Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ladies Activity Club: Book Swap

We had the February LAC party last night and it was one of my favorite repeating activities! Elisabeth hosted us for a book swap at her lovely apartment in the marina. Each person brought a favorite book, giftwrapped, for the exchange. She served us falafel wraps, veggies with hummus and mini cupcakes along with wine.

Our titles included:

- East of Eden, John Steinbeck
- White Teeth, Zadie Smith
- Toujours Provence, Peter Mayle
- Paris to the Moon, Adam Gopnik
- Possession, A.S Byatt

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Weekend Roundup: Winter

My business trip to Vegas last week was completely exhausting. After standing for 12 hours at a time, for three full days - I was ready to never use my legs again. Of course, the city had other plans for me!

On Friday, Rob and I had a quiet dinner at home before meeting Yvette at Bottom of the Hill. Bob Mould was playing as one of the highlights of the Noise Pop festival, celebrating it's 20th anniversary. It's an awesome, tiny venue and we had a great time at the show.

Rob felt ill suddenly near the end - either food poisoning or just overheating in the crowd - and we caught a towncar home before midnight.

On Saturday, I was very lazy. Rob left in the late morning for a bike ride and I watched Downton Abbey online - I had only managed to see the first episode of the second season. At 12:30, it was time for a break to drive over to my hair appointment in Dogpatch. Since the weather has been so dry, I let my stylist do a blowout. It's hard to believe how long my hair has gotten:

Back home, I watched the remaining hours (many hours!) of Downton in between a few chores around the house. When Rob returned at 5:00, I was on the final episode.

We hurried over to meet Seth & Amy for dinner at Tropisueno that evening. They're expecting their second baby any day now. After a gigante Mexican dinner - with lots of chips and margaritas - we walked around Yerba Buena and picked up cream puffs from Beard Papa while their little girl admired the museum courtyard.

Sunday morning: Rob and I had a leisurely breakfast of bacon, scrambled eggs, toast and coffee - along with blood and ruby red navel oranges.

I read the paper while Rob worked and did laundry. Brrr. It was so cold outside -very hard to motivate from our cozy dining room table.

Shortly after noon, we braved the cold to walk over to the Asian Art Museum for their special maharajah exhibition:

So many amazing Indian jewels! One necklace had 1,000 carats of diamonds alone. Rob and I had lunch in the cafeteria and wandered the rest of the permanent collection.

On the way home, we picked up supplies at Farmer's Market and did some window shopping in Union Square. Margaret came over soon after we returned. Pizza delivery for dinner along with a good bottle of wine. She and I played Lego Batman on Xbox for an embarrassingly long time - we have absolutely no skills at the game, but it is so fun!

Friday, February 24, 2012

What to Wear: Floral

For Friday, an on-trend floral outfit that goes seamlessly from the office to a night on the town.

Dress - A flouncy floral dress that balances vintage and modern styling right in line with spring trends. Might want to upgrade the belt.
Jacket - A leather biker jacket is a modern counterbalance.
Earrings - Love these onyx drops.
Clutch - In silver sequins.

And, with that, I'm back from my business trip!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What to Wear: Pleats

A bit more casual for Thursday. Today's outfit combines three spring trends: pleats, pastels and chunky cableknit.

Jacket - Dark denim from Topshop.
Sweater - White cableknit sweater from Anthropologie.
Skirt - Pleated knee-length skirt from Topshop. H&M has a bunch too.
Bag - $760 for a canvas tote!? We can admire it at least.
Flats - In nude patent leather.
Earrings - Basic pearl studs.
Sunglasses - Vintage style from H&M.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What to Wear: Sequins

Sequins, motorcycle jackets, ladylike 1960's tailoring and color blocking...four spring trends in one outfit. This one is for a fancier day at the office, maybe followed by a night at the symphony.

Jacket - Mod motorcycle style from Ann Taylor.
Sweater - Basic navy crewneck sweater from Banana Republic.
Skirt - Sequined mini on sale from Vince.
Scarf - Ties it all together with a floral (5th trend!) print in blue, orange and tan.
Purse - In orange for contrasting detail.
Pumps - Patent pumps in black and navy.

