Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What to Wear: To Lose an Award to Twitter

Out hobnobbing tonight with the Silicon Valley elites. Didn't bring home a trophy, but it was a good excuse to get dressed up.

Not pictured: nude fishnet tights, beige suede and gold pumps, smart phone. Do you recognize the earrings from this 2009 What to Wear post?

Monday, January 30, 2012

What to Wear: NY Wedding

Sarah wrote in asking for a $200 or under dress that would work at a NY wedding and back in her normal life in Oregon:
I have an upcoming event that made me think of you. I'm traveling to NY for a wedding on March 10 at 1 pm and I desperately need help on what to wear. I'm from Portland, OR and I have a feeling that my idea of dressing up for an afternoon wedding isn't going to cut it there. I'm 5'3'' and 130 lbs with a pixi hair cut. My skin in more olive tone and I have dark brown hair so I don't wear most yellows or oranges. I would love some inspiration or thoughts on a killer outfit to wear!

Dress - A bright colored wrap dress, or in this case faux wrap, is always flattering. I think this plum selection will be a perfect match for Sarah's pixie style.
Boots - New Yorkers do love their shoes, so if Sarah is comfortable wearing heels this is a great time to splurge on a pair of booties for the rest of winter.
Earrings - Gold and green beads are so festive.
Clutch - From Etsy in light green faux snakeskin.

Cardigan - When it's time to wear this dress at work, top it with a basic cardigan from Target.
Belt - And add a cute belt from Zara in comfy elastic.
Boots - For Portland, a pair of Hunter boots in olive green are right for almost any situation.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Weekend Roundup: North and South

This weekend reminded me so much of when Rob and I used to live in San Luis Obispo (aka: SLO). Even though we're in Northern California now, this weekend felt like Southern. A relaxing time, sunny weather and lots of casual hanging out with friends!

On Friday, Rob, Margaret and I went on a small roadtrip to see a friend perform in the band of a local theater group. In SLO, our routine was to take a 40 minute drive south to see PCPA. For this show, we drove over an hour to Newark and stopped for delicious Taiwanese noodles before.

Stage 1 put on an amazing production of Hair Spray at the local high school auditorium. I honestly didn't expect much from the show. But everything was so well done! The main characters were perfectly cast, the choreography and singing were very professional, and of course the live band was our favorite part. It was the best production of Hair Spray I've ever seen - you should definitely go if you have a chance! I've had You Can't Stop the Beat in my head ever since.

On Saturday morning, Rob went off on a bike ride and I did some gardening. Margaret came over and we went to lunch at Epicenter and then walked over to TJ Maxx. It was supposed to be a short visit, but we found so many great things. I came home with a sequined French Connection dress, duck boots, throw pillows, cupcake toppers and eye cream! In SLO, Margaret and I would have similarly epic shopping trips at Ross all the time.

After dropping off our bags, we met up with Rob at home. It was such a warm nice day, that we walked downtown to get pints on the sidewalk patio at The Grove (a lot like our old routine at Spike's in SLO). Cream puffs from Beard Papa in the park. Margaret headed home and we met up with Nicole to see The Artist at the independent movie theater (equivalent to the Palm Theater in SLO).

Lazy Sunday morning. Rob and I had coffee and oatmeal with the paper. At 11:00, we met up with Seth & Amy and their baby for a day at the beach (very SLO). We drove over together to Muir Beach and stopped in at the Pelican Inn for a classic pub lunch.

From there, we set up camp on the beach with chairs, blankets, the dog and the baby. Rob, Seth and I hiked to the overlook.

And we played rounds of bocce ball on the sand.

We only packed up to go home when it started getting overcast.

Quick stop at Trader Joe's on the way home and then a quiet pizza dinner.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Hold On

Because, sometimes, you just need to take a break to hike the sierras in a blazer or go to the beach in a velvet gown. Either way there should be red lipstick, hoop earrings and taking yourself too seriously. Happy Friday!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

To Do: Spring Social Calendar

So many of my favorite San Francisco events come in the spring and early summer each year! Start marking your calendars now for:

Chinese New Year - February 11 - It's year of the dragon, an auspicious time to celebrate with the city. The flower market fair that takes over Chinatown the weekend after is almost more fun than seeing all the local school kids dressed up in costumes during the parade.

Bouquets to Art - March 13-17 - A wonderful event where local florists create hundreds of arrangements inspired by the art at the Legion of Honor. Past members-only events have been a zoo, so I may take a day off work to visit when it's quieter this year.

Big Bang Gala - April 19 - Rob and I went to this for the first time last April thanks to the invitation of a friend whose wife works at the museum. By arriving right on time, we had total run of the place for a while. Plenty of delicious food, strong drinks, clever decorations and fun entertainment.

