Friday, September 30, 2011

Ladies Activity Club: Breadmaking

We had a lovely time last night learning how to make bread! Our instructor, LisaRuth, has perfected a recipe based on the famous NY Times no-knead bread. With the addition of all kinds of seeds and nuts and her pro-tips (she bakes 2/3 loaves a week), we received a wonderful lesson.

For appetizers, I served up the leaf cookies along with sweet potato chips and spinach dip, spanakopita, crackers with farmer's cheese and jalapeno jam, carrots, almonds, olives and cornichons. We had lots of red and white wine to go along. And, of course, a lot of delicious bread and butter.

Incredibly, last night marked the 6th anniversary of the Ladies Activity Club!

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Whew! My crazy week-of-work is over and my life is returning to its normal overbooked status.

The Ladies Activity Club is meeting here tonight to learn to bake bread (we always seem to bake during the heatwaves). I made these leaf sugar cookies in a rainbow of yellows, oranges and browns last night for the party.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Weekend Round-Up: Not Really a Weekend

Only two more days to go in the 10-day crazy conference season marathon! Despite being dressed like this for the last eight days...

...I've still managed to squeeze in a bit of a personal life. (Black & white because they're all low-quality cell photos) On Friday, Rob and I went to the first opera of our season after work. Traditional dinner at Gyro King before the show:

Lucrezia Borgia was a lot of fun. Everything you want in an opera: multiple poisonings, incest, love triangles, suicide, 76 performers on stage, 50 foot tall sets, over-the-top costumes, two intermissions and world-famous Renee Fleming in the title role. Back home by subway at 11:00.

I didn't get to sleep in much with needing to be at the Hotel Rex downtown before 10. I was attending a create-a-thon event my team put together for filmmakers participating in our Health Film Festival. Fun to spend a day with artists, producers and advocates. I made a quick speech, but should have rehearsed more!

Cabbed it back home after the event's wine reception and had a couple hours to rest up. Rob and I walked over to meet Nicole at 8:00 for a "step out" dinner at Boulevard.

We sat at the chef's counter overlooking the busy kitchen. Cocktails all around. An amuse-bouche of tiny stuffed squash blossoms. Sea bass for Rob, filet mignon for Nicole and a dungeness crab salad for me - with lots of sharing! We had watched the pastry chef at work during dinner and ordered three delicious desserts. Fully stuffed, I crashed into bed at 10pm.

It was rainy out on Sunday, perfect for resting up. Rob went for a muddy bike ride with Seth in the morning. I watched Conan O'Brien Can't Stop (love the behind the scenes look at his "work family") and did three loads of laundry. Rob came home and we had egg tacos for an early lunch. At noon, it was back to work. This time, helping to set up our exhibitor booth for the final conference.

On the way home, I stopped at farmer's market to pick up tomatillos, cucumbers, tomatoes, white nectarines, cilantro and artichokes. At home, I made a big pot of New Mexican green chile from scratch and a pan of brownies.

Quiet evening with lots of tasty chile! I'm looking forward to Wednesday and getting back to a normal schedule. Fall is here in full force, lots of Halloween decorations to put up and pumpkin bread to bake!

Monday, September 19, 2011

La Redoute

I used to love shopping the La Redoute catalog a few years ago. At the time, they were being processed through a larger US catalog company and eventually closed down shop (after a massive sale!). But I got an email this week that they're back.

The prices seem much higher, but the lovely french fashion is still in there. Love this camel sweater dress and this polka dot dress. And these t-strap pumps are so fun.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Weekend Round-Up: Big Sur

Lovely weekend! Summer weather arrived just in time for our three year wedding anniversary! On Friday night I stayed at work late to prepare for the craziness of the next week and then had a quiet evening at home with the adorable French film, L'arnacouer (Heartbreaker), on Netflix.

Up early on Saturday to drive south for a weekend in Big Sur to celebrate our anniversary. Gorgeous weather the whole way. Rob and I stopped at Pfiffer State Park to hike the valley view trail.

