Monday, February 28, 2011

Inspired: Muybridge's Greyhound

This was absolutely my favorite from the Muybridge exhibit at SFMOMA. The clean lines of the running greyhound made even more striking.

Now I just need to find a version printed instead of as a digitally controlled file running in the hundreds.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Weekend Round-Up: Walkies

What a nice weekend! The weather report was originally terrible, rain and even possible snow. But, while the weekend turned out to be cold, it was bright and clear. On Friday night, Rob and I had a quiet night in.

On Saturday morning, we slept in and had an oatmeal with coffee for breakfast. At 11:00, Rob went to work and I headed out to the park to meet with Elizabeth from Sophisticated Pie for brunch at Velo Rouge. We ate sandwiches and salads with coffee outside and then walked to the Conservatory of Flowers.

Such a pretty place, and perfect for two ladies on a cold winter's day. From there, we walked to the Botanical Gardens to see the magnolias in bloom. Lost of mossy rocks in the succulent and redwood gardens. I'm so glad Elizabeth moved out west! At 3:00, she gave me a ride home.

I had a quick snack and headed out on foot to the grocery store. Back home in time to meet up with Rob. We went to see True Grit at the movies at 7:30. Liked it a lot more than I expected. On the way home, we stopped for a sugar lemon crepe at the little wagon.

Up early on Sunday. A short time for coffee and the Sunday paper before having to head out. Rob and I needed to be at Tilden Park at 9:30 for a race with the Bay Area Orienteering Club. This traditionally Swedish competition arms you with a map, compass and electronic tag. First to find all the markers wins. Word to the wise: definitely wear long pants!

It took us just over an hour to find all 10 markers along the 3 mile course. You end up bushwhacking quite a bit. Rob raced me home at 11:00 to try to wash the poison oak and mud off my legs. Black bean tacos for lunch. I bonked right after and slept on the couch for an hour and a half.

In the afternoon, Rob and I walked over to SFMOMA. We walked through the Muybridge photo exhibit. I loved the horse and dog running photos. A snack up at the rooftop cafe: blue bottle coffee lattes and a slice of Mondrian-inspired cake.

Champagne at home with a casual dinner. We finished up the Sunday paper and cleaned up for a busy week ahead.

Friday, February 25, 2011

LAC City Guide: Where to Eat

Next on our Ladies Activity Club guide to the city: something dear to the hearts of San! Here are six of our top restaurant recommendations.

1. Front Porch - Bernal Heights - $$ - I haven't tried this place, but I've heard it get rave reviews. Southern soul food...mmm, chicken and waffles.

2. Burma Superstar - Inner Richmond - $$ - Love this place. Go early to beat the crowds, get the samosa soup..lots of it.

3. Taqueria Cancun - Mission - $ - Get a classic Mission burrito, a couple street tacos and a cold Tres Equis beer under a canopy of picado flags.

4. Cafe Sociale - Pac Heights - $$$ - A hidden Italian gem that I haven't yet discovered. I'm a sucker for a tucked away restaurant patio in the city.

5. Lavash - Inner Sunset - $$ - This authentic Persian restaurant is supposed to be an amazing place for grilled lamb.

6. PPQ Dungeness Island - Outer Richmond - $$ - When visitors want seafood, this Vietnamese restaurant is a great alternative to touristy fisherman's wharf. Get the garlic roasted and the salt and pepper fried crabs to share.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

To Do: Shaun the Sheep

I am completely taken with Shaun the Sheep. It's a British kids show from the gang who did Wallace & Gromit and you can get it on Netflix instant.

Set on a small farm, the mini episodes follow the adorable antics of the sheep, pigs, chickens, dog, farmer and other farm occupants. There's no dialogue, just adorable sheep-y bleating and mischievous grinning in almost-vaudeville scenes. Here's one of my favorite clips where the sheep have a dance party.