Black & White Ball - June 2 - Moved from May to June for 2012, this is one of my all time favorite events. It's so big, that they only hold it every other year. I've been reminding friends since October! Get your tuxedo and gown ready and fundraiser for the symphony in their centennial year.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Party Recipe: Thunderbolt

I don't usually post about work parties, but they really are some of my favorites! It's one of the best things about being a boss. This time, the occasion was celebrating the 2-year anniversaries of the first two people we hired on the marketing team. My co-director came up with the idea of a lightning bolt theme - I just love a weird party idea!

The final result was an awesome transformation of a startup conference room into a sort of "disco Olympus" bash worthy of just how wonderful these two people are.

For decorations, we replaced all the lamps in the room with blue lightbulbs, projected a looping video of a thunderstorm on the wall and made two thunderclouds over each door using tinsel curtains, tissue paper and construction paper. The whole thing was a surprise, concealed as a mandatory late-Friday HR meeting.

Pita chips, hummus, olives and other Greek snacks along with ouzo and vodka. Plenty of music. Everyone got a blue or yellow glowstick bracelet. The guests of honor also had gold leaf wreaths. And the most fun part of all? Facepaint in metallic blue and gold! Guests had their choice of thunderbolts over the eye - Lady Gaga-style - or on their arms. We got a surprising amount of people to go for the eye!

I'm so lucky to work with a group of people who appreciate oddly-themed, construction-paper-based parties as much as I do!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Weekend Roundup: I Love the Nightlife

This was a strange, fun weekend! On Friday night, I helped throw a party at work to celebrate anniversaries on my team. I'll share more details soon, but it was a lot of fun. I looked like this at 6:30pm...

...and caught a ride home soon after. So, the rest of the night rainy night was pretty quiet after that.

On Saturday morning, I left early for a long overdue hair appointment in Dogpatch. I hadn't been since before Japan. Great time catching up with my hairdresser and the latest fashion magazines. A couple errands while I had the car out and then home for lunch. Pretty soon, it was time to get ready for the Edwardian Ball.

Margaret invited us to this famous local event. It's not the kind of Edwardian you're thinking of. The ball is inspired by Edward Gorey, with a mix of Victorian, French court fashion, flapper, steampunk and - well - all sorts of styles. Very San Francisco. Rob and I fortunately had enough materials on hand to create our outfits. I wore a floor-length gray ball gown skirt with hidden pockets that I've had forever, with a black button up shirt, wide belt and gloves. Lots of jewelry, makeup and accessories to complete the look:

Bus across town to have dinner with Margaret and Sean before the party. Delicious sushi at Wasabi & Ginger, and not too many strange looks at our attire. From there, we walked to the Regency Ballroom. I had never been to this 100 year old venue before and just loved it! It's so easy to imagine elegant galas at the space so long ago, although it's mostly used for rock concerts these days:Link

Different musical and acrobatic acts were appearing on the main stage. Downstairs, there was a vendor fair with all sorts of hats and elaborate costumes for sale. Upstairs, a "museum" of curiosities was on display including a man who played a shovel, an elaborate machine made of wood and a faux stuffed bear staged for photos:

For all the extensive detail going in to the event, the planners didn't seem to spend much time finding ways to make it fun. Much of the entertainment was intentionally morose-themed and extras, like the photobooth, all seemed to come with steep extra costs. Other balls such as the Academy of Sciences Big Bang have all sorts of little hidden freebies that make the night special. To be fair, this wasn't exactly my scene, so maybe my perspective was skewed. It was certainly impressive seeing everyone so dressed up, though!

Rob and I watched the performance of an Edward Gorey tale on stage and danced a final waltz before catching a cab home at 12:30.

Lazy morning on Sunday. The rain returned overnight and we had a quiet breakfast with the paper. I spent a good amount of time cleaning house and we walked downtown briefly to pick up my cell phone at work and visit a couple shops. We braved the cold rain in the evening for dinner at Fondue Cowboy with Joel and Alison! A fantastic meal with two different cheese fondues and a chili chocolate for dessert:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

To Do: Kettlebells

This is my third week of kettlebell training at my office. It is crushing hard, but so fun! I feel stronger than I have in years already. And I think it's going to be really good for my back.

If you want to try it, be sure to find a serious instructor. It could be so easy to injure yourself without good form.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Recipe: Kiwi Sorbet

Having an ice cream maker is such a cheat! You can throw almost anything in there and make an amazing gourmet dessert.

Over the weekend, Jackie's parents gave us each about 5 lbs of kiwis fresh off their trees. Last night I made a simple kiwi sorbet with the spoils, served after a spicy curry dinner. The light green color with black seeds looks almost like mint chip ice cream, but so much healthier.

