Friday, April 29, 2011

Book Report: When a Man Marries

This is a perfect weekend book for your Kindle. When a Man Marries is an easy, fun mystery about a group of socialites who find themselves quarantined in a mansion after a dinner party. Jewelry goes missing, there are secret trysts and mistaken identities...it's wonderful!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Out sick

Whenever I have a cold, I just melt. I feel very pathetic and droopy today.

Only old romantic movies, favorite books...and maybe a royal wedding will assist.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Inspired: Rococo Chocolates

I received these floral chocolate bars as a hostess gift last week. Dark chocolate with jasmine, rose and violet.

They're from a swanky London chocolatier called Rococo and each bar is prettier than the next. Very tasty too!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

To Do: Monday Nights

Is Monday the new Friday? This makes two weeks in a row with a big Monday dinner party. I love it!

The hostess gets a relaxed prep over the weekend and her pick of any guests, since no one has Monday plans. You get to start the week with delicious food and friends at a party. And still tuck in to bed around 10:30!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Weekend Round-Up: Easter

We had a very nice, relaxing weekend with my parents for Easter. Rob, Margaret and I drove down on Friday night and arrived late in the evening. Mom was up with a fire in the fireplace waiting for us.

The next morning, up for the standard routine. Farmer's market, breakfast at the local diner and groceries at Scolari's.









Rob and I went to get new tires for the car and walked around downtown around lunch. Back in the afternoon, I had a nap while he caught up on work. Mom and I dyed eggs with "boy" themes like bugs, trucks, spaceships and soccer using pastel crayons for the next day.









In the evening, we went for a seafood dinner at The Quarterdeck - a local, tiki-inspired spot that specializes in deep frying every creature of the sea. Tasty! Then, down to see Pride and Prejudice on stage at PCPA:












They managed to fit in the whole plot in about 3 hours - a whirlwind show! Of course, Mr. Darcy was fun to watch.

The next morning, I slept in and joined everyone for reading the paper with coffee. We had a big breakfast with salsa eggs, turkey bacon, fresh scones and oranges.












Party prep the rest of the morning. Mom and I cooked and cleaned the house while dad and Rob worked in the yard. We hit two dozen eggs and other treats in the yard just in time for Rob's sister's family to arrive. After our hunt for the kids, they hid a bunch more eggs for Rob and I to find. Then, time to eat Easter supper. The table was decorated with bunches of carrots and we shared a buffet of ham, twice baked potatoes, dilled squash, fruit salad and bunny biscuits.

















After dessert (strawberry shortcake), the boys ran about in the yard trying to find any forgotten eggs. The family dog loved having four boys to play with.













We hit the road at 5:30 and got back to San Francisco before 9. Put away all our goodies from the weekend and called it a night.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Easter!

Best wishes for a spring weekend full of eggs and chocolate bunnies!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sale Alert: DVF

Danger! I want to buy pretty much everything that Diane von Furstenberg has on sale right now.

Simple and modern for spring, count me in.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Recipe: Cioppino

This recipe was more work than previous cioppinos I've made but so worth it! The Tadich Grill broth starts with a whole lot of chopping. The fennel is really key. Cioppino is perfect for a large party because there is so little to do once you've made the broth.

For the party on Monday, I made the broth on Sunday night following the recipe pretty much exactly. Finely dicing the vegetables makes a difference. I also added four cloves of garlic to the mix and let it simmer down for about 3 hours.

On the night of the party, I deviated from the recipe both in ingredients and technique. I like to simply heat up the broth and add the seafood straight in to cook instead of pan sauteing.

First, cracked dungeness crab legs and meat from the bodies in to the broth. Then portions of fresh rockfish and salmon I had cubed and frozen on Sunday. Next, frozen jumbo scallops and shrimp (It seems to me that freezing the seafood slows down cooking and makes everything really tender). I cooked mussels in white wine and butter in a separate pan and then added that along with half a bottle of white wine as the final touch. Stir until the broth is hot again and the fish is cooked through.

I had enough broth left over from the party to freeze a couple batches. It will make such an easy dinner to heat up and add some new fish before serving.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Party Recipe: Earthquake Dinner

We celebrated the 105th anniversary of the 1906 earthquake and the 5th anniversary of this annual party last night in style. Two good friends RSVP'd at last minute, bringing the total for dinner to 19. Even by my crazy standards, that was a little intense.

Guests arrived at 7:00, complete with dogs, babies and dates in tow. The evening started with drinks (red wine and Anchor Steam beer) and a local cheese plate. Lots of talk about the 3.4 earthquake that happened earlier in the day. Everyone divided into to teams for the start of the earthquake pub quiz.