More than anything, it makes me want to move to a small stone farm in the English countryside.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

LAC City Guide: What to See

Here we go! The San Francisco Ladies Activity Club's official guide to the city. Six categories with six favorites for each in one handy pocket reference. Let's start with our favorite things to see:

1. Sunset at Crissy Field - A former military airfield turned into a lovely bay-side park. Watch the evening fog roll over the Golden Gate Bridge as you jog or enjoy a beer at the Warming Hut.

2. Sutro & Lands End - Two lovely hiking spots on the very north east corner of the city. Lands End is full of wild paths and rocky beaches with views of the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge. You can have lunch at the Legion of Honor or picnic at "secret garden" Sutro Park.

3. Twin Peaks - The actual heart of the city and an amazing spot to see a bird's eye view of the landscape. It's a good companion with a visit to Golden Gate Park or the Castro.

4. Dahlia Gardens - In September and October, a visit to Golden Gate Park has to include a stop at the Dahlia Dell. It's semi-hidden next to the Conservatory of Flowers and offers a firework display of dahlias in all colors.

5. Fort Funston - Just south of Ocean Beach and past the zoo, this beach-front park has old military bunkers to explore. It's a favorite scene for local dogs and hang-gliders. Swing by Sloat Nursery on your way back home.

6. German Tourist Club - A hidden Bavarian beer garden tucked away in Muir Woods. Founded in 1912, the club continues to offer German beer, snacks and board games. Hike in with your own gourmet picnic and friends.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Inspired: Turnips

Winter continues to slog on at farmer's market. It's all cabbage, citrus and root vegetables. This week, I brought home chinese broccoli, yu choy, radishes, turnips, beets, eggs, tangerines and a half grapefruit/half orange.

Turnips are turning out to be my new winter favorite. Halfway between a radish and jicama, they're so good raw and I heard they make tasty mashed "neeps" as well. I think this recipe, with horseradish, will be next.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Weekend Round-Up: Winter Showers

Ugh, the weather this weekend was the pits. Super cold, rainy and overcast. On Friday night, it was in the 40's and rainy, so Rob and I just went home after work instead of trying for a movie.

The next morning, we had a quick breakfast and braved the rain to run an errand in San Mateo. While down south, Rob and I shopped for a new dining room table at a couple antique stores and then had lunch at my favorite spot: Little Sichuan. Yum! Smoked pork with chinese broccoli, ma po tofu and spicy shredded potatoes.

Back at home, we cranked up the heater and swore to not leave the house again. But after watching a movie (Exit through the Gift Shop) and lounging about, I got cabin fever. We bundled up and braved the rain for a round of errands. To the art store, the fabric store, Macy's, Old Navy and H&M. It was a zoo downtown with the umbrellas and parade traffic - I loved the bustle.

On our way home, it stopped raining so Rob and I stopped to watch the parade. Year of the Rabbit was awesome for cute kids dressed up as bunnies.

Breakfast in bed the next morning with the Sunday paper and coffee. I used the leftovers from lunch to make a Sichuan fry up: scrambled eggs with rice and chili oil, spicy hashbrowns and smoked pork.

Rob and I walked to farmer's market after breakfast. More parsnips and other winter staples. So nice to have a break from the rain.

Back at home to drop off the supplies and add more layers. Rob and I decided to go "adventuring" - starting with walking to pick up Margaret in Russian Hill. Quite steep!

With Margaret in tow, we went to Swensen's for some classic San Francisco ice cream. My grandmother loved this place and used to cut out the windows of the paper trolleys that the kids meals came in for our dolls. I got a "sticky chewey chocolate" hot fudge sundae.

From there, we wandered all around like Dennis the Menace. Through North Beach, very packed Chinatown, to the Ferry Building for Acme bread, and then to Yerba Buena center. We watched the sun go down on the park while waiting to see Cedar Rapids. Pretty good little movie. Home and to bed early.

Monday! Rob and I had oatmeal and grapefruit for breakfast while working in our pajamas. We were going to go for a hike, but he got called in to work. I spent 90 minutes on the trainer and then worked in the poor garden for a few hours. The frost and hail this winter has really done a number on things. Spring is hopefully just around the corner.

