Thursday, September 30, 2010

Inspired: Public Bikes

This lovely little bike design shop is just a few blocks from my house, next to my favorite french brunch bistro.

They're currently featuring the sweet rides from Public Bikes at anthropologie downtown too.

Ladies Activity Club: Fifth Anniversary!

The best way to pass an evening in the midst of a heatwave in a city with no air conditioning?

Why not saber a bunch of champagne, eat cold key lime pie (from Whole good!), go for a second round with cupcakes (from Miette..delicious!) and sit around with a bunch of lady friends. Thank heaven for the Ladies Activity Club in September!

On Tuesday, we celebrated the 5th anniversary of the Ladies Activity Club at my apartment. Along with the delicious food and ample champagne - we made crafts out of wood veneer, dowels and hot glue. Along with mobiles, guests made tiny birds on sticks to go in potted plants, equally adorable fish with button eyes, bows and cheese markers.

Super fun evening! A perfect way to ring in our 5th year.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Must Have: Greige Nailpolish

Want! Greige nail polish is an easy way to get ready for fall when its hot outside and the idea of buying the required camel wool coat is so repulsive.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Recipe: White Peach Sangria

This was exactly the right thing for a hot Sunday afternoon in San Francisco indian summer! Delicious and super easy.

White Peach Sangria
Serves 4
1 white peach
1 white nectarine
3 ample sprigs of fresh mint
5 cups of Dole watermelon juice or something equally light and sweet
1 bottle of inexpensive dry white wine, chilled
Four cups of ice

Slice the peach and nectarine into thin pieces. Toss into a pitcher along with the fresh mint and muddle a bit with a spoon. Mix in the juice and wine and top with crushed ice.

Serve with chips and salsa and bossanova on the radio!

To Do: Wood Veneer

Tonight is the 5th anniversary of the San Francisco Ladies Activity Club! (five years, already?!)

The traditional gift for a five year anniversary is wood - so I bought a giant sampler of wood veneer for crafting at the party. It's gorgeous, I'm just still not exactly sure what to do with it all. So far, I figured out how to make a mobile inspired by this and place cards for a fall dinner party in the shapes of leaves with stamped names.

Any other clever ideas?

Monday, September 27, 2010

To Do: Aida

What a great show! If you're in the area, I highly recommend going to see Aida at the Opera.

The music was good - not great - but the costumes and sets by Zandra Rhodes were spectacular. Gold lame hoop skirts on shirtless men, pleats, lotus patterns, African And for no less than 200 extras making up the chorus, soldiers, ladies in waiting, acrobats and priests in addition to the main performers. Add in a giant teal silk elephant and gold confetti showers...that's a pretty awesome night out.

I'm think that my Halloween party might need to have an Egyptian theme now...what do you think?

Weekend Round Up: Tourists

What a weekend! A heat wave, a fantastic opera, an a couple days of playing tourist in the city. First, Rob and I went to our first opera of the new season. Such a fantastic evening! I'll tell you more about the show in a seperate post.

The next morning, Rob had to leave for work early (this job transition is means he has to work on weekends for a while) but brought me figs and coffee in bed before he left. After reading for a while, I jumped on the trainer to spin and catch up on all the new tv posted on Hulu. I cleaned house and also tested out some wood veneer craft projects for the LAC party on Tuesday.

In the afternoon, Lauren swung by and we headed to Pier 39 for some tourist action. It was too hot to walk, so we grabbed a pedicab ride along Embarcadero. Thanks to Yvette's visit last weekend, I had two free passes for a bay cruise and the aquarium. I never turn down a free ticket! So Lauren and I hopped on a boat to go under the Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz with two cold corona beers. It was nice and cool on the water.

We completed our tourist visit to Pier 39 with classic clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls for an early dinner.

Walked home across the city after our bay adventure, picking up a couple bags of groceries along the way. Rob met me at home in the evening and we had a big green salad for dinner. Up too late reading.

Rob had an early start the next morning. I was set with coffee and the Sunday paper. At 10:30, Yvonne picked me up for the Aquarium of the Pacific. This small aquarium does a pretty good job, with walk through tunnels, giant schools of sardines and touch pools. Tough competition from the Academy of Sciences and the Monterey Bay Aquarium - but not too shabby.

Back downtown with Yvonne for a little shopping. Perfume from Bloomingdale's, thai lunch in the basement, adorable baby clothes from Janie and Jack (Yvonne is due in November), stationary from Anthropologie and a couple basics from Old Navy.

