Sunday, October 30, 2011

Weekend Round-Up: Oysters

On Friday, I cleaned up dishes from the pumpkin carving party by candlelight during a neighborhood power outage. Rob came home and the lights came on, so we made a poster to virtually-cheer Jean during her Ironman race the next day.

We packed up early next morning to drive to Samuel P. Taylor campground for Denyse's birthday trip. By the time we arrived and set-up the tent under a redwood tree, most everyone was awake and ready to hit the road.

We rode 8 miles to Pt. Reyes Station for lunch supplies and delicious pastries from Bovine Bakery. From there, another 12 miles - mostly uphill - to arrive at Drakes Bay Oyster Farm. Gorgeous warm weather, something you almost never have out along the coast there.

Denyse bought five dozen "medium" oysters that were HUGE. Some of the largest were probably 1/4 lb each. We set to work shucking with various knives and enjoying a great picnic with champagne, beer, cheese, bread, olives and persimmons.

Yum, I love oysters - especially straight out of the bay. I probably had 10 or so, mostly with lemon. This was one of my last, one of the smaller guys:

Fast 20 mile ride back to camp, racing to beat the sunset. We had a nice night around the campfire, with a gourmet dinner cooked in foil packets. Cozy night in our four season tent, it was chilly!

Breakfast the next morning with lots of hot coffee. We packed up the tent and hit the road around 10 am.

Back in the city, it was time to unpack and shower (campfires are so smelly!). I checked my email and saw that Jean finished her huge race in 11 hours and 39 minutes, 20 minutes under her goal time - Whoa! Go Jean!

Rob and I had lunch at home and then walked downtown to shop for comfortable winter shoes to wear in Japan and an outfit for him to wear to an investor presentation on Monday. Lovely day to be out and about. Quiet dinner at home and lots of laundry in the evening. We've got a busy week ahead with Halloween, Dia de los Muertos, a housewarming party and the opera.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Party Recipe: Pumpkin Carving

My word, yesterday rocked a whole lot. From opening breakfast presents to an all-out Japanese extravaganza from my team at work to a super fun party in the evening - it was a perfect birthday.

We carved pumpkins and drank cocktails all evening. During carving, I roasted sheets of pumpkin seeds with different seasonings for guests. The Thai pumpkin curry order arrived right on time and was delicious (easiest dinner party ever!). Margaret made an amazing chocolate bundt cake to top off the evening.

Thank you everyone! I have a lot of card writing to tackle tonight!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me

What a lovely day already! I have a tradition of opening birthday presents over breakfast. From a french oyster knife to my favorite See's candy, I was treated quite well this year.

Rob gave me these sweet opal earrings set in rose gold, from around 1910. They're so pretty!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Thanks to the expert suggestions of wonderful EmilyStyle readers, Rob and I are booked for two nights at a Buddhist temple on Mt. Koya.

Our room will have traditional tatami mats, gold leaf screens and a private garden. The photos are so incredible, I'm addicted to looking them up online. Since we're going at the end of November, there may even be snow on the mountain!

{Photo from Chris, who visited in 2008}

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Party Recipe: Pumpkin Carving

For my birthday this week, Rob has planned a fun "cocktails, carving, curry and cake" party at the apartment. Here are the details he has lined up so far:
  • Cocktails - Using the juicer to whip up some "bloody" beet or watermelon juice and make a cocktail along the lines of this recipe.
  • Carving- We bought 10 pumpkins at the store last night. After the first 10 RSVPs, it's BYOP. I love carving classic faces. Roasting the seeds during the party means we could send them home with guests as favors.
  • Curry - An easy dinner for a large group. He's getting takeout pumpkin curries from the Thai and Indian places in the neighborhood. Add rice and dish out with small bowls.
  • Cake - Margaret is taking this on! I love the look of this gorgeous and a bit spooky layer cake.
Add a bunch of tea lights and some newspaper...I can't wait!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Weekend Round-Up: Indian Summer

What a great weekend! A little bit of everything and perfect, warm weather. San Francisco is a wonderful city for letting everyone live the life they choose. In my case, I get to choose a goofy mix of opera, archery and French bistros on the beach!

