Thursday, October 28, 2010

What to Wear: Professor

Emily wrote in with a great request:
I've moved to Seattle to start a new job as a professor at UW! I'm really struggling on figuring out a good work wardrobe here-- I have tons of summer cloths that are pretty casual (having lived in Palo Alto for 10 years!). So I need both more weather appropriate and work appropriate items. I want to look professor-ish but also kind of hip and cute (the holy grail). Any tips?
Wow! The amount of tweed afforded by this job in Seattle is almost overwhelming. I would have a very hard time avoiding dressing in costume! Layers that blend academic-style with a bit of a young-edge are my pick:

Skirt - The start is a beautiful silver tweed skirt with tulip pleats.
Ruffle Blouse - From Target.
Black Cardigan - Your favorite will do, no need for this $300 version.
Belt - Double wrap belt with small studs for a little edge.
Bag - From target in a nice pewter with a couple studs to match the belt.
Shoes - Me Too pumps look serious but are easy on your feet.
Gloves - Light gray leather gloves for those Seattle days.
Sunglasses - Campus classics, a pair of ray-ban look-a-likes.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

What a fast year thirty was! Rob and I have opera tickets tonight to celebrate - Placido Domingo is the lead in Cyrano de Bergerac. And then the Halloween party this weekend and a fancy steak & oyster dinner with a friend next week. I'm a lucky lady!

Cupcake with marshmallow frosting from Miette.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween Decor

The decorations for Saturday's ball are starting to come together. This cut felt spiderweb runner is from Pier 1 for only $9. It's similar to a version I liked at Crate & Barrel but couldn't justify for $30. And it also comes in placements!

To Do: Casa Bonampak

I discovered Casa Bonampak when working on my sister's wedding and needed picado flags. How great to learn that the ultimate source was right across town.

Their mission store is packed with Halloween/Dia de Los Muertos goodies. I bought skeleton streamers for the Ghouls Ball and was very, very temped to bring home little paper mache diablo maracas too. You should check out their Day of the Dead selection online.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Weekend Round-Up: Rainstorm

This was a quiet weekend thanks to a gale of a rainstorm that passed through town. On Friday night, Rob gave me an early birthday present: a Kindle! I love that you can download old books for free to the device and spent hours researching the kinds of books I adore: mystery novels set on cross-Atlantic steamers, strange French fairy tales and Dolly's College Experiences from 1909 (Rob's response: "whoa, does she get crazy and show her ankles?").

Saturday morning was super rainy again. Rob left for work - this is his last weekend of working both days - and I went back to bed to read and nap until almost 11.

A bit of spin on the bike for exercise and then lunch. It's great to be home at the apartment during a storm, I could sit and watch the rainy garden all day. At 2:30, I headed to work for a last minute video shoot with some co-workers. We have a bit week of announcements ahead so I didn't get home until 6. Quiet dinner with Rob in the evening.

Sunday morning, a lot more rain but less laziness on my part. I spent the morning cleaning and preparing for next week's Black & White Ghouls Ball! I polished all the silver, always my favorite chore.

At 1:00 it was still pouring rain outside and blustery but I braved it to run some errands with the car. Quick stop in the mission at an amazing Picado flag store. Then to the grocery store, Pier 1 and Trader Joe's. I was absolutely soaked to the bone by the time I got home loaded with supplies.

Cup of tea while packing up my summer clothes to swap with winter tweeds up from storage. I was just thawing out when Rob returned from work early - the power was out in Oakland. He wrapped up the day while I hung lights on the banisters.

Artichokes and fondue for dinner with Rob. Luckily, this is supposed to be the last of the rain. It's amazing how much the weather slows you down in this city. The week ahead is packed with the LAC, opera and an awards gala and I still have a few errands to run before the party!

Friday, October 22, 2010

To Do: Hotel Fireplace

I love this rainy October weather. It's perfect for curling up by a fireplace. I don't have a fireplace - but I do live within a half mile of most of the chic and historic hotels downtown. I may have to go on an adventure this weekend to find the best San Francisco hotel lobby fireplace. Any suggestions?

Fireplace pictured is at the amazing Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite. I have fallen asleep on that couch a couple times :)

Halloween in the City

I always remember to post photos of the city decorated for Christmas, but not for Halloween. Last night, I volunteered with my co-workers at Light the Night for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and had a lot of time to admire the window dressings along Maiden Lane.

Aren't these sheet ghosts at Bastille just perfect! Especially with all the commuters imperviously waiting for the bus in front.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Book Report: The Bolter

When my mother passed on this book she warned me that it was quite gossipy. She was definitely spot on.