Add a loose updo and a light dash of 1960's cat eyeliner.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What to Wear: Red Jeans

I'm away on a business trip this week, but had time to put together a couple outfits with some spring trends before I left. To start: red jeans! They're so fun. I would wear this outfit on a day at the office where I had a fun lunch meeting to attend:

Blouse - Any oversized, slightly off-white blouse would work. This satin number dresses the outfit up a bit.
Jeans - A sharp straight leg pair.
Belt - Love the natural leather double style.
Sweater - A pullover basic from Levi's.
Bag -A satchel big enough for a laptop.
Sunglasses - Aviators from Forever 21.
Boots - Love, love, love these basic booties with stacked wood heels from Frye. I would wear them with everything.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

What to Wear: Houndstooth

This $18 houndstooth sheath dress from H&M may just be my favorite purchase of the year so far!

Dress - Exposed zipper at the back, comfy straight cut. Love it!
Coat - Bright orange-y red coat from Ann Taylor.
Clutch - In black ostrich with an updated mod style.
Headband - Double band looks great with a loose sock-bun.
Tights - Hue's super opaque are my favorites.
Pumps - Platform pumps are comfy for the office.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Party Recipe: Valentine's Dinner

Last night's dinner party was easy and fun - exactly what I wanted!

  • Green salad with a truffle mustard vinaigrette
  • Coq au vin (sort of along this recipe, made the night before)
  • Roasted garlic mashed red potatoes (recipe)
  • Margaret's famous almost-flourless chocolate cake with fresh whipped cream
  • Frosted sugar cookies
  • Wine, champagne and port
Plus, an impromptu competition to turn the red hearts into paper airplanes.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

We're gearing up for a small dinner party tonight. I still need to set out the napkins and silverware. Aren't those blossom branches nuts?

Have a lovely, romantic day!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Weekend Roundup: Gung Hay Fat Choy

Whew! This weekend seemed so mild...until I looked at all the photos! To start, I had an event on Friday night for work down in Mountain View and didn't get home until late.

On Saturday morning, Rob and I had a mellow breakfast with coffee, cereal and 30 Rock on TV. He left for a bike ride and I walked to the Flower Market. I walked back with a comically-huge bunch of blossoming branches. Good luck for the belated Lunar New Year celebrations in the city and also so festive for Valentine's Day:

Margaret came over in the afternoon and we worked on Valentine's. I carved a heart character into a linoleum stamp and used these killer markers I bought in Osaka:

At five, the three of us went for a tasty dim sum dinner at Canton Seafood down the street and then walked to the Chinese New Year parade on Market Street. It's my favorite parade of the year, with so many cute kids in costumes, marching bands, dragons and fireworks.

Mini hot fudge sundaes for dessert back at home. I have a terrible addiction to Three Twins ice cream:

Another mellow morning on Sunday. Rob and I read the paper and cleaned house. At 12:30, we picked up my sister from the airport - she's in town on job interviews. Traditional post-airport stop at Pancho Villa for nachos and aguas frescas. We also swung by farmer's market on the way home:

It started to get pretty cold out, but that didn't stop us from getting some exercise. Jean ran while Rob and I rode bikes along the waterfront and all the way to the St. Francis Yacht Club.

We stopped to share Vietnamese beignets from a food truck before riding/running back home. Just over 8 miles altogether:

Quick stop at the apartment to freshen up and then we headed out again for dinner with friends. We went to Club Deluxe in the Haight - a darling combination dive bar, neapolitan pizza joint and jazz club. A ukulele and upright bass played while we were there:

Ben & Jerry's ice cream for dessert across the street and then the bus back home in the rain. We were all pretty exhausted!

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Inspired: Life Aquatic Poster

I'm thinking about adding a wall of re-imagined The Life Aquatic movie posters to my imaginary beach house. There's a great selection on Etsy!

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Work it

Have you ever asked for a raise? It worries me that a lot of you are going to say "no."

And that's why we need to talk. I don't often write here about work, but things are heating up a bit. The World Economic Forum in Davos is bringing the spotlight on women in business - or the lack thereof. Liz Lemon renegotiated her contract. Plus, I recently mentored two very bright ladies and was surprised to hear their career perspectives.

Obviously, gender parity is an complex issue with so many factors at play - but we're not talking about that. We're talking about you.

