Tuesday, November 30, 2010

November Ladies Activity Club

We had our November LAC party last Tuesday, just in time for Thanksgiving! Lauren and Kellie hosted us for a night of wreath-decorating in preparation for the holidays. We had a packed house with two brand new members!

Food: Mulled wine, warm pita with hummus, flatbread pizza, chicken rolls, cake balls, cookies.

Activity: Each lady received a blank wreath and a full run of glittered branches, jingle bells, glass balls, pine cones, ribbon and more. Some floral wire and pliers were all we needed to get creative.

Inspired: Persimmons

Few things are prettier at the start of December than persimmons in a celadon bowl. Thank you to Rob's parents for the beautiful fruit! I've eaten all the fuyu already and haven't quite figured out what to do with the hachiya.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Weekend Round-Up: Thanksgiving Part II

Back in the city late Friday night with some serious back pain from my old injury flaring up (pinched nerve that makes my whole left side aching, nothing serious but it slows me down). To bed with a painkiller. Rob had to work the next morning and left me with lots of pillows, ibuprofin and Hulu.

In the afternoon, the rain let up enough to venture outside bundled up like eskimos. Rob and I spent a couple hours at MOMA visiting the new collections and the rooftop garden.

From there, we walked to Macy's for clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls and walked around looking at all the newly installed holiday cheer. From ice skating to gingerbread house displays, the town is in full Christmas swing. The puppies and kittens in the Macy's window are especially cute this year.

The next morning, Rob left for his office. I read the paper and I tried my best to spin on the bike gently. Had a nice bath upstairs since our shower is broken for the time being. At noon, I picked up Margaret for a trip to one of my favorite places: IKEA! We browsed all the displays, had lunch and picked up all kinds of trinkets.

Quick stop at Trader Joe's and then up to El Cerrito to see Yvonne and her husband just back from the hospital with 7lb Mona. Adorable little one and such happy parents.

Back over the bridge just as the sun was setting over the bay. Dropped Margaret off at home and spent some time unpacking all my goodies from the car with the help of a dolly and lots of "bending at the knee." Rob came home right as I was putting his favorite leftover-turkey casserole in the oven. Nice quiet dinner as we prepared for the week ahead.

Weekend Round-Up: Thanksgiving Part I

What a long weekend this was! We started out on Thursday with a drive to Fresno for Thanksgiving with the folks. We arrived just in time to greet Rob's sister and her kids and to meet the three baby goats (also "kids") that were born on my birthday. Meet Abraham, Alvin and Annabelle.

Kids of the goat variety get along just fine with kids of the human variety. The four boys and Rob raced the goats up and down the pasture and played king-of-the-hill on water barrels while we waited for the feast to cook in the various solar ovens.

The nephews also introduced us to their homemade version of a Lego boardgame, very fun! They're so clever.

Thanksgiving dinner was a grand feast. Amazing turkey with all the trimmings and lots of pie. Rob's sister and the kids left after dinner. The rest of the evening was pretty relaxed.

The next morning we had a casual breakfast before heading to the hills. Up to Kings Canyon for lunch and to see the General Grant sequoia, the second largest tree in the world. There was about 4 feet of fresh snow to hike around in.

Back to Fresno with just enough time to pack up leftovers before heading home. Long drive...made all that much longer by a growing discomfort in my lower back. Ug, perfect timing for my old injury to surface.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

We're off to the country for the holiday. Lots of turkey and pie in the forecast. Maybe a visit to the snow. Also, seeing the new crop of goats I got to name for my birthday: Anabelle, Alvin and Abraham. Photos coming soon.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your families!

To Do: Tahoe Spa

We got a great deal on a cozy cabin in Tahoe for our trip, so I think a trip to the spa with the savings is in order. After a few days of cross country skiing, I'll be ready for a rub down.