We kicked things off on Friday with a night at the opera house. Crepes for dinner in Hayes Valley before the show. I wore my new vintage 1960's sheath dress in white to see Don Giovanni. Modern staging and amazing music!

The next day, we had a lazy morning with loads of laundry and scrambled eggs. Rob and I drove over to Golden Gate Park before lunch to kick-off the archery season. It was so warm. And, yes, I did wear inappropriate shoes (I'm calling them "formal hunting slippers") to the range.

After archery, we headed home to work on our trip to Japan. THANK YOU for all the advice, it has been so helpful as we sort out what to see and where to go. We spent many hours at the dining table booking hotels and zooming in on Google maps.

In the evening, we met Margaret and Sean at the Westfield for an 8:30 showing of 50/50. Great movie, it made us all cry.

Sunday morning, I stayed in bed with the paper and coffee while Rob worked on his class (he's taking a machine learning course online through Stanford). We left at 10:00 to enjoy the warm weather in Sausalito. Look at the sun over the bay!

Rob and I rode along the water in Sausalito. On a quiet side street, we had a bit of a spill when a tourist's car suddenly turned right directly in front of the bike. We fell over when braking to avoid the car, nothing more than a few tiny scrapes thankfully. But a good reminder to drive very carefully and always signal. We spoiled ourselves at lunch after the spill. Le Garage, with cold Stella, eggs benedict and house-cured ham sandwiches.

Lunch was followed by a long nap on the beach at Richardson Bay. The beach was packed with kids, dogs and kayakers. We rode home over the bridge and stopped at Sports Basement along Crissy Field:

Hot showers and a quiet dinner at home. We're gearing up for my birthday on Thursday!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Planning for Japan

Preparing for our upcoming trip to Kyoto has turned out to be all-consuming. I'm spending hours each night trying to decode maps and book hotels for November. It's going to be awesome...once I figure it out.

We're especially struggling with where to spend some time outside of Kyoto. Nara seems to be booked up. Any other suggestions?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Ladies Activity Club: Fancy Nails

We had a great Ladies Activity Club party last night! Rebecca hosted us for a night of fancy nail polish exploration. From ombre to stripes to animal prints to polka dots...we learned all the tricks for the trendiest nails of the season. Check out more photos and details in Rebecca's post at Permanently Disco.

I went with a glitter and gray fade and a super fancy ring finger with chevron and stripe (and learned that photographing hands is super awkward):

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What to Wear: Indian Summer

October in the city is the best! It's warm but not too hot. A great time to transition into fall with a couple fun pieces before the bundling up starts. This yellow tartan skirt is too much!

Top - A short-sleeved turtleneck in basic black.
Skirt - The centerpiece is a twisted pencil skirt in a tartan of gold, black and a trace of purple.
Shoes - Comfortable black pumps.
Purse - An envelope clutch in plum.
Bracelet - A leaf-styled cuff in gold.
Sunglasses - Vintage style from Forever 21.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Inspired: Mod White Dress

I love this look: a simple white day dress with black tights. Great for a fancy meeting at work or a night at the opera.

The Burberry dress pictured is $800, but there are plenty of 1960's versions on the market for much less. I saw least at five wool dresses almost exactly like this on Haight Street Saturday and this version on Etsy is also close.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Weekend Round-Up: Lazy Bones

This was a very mellow weekend; a much-needed rest after having my family in town and a long offsite meeting for work on Friday. On Saturday, Rob went off on a bike ride at 8:30 and I had a mellow morning at home. Too nice outside to stay in, I walked to TJ Maxx to shop for shoes and over to the wholesale flower market:

To Whole Foods for coffee and cereal and then back home to make a couple giant flower arrangements with green millet and snowberry.