As it got dark, Rob and I lit more and more candles. We all sat down to eat cioppino with long pieces of toasted garlicy sourdough bread by candlelight. I had enough on hand for plenty of seconds. The Tadich Grill recipe turned out just perfectly!

Those plates were cleared and glassed were refilled as we tackled the final part of the pub quiz. At the same time, I plated angel food cake with fresh strawberries and homemade whipped cream for dessert. Another round of seconds for dessert. We tallied up the points for the quiz and gave out prizes to the winning (and losing) teams.

Everyone bundled up and headed home around 10. Rob and I loaded up the dishwasher with about half our plates and silverware and turned in to bed.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Inspired: Walker Library

I've been so inspired by this video of the The Walker Library of Human Imagination in Connecticut. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a big library like this, full of books, models and curiosities? Reminds me of the atlas scene with Hugh Grant from Sense and Sensibility.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Weekend Round-Up: Out & About

This was a great weekend! On Friday, we took the train with Margaret to go see at flamenco show at the de Young. On Friday nights, the museum puts on fun events with music and a bar. Amazing musicians and dancers with the flamenco group.









Burritos in the inner sunset for dinner. Rob and I took the train home and left Margaret for her date at the Duran Duran Duran show.

Up super early on Saturday to drive up to Point Reyes. A bunch of our friends had pedaled up on bikes from the city Friday night and camped at Samuel P. Taylor park. We met up with them and headed out on the tandem bike:










First stop, Point Reyes Station where we had warm pastries from Bovine Bakery with all the other bicyclists. At picked up grocery supplies for a picnic.












Then, on to Drakes Bay for our picnic in the fog at the oyster farm:










We had five dozen fresh oysters between the eight of us along with the picnic cheese, crackers, salads and chocolates. Mmm....so delicious!










Smooth ride home with the wind at our backs. Loads of wildflowers in bloom, including so many forget-me-nots. All in all, we biked just shy of 40 miles that day.










Rob and I gave a couple girls rides back to the city from the campground. Hot showers and dinner at home around 7:30. To bed early, completely worn out.

Lazy morning with the paper on Sunday. Rob and I walked over to his office for an errand and grabbed breakfast. Classic foggy and windy San Francisco weather. Ripe strawberries and other supplies at farmer's market in Civic Center. Back at home, we started preparations for the annual earthquake party on Monday - we're on for 17 people this year! Our new table should be in fine form:












To the grocery store in the afternoon and then an evening of preparations. I'm trying the Tadich Grill recipe for cioppino this year and it involved a lot of chopping:













Friday, April 15, 2011

Hawaii: Sign Off

Goodbye Hawaii Week! Kauai, we'll see you in a few weeks.

Hawaii: Plantation Gardens

Big thanks to Lindsay for the recommendation of Plantation Gardens. Looks like an awesome place in Kauai for a "step-out" dinner. Too bad it's on the other side of the island.

Banana lumpia for dessert? Yes, please.

Hawaii: Souveneirs

Hawaii offers up a lot of terrible souvenirs, but there are a few gems for careful shoppers. Macadamia nut chocolates are never a bad choice and there are some nice handmade items here and there. On Etsy, this hand printed tablecloth featuring Hawaiian flora is a great example.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Hawaii: Tonga Room

And when Hawaii is too far away, there's always the Tonga Room here in San Francisco. It's a masterpiece of tiki-cheesiness, complete with indoor rain and an all-you-can-eat appetizer buffet.

A perfect place to hide out from the fog and dream of warmer climates.

Hawaii: What to Read

I always like to bring a book on vacation that's related to the area. However, there are surprisingly few books set in Hawaii. No idea why; it seems like the perfect setting for a flouncy 1920's historical novel to me.

Mark Twain's Letters from Hawaii seems to fits the bill...and has that great vintage cover, to boot. Do you have suggestions for books to take to the beach?

Hawaii: Sandals

These gold t-strap sandals are my current favorites for Hawaii. Very simple and elegant.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Hawaii: Tunic

This coral tunic can also come with me to Hawaii! Would be so cute with a bikini, navy blue shorts and gold sandals.

To Do: Kauikeolani Estate

This historic estate isn't too far from our vacation rental in Kauai. It's available to rent out for a wedding, but I'm just interested in sneaking a view of the koi ponds on the grounds.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hawaii: Maxi Dress

I bought this tribal print maxi dress to take to Hawaii. Long loose dresses are my favorite thing to wear in hot weather. They feel so elegant!

The bright khaki pattern should be perfect with a pair of flip flops. And, back in the city, adorable for our cool summers with a light sweater on top.

Hawaii: Island Inspiration

Kim was nice enough to share her Kauai vacation photos. Such an inspiration for our trip!