Walked to the store in the afternoon (still freezing out) and then miscellaneous chores. I love a quiet afternoon alone!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Inspired: Long Weekend

My favorite slate gray/yellow design combination has popped up again. This time: in an ad for a duvet cover on sale at West Elm. So many furniture sales to explore this weekend!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Recipe: Curry Chicken Salad

I love a good "ladies lunch!" A delicate cold salad, nice white wine and a chance to be fancy for a few hours. For the impromptu party last Sunday, I served a curry chicken salad on beds of mache and edible yellow yu choy flowers. The chicken salad was tossed together at the last minute, but was very tasty.

Curry Chicken Salad
Serves six

1 package of Trader Joe's curry chicken tenders (or about 2 well-seasoned chicken breasts)
1 parsnip
1/2 cup of pepitas
1/4 cup of fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons of mayonnaise
1 tablespoon of mango chutney
2 teaspoons of curry powder
1 teaspoon of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of Sriracha (to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the chicken pieces in a hot skillet until just done and remove from the heat. Peel the parsnip and cut it into 1/4 inch pieces. Once the chicken is cooled, dice it into small pieces. In a small cup, mix the mayonnaise, chutney, curry powder, soy sauce and sriracha into a dressing. Mix the chicken, parsnip and dressing together in a bowl with the pepitas. Ideally, let the salad cool in the fridge overnight before the final seasoning. Top with cilantro before serving.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What to Wear: Not Quite Spring

The weather has returned to normal this week. A tiny bit rainy, some wind and a chill in the air. I love this time of year in the city. Flowers on my desk & spring colors coming in to the wardrobe.

Dress - Love this (pricey) wrap dress from DVF. Her designs are worth every penny. Dark gray tights with this would be awesome.
Coat - Make up for the splurge with a $50 navy trench from Target. It also comes in chambray!
Shoes - Blue platform pumps kept at the office and swapped for rain boots on the walk to work.
Wallet - In gray and yellow from Etsy.
Scarf - I have no idea how to knit...but I would make this scarf if I could.
Sunglasses - Vintage-styled from Forever 21.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sale Alert: Boots

These lovely leather booties are on big sale from Anthropologie. They're really well made and will look so cute with a pair of skinny black jeans, a bohemian white blouse and chunky sweater.

Monday, February 14, 2011

To Do: Beeswax Candles

I usually make honeycomb candles for Christmas - but I ran out of time this past season. So, they were cute for small Valentine's day gifts instead! I made sets of mini tapers for my team at work and three larger tapers for my boss.

For mini tapers, use an 8th of a sheet (about a 4" square) rolled around a wick. For the larger, it's a half a sheet cut lengthwise. The small tapers burn for around an hour.

I used natural colored wax this year, but I think I like the brighter yellow better. You can order all the supplies needed on Knorr Beeswax.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Weekend Round-Up: Valentine's

This was a great weekend! Lovely weather, lots of time with friends and plenty of relaxing. I stayed at work late Friday for my annual review. Rob and I had a quiet night at home that evening.

On Saturday, we had a nice breakfast of egg-in-the-basket with sourdough bread and a heart shaped cut out.

A gorgeous day outside, we headed out to the park for a round of archery and then a hike out to Land's End. Rob and I hiked down to the beach for some tidepooling.

We popped up to the Legion of Honor for lunch in the museum cafe. They're still running the special French menu from the impressionist exhibit - so I had coq au vin with polenta and Rob had a lamb tagine. They have lovely patio and serve chilled tap water in vintage-style bottles.

Back home from the park in the afternoon. We swung by Trader Joe's and saw a famous model (no idea who) at Bed Bath & Beyond (a store I consider to be the seventh circle of hell). Tofu with green curry for dinner - we exercised and watched Dial M for Murder on DVD.

