Friday, May 28, 2010

Welcome Summer

Despite the cold, rainy storm passing through the city - I'm kicking off summer with the year's first potato salad. I have a serious addiction to our simple family recipe of just red potatoes, finely diced white onion, celery, mayo, the tiniest bit of curry and ample pepper.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

Land's End Canvas

My parents wear Land's End like a uniform. Classic khaki pants and button down shirts. I've appreciated the sturdy American brand for quite some time.

The new Land's End Canvas line is an appealing, more affordable alternative to J. Crew (which seems to me to get more expensive every day - even with 20% off coupons).

Thursday, May 27, 2010

To Do: Fly Fishing

Family friends with excellent taste report having an amazing time learning fly fishing at Clearwater Lodge in Northern California.

Originally built in the 1920's to house workers at a power station - the arts & craft lodge has been decked out in style and is equipped with a gourmet restaurant.

Things I Love Today: Candle

I brought home this Illume candle from a quick visit to the Mission on Monday night. The gardenia scent is more pepper-y than floral, I like it quite a bit.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What to Wear: India

Viet is about to head off to Indian on a charitable mission:

I am going to Northern India near the Himalayas for 5 weeks in June-July and wondered if you had any suggestions on a practical but comfortable and stylish outfit? I am volunteering with some health clinics over there and doing some independent travel. Weather will be mild 60F-70F but rainy. Only rules would include staying very modest to respect cultural norms.

A trip to India is the perfect opportunity to play with bright colors and dashes of sparkles. Here's my recommendation for Viet when she's exploring:

Tunic - In versatile chambray from Anthropologie.
Sweater - A bright cover-up for cooler evenings.
Leggings - Basic black leggings are comfortable for a range of temperatures. Make sure they are nice and opaque for modesty.
Sunglasses - Perfect for a Himalayan adventure.
Necklace - Yellow beads with a bright blue accent.
Bracelet - Turquoise and gold bangles.
Sandals - Strappy blue sandals with green and pink jewels. Switch out for a pair of converse sneakers when it rains.
Journal - A yellow leather journal perfect for recording your travels.

Bon voyage Viet!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Garden: New Planters

It's amazing what a few plants can do! I'm in the midst of transforming the somewhat barren patio into a shade garden extraordinaire.

I loaded up on red and green hostas, ferns, impatiens, lettuce and kale at Sloat Gardens on Saturday. Enough for two packed planters - to be thinned as things spread - and splashes of color in the other pots.

Book Report: The Elegance of Hedgehogs

I loved The Elegance of Hedgehogs! You can't really go wrong with a swanky apartment building, existential phenomenology (go college!) and Paris. Come for the cute title, stay for the excellent writing.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Black & White Ball!

This event never disappoints! The 2010 Black & White Ball was another classic evening in San Francisco, an amazing time for a great cause.

We took the subway down to civic center - being mistakenly congratulated as a bridal couple a few times along the way! Arrived at nine, met with our group on the opera steps and went straight for some of the food and drink spread. Delicious rack of lamb with minted apple sauce, sushi galore and mini pulled pork sandwiches.

From there, across the plaza and past the outdoor lounges to the ballroom tent. This tent always has the best food tucked away. In 2008, it was shrimp cocktail that I overloaded on - this year it was parisian macaroons, I probably had over a dozen! We had our photos taken by the Chronicle and danced to the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra.

Next stop, coat check in the opera house. We rubbed elbows with the mayor in the hallway. And then downstairs to the opera cafe for a Michael Jackson cover-band. Upstairs to the opera hall for a salsa band.

Next, outside to the stage in front of city hall for Kool and the Gang. This year, we had some eligible ladies along with us - surprisingly, there are quite a few single gentlemen out in tuxes at the event and very interested in inviting our friends for dances.

Another trip around to the opera house and ballroom tent before returning outside for the midnight surprise. Instead of fireworks, this year it was a projection show on city hall and plenty of confetti.

Our final stop was Faith Evans in the veteran's building. A bit more food (more macaroons!), picking up our coats and heading home by taxi at 1:30. I'm glad I stuck with the silver dress, it was just perfect for the party. I can't wait for 2012!