The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe has some spa packages that aren't too pricey. But at Squaw Valley, the spa deals come with access to the facilities including sauna and heated pools. Hmm...choices.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What to Wear: Thailand

Tristan is headed to Thailand on vacation this spring:
I am going to Thailand for 3 weeks in March and April, and need some serious help packing. The weather will be quite warm and muggy, so I'll want wear light things to keep cool. But, I hear that Thailand is a pretty conservative country, so I'll want to be respectful and dress modestly (we plan to visit temples, there are dress codes for covered knees and shoulders). I also don't want to look glaringly American, if at all possible.

We will be doing a lot of walking, so good, comfortable shoes are a must. I don't mind picking up a few new pieces for the trip, but I'd like to be able to get some mileage out of them here in the States, too. Any ideas for things I can pick up that are cool, modest, and versatile, things that won't make me look obnoxious abroad, yet are snazzy enough to wear at home?
Dressing conservatively and also not dying of heat stroke can be a challenge. Take a few loose, comfortable clothes and plan on buying beautiful sarongs, tunics and other local pieces during your trip:

Tank - A layer with enough substance to wear alone when you're at the beach or away from the temples. Layer with a tunic when you need to cover up.
Tunic - This tunic top from Gap is tissue thin and on sale. I bought the chambray version last weekend. The white material won't block the sun, so don't forget durable sunblock underneath.
Pants - Linen beach pants on sale from Victoria's Secret.
Bikini - Bikini tops instead of bras always makes me feel like vacation.
Sneakers - When you're really hoofing it around town, sensible shoes are a must.
Sandals - For days where you can expose your toes to the elements.
Sunglasses - From Forever 21.

Toss a bunch of basic cotton t-shirts, a couple more pairs of thin pants and few more past-the-knee skirts in to the suitcase too. You should be good to go for an adventure. Any Thailand travel tips to share with Tristan?

Deal: Envelopes

I love Paper Source but their limited colors and higher prices don't seem to work for my holiday cards. With 150 cards to write every year, I need a deal.

I usually go back to Envelopes.com where you can get bulk orders in classic bright greens, reds and metallics for almost half as much as Paper Source. They even have vellum and airmail envelopes if you want to get creative.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Weekend Round-Up: Dark and Stormy

A giant storm passed through town this weekend but didn't dampen our busy schedules too much.

On Friday night, Rob and I braved the pouring rain for the member's reception opening the the new fall exhibits at SFMOMA. After coat check, we wandered the wine exhibit and then the Henri Cartier-Bresson photo exhibit. The rooftop cafe was nearly empty and the perfect place for a glass of wine while watching the storm rage. Walked back home at 9:00 for dinner and drying off.
Lazy morning the next day. Rob got up to spin on the bike while I slept in. Egg tacos and then a mad dash to dress up for our holiday card photo. Hoping for photogenic rain, it was actually bone dry for most of the day. We met Margaret down by the Transamerica Pyramid at noon (passing a bollywood music video crew). She helped us wrangle pigeons for our shoot on the steps of the old stock exchange. The gross city birds were actually pretty easy to coordinate for our photo!

A few hundred shots later, we called it a wrap and walked toward the water together. A 40% off sale items deal at Gap lured us in briefly on the way to burgers and an eggnog shake for lunch at Gott's. Bread and flowers from the Ferry Building farmer's market. We said goodbye to Margaret and relaxed at home for a few hours - my turn to spin on the bike.

It started raining once again, even harder, once the sun went down. There was even thunder and lightning as we prepared for our night at the opera. So hard to dress up cute when you have to walk to and from the subway in a gale. I decided on heels instead of galoshes...big mistake. Rob and I were both soaked pretty thoroughly when we arrived early at the opera house for The Makropolus Case. Being there so early, we had time for an antipasto plate and wine in the basement and the pre-opera lecture. Such a complicated opera, we're lucky to have heard the overview in advance. Very, very well done and refreshing to see a show with 10 in the cast instead of 100 for once this season. It had stopped raining again by the time we headed home at 10:30.

Rob left for work on the drizzly Sunday morning after a breakfast of cinnamon currant bread from Acme with coffee and the paper. My plan to stay in bed reading was briefly thwarted when he called to say he forgot his laptop and had me run it up to the train station. Slow morning otherwise, I cleaned and exercised while it rained outside. Did lots of laundry, dishes, booked our Tahoe cabin and ordered our holiday card supplies. Went out briefly in the afternoon for errands when it stopped raining. Cozy dinner at home with Rob once he returned.