The true story of Idina Sackville runs the gamut from scandalous Edwardian British high society to a group of bed-hopping aristocrats camped out in African mansions. Everyone from Karen Blixen to the Queen is name dropped as Idina proceeds through five divorces with a lap dog named Satan by her side. Its a quick read that gives you a close look at the strange lives of the very rich during a period of great change in British culture.

To Dye For at the de Young

As we ease into the foggy, drizzly fall in San Francisco, this textile exhibit at the de Young seems like a perfect way to brighten up a weekend morning. If the weather is really dark and cold - it would be a great match with a visit to the Conservatory of Flowers too.

I love to visit the museum early, grab a latte in the garden cafe and then wander the exhibits before it gets too crowded.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Recipe: Beet and pomegranate salad

YUM. This is my new favorite salad. I only found out later that the combination is a related to a classic Persian dish. I used packaged beets instead of roasting them myself, makes it so much easier. The raw garlic gives the salad a great zest and the ingredients are super healthy.

Beet & Pomegranate Salad
Serves 6 as a side dish

2 8 ounce packages of peeled, cooked baby beets
1 large pomegranate
1/4 cup of feta cheese

1 clove of garlic, microplaned
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Juice from 1/2 a lime
Teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
Salt & pepper

Cut the beets into small cubes. Seed the pomegranate. Mix your dressing in a small cup with a fork and toss with the beets and pomegranate. Refrigerate until you're ready to serve. Top with crumbled feta and devour.

Inspired: Holiday Romper

A wave of friends are having adorable girl babies right before the holidays! The only thing cuter than baby clothes has to be holiday baby clothes.

I picked up a classic red velvet romper with pink rosettes from Janie and Jack for Yvonne's shower. It's on sale just in time for the season, as is the matching headband!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Party Recipe: Math & Science Baby Shower

This shower was inspired by one of my favorite hostesses! Kate, who threw a bridal shower luncheon for me featuring a sampler of cold salads. (too bad I didn't have my cute husband in a bow tie on hand to play butler as she did!) Yvonne is an engineer, so we went with a math & science theme for six guests.

Decor: I set the table with a blue cloth, gray napkins, stacks of math books, rulers and a punch bowl of bubbling dry ice that Margaret procured. Wedding china and my the smaller luncheon set of my beautiful sterling flatware. Ruler wrapping paper for napkin rings.

Drinks: Champagne, water with lime and chamomile tea.

Lunch: Warm Acme epi pan bread with butter. Four salads on a bed of lettuce. Swan House curry chicken salad (which Kate served at my shower). Tutti's black olive pasta salad. Apple, cucumber and walnut salad with orange blossom dressing. Beet and pomegranate salad with feta.

Activity: Toward the end of lunch, we had a quick round of math & science trivia about pregnancy. Plus, guests were invited to dress in their best "geek chic" outfits.

Dessert: Margaret made a delicious chocolate souffle cake with vanilla ice cream.

Inspired: Cork Case

Artecnica makes these lovely cork veneer envelopes out of recycled billboard vinyl. I fell in love with the $30 medium envelope at SFMOMA last weekend. Not sure how durable the case would be - but it would look so, so pretty as a clutch for a fall cocktail party.

Possible birthday present idea!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Weekend Round-Up: Rain & Babies

What an exciting weekend! It started Friday night with tickets to see Madama Butterfly at the opera. Dinner of shawarmas at a little deli near City Hall, currently lit up orange in support of the Giants!

Great show. I loved the staging of this Madama Butterfly production which included a beautiful rotating stage with a Japanese home and garden. And dastardly Pinkerton was booed during the conclusion - completely deserved.

Sunday morning, I hopped on the bike for a bit of exercise. At 11:00, I met up with Elizabeth & Kevin at SFMOMA for a bit of art, followed by a walk up to Chinatown for a dim sum lunch and some shopping. We walked from Chinatown all the way down to the Caltrain station before parting ways.

Grocery shopping, lugging heavy bags back home and then a lot of cooking in preparation for the next day's baby shower. Rob came home at 7:00 and we quickly headed out again for a big dinner with Seth and Amy at Salt House.

Great dinner with the parents-to-be. It was supposed to be a celebration before her scheduled delivery on Wednesday, they even had plans to paint their apartment on Monday! But we got the call at midnight that they were headed to the hospital. They had the baby at 3:30 am!

Up early the next morning. I bundled up to meet a friend for breakfast at Red's. A cold and rainy day - just right for October. I walked up to the Ferry Building to buy bread for the baby shower at Acme and walked home along the water as it started to really pour.