And then further south to check in at Treebones. Our little yurt was quite adorable with an iron stove, lattice walls and skylight dome, (restrooms at the lodge) but it was the 180 degreview of the ocean from the front door that really impressed.

Now almost five, we went right for the pool and spa overlooking the water for a few hours of blissful sunburn-danger-free swimming. In the evening, we changed and waited for a table at the sushi bar with our favorite view:

Huge sushi dinner at the little 10-seat restaurant perched at the hotel. Thanks to Carlos for serving us so many delicious rolls. After dinner, we grabbed a puzzle from the lodge and two glasses of wine and headed back to the yurt in the late dusk.

Super cozy at night, I love falling asleep to a burning fire and the heavy blankets kept us warm when the timer on the iron stove shut off. We woke up pretty early on Sunday to get in on the waffle breakfast.

Back to the yurt after breakfast, we pulled up our deck chairs and sat for two hours reading and trying to spot whales passing by. Even warmer weather than on Saturday!

After checking out at 10:30, we drove North to hike at Limekiln. First, up to see the kilns along the rushing creek (so many ferns!) then to see the waterfalls. It was hot enough to wade in and get a closer look at the moss:

My camera battery ran out exactly after Rob took this photo. We hiked the third trail and checked out the beach at Limekiln and then drove further north. Picked up a delicious blackberry strudel from Big Sur Bakery. Next stop was Garrapata Beach to hike along the colorful dunes and turquoise water.

We drove home from there, stopping at Moss Landing for produce and an early seafood dinner. Hot showers and strawberry, watermelon, beet juice cocktails at home. I'm looking forward to warm weather in the city this week, but it happens to coincide with the annual crazy conference marathon. Expect posting to be light, but I'll try to check in.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mary Tyler Moore: Bud Vase

Mary always had a few fresh flowers on her desk in a Japanese porcelain bud vase. A great policy for any busy working woman. I need to pick up a similar vase like this one on Etsy.

What to Wear: Mary Tyler Moore #2

Navy and burnt sienna is one the best trendy color combinations for fall. It's bright, but as easy to wear as neutrals. Let's channel the fashion through our MTM filter. Mary always looked great in a trim skirt with something tucked in:

Sweater - A navy v-neck with slight batwing sleeves is a more modern pairing than a classic white blouse.
Skirt - A button up skirt in brick.
Shoes - Ankle strap pumps in saddle leather.
Purse - Vintage clutch with tortoise accent.
Earrings - Gold hoops.

Something about the skirt seems so feminine to me. Maybe because it's so reminiscent of our mothers in the 80's?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mary Tyler Moore: Chemex

One of the first things you notice watching Mary Tyler Moore is how she is constantly making coffee. Good hostessing in 70's style wouldn't be complete without a Chemex carafe in glass and wood.

The elegant, artisanal design seems perfect for our modern sensibilities too. They're already on the return, SFMOMA has started selling them in the museum gift shop.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tips: Kyoto

{A quick disruption to your regularly scheduled Mary Tyler Moore week}

Have you been to Japan? Kyoto in particular? Rob and I have friends living in Kawanishi
and we're thinking about a trip this fall.

Any advice on places to stay or things to see while there would be wonderful!

What to Wear: Mary Tyler Moore #1

The wardrobe on Mary Tyler Moore is impressive not only for being relatively timeless considering the decade (there are a few bell bottoms in the mix) but also for being pretty realistic. Mary actually re-wears her clothes, mixing and matching her wardrobe like a normal person - which you never seem to see on TV today.

Here's a modern take on one of the favorite outfits: knit dress with scarf!

Dress - A plum-colored swing sweater dress is a perfect office staple.
Scarf - A bright silk scarf from Pucci.
Pumps - In black suede with a hidden platform and sensible heel.
Trench - Classic for fall.
Sunglasses - From Forever 21.

Inspired: Mary Tyler Moore

I'm dedicating this week to my favorite show of the summer: Mary Tyler Moore! I've been watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show on Hulu. So charming, funny and lovely! And it just so happens to perfectly coincide with a 70's fashion revival for the fall.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Weekend Round-Up: Summer

I spent Friday at work volunteering, vigorously landscaping a vegetable garden for a children's community center. By the time I got back to the office and through the company Oktoberfest party, I was pretty spent. Rob and I walked to the cinema and saw The Guard. Good movie!