So, I thought I would share a couple rules that have served me well in my career. I hope this same advice that helped me will help you:

1. Always negotiate your starting salary. No matter what your job. No matter what the situation. At hiring, you have the best possible opportunity to work out a good deal. Do your research, know what you're worth, aim high. Think about it: every time you get a raise, it will be based on your initial salary. If you don't ask, not only could you be leaving money on the table at the start, you'll be putting yourself behind at every future raise.

2. Renegotiate every six months. Don't wait for annual reviews. Champion yourself by taking a look at your performance at least twice a year. Think about your accomplishments and talk to your boss. If you have kicked ass, ask for a reward. One of the best pieces of advice I got was: "If you ask and get turned down, that's fine. If you ask and get accepted right away, you should have asked earlier."

3. Reverse psychology. An awesome trick is to flip your question around. Instead of "what should I be doing better" ask "what is keeping me from __promotion/new title/getting the job/etc____?" It's a lot harder question for a boss to answer. Take the response to heart. Document it, work on it and bring it up again when you've done it.

4. Do your homework. Know the ins and outs of stock options if you're taking a startup job. Keep your resume up to date. Always know what your salary should be. Ask lots of questions about benefits and details of a job offer before you accept. Find mentors and friends who can give you advice. When you're armed with knowledge, it's easier to stand up for yourself.

5. Always, always ask. It's the consistent theme here. From asking for a bigger paycheck to asking a mentor to review a contract, asking is the most important thing. If you have to, bribe yourself to do it (I've used ice cream) or simply pretend that it's no big deal. Big shout-out to Ann Tardy and her book Life Moxie on this one. Ann and I shared a speaking tour a few years ago and her talks were so inspiring - I owe her a lot.

Okay, off the soapbox for me. If you have any questions, I'd love to help!

Monday, February 06, 2012

Book Report: Valentine's Day

I recently bought this pocket book of Pablo Neruda love poems for a gift.

It's one of the prettiest books I've ever seen with letterpressed copper foil on pink paper. The original Spanish version of each poem is on the left of the page and the English translation on the right - very clever. Could be a lovely little Valentine's Day present for the romantic on your list.

Thank you to Marian Bantjes for the photo and details on the designer!

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Weekend Roundup: Super

This was another weekend of funny San Francisco events! On Friday, we went to an "ugly sweater" party to celebrate Margaret's birthday. I had loads of photos of my neon green monstrosity and the cake with dinosaurs and clowns that we brought for the occasion - but I left my camera behind. It was a great time!

Up pretty early on Saturday. Breakfast with Rob before her went off for a bike ride. I went running and swung by the Wholesale Flower Market on the way home. Really pretty light orange garden roses and kumquat branches:

Flower arranging and chores at home. Rob returned from his ride and we had grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch. In the afternoon, we drove out to Sports Basement and then to San Bruno Mountain for a few miles of hiking. Yet another perfect warm January day in California:

We took the long way home and stopped at Joe's Cable Car Burgers in Glen Park for an early dinner. I don't eat ground beef and haven't had a real hamburger in over 10 years - but made an exception for this spot with organic, fresh ground meat. Paired with fries and strawberry shake - super tasty!

Home in time to rest up a bit and change into party clothes for a fundraiser at Rickshaw Stop for a city bike project. It was a warm night for riding the tandem across town:

Home at midnight. On Sunday, we woke up very late and Rob was definitely sick with a cold. Coffee, sweet rolls and the newspaper for breakfast. We watched some episodes of The IT Crowd (my favorite) and had egg tacos for a late lunch. Cleaned house just in time for LisaRuth to stop in for a visit. Tea, snacks and bananagrams.

I made the good ol' family casserole recipe and a big green salad for dinner. Rob and I watched the documentary Senna about the Brazilian race car driver, which was really well done. I love a lazy Sunday!

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Inspired: New Chairs

It's one for the baby book! Nine years after my first apartment, I finally have a matching set of dining room chairs.

Rob and I picked out a set of eight French tolix-style chairs online. We're still getting used to them, but I'm so inspired by all the online styling.

With our mismatched old chairs in the storage room, we now have seating for 14 at the giant dining table. No more borrowing folding chairs or BYOC for our big dinner parties!