Friday, November 19, 2010


I can't help it! Planning a ski trip instantly brings this scene from White Christmas to mind. If only there were a train to Tahoe complete with tall glasses of egg nog and four part harmony.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What to Wear: Tights 101

Jessica wrote in with a request about one of my favorite things: tights!
I don't know why tights, but let's be honest- clothes in general, perplex me. Most of the time I wear pants- either jeans, chinos, or corduroys. And a lot of the time it's white or black chucks with those for shoes. I don't like my legs, pale and plenty of spider veins from on-my-feet jobs. I was really excited when fun tights became popular, until I realized I had no idea how to incorporate them into my wardrobe. The best outfit I've managed so far is a cream sweater, denim pencil skirt, red tights, and dark brown riding-style boots.

I would love to wear more skirts and dresses with tights, but I get so confused as to how to pair things up. Sweater and textured tights are especially confusing. And what shoes do you wear with it all? So yeah, that's the sad state of my tightphobia. I'm going to go home and look at my closet more carefully tonight.
I'm not fond of my legs au natural either and it's always freezing in San Francisco, so I love wearing tights with everything. I hardly buy a skirt or dress without a plan for wearing it with tights. Here's a quick tutorial for four looks

  1. The basic - Tweed, corduroy or denim mini with black opaque tights. For this look, flats, boots or pumps all work depending on how fancy you want to be. The easiest is black, brown or gray shoes, but red and others can work perfectly depending on the tops you've picked.
  2. The other basic - Dresses and tights love to work together. With a black dress, I usually go for gray tights. With a lighter or brighter color, black or nude fishnets are my choice. With a lower hemline, pick black heels to make your legs longer.
  3. The intermediate - Tailored shorts are surprisingly easy to wear for fall. Toss on a tee, scarf and cardigan and you're set to go. Both flats, heels and boots work. Modeled here expertly by Academichic.
  4. The advanced - Wear bright colored and textured tights as if they were another item of clothing. Make sure the rest of your outfit is balanced with the tights - not too busy or too simple. Jessica's pair of red with brown boots and a denim skirt is a great choice. Avoid yellow or orange - which make me feel like Big Bird. When in doubt - browse outfits featuring various kinds of tights on flickr or Anthropologie for inspiration!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

To Do: Party like an Embassador

I went to a fancy reception at the British Consul General's residence last night (yet another packed week).

He had a lovely party full of business types from the medical sector in pinstripe suits, whiskey tasting hosted by a man in a kilt and some delicious appetizers: half red potatoes topped with bacon and blue cheese, smoked salmon with arugula in little wraps, goat cheese won tons with plum sauce, tomato soup with basil oil, grilled tomato and cheese sandwiches, pulled pork on buns the size of silver dollar and crab salad in cucumber cups.

Yum! I'm not sure how I managed to eat all that and still network until nearly losing my voice. I even spotted the Consul's family cat dashing through the party. It was the perfect spot to start obsessing about next year's royal wedding!


Simple brown paper (Ikea!) with pretty satin ribbon is my favorite way to wrap a present. I'm a bit of a ribbon hoarder, so I usually have enough on hand for any occasion.

These two were shipped off to Jean last week.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What to Wear: Parent Teacher Conference

Sarah wrote in from Canada with a What to Wear request:
I am a teacher in a Catholic elementary school, and next week we are having our first parent-teacher conferences. I've met most of the parents already, but I like to make the effort to look professional for the occasion. In the past I've worn a suit but I've lost some weight so this may not work!
I generally wear skirts, dresses, tights, cardies, and am a conservative, feminine dresser, favouring classic pieces with something interesting. I'm about 5'5", size 6ish, brown hair, fair skin, eyeglasses, and I like to wear no makeup save the odd classic red lipstick!
One more thing: we are doing all the conferences in one (long) evening following the school day (ie: no time to change after class, and then sitting across from parents aside from standing to welcome them to the classroom). So, comfort is key!
Layers can help to make a fast switch after the school day ends. All you need is three extra items to convert your outfit for the night. Bring a small bag with your extra accessories, perfume and supplies for freshening up.