Weekend Round-Up: Finery

This was a jam-packed, lovely weekend in the city! On Friday, we rode bikes across the city with Margaret to go to Friday Nights at the de Young.

This time, they were kicking off the opening of the impressionist exhibit with a French prix fixe menu and a French/gypsy/klezmer band called Japonize Elephants. First, drinks and dinner in the museum garden.

Then back inside for the show - the crazy little kids dancing at these events are worth the whole thing!

Back home through the windy city. We had some tea to warm up, Margaret headed home and we called it a night.

The next morning, our friend Seth arrived from Davis. Rob and he left shortly after breakfast to bike south for the Maker Faire. While they were gone, I drove out to Sloat Garden Center by the zoo. This amazing nursery is expert at plants designed for San Francisco's unique climate. I loaded up on a planters, soil and a bunch of amazing plants. I spent the afternoon working in the garden while the neighbors had a big patio party.

I spent an hour primping for the evening's party - hair, nails, etc. Rob and Seth returned home around four and we had a big snack with tea. Seth hung out while we prepared for the big night at the Black & White Ball. Here we are ready to set off downtown.

More on the ball shortly! Needless to say it was an amazing time. Back home at 1:30 am.

Major sleep in the next morning. Rob and I had coffee, an egg scramble and nutela on toast while reading the Sunday papers. At noon, Rob went for a bike ride and I watched the ridiculous movie, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. More lazing about in the afternoon. Rob and I went to the grocery store and REI for their big sale.

At 5:30, we walked up to North Beach for dinner with Matt, Amber and their twins. Tacos, guacamole and cookie dough ice cream. Back home through the city at 9:30.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Black & White Ball: Ginger

A classic over-the-top movie gown - sweeping feathers and satin. Paired with a Swedish-style braid. Technically, it was blue and shed like mad...enough that Ginger Rogers was called "feathers" for years...but still!

It's from one of my favorite Astaire and Rogers movie - Top Hat - when they were "dancing cheek to cheek."

Black & White Ball: Decades of Fashion

One of my favorite vintage shops on Haight Street - Decades of Fashion - is headed by Cicely Ann Hansen, a local celebrity and a frequent star at the Black & White Ball. In 2008, she made the front page of the Chronicle's Datebook for her feathered outfit.

I found my silver gown at her store in just 15 minutes!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Black & White Ball: Decisions!

Oh no! According to this video from the 2008 ball - you're not supposed to wear silver to a black and white affair. My new vintage gown is silver from head to sparkly toe.

So do I ignore the admonishment of some reporter and wear the silver (really, it seems kosher to me)? Or switch in a pinch hitter; the white vintage dress I wore to opening night at the opera in the fall?

What's your vote?

Black & White Ball: Poppy

This kind of black and white poppy would be so tough to find and so delicate - but amazing bunched together in a loose up-do with dark hair and a black gown.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Black & White Ball: Onyx

An onyx and diamond ring would be the perfect match for a night at the ball. And for special evenings in between.

I've seen this art deco specimen in person at Lang's - it's lovely!

Black & White Ball: Sabrina

Audrey Hepburn's black and white gown from Sabrina (go to 2:20) would be an amazing dress for the ball.

I usually go for a lean sheath dress, but one year it would be fun to go big...and to bring a matching set of poodles with me!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Black & White Ball: American in Paris

The Art Student Ball scene in American Paris is a classic black & white ball inspiration. Leslie Caron is lovely in her star dress. And the gents, well, instead of tuxes they're artists in goofy costumes - but still very handsome.

Black & White Ball: Countdown

The Black & White Ball is this weekend! I can't believe it's already been two years since the last event. In preparation for this weekend - the rest of the week's posts will be dedicated to formal wear and big parties!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Garden: Fly Trap

The sidewalk garden at Fly Trap is exactly what I have in mind for my patio. Lush planters filled with flowers, succulents and edible greens. I need to get to a nursery as soon as Rob is back with the car!