Perfect weather for putting together a luncheon. I listened to This American Life, chopped, ironed and decorated for the rest of the morning while it rained outside. Margaret arrived at 1:30 with cake and the guests arrived at 2:00.

Lovely time, relaxing and fun. More details about the science and math themed baby shower in a separate post!

Leisurely party pick up after. Our friend Rich from Redding dropped by on his way out of town for a plate of "lady food" from the shower and a cup of tea. Rob arrived back from work shortly after and we had a nice catch up all together. Margaret and Rich took off in the evening, leaving us to prepare for the week ahead.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Happy Anniversary: Jean & Trent

I can't believe it's already been a year since my sister's fabulous fiesta wedding. Everything about this event was home-grown: from the gocco invitations featuring picado flag designs to the flowers with garden roses, dahlias, chili peppers and ferns. What a beautiful day, with a hundred people gathered around one long table under a row of olive trees. Happy anniversary, Jean & Trent!

For Fall: Stationery

I change perfume every season...why not also change stationery?

Light dove gray with a curly name engraved for spring and summer. Stunning red with a monogram and tissue liner new for fall and winter.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Gift Inspiration: Platter

This beautiful, large platter features a light gray map of the street of San Francisco. It's exactly right in person - 14 inches across, flat with a slight lip on the edge. Perfect for a display of fancy cheeses with grapes or a flourless chocolate torte. And there are little plates to match.

It's my new favorite off-registry wedding/housewarming present for locals. Plus, SFMOMA members get an additional discount.

Halloween Party Idea: Black & White Ghouls Ball

Rob and I decided to host a Black & White Ghouls Ball this year. Black and white costumes of all kinds! Black and white food. Twinkle lights, polished silver and black linens. Halloween and my birthday all wrapped into one.

Here's what I have so far: a Skeleton tuxedo costume, inspiration for a vintage gown, a bride of frankenstein wig, removable chandelier decal, plastic skull with tiny hat, black and white macaron tower, black velvet cocktails, caviar sandwiches, chocolate tomboy cakes and black Halloween cocktail napkins.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Macaron Tower

Okay, maybe I take back that statement about the birthday desires. One look at this flaming tower of Parisian macarons featured on Oh Hello Logan and my birthday zeal returned instantly.


What do you suppose is exactly is required here along with the macaroons (done, paulette) and sparklers (done, thank you Chinatown)? A paper cone and confectioners' glue? Ah, toothpicks!


My birthday is just a couple weeks away and I have no idea what to include on my wish list. I guess I've been too busy with work to think much about it.

When I was very small, I once rattled off a list of desires as follows: jewelry, make-up, perfume, candy. Pretty good list!

Cake painting by the ever-talented Paul Ferney.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Inspired: Ladylike Stationary

The Ella floral thank you cards from Rifle Paper Co. are just the right mix of whimsy and old-fashioned feminine charm. Wouldn't they be lovely for following up after an outdoor wedding?

Looking for a Roomie?

Attention San Francisco readers! One of my most awesome friends is looking for a new city home. If you're have an opening for a new roommate at your apartment or know someone who is looking, email me.

Hayes Valley, Mission or Japantown preferred, but not required. Flexible move-in dates. She comes very highly recommended.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Bargain Finder: Merino Sweater

These sweaters are ultra soft and, at about $23 on sale in Banana Republic stores, a great basic for fall. Margaret and I bought two each last weekend. I'm excited to pair the heather blue version with black jeans and brown boots. And the hot pink selection with a tweed mini.

Maybe not the most exciting sweaters ever, but the kind of thing you always will reach for first in your closet.

Weekend Round-Up: Fleet Week

I was exhausted after a long week of conferences and took it easy this weekend. Not all that easy with it being Fleet Week - the action came to me.

Casual dinner at home with Rob on Friday night, followed by a relaxing breakfast in the morning. He headed off to work in the morning and I spent the morning making salsa with a few pounds of tomatoes and chilies left over from farmer's market last weekend.

At lunch, Margaret came over and we dashed down to the water to see the six Blue Angels flying and doing daredevil tricks all over the city.

From there, Margaret and I walked up to Ferry Building for a sweet snack from Miette Bakery. And then the first photo in a series featuring my single friends with the visiting military in town.

We went for a quick shopping trip in the Embarcadero center. Super deals on basic sweaters, t-shirts and tights at Banana Republic and Gap. On the way home, we stopped for another quick photo:

Rob returned home in late afternoon and we walked over to Yerba Buena for dinner. Sushi at Sanraku and then tickets to The Social Network. Good film, but a bit of a surreal experience with all three of us working in internet startups. Home to end the evening and send Margaret off with her day's purchases.