Rob returned from his ride and we had a leisurely lunch at home. Pretty soon, it was time to meet Nicole out at Ocean Beach. Unusually warm and lovely at the coast:

Nicole left her car at the beach for the next day's marathon finish and we drove over to the Haight for vintage shopping. The very first dress I tried on was a win: a white 1960's sheath with a boatneck collar and lace sleeves. We went to 5 or 6 vintage shops and visited a couple modern shops too:

Dessert crepes for a quick snack. The temperature started to drop and we headed home. Strange clouds over the neighborhood on my way back:

Mellow evening. Rob and I had a taco dinner and worked on our passports and hotel arrangements in preparation for our trip to Kyoto.

On Sunday, Rob went off for a bike ride down on the peninsula with a different friend. I had just settled in with the Sunday paper and coffee when Margaret called needing my help with a drive to Monterey to pick up stranded friends. So, my Sunday looked like this mostly:

But, on the bright side, I got to sing along loudly to the radio while driving solo and had plenty of time to brainstorm my upcoming birthday party. Rob picked me up back in the city and we went to farmer's market. Back at home, I made cilantro pesto and prepared for the week ahead. Margaret came over for dinner of quesadillas, guacamole and white corn salad. Coffee.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

To Do: Play Hooky

Having Tuesday off was dangerously fun. The family headed straight for the Academy of Sciences. First stop: a half hour in the digital planetarium zooming around the universe. Then, to the Hall of Africa to see the penguins. Next: a fancy lunch at the Moss Room restaurant downstairs. Around the aquarium and back home to have a nap before a nice early dinner at the restaurant next door.

Although I love my job, I would have very few qualms about living the life of a full-time "lady who lunches."

Monday, October 10, 2011

Weekend: Two Wheels

Sorry for the delay, my family is in town and it makes it hard to get writing time. This was a packed weekend, with lots of biking in the city, Fleet Week, a race and a parade.

On Friday, Rob and I joined friends out at Bike Party. We rode around SOMA and Dogpatch with a few hundred others and stopped for a dance party at Pier 35. It was a gorgeous night with the city full of tourists and military on shore leave. This photo may appear like a sea of reflectors and blinky lights...but I swear there's a bear in a tutu and a trombone player:

Saturday, I slept in and Rob went for a bike ride in the morning. After a late breakfast, we rode the tandem over to Golden Gate Park for my company picnic. The Blue Angels zoomed overhead while we BBQ'd and watched dogs run around. A highlight was when a giant Stealth Bomber broke through the clouds on its way to the airshow. Back at home in the evening, Rob and I cleaned house while listening to Radio Lab and prepared for my family's visit.

On Sunday, we slept in, read the paper and had a big egg and sausage breakfast in the morning. At 11:30, we left for Tour de Cupcake registration. This "alley cat" (bike messenger style) race gave us 7 checkpoints to hit and 5 cupcake-eating stations as a fundraiser for Bike Kitchen. That's our friend's folding Strida bike representing "Team Wrong Bike."

Race started at 1:30 and we rode quickly through Portrero Hill to the Financial District and North Beach. The Columbus Day parade combined with Fleet Week traffic made for mayhem as we dashed around Washington Square:

From North Beach we headed through Cow Hollow and over the hills on Steiner St. To Alamo Square and Duboce Triangle before riding way out to Spreckles Lake in the park. Over Corona Heights, down to the Mission and back to the finish line. Our final race time was 26 miles in under 3 hours, fueled by cupcakes alone. A quick drink at the afterparty with our team to celebrate finishing around 70th out of 300.

Back home with just enough time to shower and have a cup of tea before my parents and sister arrived. Jean is in town from North Carolina for postdoc job interviews. No one wanted to go out for dinner, so while she practiced her science speeches, I threw together a dinner of chicken lentil soup and salad.

I'm off work tomorrow to spend time with the family before everyone heads home. With the rainy weather, we're going to the Academy of Sciences for an adventure and lunch.

Friday, October 07, 2011


We did it! We booked our plane tickets to Japan for late November.

