Friday, April 30, 2010

To Do: Switch out your Closet

Here's my checklist for a spring closet swap! In San Francisco's temperate climate, it's more about the colors and fabrics that change instead of the cuts. Bringing out spring clothes from six months ago always feels like getting a whole new wardrobe.

Put up:
- Heavy sweaters
- Tweed pants, skirts and jackets
- Dark plaids
- The warmest brown and black tops
- Dark cableknits
- The heaviest wool dresses

Bring out:
- Light short-sleeved blouses
- Bright colored sweaters
- White pants, jeans and skirts
- Florals and madras plaids
- All linens and khakis
- Tunics and maxi dresses

Keep out:
- Navy, brown and black pencil skirts and trousers
- White blouses
- Lightweight brown and black tops
- Dresses

{adorable crochet baby hangars available for purchase from Wood & Wool, Stool}

Goodbye Tweeds

San Francisco's weather is nearly the same all year round. But I love the tradition of switching out my winter clothes for the summer set. Spring is official when I pack up the tweeds, plaids and thickest sweaters.

Goodbye winter. See you in six months!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Vote for a Vacation for Kate!

The lovely Kate Flaim (Girl Reporter) is campaigning to win a vacation at an amazing 100-year old camp resort called RDC out by a lake in New Hampshire.

If you're not familiar with Kate, she's a fantastic blogger with all kinds of inspiring recipes and she's expecting a baby this summer. RDC looks like an absolutely amazing spot for a relaxing pre-baby retreat!

Vote here for Kate!

Things I Love Today: Salonpas

I have a pinched nerve in my back that occasionally flares up and leaves most of my left side aching. When it was really bad, a steroid injection was the only fix.

But I've found some tricks to help avoid another trip to the specialist.
At the risk of sounding even more like an old-lady, I'm absolutely dedicated to Salonpas. They're japanese pain relief patches originally created in 1847. Essentially Ben-Gay on a piece of tape. A couple days of patches plus some exercise and ibuprofin and you're back in business. They're amazing for any kind of ache or pain.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Book: Three Cups of Tea

My loot from the party was a copy of Three Cups of Tea. I haven't started it yet - but it looks very good. A true story of one person making a big impact toward peace in the middle east.

Have you read it?

Ladies Activity Club: Book Exchange

Our Ladies Activity Club party last night featured a book exchange - always a popular event! Just like a book club, but without the homework assignments.

Activity: Everyone brings a gift-wrapped copy of a favorite book. When it's your turn, you can choose a wrapped book or choose to "steal" an unwrapped edition (up to 2 times per book). As the books are unwrapped, the person who brought it explains why it is a good choice. Each person goes home with a juicy new book to read.

Food: Jill provided fresh strawberries, brie and crackers, caprese salad, pineapple cheese dip and fresh brownies. Wine and lemonade.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Inspired: Rwanda Baskets

Macy's sells some absolutely beautiful baskets made by women in Rwanda. The proceeds go to a good cause and a bunch are even on sale right now. I bought one for my mother a couple years ago. It's not too late to pick one up for Mother's Day.

Recipe: Muesli

I finally got around to making my own muesli last weekend. So easy! Plus, healthier and using less packaging than regular cereal. The variations are endless, but here's my first version.

1 box of flake cereal, I used flax seed flakes
1 box of multigrain hot cereal
8 ounces of sliced almonds
8 ounces of dried unsweetened blueberries
8 ounces of dried apricots, chopped
2 large glass jars with rubber seas

Chop the dried apricots into small pieces. Pour your ingredients evenly into the two jars. Shake!

Monday, April 26, 2010

What to Wear: Gardening

All this gardening has me inspired for some new casual clothes for weekends outside. Toast UK is a perfect inspiration - particularly this Japanese-dyed shirt dress. Pair it with jeans, hunter boots and a glass of ice tea with homegrown mint.

Weekend Round-Up: Valley of the Sun

I forgot my camera this weekend, so these photos are all from my cell. No bother - cell is the new Polaroid, right? I was under the weather on Friday, so we just stayed in with Margaret and ordered Chinese food.