Yvonne dropped me off at 2:30 and I browsed throught the rest of the paper for an hour. At 3:30, I hopped on the subway to check out the Civic Center farmer's market. Amazing! So much fresh produce with such low prices. I was in veggie heaven! Back on the subway with about 15 pounds of goodies. Quick drop by the hardware store for a new hose. Along my walk home, Margaret called saying she was in the city.

At home, I made a big pitcher of white peach sangria to share with Margaret. Bossanova on Pandora and chips and salsa. A perfect way to cool off after a busy day!

Rob came home and I made a big stirfry with a mix of produce from farmer's market. Preparations for the busy week ahead!

Friday, September 24, 2010

To Do: Opera

First opera of our new season tonight! I'm excited to see Aida - it looks like quite a production. All that Egyptian finery may be a bad influence on my jewelry (and tiny hippo) shopping habits with The Met.

We moved our season tickets from the balcony to the orchestra this year, so there's a new crowd to check out too.

Things I Love Today: Free Drinks

Last night, Rob and I had "tedtinis" at Ted Baker thanks to San Francisco Magazine and Bombay Sapphire. Great drinks and lots of cute clothes.

If I needed another little black dress for the holidays, this would be on the top of my list.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Anniversary Gift: Vase

My sister sent Rob and me this lovebird vase for our anniversary. Such a thoughtful present! Especially considering it was Jean who made bird cake toppers for our wedding two years ago.

The vase is from RedHotPottery - her Etsy store has all kinds of nice things.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Party Recipe: Corn Husk Dolls

So adorable!

If you need a refresher on how to make the corn husk dolls, here are the easiest instructions I found online. The guests used simple hot glue to add the clothes. You don't even need to wait for the dolls to dry.

It would be fun to make "ghosts" and "witches" using these instructions for Halloween.

Party Recipe: Southwestern Baby Shower

This was a great baby shower! A giant group of fun women coming together to celebrate the pending arrival of baby girl Wayland. And it was a relative breeze to put on. Here are the details:

Decorations: Three big bouquets of sunflowers with yellow and blue wildflowers. Chambray napkins lent by the guest of honor. Guests dressed in their best southwestern boots.

Food: My co-hostess helped prepare a feast for this shower! Chips, salsa, cornbread, black bean salad, fresh fruit and vanilla cupcakes. I made empanadas following this pastry recipe, which was really good but I accidentally made it a wee bit (so much!) too salty. For the fillings, I made roasted chili with cheese, shredded chicken with green olives and cilantro and chorizo with potato. Empanadas are tasty but a bit overly complicated for my taste. Next time I would make quesadillas or something simpler with all those yummy fillings.

Drinks: White wine, fruit punch with ginger and mint.

Music: Salsa music and the Avett Brothers on Pandora.

Activity: Each guest had a chance to make a corn husk doll and decorate it with gingham and ric-rac. Many were making them to take home to their young daughters, which was fun. They're so simple to make, each with a unique personality!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What to Wear: Booties

Per request, here's an idea for how to wear short booties this fall. I would love to go to work in a bright orange mini and military jacket!

Jacket - Belted military coat for $90 from Ann Taylor Loft.
Blouse - A floaty white blouse.
Skirt - A bright orange tweed mini. They have a similar skirt at J.Crew too.
Booties - From Frye.
Earrings - Purple crystal drops from The Met.
Scarf - Inspiration from this purple and black McQueen scarf.
Bag - A small purple crossover bag.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Happy Anniversary!

Two years ago today, Rob and I were married in Sausalito, CA. Our memorable, mustache-decked, variety show-including, bliss-filled wedding was the stuff of family legend and our four week road-trip honeymoon around the west was even better.

And the joy of actually being married easily and steadily surpasses both those happy events.

I am so, so lucky!

Weekend Round-Up: Showers

Fall kicked off this weekend with a lot of visiting friends and some strange, rainy weather. On Friday, I met with Jackie and Margaret at the apartment to make three kinds of empanadas: cheese with chilis, shredded chiken with green olives and chorizo with potato. We were filling and dough-making machines...but it still took forever. I'm more of a simple taco kind of person.

The next morning, I walked Jackie and Pierre to the F-train in a heavy mist/light rain. After setting them on their way toward an Angel Island, I shopped at the Ferry Building farmer's market. Flowers, grapes and fancy chili peppers.

Flower arranging, spin and reading at home in the morning. Rob returned from volunteering with the Bike Coalition at 11:30. Walked over to the barbershop for Rob and hot slices of pizza for lunch. We relaxed at home until Jackie and Pierre arrived in the afternoon for a snack and break. They peeled off again at 5:30 and we prepped for a big night out with Yvette. Subway to the Castro for a fancy italian dinner at Poesia. White wine, grilled calamari, orecchiette with artichokes and walnuts, rack of lamb and a cheese tart with fresh blueberries. Yum!