While I love traveling, I hate the process of actually getting ready to go. My inner hermit makes a big appearance. I always get anxious about the trip (everyone in Japan will be mean to me?) and nearly talk myself out of getting on the plane (we could just stay here!). Especially now, since it has been so many years since we last traveled internationally.

Thankfully, Rob knows to ignore this. As soon as I arrive, the anxiety disappears and I'm so glad we left. This has been the case with our trips to Italy, China and Argentina at least.

Do you get pre-vacation anxiety too?

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Recipe: Baked Apples

The first rainy day of October calls for a batch of warm baked apples. This recipe has all the taste of apple pie without any fuss. And, you can sneak in healthy omega-3 flaxseed:

Baked Apples
Serves 2
1 large apple (I used a farmer's market red delicious)
1 cup rolled oats
1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
1 tablespoon butter
Ample cinnamon & nutmeg
1 teaspoon amaretto

Split the apple and cut out the core. Pre-heat the oven to 350. Mix your oats, sugar, flax, butter and spices in a small bowl. Mix in the amaretto last. Spoon the topping onto your apples and set in a small baking dish. Add a dash of cinnamon to the top. Bake the apples for about 20 minutes, until you can hear them bubbling.

Monday, October 03, 2011

What to Wear: Napa Wedding in November

Alex wrote in with a What to Wear request for an upcoming wedding in Northern California:
I'm attending a wedding in November at a Napa Valley Vintage Estate. The attire is Yountville evening. I'm 5'4", slim with black hair. Asian with slight brown skin undertone. 44 years old. I'm looking for comfortable with sleeveless and shorter hemlines. Love drape dresses BUT I love elegant and classic cuts too. I can spend up to $1k. Help please!
Napa is tricky because even the fanciest events have a laid-back feeling. This dress walks the line between cocktail and casual.

Dress - Jacquard dress with a 1960's cut and so much fall flair from J.Crew. Love the exposed zipper on the back.
Belt - A fancy gold belt that can be worn with all kinds of outfits.
Shoes - Nothing too fancy here because most Napa weddings involve lawns, stone terraces and lovely vineyards. Pick classic wedges over fancy stilettos or you risk aerating the grass all evening.
Earrings - Basic gold studs are a nice compliment.

With her black hair pulled up and a swipe of red lipstick, Alex is ready for a memorable night in Yountville.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Weekend Round-Up: Town & Country

Funny weekend! A bit of city elegance mixed with backcountry camping. We started out on Friday with Heart of a Soldier. Regular Turkish deli dinner before the show. The opera wasn't the finest new work I've seen, but enthusiastically staged and fairly touching.

The next day, we left the city early for a bike event called the Lion of Fairfax. Rob did his first ever cyclocross race! No flats, no injuries and a strong finish. It was fun to spend some time with the Marin dogs+kids set on the race sidelines. BBQ lunch at the race.

At 3:00, we met Elizabeth and Kevin at the Bear Valley Visitor Center in Pt. Reyes for a camping trip! 4 mile hike in along a fern valley to set up at Glen Camp. Once we got the tents up, it was time for the backpacker's staple: "sierra margaritas" made with tequila, water, powdered gatorade and (if you're feeling fancy) lemons.

We ate so much bread with truffle mustard and played cards until Margaret and Sean hiked in at 8:00 with our dinner supplies. Big bowls of hot pasta! Very lively conversation until we turned in for bed.

Chocolate chip pancakes and coffee for breakfast in the morning. Rob is the best camping-trip pancake-maker.

We hiked out of camp at 10 or so. 2 miles to where we dropped our packs for a while and another mile out to the coast. Beautiful views of Point Reyes from the shore. We picnicked on the beach with Elizabeth's pasta salad.

Back out along the main trail. Lots of lizards and pretty ferns. Those packs were starting to feel a little heavy!

We made it to the trailhead at about 3:30! A final count of about 10 miles round-trip.

We parted ways and drove back to the city. Rob and I had hot showers at home and a quiet dinner.