Dress - In my imagination all elementary school teachers wear courduroy shirt dresses to class. This is a machine washable basic you can wear all kinds of ways.
Belt - A yellow dash of color.
Shoes - A pair of basic black flats for the day.

Necklace - Early Christmas present? I love this yellow and gray necklace to add elegance to the outfit.
Cardigan - Top the dress with this simple cardigan and the yellow belt.
Shoes - Yellow pumps with an ankle strap and low heel tie the whole look together.

To Do: Tahoe for the Holidays

Rob and I are planning a bit of a snowy retreat for the week after Christmas. We have the time off and are itching to cross country ski. In between all the deluxe ski resorts and weird casinos, Lake Tahoe has a few adorable old log cottages for rent.

A hot tub, a tiny fireplace and some warm blankets are what I have in mind. So far, my best lead is a former lumber camp converted to cottages in the 1920's.

Any recommendations?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Weekend Round-Up: Apples

I headed down to San Luis Obispo this weekend for a visit with my parents. Margaret drove with me on Friday night, Rob stayed behind since he had to work on Sunday.

Up early Saturday morning for the regular routine: farmer's market, walking the dog by the lake, breakfast at Budget Cafe and groceries at Scolari's. All that before 11! At 12:30, I met up with friends Sarah (with her brother), Elizabeth (with her adorable son and husband) for a sushi lunch. Back home in the afternoon to help my parents with the internet.

We dressed at 4:30, picked up Margaret and drove to Santa Maria for a night on the town. There are two hidden gems in this little town: the historic Santa Maria Inn, where we had a lovely dinner, and PCPA, where we saw an amazing production of Peter Pan.

Back home in the evening for a bit of cake before dropping Margaret off bed. I slept in on Sunday morning, read the paper and organized a picnic at the See Canyon apple orchards. Shane and Margaret swung by at lunch and we found a beautiful spot in the canyon. We sat with a pen knife, slicing fresh apples for little turkey and cheese sandwiches and swigging fresh apple cider.

It was super warm, but definitely felt like a classic fall day.

Back home at 2:30 to bid adieu to Shane. Before hitting the road, we walked down the street to visit a neighbor's new puppy. He trains guide dogs for the blind - bringing a fresh puppy to the block once a year. This one, Poppy, is especially cute.

From there, just a whole lot of driving. We made it to the city at 7:00 and swung by Safeway for groceries. So happy to see Rob!

Friday, November 12, 2010

To Do: Play Hooky

Impromptu days off at the BEST. Rob and I had a great Veteran's Day break yesterday. Classic sunny November weather - ideal for riding the tandem bike to Golden Gate Park.
We had a fancy fish lunch, walked the neighborhood, ran into the Riggins visiting from San Luis Obispo, sat for about an hour at the new fountains at the Music Concourse and toured the post-impressionist exhibit at the de Young. I think I'm ready for retirement.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day

My office is closed today for Veteran's Day. This \day off provides a much needed break and an excellent chance to thank our military for their service.

Both my father and aunt served during the Korean War in recreation divisions. My father produced troop shows in California and my aunt served with the Red Cross overseas recreation programs. Thanks to their influence, I think my instinct in a military crisis would be to make gallons of coffee and choreograph a tap dance routine!

Gifted: Amber Candle

Another great birthday present from the end of October! Rebecca gave me this Henri Bendel candle in Amber. It's a perfect musky scent for fall.