Lazy day on Saturday. Rob left early for a mountain bike ride down south with friends. I caught up on New Yorkers, had a bath and walked to town for a little shopping. First round, I hit up Macy's for a new set of baking pans. Back home with the -heavy!- pans for lunch and a bit of cabinet organization. Then, back downtown to shop for gifts at Gump's and L'Occitane. It was just too nice out to stay indoors.

While walking back, I stumbled across a big US Open event being held by American Express at Yerba Buena gardens. Free iced tea and gourmet salads plus comfy outdoor couches to sit and watch a few sets. Back at home, I read the Saturday papers and then worked on the garden for a bit. Rob returned home and I made a big dinner and a cake using our new oven.

Up early on Sunday morning to read the paper and reflect on the 9/11 anniversary. Rob and I had coffee and hit the road at 9:30. We picked up Margaret and drove to Davis for a combination going-away and birthday party for our friend, Jackie. Brunch at Cafe Bernado and then over to Folsom for kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding on the reservoir. After spending a lovely hour on the water, we drove to the foothills for wine tasting at Boeger Winery.

The carrot cake pictured here was decimated just a few minutes later! Perfect weather and a lush garden to enjoy at the winery. Back to Davis for dinner together at a local Thai restaurant. We feasted and said our goodbyes, for now, since they're moving to Atlanta in just a few days. :(

Margaret, Rob and I drove back to the city. Dropped Margaret off at home and then crashed into bed, exhausted.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

What to Wear: Power Dress for a Reunion, Wedding and Conference

Cara has a big month ahead of her and needs help finding a dress:
Next month I'll be traveling from New York (my home) to Illinois for my high school reunion, then from there to Minneapolis for a business conference where I'll be presenting a paper, and then directly to Malibu for my cousin's wedding. I'm hoping to be able to wear the same dress for at least two of these events, but they're all quite different. And September in Illinois and Minnesota can be quite different from September in Malibu!

I'm very bad at picking out dresses. I hardly ever wear them - I work in a lab so I have to wear pants to work. I know I look terrible in any belted dress (perhaps because I'm very high waisted) but I often like empire waists. I'm 5'7, size 10, with red hair (i.e. no orange or pink - I'm not one of those redheads who can rock a pale pink). And I will fall down if I attempt to walk in anything more than a kitten heel. I'm willing to splurge a little if I can get some wear out of a dress - I have several weddings and related events in the next few months.
All these events require one seriously gorgeous dress. One of those dresses that you will remember 10 years later. An epic dress in dark emerald green for our lovely redhead! I think Cara can make one dress work for all three events (disclaimer: I have no issue with being a touch overdressed).

Dress - It's a splurge at $398, but a perfect dress can be so worth it. If this is too spendy, use the cut and color as inspiration while shopping for other options.

Evening - For the reunion and wedding, pair the dress with a pair of low gold shoes. These Jimmy Choo's are perfect but I don't believe in spending that much on shoes and we already broke the budget on the dress. Instead gold sandals or snake sandals instead. Plus, a gold clutch and earrings.

Day - For the conference, pair the dress with a gray cardigan, skinny blue belt (wear it on the empire waist) and gray mini wedge shoes. Wedges should be way easier to navigate than kitten heels.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

What to Wear: Business Travel

Natalie wrote in with a What to Wear request for her busy work life:
I have a question. I'm headed to Montreal and Germany for 4 weeks for a work trip, both trips I am really excited for but I leave straight from Canada to Germany, so I have to pack for everything at once. Do you have any suggestions for a few basics that would mix and match well for the trip? I'm from Seattle, so I'm not going to a climate that is significantly different and I've got quite a few basics (white button down, jackets, dresses, belts). Any help would be appreciated!
I used to travel quite a bit for work, so I got a routine down pat. I could load up my trusty carry-on bag with my eyes closed! The trick is to find a uniform and stick with it. No need to get creative, just grab your favorite basics with the same underlying color palate (black, brown or blue). It's actually a great way to test your outfit mixing and matching skills.