Weekend Round-Up: Downtown

Rob left this weekend for a very exciting ride - he was invited by a pro-bike team to participate ahead of the first three stages of Tour de California. So proud of him! But that meant he had to leave this weekend and he took the car with him. With it being blustery and my cold still lingering - I stuck close to home.

On Saturday morning, I relaxed with coffee and nutella on toast while doing some chores. At noon, Amber met me for brunch down at Butler & Chef on South Park. They make a mean eggs benedict and are one of one of Alice Water's favorite restaurants. We had a nice meal and talked about our careers.

Armed with supplies from the market, I came home and cooked up a storm after lunch. I made a big spanish meal to take to my cousin with a new baby. Tortilla Espanola, sofrito, lemon olives, a green salad and -non-authentic - oatmeal cookies. I took the train to meet my brand new second cousin that afternoon.

(cell phone photos because my beloved digital camera has broken after 5 strenous years)

Margaret came over around eight. We had plans to go out to a cafe downtown for some jazz but ended up staying in with a bottle of wine. I made her a cozy bed downstairs and she spent the night.

On Sunday morning, Margaret and I had a relaxing morning before heading over to SFMOMA. With our new neighborhood, I invested in an annual membership. They had a series of new exhibits celebrating their 75th anniversary - including a great wall of San Francisco-themed art.

We had lunch at the museum cafe and hit up the gift shop - one of the best stores in the city! Home for some tea and time with the Sunday paper. Margaret and I headed out again in the afternoon for a trip to TJ Max and Whole Foods. Wine, cheese and crackers back at the apartment for dinner. Margaret drove home in the evening and I prepped for a busy week ahead.

Friday, May 14, 2010

What to Wear: Summer Wedding Bohemian

Cara wrote in with a request for summer wedding season:

I would really love some of your expertise! I need a dress for a wedding in June, I need something that is pastel and to the knee. What I really want is a dress that is not so formal that I won't wear it often and I am hoping to find something that is a little bohemian chic.

Here's a fun summer dress that could work for the wedding and the office:

Dress - This little pink number for Banana Republic stands out for the crowd with a high waist, crossed back and pockets.
Sandals -Braided sandals are super bohemian, especially with this dress.
Sunglasses - Aviators.
Wallet - Floral with a touch of gold.
Necklace - Drape-y gold strands.

Sweater - A little ruffled cardigan in dark gray.
Belt - From Target.
Shoes - Brown metallic peep toes.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

What to Wear: South of France

Gigi wrote in with a request for her summer vacation:
But my question is for two weeks of summer in France-the southwest corner, near Perpignan. I read about dresses and skirts instead of shorts, comfortable shoes-but how do you pull that together and how do you pull it together to cram in a suitcase? I am a size 2. Any advice would be appreciated.
Skirt - Black linen will be impossible to stain or wrinkle during your travels. You can tuck in almost any shirt with that belted waist.
Tank - Ruffled in light lavender and great for skirts.
Sweater - A little striped number you can keep tied around your neck for cool nights and church tours.
Sandals - Clarks are worth every penny. These sandals should be comfortable enough to walk in all day and look cute enough for a dinner out. Plus they work with pants or skirts. Also bring a pair of flats and a pair of sneakers.
Tote - In classic canvas.
Sunglasses - Vintage-styled

Toss in a dress, a bikini, a couple tops and a camera - you're ready to go!

To Do: Sunday Paper

Another advantage of the new apartment: the iron gate for our lobby is perfect for secure newspaper delivery. For the first time in five years, I'm back to Sunday NY Times delivery...heaven.

About five people in our building get daily delivery of various papers - If only I had the time for that. I can't wait for the first delivery this weekend.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


My cousin - of the library baby shower - had her baby last week. A girl! The first new girl in our family in a long time!

I think these little lambswool and leather booties from Etsy would be just perfect for this newest sassy San Franciscan.

Still Sick...

All this time spent sleeping and relaxing has given me a big case of cabin fever. I'm in the bargaining phase - promising that if I ever recover from this terrible cold I'll throw more dinner parties and start going to the gym.