Coffee and the paper the next morning. Rob had to leave for work at 8:30, but I stayed in bed until 10:30 reading. To farmer's market at 11:00 - I brought home tangerines, grapefruit, cilantro, parsnips, broccoli, flowering greens, red cabbage and crumb cake for about $10.

I had invited Margaret and Lauren over for a "ladies lunch" - that, of course, turned out pretty fancy by accident. I thought it would be fun to use the china and silver for the three of us. I made a chicken curry salad with parsnips and pepitas served on mache lettuce. We had nice glasses of cold white wine with lunch and followed up with the crumb cake. Lauren brought her little dog, Maddie, who was a perfect lunch guest.

After lunch, we went to work on rolling valentine's candles from sheets of natural beeswax. I'll share more details of the craft in a separate post.

Lauren headed home at 3:00. I washed the silver and then Margaret and I walked downtown for some shopping. I picked up a couple sweaters and belts at H&M and Zara. Then to Anthropologie, where I got a really cute pair of booties on sale. Back home at 6:30 for a black bean taco dinner with Rob.

Friday, February 11, 2011

To Do: Valentine's

I made valentine's notes last night by sewing pink and red hearts on to paper cards. So easy, it just took about an hour to make a dozen for the favorite ladies in my life.

Red folded cards and envelopes from Paper Source
Embroidery floss in pale pink and dark maroon
Embroidery needle
Love stamps

If you want to be fancy, draw a heart shape on the inside of the card and follow that in your sewing. I just eyeballed it. If you want to get really cute, make envelope liners using this template and pretty pink and red paper.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Inspired: Letter

The only thing better than getting a letter is getting a letter from Japan! With a pop-up and glitter to boot.

A military veteran friend of ours moved to Japan in December to pursue his dreams and a wonderful girl - it's just like something from a movie!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Ladies Activity Club: City Guide

Last night's LAC party was a lot of fun. Alison hosted us for a night of sharing favorite things in the city. We made our own LAC city guides based on the recommendations from members about our favorite San Francisco:
  • Places to see
  • Restaurants
  • Splurges
  • Free activities
  • Shops
  • Wild card recommendations
I'll share our lists with you on the blog over the next few weeks! With members living on different sides of town, it really is a comprehensive list of fun things.

Alison served San Francisco food and drinks at the party: local wine, Anchor Steam beer, Cowgirl Creamery cheese, Tcho chocolates, Acme bread, local pistachios and dried fruit. She even played a mix of San Francisco bands for the party music!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Inspired: Lacanche Stoves

I seem to have the worst luck when it comes to ovens. Our first apartment's oven was old enough that it had to be lit with matches and took hours to heat up. Our second would have the pilot go out constantly. And now, our most modern stove yet has decided that 250 is really 550. I've been having to slow roast everything for months.

While I wait for the repairman to fix the thermostat, I'm drooling over fancy French Lacanche stoves that come in 20 color choices and are crazy expensive.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Inspired: Secret Prints

The print I bought at the flea market - supposedly a 1940's Japanese piece, but a lovely depiction of two mums regardless of it's true history - had a hidden surprise!

Rob immediately opened up the back of the frame and found two other watercolor Japanese prints. A beach scene and a very fancy chicken. What a treat!

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Weekend Round-Up: Summer in February

I know it's a snowy mess in most of the country right now - so I hate to point out the record-breaking warm temperatures we had in San Francisco for the weekend. Highs in the mid 70' February?! Well, best to enjoy it while it lasted.

On Friday night, I left a work event celebrating Chinese New Year for the February Bike Party ride with Rob. It was starting to warm up in the evening - a perfect night for 10 miles around the city. We peeled off after a live music performance at Dolores Park. Into bed about midnight.

I slept in until 10 the next morning. Oatmeal and coffee for breakfast in the morning. We met up with Margaret at noon and drove to the park to enjoy the gorgeous day. We had a delicious picnic while waiting for the archery range. A couple hours of shooting in the sun.

Now 4:30, we headed to Baker Beach for a sunset walk along the water. The beach was packed with pale locals enjoying a bit of sun. Aren't these wild strawberries pretty?