Nice breakfast to start Sunday morning. Rob and I had coffee, cereal, yogurt and melon along with the paper. Off again early for poor Rob - he'll have to keep up this schedule for a couple months. I spent the morning working, planning the next three (3!) weekends of parties and exercising for a few hours.

At 1:30, friends invited me out to watch the Giants game at Pete's Tavern. Great game with a late comeback for a lot of excitement. One final chance for my single ladies to meet a few military men:

Back home with a quick detour to Jeremy's where I found a pretty new tunic for work. Rob arrived at home and we had a light supper to end our long day.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Halloween Party Idea: Afterlife Aquatic

The ocean can be plenty scary...all those depths, leagues and mysterious creatures tickling your legs while swimming. This Halloween party idea is part Life Aquatic, part Sense and Sensibility and Seamonsters.

Wear: A pleated dress that can easily pass for seaweed paired with a chunky turquoise necklace. And spooky, creature-of-the-sea hair and make-up. Davey Jones for him, complete with captain's hat.

Eat: Seafood, lots and lots of seafood. Shrimp, ceviche and mussels.

Drink: Mulled wine for the "wine dark sea"

Decorate: Shadows of spooky fish on the windows and mirrors with contact paper. Fishing floats, starfish and other flotsam.

Book Report: A Novel Bookstore

I seem to be stumbling across translated French novels lately. They're a fun challenge; even with excellent translation there are still a lot of cultural clues and phrases that don't make sense right off the bat.

Plus, it's fun to observe the French ways of thinking about things. In A Novel Bookstore, a mystery set in Paris, French civil agencies, gypsies, seasons and artistic circles are all supporting characters. It would make for an excellent book club read, with a party featuring buttery pastries.

PS: Light posting for the rest of the week as I work like mad at a series of conferences here in San Francisco.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

What to Wear: 7 Weeks in Europe

Seven weeks in Europe...I'm so jealous!

I've been a long long time reader of your blog (loved your wedding) and know what if anyone can help me it's you! I hope you have the time, as this is a fairly big request but my boyfriend and I are pursuing our long time dream of backpacking Europe! I know you have been and you always look tres chic so I'd like to seek your advice on how to dress. We will be going for 7 weeks at the end of March to early May. We'll start in London, England, make our way through Paris (2 weeks-eek!!), hike the Cinque Terre in Italy, go to Tuscany, Rome, Venice and then ending in Madrid, Spain. I just can't figure out what to bring for 7 weeks all in one backpack. I'd like to be comfortable but still cute. Have been told to just bring basics with lots of accessories but I was never good at the layering with basics thing. I'm 22, not conservative but we will be visiting a lot of churches, olive complexioned, 5'0, and a size 0-2. Any help you can provide will be very much appreciated!!

Basics! Pack a suitcase full of a few key pieces that can work on heavy rotation. Plan to add pieces and accessories as you shop your way across the country. Along with this, all you need is a skirt, a pair of leggings, tights and a handful of tops for layering that go with everything.

Dress - A basic black dress that can be worn almost every day, dressed up and down and never tires out.
Pants - Skinny cords are a bit more polished than jeans, but just as wearable.
Sweater - A basic gray heather sweater.
Trench - A camel jacket that can pack and is water resistant for the rain.
Boots - A flat pair for lots of walking. Wear these and the coat on days that your rucksack is packed up.
Flats - Me Too are my favorites for trips - they're extra cushy but don't look too informal.
Scarf - Fun to pick up a couple new ones along the way for layering.

I always find myself inspired to make new outfits and combinations thanks to the limitations of a single suitcase. It's a great way to play with basics in new ways. Just be sure to pack things that, in general, go together.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Halloween Party Idea: Zombie Cocktails

Here's one halloween party idea with an elegant-edge: Zombie cocktail party. Ghoulishly glamorous! You just need your fanciest party dress, gloves and gems to wear. A skeleton bow tie for the beau. And plenty of fake blood and zombie make-up to share.

Drinks? Guinness champagne cocktails. Food? Black macaroons, small sandwiches, canapes and dry ice. Decorations? A chandelier painted black. A bit of post-apocalyptic decor.

Halloween Party Ideas?

I want to throw a big Halloween party this year - part birthday, part holiday kick-off. I'm coming up blank on theme ideas for the event. Our last halloween party featured guests in all black, nerd glasses and good food.

Any fun theme ideas? I'll be posting inspiration for a few ideas this week.