At 10:30, we caught a cab down to Bottom of the Hill for a night of punk rock. We rocked out with local band The Bar Feeders and were awed by the late-50's rockers in Nomeansno. At 1:00, we caught a cab home so that Rob could get some sleep before an early start on Sunday.

Up way too early the next morning considering the late night. Rob had to go work with his new colleagues for the first time and had a antsy breakfast. I read the Sunday paper until Jackie and Pierre woke up. We decided to walk over to Butler and Chef on South Park. Coffees and a croissant appetizer while we waited in the park for a table. Then, super delicious eggs benedict and croque monsieur inside. Our ham appreciation was only marred by a slightly snooty, inatentive waitress.

After brunch, it was baby-shower prep-tacular time. Jackie and Pierre packed up and headed back to Davis. I scrubbed the house and readied the food in anticipation of 16 guests! My co-host arrived at 1:00, and the first batch of guests thrity minutes early shortly after. I barely had time to change before launching into hostess-mode. Super fun event, more details coming soon!

The last guests went home at five and Margaret stuck around to help me pick up for an hour - she's the best! Saturday's late night started catching up with me pretty quickly. Pajamas and some TV time to unwind after a fun-filled two days.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Top 5 for Fall: Fig Cologne

With San Francisco weather being relatively the same all year round, my switch from summer to fall is less about layers and more about perfume.

Goodbye summer florals, welcome musky, woodsy fall scents. I'm looking for a new winter perfume to add to my cedar, citrus and spice collection (pretty much always still mixed with Chanel No. 5) - Jo Malone's Wild Fig and Cassis might be just the ticket.

To Do: Weekend

Change is in the air this weekend. It's blowing in along with the fog and clouds. I love change, so even though these new beginnings aren't mine (they belong to friends and family) I'm still refreshed. Ah, fall!

Plus...I made empanada dough last night that doesn't seem to be a terrible failure (yet?) so there's that new possibility as well. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

To Do: Corn Husk Dolls

I've been practicing making corn husk dolls in advance of the baby shower this weekend.

They're so simple and fun to make. You just need tamale husks, some twine and scrap fabric for decorations. After walking through the instructions for your first one, you can quickly experiment with your own designs.

I think the final result is quite lovely. It's easy to imagine a Native American or pioneer kid running around with a doll not all that different.

Top 5 for Fall: Leather Belt

A belt in the perfect hue of natural leather can help pull together all the camel, white, gray, olive and black pieces this fall.

I have a belt similar to this J.Crew option that I love with a basic black dress and sandstone colored sweater for the office.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

To Do: Empanadas

The guest list for this weekend's southwestern-themed baby shower is higher than I expected. So instead of bowls of green chili, I want to make a ton of small empanadas.

Does anyone have expertise making empanadas? Any tips? Are they okay to make in advance and reheat?

I found step-by-step instructions (randomly from bloggers in my hometown!) that don't seem too complicated - even for a terrible pastry chef like myself.

Top 5 for Fall: Booties

I had great luck last fall with finding two pairs of tall boots to add to the closet. So this year, I'm thinking that a pair of booties would be a great find.

I love wearing black tights with mini skirts in the fall - these Harlow boots from Frye could be a good match.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Recipe: Green Chili with Turkey

With a random handful of ingredients, I made a pot of wonderful chili for dinner last night. This weekend's southwestern baby shower is really rubbing off on me! This chili is hearty and super healthy to boot. It seems meaty even though there's not that much turkey in the recipe.

Green Chili with Turkey

Serves about 4 for dinner
2 poblano chili peppers
1 serrano chili pepper
1/2 pound of ground turkey
1 can of pinto beans
1 can of kidney beans
3 cup of chicken broth - homemade with a bit of chicken left in is best
1/2 cup diced cilantro and/or parsley (maybe some kale thrown in there too - whatever you have in the garden)
1/2 an onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, microplaned or chopped
Olive oil
Green and red chili powder, salt and pepper
Corn tortillas

Roast the poblano peppers on a gas range until they're mostly black and brown on the outside. I love how this smells. Remove from the stove, put in a plastic bag and let steam.

Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a large pan. Once heated, add the diced onions, garlic, ground turkey and spices (chili powder, salt and pepper) to taste. Brown the turkey while dicing the parsley and cilantro. Once the turkey is cooked, drain the beans and add those along with the chicken broth.