Home quickly, before bussing it across town for a house party. The Bicycle Coalition valet supervisors gathered for a celebration dinner - a feast! Delicious macaroni and cheese with crab, bacon and jalapeno along with other delicious dishes. All followed by a bonfire of old claim tickets on the patio. Great night!

Home by taxi at midnight and straight to bed. We had an early start on Sunday. Rob had to be at work at 8 - so we had coffee and the paper in a hurry. Margaret came over at 8:30 and we drove to the Alameda Flea Market. Blazing hot out at the water. I didn't find the big furniture I was looking for (dining room table, bookshelf, screen) but I did get a lovely Japanese chrysanthemum print. Margaret picked up a stool and a frying pan. Lots and lots of sunscreen application as we walked the miles of booths.

I dropped off Margaret at 1:00, ran to the store and then took the bus straight to a friend's Super Bowl party. Mmm...I love dip, so these parties are always fun. We sweated it out together in the hot afternoon with artichoke dip, onion dip and buffalo chicken dip - among other tasty food and margaritas.

Rob came to pick me up in the third quarter - I was wiped out from the long day. Straight into my pajamas at 6:30.

Friday, February 04, 2011

What to Decorate: Downton Abbey

Episode four of Downton Abbey features a 10 second scene in a London house that I absolutely love. The sitting room (closer look, or 39 minutes in) is done entirely in slate blue, mustard and gold.

It's a muted color scheme that we almost achieve in our apartment. I need to buy some mustard pillows and a blue throw STAT! Here's how to make a modern room inspired by the show (clockwise):

Mirrors - Bird's eye mirror set, not available for purchase
Chair - This lovely chair is an antique.
Pillow - From West Elm for $24.
Rug - I would never pay this much for an ivory rug...but regardless.
Couch - A pretty good looking gray velvet sofa for $1,000.
Curtains - No source, but the color is just right.
Frame - I love how delicate these vintage Italian mosaic frames look.
Bust - A French marble bust of a child.
Votives - Mercury glass hurricanes have an antique look.
Flowers - Grape hyacinth in modern steel containers from New York.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

New York Ladies Activity Club

Ladies of Manhattan and nearby boroughs: the LAC wants you!

One of our favorite San Francisco members recently moved east and is looking to get the NY LAC up and running. Our loss is your gain, as she's an amazing girl who will be a lot of fun as the club lead.

If you're interested, just email Steph. Don't be shy!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Book Report: Anne of Green Gables

I've been having such fun rediscovering old books with my Kindle and the Project Gutenberg library. My latest was the complete Anne of Green Gables series. I hadn't read it since childhood and didn't really remember anything about the books aside from "Canadian," "coastal" and "girl."

They're quite fun. Light and easy, with lots of daydreaming and making jam. The quiet country life was a nice break from the reality of a busy city and startup job. I especially liked Anne of the Island where she goes to college and lives in a cozy cottage with friends and two porcelain dogs.

Now, on to Maisie Dobbs, from of your recommendations.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Guide to Auspicious Flowers

I love Chinese New Year - it seems to be exactly the right holiday at the right point in winter. Just when things seem bleak, there are flowers, dragons and fireworks! This year, I got two "auspicious" plants at the flower market:

Peach blossoms - Symbols of growth, prosperity, long life and romance. I learned a lot about these from a woman at the fair also buying branches - it's very much like picking out the perfect Christmas tree. She said they'll bloom through March and that the structure of the branches is very important. This group has a healed-over broken branch that is still blooming - a very lucky sign for resilience! In some homes, lucky red envelopes are hung from the branches.

Paperwhites - They smell so good and the golden centers are tied to the same coin-inspired "money luck" that make yellow mums and citrus trees popular new year choices.

Peanuts (long life), red gladiolas and azaleas (luck), money trees (prosperity), pomelo (abundance), bamboo (luck), orchids and pussy willows are also popular choices if you're thinking of decorating for Thursday.