In the meantime, I've been crushing episodes of Bones on Netflix and giving myself facials. The Olay Regenerist microdermabrasion and peel kit is AMAZING. For $18, you get a whole new glow...even when slightly tinged with green.

L'Occitane Almond Milk

L'Occitane's Almond Milk Concentrate is my new favorite skin cream. It makes my face happy and has a silky texture. The almond scent reminds me of amaretto cookies, lattes and Paris.

Monday, May 10, 2010

I am normally very good about resting and taking care of myself at the first sign of a cold. But I've often wondered if it was really helping. Would I get over the cold just as fast if I just kept going instead?

So I boarded the plane to Anaheim sick. And four days of a business trip later...I now know that resting is actually key. I'm tremendously sick. I landed on Saturday and proceeded to sleep for 16 hours straight.

It's going to take me at least a few more days to get my mojo back. Hold tight.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Happy Mother's Day this weekend!

Pigeon Print

Something about this white on gray pigeon from West Elm just kills me. So cute! Much nicer than actual pigeons.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

South Bay Ladies Activity Club

Calling all South Bay ladies! Krysten is starting a Ladies Activity Club for the Milpitas, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, and San Jose areas.

If you're interested in being a founding member, email Krysten to get things started!

And for those of you outside of the South Bay, don't forget to check the Ladies Activity Club website for the latest club listing.

Bargain: Skirt

I found this adorable ribbon skirt with an exposed zipper in the back at Forever 21 last weekend. It's from their better-constructed, slightly more expensive line Twelve by Twelve.

So cute for work with a floaty white summer blouse and a boyfriend cardigan. Navy goes with everything!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

To Do: Enchiladas

I wish I were at home making green chile enchiladas and mojitos with fresh mint from the garden for Cinco de Mayo.

On the Road: Anaheim

I'm headed to Anaheim for the rest of the week on business. Our hotel has a pool, a palm tree and a view of Disneyland. I'm pretending it will be glamorous, although I'll mostly be inside a convention center.

Anyone have tips on a cool place to go in Anaheim?

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Coveted: Seed Pearl Necklace

I wish I had a birthday or anniversary coming up! This lovely antique necklace with seed pearls and an emerald is so pretty.

To Do: Popcorn

We gave up our microwave when the new apartment's kitchen didn't have a good place for it. I honestly don't miss it.

One benefit of being sans microwave is that I've been regularly making popcorn in a covered pan for a snack. A little olive oil, a few kernels and some sea salt. It's easy and I think so much tastier than the packaged yellow stuff.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Things I Love Today: Johnny Jump-Ups

These adorable potted pansies were given as favors at Sunday's bridal show. They're a perfect addition to my little garden-in-progress.

Weekend Round-Up: Not Much

I had a pretty mellow weekend. Unusual for me, I know, it was prompted by strange weather and a looming business trip this week. I took it easy!

On Friday, Margaret and I met after work for frozen yogurt and pedicures downtown. After our pampering, we walked across the street in our temporary flip-flops for delicious Thai food in the Westfield Center's food court - great food choices in the basement there and all served on real plates and silverware. Across the street for some shopping after dinner and then back home around 10 for some wine with Rob. She headed home and we hit the sack shortly after.

On Saturday, Rob left after breakfast to volunteer in the Presidio. I had a relaxing morning spent cleaning and working on a few project. At noon, I walked a few miles to Trader Joe's and back - it was a weird day, super windy and warm. Rob came home in the afternoon with a hurt back from his volunteer work, so we just relaxed in the afternoon. That evening, we drove to Redwood City for a birthday party at a friend's house. Delicious BBQ pork and homemade old-fashioned cocktails.

The next morning, Rob and I had egg tacos and coffee for breakfast. At 11:00, I picked up a friend from work and we drove to Orinda for a co-worker's bridal shower. A lovely house and a fun event packed with very stylish ladies.

Back home at four - it was a gorgeous day in the city. Rob and I went down to Walton Square to do a bit more grocery shopping for the week. I had never noticed the park's brick archway before.

We made artichokes and a big green salad for dinner. Cleaned up the apartment and prepared for a busy week on the road for work.