I also have the cinnamon bark scent from a year ago - they last forever!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What to Wear: Rainy Day Uniform

I am so much better at fall fashion. Blerg, summer is the worst. San Francisco is the perfect climate for a someone who loves dark tights, scarves and sweaters. I'm back in full swing with my fall uniform now that we've had a few rainy days.
On a rainy weekend I basically wear some version of this with a mini skirt or skinny black jeans:
Sweater - Some variation of a comfy cardigan.
Skirt - A dark denim mini goes with everything. I also have corduroy and tweed versions.
Coat - A little tweed jacket like this goes with everything and can be packed into your purse without too much trouble.
Scarf - Extra chunky.
Bag - Purchased from Etsy a couple months ago. Despite a couple imperfections (a zipper that scratches my hands and the handles, no outside pocket) I've been really happy with this bag. I tie a leopard print scarf to the handle to tie the colors together.
Boots - I swear by my graphite Hunter boots (thanks Jean!). You can go miles around a rainy city in a pair of these.
Sunglasses - Because you never know when the sun will come back out.

Inspired: Rock Star

I fell hard for this Pacific Northwest house featured in the NY Times on Sunday. And just when I was thinking my own cement, ivory and black living room was too bland.
The slate gray velvet couch is amazing. And the framed photos way up by the ceiling with sconces underneath...love. Not to mention that the whole thing is surrounded by mossy boulders and bay views.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

To Do: Bar

Thanks to Susan's generosity with leftover supplies from her October Ladies Activity Club - I now have a lovely home bar on top of the camp desk. Susan taught us how to make all kinds of classic cocktails at the party - margaritas, mojitos, gimlets and martinis - with her pro bartending skills.

I haven't actually used the bar yet - more of a wine/beer drinker - but it does look very pretty! I need a framed painting to hang on the wall above it.

Listen: One eskimO

This song has been stuck in my head ever since it played on an episode of Bones and the video is pretty cute. Along with other musky-classics from Bon Iver and Ray LaMontagne, this is a good one to add to your fall playlist.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Danger: Zara

I spotted the window display at Zara from across the street on Sunday, dashed over and spent the next two hours swooning over their fall collection. It is a veritable sea of camel, plaid, wool, tailoring, belted dresses, chunky sweaters, hats, booties, corduroy and elbow patches. Everything goes with everything and it's all gorgeous. Seriously dangerous.

I left with the two items on the right in this photo: a beautiful tan boucle sheath dress with a stand-up collar and pockets. And the wool camel coat that has a bit of military flair. If they had the dark camel cape on the left in anything but medium I would have bought it too, with all of its ridiculousness.

Weekend Round-Up: Fall Forward

My start-up company had it's first-ever user conference on Friday. It was a smash hit thanks to the entire marketing team working long hours all week with a 12+ hour day at the conclusion...whew, a lot of work. Our success was also rewarded with a lovely sunset over the bay (all cell phone photos this week again, still waiting to get my camera back). When I finally got home Friday night, I managed a quick gnocchi and salad dinner with Rob before crashing.

Up early on Saturday morning to help Margaret move up to the city (yay!). Rob and I helped her packed up the San Mateo apartment into a u-haul and unpack, up three flights of stairs, into a Russian Hill apartment. The lobby has a fun chinoiserie feel. I'm so glad that she's just a walk away now!

Rob and I stopped for burgers and groceries on the way home from the move. I don't know if it was food poisoning or just exhaustion catching up to me - but I bonked hard in the afternoon. Napping on the couch and lots of Veronica Mars on Netflix. Around five, I was feeling more like myself and made a roast chicken Zuni-style for dinner with asparagus. Spent the evening researching more old books for the Kindle.

Total lazy bones on Sunday morning. It was dark and stormy outside. Rob brought me coffee and the paper in bed before he had to go to work. I read the Times from cover to cover and lost an hour of my life to the super addicting Every Word game on the Kindle. Why am I so, so terrible at anagrams?

At 11, I put my hair up in braids, pulled on the rain boots and braved the storm to meet Margaret for brunch. I walked through the marching bands and floats of Veteran's Day parade and up to Cafe deLuchi. Mmm...eggs benedict.

Boutique shopping in North Beach after brunch. We went to Therapy and found some great deals at Indie Industries. Down to Union Square for a bit more browsing. Margaret and I checked out the Gump's holiday displays and fell into some serious trouble at Zara. Brief stop at Tiffany for a gift. She hopped on the bus and I walked home with my goodies. Spin on the bike for an hour and then blogging with a cup of spiced tea. Rob returned from work and we had a candlelit dinner.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

To Do: Ticker Tape Parade

Another lesson this week...ticker tape parades are fun because of the confetti raining down on you from the tops of skyscrapers and because the city's finest hidden patios and balconies are revealed.