It's hardly a recipe, but here you go:

5 cups of ripe kiwis, peeled and minced
1 cup of sugar

Mix the fruit and sugar into a smooth-ish blend. Don't fret about any chunks. Put in the ice cream maker and wait for the magic to happen! It would be fun to experiment with adding a bit of orange flower water or fresh ginger to the mix.

Gorgeous photo from Cannelle et Vanille.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Weekend Roundup: The SLO Life

Rob and I usually like to volunteer for MLK Day of Service, but this year we had different plans. Instead of working at a national park, I volunteered with my office at a community center on Friday and then we drove Sean and Margaret to San Luis Obispo for the weekend. She was introducing him to her folks for the first time!

We left on Saturday morning and arrived in SLO just in time for lunch. After dropping off Sean and Margaret, Rob and I got delicious subs at Ben Franklin's. Authentic Mexican food and classic oil & vinegar subs are the two things that you just can't get in San Francisco. We spent a quiet afternoon with my parents, lots of tea and dog training. In the evening, Rob's sister and her kids came over for a pizza dinner. We had a great time playing legos with the gang.

On Sunday, we had a lazy morning and then went out to Morro Bay. The area was packed with birders at the Winter Bird Festival. Early lunch at the Bayside Cafe - amazing fish & chips - and then around the bay on the sailboat. Lovely warm day with still waters. Classic California in January:

Quick switch at home and we grabbed Sean and Margaret to visit wedding venues for Jackie, who is living in Atlanta for a couple years. We toured two fancy barn venues in Nipomo and then stopped off at her parent's home for snacks and tea. On the way home, we caught a bright sunset at the octagon barn.

Massive dinner of dungeness crab, sourdough bread and artichokes with my parents that night. We had picked up four freshly cooked crabs in Morro bay earlier in the day.

After dinner Margaret, Sean and I went to our friend Shane's house for some drinks. We planned a group trip to the Grand Canyon for the fall this year!

On Monday, Rob and I went for a run in the morning and then met up with Sean and Margaret at Gus's for one last classic SLO sandwich experience before hitting the road.

Back home in time for Rob to make his class at Tech Shop. All in all, it was a very mild weekend. It's hard to adjust to how relaxed life is in San Luis Obispo compared to the city!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Party Recipe: Mixer


On Tuesday, Nicole, Elizabeth and I got tickets to one of Yelp's Holiday Hangover parties! This is the second year Yelp held fun free events for five nights. Our night had a 1950's theme, with a lot of people dressed to the nines. The venue was a cool antiques warehouse (so many places to rest your drinks!) packed full of all sorts of weird things to discover:

  • Food: Meatball sandwiches, rice pudding, buffalo mac n' cheese, korean tacos, mini cupcakes and really tasty organic caramels
  • Drinks: 1950's cocktails including white russians, moscow mules and old fashions plus wine tasting and beer. Apparently, interesting ice is the new cocktail trend. Every cocktail had it's own unique ice including shaved and giant cubes
  • Activities: Photobooth, thai massages, 1950's hair & makeup, DJ playing LP record' and a one man band who covered 90's rock songs

Such a great party. Free food and drinks are my favorite thing!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Book Report: Billy & Lizzie

Did you get a Kindle (or Nook, or...) for Christmas? I've been devouring oddball old books on mine for a year now. ManyBooks.net has such an extensive library of free books to download.

I've found some gems, including the Sherlock Holmes series and Mary Roberts Rinehart. Lately, I seem to be on a very silly track. First up, the Billy series by Eleanor Porter, the author of Pollyanna. They're decently written, although the main character is something of a flibbertigibbet. Its still charming to read about high society artists and musicians in the northeast at the start of the 20th century.

Moving on to even better writing and sillier women, mom got me started on Trollope with the Eustace Diamonds. Its great fun to think of him writing chapters while crossing Ireland by train.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What to Wear: Back to Work

The first day at work after the holidays is back-to-school for grownups. It's a great chance to start the fresh year with some fresh duds. I've been hitting up the online sales at Bloomingdales, Nordstrom and Barneys - all easy to do local returns when things don't work out...as capes are apt to do.

Cape - This is either awesome or a terrible idea. We'll see when it arrives. Thank heaven for free returns!
Sweater - White cashmere turtleneck on sale from Bloomingdales.
Shorts - High waisted shorts with tights is the new pencil skirt?
Tights - The super opaque line from Hue is the best.
Boots - I'm wearing flats for my walk to work, but these suede boots are adorable.
Handbag - Vintage french handbag in black.
Gloves - In olive green leather.
Headband - An easy way to dress up a loose bun.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Weekend Roundup: Steps

I've been wearing a FitBit for a work project. It counted that I hit over 50,000 steps this weekend! Whew, this was a good one.

