week and I'm sure will have lots more photos and details to share, but I'll give you a couple sneak peeks at the event this week.

I feel like I'm at the end of a Jane Austen novel. The daughters are married off, the guests packed up It's time to walk back inside, have a cup of tea and return to the business of regular life. Bliss!

Friday, October 16, 2009

To Do in Maui: Luau

We ended our trip to Hawaii with a night at the Old Lahaina Luau. A great way to soak up every last bit of island character before heading back to California. Super cheesy, but well done, this Luau greets you with Mai Tais and fresh orchid leis.

You have a bit of time to wander the groomed gardens and admire a fine display of Hawaiian attire on tourists. They dig up a pig from a big sand pit beefore starting the dinner service. The huge food spread includes ahi tuna poke, salted salmon, fiddlehead fern salad, fresh fruit, pork in various forms, fish, taro root, chicken and steak. And if that wasn't enough, they also bring out a big tray full of desserts.

Once it gets dark, the attention turns to big dance show on the central stage with a full Tahitian drum crew, a singer with a gourd drum and all kinds of costume changes. Very impressive.

Overall our trip to Hawaii was a ton of fun. Huge thanks to our lovely hostess Haley and SPF 70 continuous spray sunblock, both our most steadfast companions on the trip! You can see all my photos from Hawaii online.

Now, I'm off to Davis for Jean's wedding weekend. The car is packed with flowers, Mexican wedding cookies, tandem bikes and all sorts of miscellaneous supplies. The fantastic Genevieve from Lily Spruce is joining us as the day-of-coordinator. I promise full details when I return, followed by some serious fall fashion discussion. What an amazing month this is turning out to be!

To Do in Maui: Eat

In between massive chip and salsa grazing, we ate out a couple times on Maui. It was great to have our local guide - Haley - there to point out the best places. Our first stop after landing was lunch at Da Kitchen for some local fare. Huge servings of kalua pork, white rice, macaroni salad, chicken salad and lumpia.

During our stay, we also ate fish tacos and ceviche at Amigos, breakfast at Kula Lodge, fish pitas at Pita Paradise, spam nigiri at a place by the airport and way too much sushi while people sang karaoke at Sansei. Everything was fresh, casual and tasty!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

To Do in Maui: Beaches

Of course! We spent a couple hours each day at the gorgeous beaches around Kihei.

Our first day, we stopped at the beach in front of the Fairmont Hotel - where we loved swimming in the warm water and going down the waterslide at the hotel pool. In the evening, the hotel has a guy in Hawaiian dress play a conch shell and light a bunch of tiki torches around the property.

The third day, we set up in the early morning at Kamaole Beach in "downtown" Kihei. This was my favorite for the warm water, sea turtles, shave ice stand nearby and ample trees for shade along the beach. Exhausted from our packed first two days, we all took long naps in the shade between swims.

Our final day, we drove south to the beach in front of the Makena Resort - probably the smallest but with the best water and the nicest umbrellas by the pool.

To Do in Maui: Haleakala Sunrise

On our second day in Maui, still on Pacific Time, we loaded in to the car at 4am for a drive the "Road from Hana" I slept most of the way up in the dark. We arrived at Haleakala National Park shortly before six and watched the sunrise wrapped in beach towels (Christmas pageant-style) to stay warm:

Along with the other tourists, there was also a group of local school kids who sang a Hawaiian sunrise chant most of the time - quite the addition. We saw the sun as it rose over the ocean and the 80 miles to the coast of Maui.

On the way back to Kihei, we stopped for brunch at a lovely garden restaurant called Kula Lodge. Eggs benedict, fresh tropical fruit, strawberry waffel and LOTS of coffee.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

To Do in Maui: Snorkel

One of the highlights of our time in Hawaii came on day three. Haley took us all for a half day of snorkeling off the coast of Maui with the Pacific Whale Foundation. She used to work on this boat as a naturalist and was able to get us all on board for free, a serious treat! We look so cool in this photo:

Our first early morning stop was Molokini, a small island off of the coast. The entire bay was empty and we were able to snorkel with snowflake eels and all kinds of tropical fish along a coral reef in relative quiet. That's me at the top, doing my best sea turtle impression.

From there, it was over to the coastline of Maui to visit "Turtle Town" - a series of coral reefs along lava flows and caves that are a favorite with the sea turtle population. A giant female swam right underneath us when we were barely paying attention, a cool sight. This isn't my photo, but it could have been!