They are not fun because of giant crowds giving you only the tiniest of views on the actual route. This photo from a co-worker shows a lot more than I personally saw. Still...quite a day! Go Giants!

Thank You: Gold Necklace

My parents gave me a lovely gold necklace from Kate Spade for my birthday last week. It's just exactly the right length, weight, formality - everything!

I've already worn it to the opera and to work.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

What a Week

Sorry for another quick drop off the radar. I'm having one of those city weeks...a different restaurant ever night, lots of work. I love eating out but could really do for a night at home in my pajamas. Maybe Saturday?

We went out Tuesday night to Tadich Grill with a fabulous old friend from Santa Cruz. What a classic place. Giant portions of fresh seafood, strong drinks, waiters in short coats providing terrible service, private mahogany booths and white tablecloths. Yum, definitely get the cioppinio with garlic bread.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

To Do: Ticker Tape Parade

Woo hoo! A good old fashioned ticker tape parade is on for tomorrow morning in celebration of the Giants winning the World Series. There should really be far more parades on Wednesday mornings.

Party Recipe: Black & White Halloween

The Black & White Ghouls Ball was so much fun! So much, in fact, that most of my photos from the night are blurry! I'll do my best:

Decorations: A canopy of black and white streamers, skeleton picado garlands, twinkle lights, white tablecloths, silver candelabras, black rats in white bows, white porcelain bust in a black bow, spiderweb table runner, white pumpkins, low lighting and lots of candles.

Food: small cups filled with pumpkin ravioli in white sauce, chicken mole skewers in cups with white rice and black beans, shrimp with black cocktail sauce, cheeses and dips with white crackers and blue corn chips, pumpkin seeds, black olives.

Drinks: A delicious ice cream punch made by Yvonne, black velvet cocktails made with Guinness and (sabered!) champagne.

Dessert: Black and white cupcakes, chocolate shortbread cookies, non-pareils, yogurt covered raisins and chocolate covered blueberries.

Costumes: Rob was a jabbawockeez and he helped me dress up as a mummy. Thanks to my big hair and gown, looked like the mummy of Liz Taylor. We also had a wizard, scientist, roller derby girl, roadie, gladiator, cleopatra and more all in black and white! Rebecca and Derek were the stars of the evening as "carbon dating" - so clever!

We had a great time! Eating, laughing and talking until the party broke up after midnight.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Happy November!

How is it possibly November already? Perfect crisp fall weather, the Giants about to clinch the World Series, the whole city lit up in orange and pumpkin bread for breakfast - How wonderful!

Weekend Round-Up: Halloween

Sorry for dropping off the radar last week, I had a bunch of events to attend in the city and no camera with lending it to a co-worker.
We had a pretty relaxing time leading up to the big party this weekend. It was rainy on Saturday so Rob and I had a quiet morning, halfway cleaning house and half watching episodes of Veronica Mars on netflix. At noon, we drove over to Lucca's for pumpkin ravioli supplies and salami sandwiches. A grocery store run and then back home to finish party preparations. By 7, the house was decorated, the food prepared, the drinks made and everything ready to go! I'll cover the rest of the party details in a separate post. It was a blast!

Late morning the next day! Jackie and Pierre stayed over the night before. Coffee, cookies and the Sunday paper before going to Local for brunch. Margaret came up after we finished eating and we took the car out for an adventure all together. Such a perfect fall day outside, the plan was to hit up the most famous views in San Francisco. Starting with Randall Park:

And then Twin Peaks for the full panorama. Followed by a sandwich picnic at Alamo Square with a view of the Painted Ladies (of Full House fame). It was a gorgeous, sunny afternoon - complete with friendly butterflies:

Back at home, we said goodbye to Margaret, Jackie and Pierre. I carved one of the tiny white pumpkins leftover from the party.

Big salad for dinner with the little glowing guy keeping us company.