Up early the next morning to drive to Fresno. Rob's dad was demoing solar cooking at the Fresno Earth Day celebration. I used my best trade-show skills to pass out fliers and tell people about how easy it is to cook with the sun.

I was pretty well "solar-cooked" myself by the end of the day! In the evening we had tri-tip and trout cooked in the solar oven. Chores after dinner, feeding the goats, horses, geese, fish and and then the goats again. At dusk, we waited out in the garden for the barn owl to fly out for the night. Local dessert wine and chocolates as a special treat before bed.

Oatmeal for breakfast before hitting the road on the tandem bike. Rob and I did 30 miles up in the rolling oak foothills behind Fresno. Very pretty and green. VWe even saw a rattlesnake along the road.

Rob gave his parents a tour on the bike before we hit the road home.

On the way home, we stopped at Target for some garden supplies. Rob put together a lovely wood storage bench while I fertilized, weeded and planted. It's so nice to have some dirt to play in again after a hiatus with our last apartment.

In the evening, we met up with an old friend of mine down the street for some wine and truffle fries.

Friday, April 23, 2010

To Do: Hummingbird Feeder

Now that spring has sprung, our little yard is ready for a hummingbird feeder. This modern feeder would look nice, even if it takes the brave city hummingbirds quite a while to find it.

Ball Inspiration: Anne Hathaway

Silver dress plus pale dress for the Black & White Ball calls for some seriously balanced make-up. Anne Hathaway at the 2009 Oscars with darker red lips and classic lined eyes is a great example.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

More Bouquets

A few more photos and some notes about the trends this year: Greens and blues were big. Lots of ferns, mushrooms, thistles, tropical flowers, succulents and equisetum - Jean would have been in heaven. Little blue grape hyacinth popped up in a couple arrangements. Gump's lent out silver Buccellati vases for a few of my favorite pieces.

Bouquets to Art

Bouquets to Art was a great time this year - super crowded, though. My favorite local florists - Church Street Flowers - produced this fantastic interpretation of the Trumpeter Swan with orchids, branches and protea. Well done, ladies!

The show continues through Saturday in Golden Gate Park

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Movie: Desk Set

I loved this film. Classic Hepburn-Tracy with the added benefit of 1957 fashion. Desk Set is one of my new favorites!

Katharine Hepburn is always amazing; just a force of nature. And in this film her character has a zeal for working and leading a team - two things that are big in my life right now. When asked about her job, she says: "I love it. If I didn't work here, I'd pay to get in."

Her passion is contagious - this movie makes you feel so lucky for getting to dress up and go to an office each day.

Restaurants: Salt House

We went to dinner last night with a friend visiting from Utah, a foodie friend from San Francisco and a one-year old. Between the five of us, we ate a massive amount of delicious food at Salt House.

Oysters, scallops and poutine to start. Then short ribs with sweetmeats, lamb loin with olive-sized artichokes , seared tuna and roast chicken with a frisee asparagus salad. The lamb was definitely a highlight. Yum. Even the little one went to town.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Salt & Pepper Salmon Appetizers

Bon Appetit hasn't been able to replace my beloved Gourmet, but I do owe it credit for this recipe idea! My cheater's version was a smash hit at the party.

Salt and pepper chips topped with crème fraîche (I used plain sour cream) and smoked salmon - simple and so tasty. For a larger party like ours, I recommend letting your guests assemble their own instead of painstakingly putting together tiny chips in advance.

Party Recipe: Earthquake Commemoration

One of my favorite parties of the year and certainly the most educational! Our earthquake commemoration party is always a blast. This was our first time hosting the party at our new apartment. The new space worked out perfect for the candlelit evening.

Guests: We were 13 all together, starting at 7:00pm. Just in time for dusk. The guests mingled together and newcomers learned the rules for this annual event.

Decorations: Patio furniture to the rescue when we ran out of chairs. White tablecloths, blue napkins, red cross brochures, candles in assorted glassware, chandelier crystals.

Appetizers: Smoked salmon treats, dried apricots and pink champagne.