Then back on the boat for lunch - Love the sexy matted hair and mask marks in this photo:

The crew served us a BBQ lunch and drinks on the boat as we made our way back to the harbor. Along the route, we stopped at a favorite turtle algae patch and spotted another dozen or so swimming in the water.

We all took long showers and three hour naps after the snorkel trip, exhausted and salty from our fun adventure. This is a definite must-do for any Maui visitor.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hawaiian Wahines

Jean's bachelorette trip to Hawaii was fantastic! Five days filled with beautiful beaches, warm water and adventure. Our hostess, Haley (on the right) teaches junior high on Maui and was the best tour guide. I'll cover the things we saw in more detail as the week goes on.

Not only was it a memorable, lovely trip but get this: no one got sunburned the whole time we were there! A major coup for me, the sunblock enforcer.

Back in San Francisco, it is currently raining absolute cats and dogs. A rough transition from the tropics to steamy subway trains but I'm glad to be home.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

I'm Off!

I made it! Survived the conference and the afterparty. Jean arrived on schedule and we're off to Hawaii today.

Have a great three day weekend! I'll be back with an update from the islands and a countdown to Jean's wedding next week.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Things I Love Today: Coconut Shampoo

Working 13 hour days at a conference in four inch heels...not so great. Day dreaming about Hawaii...excellent!

At least when I'm getting up pre-dawn, I have coconut shampoo to help me prepare for a couple relaxing days. Can't wait for friends, fruity drinks and flip flops starting tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

To Do: Pack for Hawaii

What a crazy week. I'm working like a maniac at huge conference for three days and then hopping on a plane for Hawaii on Thursday. Jean's bachelorette party is going to be a blast.

For the trip, I've picked up a couple new things and shopped my closet for a blue, white and coral color scheme. Here's what I'm taking to Maui:
  • Cotton tunic in peacock blue that can be dressed up or down.
  • New gauzy striped blouse from Club Monaco
  • Striped blue bikini from Boden
  • Straw hat borrowed from Rob
  • Pleated coral tank
  • Blousy blue and white top from Brooklyn Industries
  • White linen trousers
  • Pair of pencil-leg jeans
  • Rash guard (aqua-turtleneck!) to protect my skin during any water activities
  • White bikini
  • Peacock blue scarf, a San Francisco-girl never goes anywhere without a scarf
  • Maxi dress
  • Not shown: flip flops, fancy tank top, sneakers, nightgown, leggings, waterproof jacket, J.Crew jersey cardigan, grey t-shirt, books, sunblock, watercolors, camera
What am I missing?

Monday, October 05, 2009

Weekend Round-Up: Point Reyes

Rob and I took the weekend off to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. We drove up Friday night to one of my all-time favorite places: Point Reyes and Tomales Bay.

Good food (seafood, cheeses, produce, chocolate), an adventure biking in a wind storm, amazing scenery, hot-tubbing and a lot of lazing about in a giant feather bed at the B&B.

One of our best finds from the weekend: Nick's Cove. Free valet parking for the restaurant, a wood-burning fire, covered deck with bay views, delicious food (some of it grown in their own garden) and adorable pier-house cabins.

Friday, October 02, 2009

What to Wear: Ribbon Belt

I snuck a photo of my new ribbon belt in action at the hair salon on Thursday. The olive green version was paired with a short-sleeved turtleneck, black pashmina, vintage tweed pencil skirt, gray tights and black heels. Kind of a 1940's chic look for early fall in the city.

Ladies Activity Club: Fourth Anniversary!

The San Francisco Ladies Activity Club celebrated our fourth anniversary last Tuesday. How time flies when you're having fun!

For this party, we took on a project to make headbands and belts based on the amazing Rachel from Heart of Light's tutorials. (she also sells her wares on Etsy). A great "new economy" project since ribbon and fabric scraps are inexpensive. And easy even for people, like me, who aren't great at sewing.

To go along with the floral theme I made some orange blossom lemonade. I put out a huge veggie tray, a plate of puff pastry bites (garnished with radish roses) and blue corn chips with pecan dip. For dessert, we had rose petal and jasmine tea ice cream from Bombay Ice Cream on Valencia.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

To Do: Wedding Flower Test

Jean's wedding is only a couple weeks away! Last weekend, I went to the wholesale flower market to do a test run of bouquets, centerpieces and boutonnières. Dahlias, zinnias, cornflowers, spray roses, two kinds of ferns, equisetum and ornamental chili peppers went into each one.

The final results go well with the "farm fiesta" theme. Now I just have to do it all over again times six...yikes.

PS: Happy October! Don't you just love October?