While that simmers, remove the poblano peppers from the plastic bag. Split open, seed, scrape off the black skin and finely dice. Add the peppers and herbs and bring to a good boil. Season to taste, adding the fresh serrano chili depending on your preference for spice (I like about an inch of the pepper, seeded, in thick chunks). Bring back to a simmer.

Brown your tortillas on the gas range. Serve the chili in a big bowl with the tortillas on the side for dipping.

Top 5 for Fall: Gray Dress

The DVF Maidey dress in heather gray is at the top of my list for fall. At $398, I'm going to see if I can hold out for the sale.

I already have a cowlneck DVF in olive green winter wool fabric. It's a tried and true warm dress that is perfect for cold days at the office.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Top 5 For Fall: Camel Coat

Like everyone else who has even brushed by a September fashion magazine, a perfect camel coat tops my fall fashion wish list. It's a tough hue to match with pale, freckly skin - but I'm sure there's one out there that works (for less than $1,300!).

That's one thing that's clear about this year's fall looks. The biggest must-haves are classic investment pieces that can serve you well for the long haul if you can cough up a bit more now. It's been a while since I invested in a great coat. This could be the year!

Weekend Round Up: Babies

This was a mellow weekend, a much-needed break after the adventure in Memphis. On Friday night, Rob, Margaret and I had some drinks after work and then made tacos for dinner at home.

Saturday morning, Rob left to volunteer with the Bike Coalition in the morning and I hit the bike training for a couple hours of spin. It felt great to get in some exercise after all that fried chicken and BBQ!

At 12:30, we left the apartment to pedal over to the marina. Rob's best friend from college was in town along with his wife Molly and two kids. We grabbed a burger lunch with the family. The older boy is very intelligent and the little one bundle of muscle - they're an adorable handful!

Back home by bike at 4:30. We had just enough time to change and hop in the car to drive to El Cerrito. Our German friends Yvonne and Gerald invited us for a delicious dinner party. We started with a traditional soup that included sausage and pickles. Then a spread of roast pork loin, red cabbage and potato dumplings with toasted croutons hidden inside each one. Yum! I ate way too much, even before the angel food cake and strawberries we brought for dessert. During dinner, we brainstormed for Yvonne's baby shower in October.

Home across the bridge. I tucked in for a deep sleep while poor Rob had to go work all night - his team was doing a big technical migration. He got home at eight in the morning and slept in while I made coffee and read the paper. I practiced making some crafts with corn husks for next weekend's southwestern-themed baby shower.

At 1:00, I met up with some friends from work to watch the first 49ers game of the season over pints and burgers.

A few errands on the way home - bought way too many books - and a bit of clean up. That's it! One mellow, relaxing weekend full of good friends.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Memphis Highlights: Graceland Wall

At the end of our trip, we visited Graceland one more time to leave our mark on the famous gates. A fitting end to an epic vacation. Happy birthday to Jackie!

Memphis Highlights: Fried Chicken

Get as many orders of fried chicken, fried tomatoes and fried pickles at Gus's you can handle. Skip the beans, bread, fries and coleslaw - they pale in comparison to the absolutely perfect spicy, hot chicken. Eat as much as you possibly can...and then get a sliced of sweet potato pie and take a nap. The food coma will be so worth it!

Memphis Highlights: Roller Derby

We drove out to Collierville on Saturday night for the Memphis Roller Derby championship match. Kerry from I Love Memphis was skating with team Women of Mass Destruction and we had track-side seats. During a break in the action, our very own birthday girl won the hulu hoop competition! After an amazing, brutal match with numerous ejections from the game, our team took home the cup! I think roller derby was a bad influence on us girls - or at least Jackie thought so.

Memphis Highlights: Soul Fish Cafe

Somehow, Soul Fish Cafe was supposed to be our healthier restaurant choice. But not with the way we ordered! Fried catfish, crawfish po boy, fried pickles, hush puppies, macaroni and cheese, pickled green tomatoes, sweet potato fries, white beans, blackened catfish, cajun cabbage...the works. And all of it amazingly good!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Memphis Highlights: River Walk

On Mud Island in Memphis you can dip your toes in a scale topographic map of the Mississippi River. It's an amazing feat of engineering and so much fun for taking goofy photos of your friends. Unlike the actual river, this one is definitely for leisure.

Memphis Highlights: BBQ

The Bar-B-Q Shop introduced our group to the culinary delights of Memphis. It was here that the pulled pork sandwiches blew our minds, sweet tea surprised us and that we realized coleslaw would be the only veggie available the whole weekened.

Along with the pulled pork, we ate ribs, fried bologna, baked beans and BBQ spaghetti. The last was kind of gross, maybe BBQ sauce and shredded pork on noodles is an acquired taste.