On Friday, Rob and I dressed up to the nines for the birthday of Bike Party, complete with bow tie and faux fur coat. We met up with a big group of festive riders at Civic Center and rode over to the Palace of Fine Arts for a fun party under the arches.

Lazy morning on Saturday. Rob and I had cereal and coffee for breakfast. He left for a class at TechShop and I did some chores around the house. Walked downtown to return some things I purchased online in the after-holiday sales. In the afternoon, Rob and I walked to Gott's Roadside for burgers and sweet potato fries and then ambled home through the city.

In the evening, we went to see the latest Mission Impossible at the IMAX theater. Fun movie, with lots of scary scenes if you're afraid of heights (like me!).

On Sunday, we got up early to drive over the bridge to Muir Woods.

I'd never been before and it was a gorgeous warm day for hiking through the giant redwoods. It's almost impossible to not get a little lost when hiking in Marin - and this was no exception:

From there, we drove to Stinson Beach to enjoy the nice January day. Fish and chips for lunch, followed by a long walk on the beach. Sunny and clear, we could almost see our house from the shore. The beach was packed with kids and dogs. I'm so tempted to rent a beach cottage out here for sometime this spring:

Home at 3:00 in time for some tea and rest. Margaret came over at 5:00 and we walked over to the Embarcadero for the last night of holiday ice skating along the bay. It was a bright full moon and still quite warm:

Giant Indian food dinner after skating. I was starving from all the day's activities!

Thursday, January 05, 2012

To Do: Spicy Crab

Hands down one of my all-time favorite dinners in San Francisco. When Jackie and Pierre were here last week, we drove across town for a crab pilgrimage.

Spicy crab at PPQ Dungeness Island is the best thing ever. The fresh (giant) dungeness crab is lightly battered with a salt and pepper mixture and then tossed with chilies, green onion and chili oil. The crab inside is tender and juicy and the seasoning is a perfect complement.

Order it with sides of hot garlic noodles and a cold beer - and nothing else, you're done! One crab can serve three people pretty easily.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

What to Wear: New Orleans Wedding

Catherine wrote in asking for a comfortable, festive dress to wear to a wedding in New Orleans:
My name is Catherine and I have been reading your blog for a couple years now. I love your "what to wear" posts and I was wondering if you could help me with an outfit dilemma. I have a wedding in New Orleans in two weeks. My husband is a groomsman and I am the photographer. I would like something appropriate for the culture of New Orleans French quarter and practical for taking pictures as well as compliment my husbands tux. I am 5'4" tall and a size 10 with long brown curly hair. I would love any ideas!
What a fun trip. I hope she'll eat some oysters for me!

Dress - I love the cut of this BCBG dress with sequins. It looks like it would be so comfortable and the bow on the back is perfect.
Shoes - Me Too pumps are super comfortable and will give Catherine a few extra inches while running around taking pictures.
Earrings - Basic studs in black keep the outfit from going over-the-top.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Weekend Roundup: New Year's

This was a lovely inside kind of weekend. After a month of parties, dinners, travel, etc. it was grand to spend quiet time inside drinking tea, doing chores and relaxing. Aside from the New Year's Eve party on Saturday night, we barely left the house!

On Saturday morning, we had a bit oatmeal breakfast. Rob went for a bike ride with a friend and I wrote all my thank you notes using paper supplies and stickers from Japan. I just love this tape with little frowny guys and cherry blossoms:

I wrote our holiday journal for the year and also made the quilted fabric balls purchased at a shrine sale in Japan into a garland for the tree:

Rob took me for a tour of Tech Shop, his new favorite place! It has all sorts of sophisticated metal, electronic and wordworking machines for members. Very cool.

In the evening, we dressed up in full New Year's regalia and took the bus (free all night, thank you SFMTA!) to a party at Sean's house. Lots of fun with magnums of beer, jello shots, 90's hip hop and noisemakers. Bus back home, through the crowds in SOMA and to bed.

Lazy morning on Sunday. We had cereal and coffee for breakfast while reading the paper and watching a movie. Took a walk along the waterfront and had pizza for lunch. And then spent some time in the basement storage unit getting organized. Lots of laundry. Took down the tree and packed up Christmas.

In the evening, I made a big batch of artichokes and spent some time hitting up the after Christmas sales online. Such great deals!

Monday morning was much of the same. Rob and I motivated to go for a long run along the Embarcadero and had breakfast burritos at the Ferry Building on the way home. At home, I did even more laundry (seven loads this weekend, nuts), oiled the teak furniture and baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies:

In the evening, we dressed up and went to dinner with Yvette, Tom and friends at Oola. Way too much tasty food, including a charcuterie spread, truffle parmesan fries, mussels, filet minion, soy glazed ribs, kale with bacon, brioche bread pudding and caramel chocolate lava cakes!