I love that - sitting on a Hawaiian beach with those far off breezes and far off waves rolling in - you get such a distinct sense of being on an island in the middle of the ocean. There's nothing specific that should make it feel like any other beach, but you can still picture the wind blowing right over, unheeded, on it's way to San Francisco.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Hawaii Week

Rob and I are headed to Hawaii in late May! We'll be staying with my family at Hanalei on Kauai for a few days. I need to start thinking about what to pack.

So it's the perfect time for a Hawaii-week on the blog. We're going tropical until Friday!

Have you been to Hawaii? What are your favorite tropical vacation tips?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Weekend Round-Up: Rock Stars

This was a fun and relaxing weekend, a much needed break from last week's work-a-palooza. On Friday night, I walked over to meet Rob and our old co-workers for a going away party at Schroeder's. We drank beer from large steins and shared plates of sausage, cabbage, potato pancakes and pickled herring at this classic German spot.
Mellow morning the next day as the result of too much German-ing, Rob and I had coffee and lazed about. At lunch, we got the car out to drive to Ocean Beach. A stop at Sloat Nursery for plants and then toasted subs for lunch at Java Beach Cafe.












I installed the plants in their new homes in the afternoon. My poor garden was looking so bare from the months of frost and hail.













A quiet night at home with Thai food delivery and bad movies on Netflix.
The next morning, we got up and motivated pretty early. Drove across the bridge for a hike out through Tennessee Valley. Super windy all the way there, but perfect at the beach.










After a picnic lunch, we spent some time making collections out of the tiny green and red rocks and shells on the beach.













We swung by Margaret's on the way home and picked her up. To the store for new video games, I had a craving for karaoke. At 4:30, time to walk to the movies. Margaret and I met with Elizabeth to see Bill Cunningham New York. Such a wonderful film!
After the movie, back home for a night of Def Jam Rapstar. Three hours of rapping the tunez, with only the shortest breaks for dinner. A great workout and a whole lot of fun. We got a few "off the chain" honors!


Thursday, April 07, 2011

What to Wear: Berlin with a Baby on Board

Megan wrote in with a major What to Wear request:
I've got a "small" problem, perhaps you can help. I'm invited to a big wedding in June in Berlin. This will be a very elegant affair with the reception being held at the famous historic Hotel Adlon (where the guests are staying as well), after a formal church ceremony. I've just been told that I will need two dresses, one for church and one for the black tie reception in the evening. For church I will also need a hat (this is Europe after all) and my shoulders and upper arms will need to be covered.
The wedding guests will be coming from all over Europe and the Middle East (expats primarily). These will be a mix of business and personal relations, so I will really need to look the part.
Here's the kicker: By then, I will be six and half months pregnant.
I've already done a thorough scan of the sources I know over here for maternity clothes and what I have found (or not) so far worries me. The 'evening wear' I've seen are either black and/or made of jersey fabric. Also, empire-waisted gowns and kaftans were other options I considered, but they don't appear to be so available right now. I will however be flying home to the Bay Area for one last visit before the wedding (and before the baby) and hope to be able to tackle some of the items on this list while I'm there. Oh, and I look terrible in red or purple, but most other colors (green, blue, brown, grey) are fine. Budget is around $800 for the whole deal.
How fun! What a wonderful time you'll have in Berlin. And what a great chance to be really fancy. It wasn't too hard to find nice maternity dresses. And easy, lovely silver accessories add polish.















Ceremony:
Dress - A blue maternity dress with satin trim and long sleeves for $62. Probably a good idea to buy a couple different versions and sizes to your parent's home and ship back the ones you don't pick.
Belt - It seems like a silver belt would be a good match to cover the elastic empire waist. This is an inexpensive version from Old Navy.
Pumps - A pair low heeled silver pumps. This $22 pair from Target just happened to be my favorite choice.
Hat - I like a fun fascinator instead of a complete hat. This version from Etsy is $50.
Clutch - A versatile silver basic for the whole day.

Reception:
Dress - Such a pretty gray gown with gathered flowers on the bodice. On sale for $299. There's a Pea in the Pod store in San Francisco if you need to return it.
Headband - Silver beaded headbands adds to the Greek-goddess effect for $35.
Shoes - The same pumps work with this dress, but you'll probably want a pair of basic silver flats for comfort.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Why I've been MIA...

I don't usually talk about my job on this blog, but today is so exciting. I've been helping promote my company's big investment news for a few weeks and we just launched today! When I started a year and a half ago, there were only eight people at the startup. Now, there are over 65. It's amazing!

Rob and I celebrated last night with my sister at Prospect. And I'm planning to sleep for about 20 hours straight tonight.