Activities: Our most interactive earthquake series yet! We started before dinner by splitting into teams. Rob taught everyone how to put their team's "victim" into shock position and check vitals. After dinner, we challenged the teams to make mini emergency shelters from paper, wood skewers and tape. The final challenge was to splint an arm or leg using materials in the living room. Winners took home freeze dried food, first aid kits and emergency ponchos.

Menu: Green salad plated at the start. Followed by bowls of cioppino with salmon, crab, sole, shrimp, clams and calamari. Buttered sourdough bread. Chocolate chip banana bread compliments of Yvonne with ice cream for dessert.

But you don't have to take my word for it (cue massive Reading Rainbow flashback), check out Susan's first hand-account.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Weekend Round-Up: Light and Dark

Rob was away for a bike camping trip this weekend. I missed him, of course, but it was nice to catch up on being lazy on my own for a few days.

On Friday, I went out for drinks with co-workers and ate pizza at the neighborhood bistro. Home and to bed by 10:30. I made myself sleep in the next morning and lazed about until lunch, doing a couple chores and watching a movie.

At noon, I took the train to the Mission to help a friend with her wedding invitations. After my wedding invites and my sister's, I'm quite the pro at cutting out envelope liners. In the afternoon, they dropped me off on Haight Street to shop for a vintage gown. I bought the first dress I tried on in the first store I visited for $50. Fastest gown shopping yet! It was gorgeous and springy by the park.

Back home by train after running some errands in Cole Valley. I spent the evening shopping for shoes to match my dress. Up early the next morning to grocery shop for the party. I made muesli for the week ahead. Rob arrived home at noon and Margaret came over at 2:00. The three of us prepped the house for the big party:

Chores finished, we walked to the Ferry Building to buy bread and admire the new Health Ceramics stall.

And then we sat on our favorite pier with a couple cold drinks and watched the boats come under the bridge.

At 5:30, it was time to head home and finish last minute prep for the party. Such a fun night! Look for a party recap in the next post.

Coming Soon: Weekend Details

We had a fantastic dinner party with 13 people last night. It was a breeze considering the size, but now every dish I own needs to be washed and I'm behind on my weekend post. Details coming later tonight, I promise.

Pictured here: the salad, cioppino, dessert assembly line all set up in the kitchen in preparation for the party.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Black and White Ball

Camp week was all fun and good...but I live in the cit-ay. A place where skyscrapers light up the landscape, museums stay open until nine and free champagne flows nearly every night of the week. Last night, it was Macy's!

I took a couple co-workers with me to the Macy's evening wear department for a Black & White Ball fundraiser. Free drinks, delicious appetizers (mac-n-cheese with the tiniest spoon!), loads of wacky socialites and -of course- black and white gowns. Some prettier than others.

All three ladies left with dresses for the ball, one even with matching shoes. And we all took home goodie bags with make-up from Benefit. Thank you to the Macy's events department and the SF Symphony for the invite!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Camp Week: Madras Bikini

This breezy classic bikini is exactly what I would pack for a week away at camp. Boy-short cut bottoms are just right for diving in a lake. Pair it with a classic canvas tote for a preppy summer look.

Camp Style: Twig Frame

A grown-up version of the popsicle stick frames you made in the craft cabin. This birch stick frame has a rustic style that would fit in with even a modern interior.

Camp Week: Pendleton Blankets

Pendleton has been making blankets for the National Parks since the 1900's. Rob and I encountered quite a few on our honeymoon both in hotels and in the parks. They're an American classic. Two of our favorite parks from that trip were Grand Tetons (pictured) and Chaco Canyon.

Maybe I'll get one for our wool anniversary in five years. Or, just a more affordable throw designed by Pendleton for Urban Outfitters. Classic American camp style.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Camp Week: Plaid Shirt

Very Lucy-and-Ricky move to the country. This camp shirt by Chloe has a vintage cut perfect for a canoe trip followed by a lake-side picnic.

Camp Week: Tent Time

After long, sunny days at camp, you'd hit the cot and pass out completely. Clear mountain air all night. Waking up to the sun filtering through the trees....the best sleep.