Along with something like this for the travel day, I usually take a pair of trousers that never need ironing, a couple sweaters, a jersey wrap dress, pajamas and a pencil skirt for a few days trip. For four weeks, I'd add in bright tanks/tees for layering variety, a second dress and bold accessories to mix it up. You could definitely still make a carry-on work if you're careful.

Skirt - A miniskirt in camel.
Blouse - White blouse with a loose cut.
Cardigan - In gray, just fancy enough.
Flats - For fast access through airport security and comfort while traveling.
Pumps - To upgrade your outfit when it's time for a meeting.
Valise - A sturdy soft-sided carry-on bag with both duffel and shoulder straps is my favorite for business travel. Bring a purse big enough for your laptop and lunch along with you.
Scarf - Works as a wrap, pillow or blanket on the plane.
Glasses - From Forever 21.
Water bottle - An empty water bottle that you can fill up past security.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Weekend Round-Up: Lounging

This was a very leisurely weekend - exactly what I needed before crazy-work September officially starts. On Friday, Rob and I worked late and came home to relax. We bought a new juicer and went through a couple pounds of nectarines trying it out. Yum, delicious results!

Saturday, Rob and I got up early to bike, he went up Twin Peaks and I rode the trainer. We walked down to breakfast at the Ferry Building together and hung out with all the foodies. At 11:00, I met Margaret at H&M for a shopping frenzy. We spend a full two hours at two different locations of the store - they have some really great items for fall and Margaret is a perfect shopping buddy.

Dashed off after shopping to take the card to my hair appointment in Dogpatch at 2:15. Back home after to pick up Rob and drive to Sears down in San Bruno. New oven! Our old one has been broken for ages, only heating up to 150 degrees.

Back home to lounge about, we convinced Margaret and Sean to come over for an impromptu dinner party at 8:00.

Watermelon juice cocktails, fish tacos with chimichurri, fresh salads, chocolates and lots of card games!

Up early again on Sunday to head south for a mini vacation. Rob and I drove down to San Jose to bike Coyote Creek trail. 32 miles of rolling, dedicated bike path along oak trees, reservoirs and old farms. We raced the entire way back, big workout.

After the ride, Rob and I drove to Los Gatos and checked in to our hotel. My parents gave me a gift certificate to the Hotel Los Gatos as a birthday present (almost a year ago, oops!). We dropped our bags off in the room and walked around town. Late lunch at the Purple Onion. Los Gatos is quite fancy with lots of shops, restaurants and big historical homes with immaculately groomed gardens. Back at the hotel in the evening to lounge by the pool.

Setup for an Indian wedding quickly took over the patio. It was quite nice to be swimming along to the string quartet before the event got going! Champagne and pizza delivery in our huge suite for dinner.

More swimming in the morning and a big continental breakfast. We packed up and headed back to the city in time for a Labor Day BBQ at Sean's. The sun even poked out in the Richmond for the event. Onion dip, kosher dogs, potato salad....the works!

Back home at 4:00. Laundry and clean-up from the weekend. 3 mile run along the water at 6:00. Look for a bunch of What to Wear posts over the next few days - we got some wonderful requests over the weekend!

Friday, September 02, 2011

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

Enjoy your 3-day weekend! Rob and I are staying in town, with a quick jaunt down south to sit by the pool and have breakfast in bed. I plan to wear maxi dresses and eat onion dip. Summer is just starting here in the city...and not a moment too soon!

Pool inspiration from TakeSunset

Thursday, September 01, 2011

To Do: Butterlap

I've started riding Butterlap each Wednesday night with Rob on the tandem. It's a 17 mile loop around the city, starting at the Ferry Building, running through Crissy Field to Baker Beach, Legion of Honor and then Ocean Beach before heading home.

Most days I'm reticent to getting on the bike, preferring to stay comfortably inside with a cocktail. But by the time we hit the Golden Gate Bridge, I'm marveling in the views and feeling very lucky to live in this gorgeous city.

Photo by butterlap rider, Donald.