Toast had an iconic shoot of grown-up camping in their catalog a few years ago. If I lived somewhere warm, I'd have this set-up in the backyard all summer.

Camp Week: Sloppy Joes

Camp food wasn't as memorable as all the rituals that came along with the meals. Ringing bells. Singing songs to be called to the food line. Mail call with letters from home.

But I do remember being introduced to the Sloppy Joe at camp...have I had one since? A turkey version of this recipe on fresh bread from Acme might be just the ticket.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Camp Week: Rope Bracelet

A grown up version of the classic friendship bracelet. This Etsy gem has a nautical style that would be great with linen pants and tall glass of iced team.

Camp Week

Did you go to summer camp? I loved it. As a shy, skinny kid I really came out of my shell at camp. I did Girl Scout camp, camp on Catalina and an especially fun summer at Pilgrim Pines. The friends, games, crafts, traditions, care packages...such a great time!

I caught Meatballs on TV on my flight back from DC and was inspired to bring a little camp-style into my life this summer. Share your favorite camp memories with me all this week!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Party Recipe: Book-Themed Shower

The book-themed shower was a hit! Thanks to the help of Amanda, my co-hostess, we put together an event that was a perfect match for my cousin and nine guests.

Decorations: Yellow and green flowers for her favorite colors. I made arrangements of white lilac, green snowballs and yellow roses. Green and white books stacked on the tables. A couple onesies hanging from a clothesline on the spiral staircase. Invitations here.

Drinks: Punch in my vintage bowl and hot tea.

Food: First, a buffet lunch of four cold salads with plates of mixed greens. I made a beet and citrus salad, black olive pesto pasta, caprese salad and a green curry broccoli slaw. Sweet potato chips on the coffee table. My cousin is vegetarian and newly lactose intolerant - but she has a big sweet tooth. So we followed lunch with a giant spread of chocolates and desserts.

Activities: We played pictionary with a children's book theme between lunch and dessert. Then did a round of gift opening. Guests were encouraged to bring their favorite children's book to start the baby's library. We provided bookplates from Etsy for people to enscribe their gifts. And we ordered a 8x10 with the same green giraffe design for the guests to write their wishes to the baby with the idea of framing it for the nursery.

Favors: Little green pocket notebooks in different shades, also from Etsy.

Weekend Round-Up: April Showers

After being away in DC for the week, I was exhausted this weekend. Nothing to report on Friday night except for napping, being glad to be home and heading to bed early. Rob left at the crack of dawn on Saturday for a big bike ride. I slept in for a bit and walked to the flower market and Trader Joe's. It was nice to stretch my legs in the city with a few miles of errands.

The rest of the morning was spent preparing for the book-themed baby shower. I arranged flowers, prepared cold salads, cleaned house and set the table.

My co-host arrived at 1:00 and all the guests an hour later. It was fun to see my cousin and her nice friends for the party. I'll share all the rest the party details in a separate post.

Things wrapped up around 5:30 and I savored the after-party time. It's always nice after a party wraps up, with the apartment full of flowers and food, music still playing and a few easy chores to do.

Rob returned home at 7:30 after a 108 long miles of riding with some pro cyclists. We had leftovers from the party and a quiet evening at home catching up on our days.

On Sunday, Rob and I had a low key breakfast while watching Tina Fey on Saturday Night Live. Love her! It was pouring rain outside, very demotivating. But eventually, we dressed and drove over the bridge to a party for the 100th birthday of Susan's house. An amazing decorator, this is her actual living room:

She plied us with delicious food and drinks while it continued to pour outside. Such a cute place and a great hostess. Back in the city in the afternoon, I met with a friend and did more dishes from the party.

Friday, April 09, 2010

To Do: Black and White Ball

Okay, last one: Now that your calendar for April is completely booked, let's look at May. The Black and White Ball is back on May 22nd! Rent a tux, find a gown and do whatever you can to be there.

The party isn't cheap, but it is a) for a good cause, b) accompanied by a massive amount of food, drinks, entertainment and c) a night in San Francisco you won't ever forget. We went in 2008 and had a spectacular time. It's on again for 2010!