Thursday, May 31, 2012

Black & White Ball

The Black & White Ball is this weekend! I am beyond excited.

My dress is done and so beautiful. I have shoes, black gloves, chandelier earrings, false eyelashes purchased in Japan and million hair/make-up inspirations on Pinterest. Get ready for a lot of photos on Monday

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What to Wear: Summer in San Francisco

It's true about summer in San Francisco: while the rest of the country swelters in humid heat, we get colder and colder until September.  But all the fun summer fashion doesn't have to be off limits.  A little clever layering to the rescue!

Maxi dress - I bought this on sale a couple weeks ago. If I'm going to wear the lovely flowing skirt, I need to either book a ticket to Hawaii or pair it with tights underneath!
Sweater - Red orange cardigan adds warmth and coverage.
Belt - To tie it all together.
Scarf - At that price it's for inspiration only. A similar vintage find would add a nice bright piece of warmth.
Clutch - A little envelope clutch in teal.
Booties - With fringe and a nice thick pair of socks.
Sunglasses - A disposable pair.

Top it all off with a light leather jacket and I'll be ready to go to work!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Weekend Round-Up: Down Home

Oh, my overactive imagination...  When we started talking about a trip to Redding for Memorial Day, I pictured a leisurely bit of country relaxation. Reading by the river, picking wildflowers, maybe a fancy fishing lodge restaurant.

We arrived on Friday at our friend's new house to greet their flock including a 4 year old boy, a 2 year old boy, 1 baby due in July, 8 chickens, 11 baby chicks, 2 lambs, 1 rooster and 1 very affectionate dog named Blue.  So much for peace and quiet!  We had a wonderful, much more realistic weekend in the country.

On Saturday, we woke up to kisses from the dog and boys and a big breakfast from our hosts. Waffles, bacon, eggs, muffins and coffee.  We set off to work after eating, Rob and the menfolk worked on digging a trench in the hard clay and then filling it back in. Meanwhile, Margaret, the womenfolk and I scoured the kitchen and then moved dirt in the garden.  Break for sandwiches from town, followed by more work unloading a bed of manure and much needed showers.  Great dinner outside of lamb chops from their family ranch followed by ice cream and strawberries.

Sunday, another cuddly morning with the kids. Our hosts made delicious apple cinnamon french toast, bacon, eggs, strawberries and coffee. I braided my hair and decorate it with sweet peas.

We drove out to Turtle Bay and the famous sundial bridge in downtown Redding with the whole gang before lunch.  Some quality fountain time with the little ones and then a stop at the children's museum.
Back at the ranch in the afternoon, we had a nice chance to relax on the porch with some beers while watching our host try to halter train the lambs. 

Dinner outside of braised short ribs from the family ranch, squash, salad, garlic bread and watermelon. Another great breakfast on Monday morning.  We packed up our bags and sore limbs to hit the road home. Back in breezy San Francisco in the late afternoon. Super lazy for the rest of the day. I read the paper and made an amazing batch of homemade macaroni and cheese for dinner.

The country was a lot of fun, but I love being back in the city!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Strawberry Pink VIlla;postID=4298796134526034834

The strawberry pink villa in Corfu originally rented by the Durells in My Family and Other Animals is available as a vacation rental. It's been modernized quite a bit, and with a pool added - but the original charm is still there.

Wouldn't that make a lovely vacation spot for a group of bookish friends?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

To Do: Fly Fishing

Have you ever been fly fishing? Rob and I are going up to Redding this weekend to visit friends. The town is apparently one of the top trout fishing destinations.  I love eating trout and I love all the cute gear that comes with fishing....just not so sure about the actual fishing part! 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Book Report: My Family & Other Animals

Do you have a favorite summer book?  My preference is for travel novels set around 1910-1940, with My Family and Other Animals topping the list. 

It's the charming true story of a British family moving to Greece and living in a villa by sea in the 1930's, as told by the youngest nature-obsessed son.   The descriptions of exploring sun-drenched gardens and tracking beetles in the rose bushes make it feel so much like summer - even when it's a classic May 50 degrees and foggy outside in San Francisco.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Weekend Round-Up: Working

I didn't have much of a break this weekend. I left the city on a 6:00 am flight Friday to lead a very cool health event in Philadelphia.  From the moment I landed, to taking off again on a 7:00 am flight Sunday - it was pretty much straight work, work, work with a couple hours of sleep. But despite the monumental fatigue, I came back so inspired. It's the best feeling: knowing you're good at your job, doing something important and working with talented people.

Here's a shot of the home stretch; crossing the sierras:

Back in San Francisco at 10:30 am Sunday to find the neighborhood packed with Bay to Breakers traffic and the ballgame. Quick shower, then Rob and I headed out for a picnic to enjoy the sunny weather.  We camped out under an olive tree with a bay view, with a delicious deli sandwich (the food in Philadelphia was gross) and the Sunday paper. Lots of boats out sailing. A group of Morris dancers from Berkeley put on a show next to our camp.

After a couple hours napping outside, I was feeling a little revived. We walked up to the Ferry Building for fresh bread, then back home to do laundry and rest up.

I am so excited to wake up tomorrow when the sun is already up!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

To Do: Black & White Ball

It's hard to believe the Black & White Ball is only 2 weeks away! It seems like the whole city has gala-fever. Each morning, I pass the Macy's window full of black and white gowns on my walk to work. Last night, Nicole and I went vintage gown shopping on Haight Street and so many people were on the same mission.

My custom-made dress is coming together nicely. I had a fitting last night with the actual satin (the one previously was a prototype in oh-so-lovely orange-striped muslin). Here's a sneak preview:

There's still a good amount of finishing work to be done with my next two fittings, but it's coming together! I think I'll have my hair done in a slightly-retro updo.  Diamond starburst earrings, silver slippers. Do you think I should wear long black gloves?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Red Wrap Dress

I picked up this red wool Diane von Furstenberg dress from a second-hand store on Haight Street last night. Its the Volante dress from the fall 2007 collection. So adorable, and it has pockets!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Weekend Round-Up: North Carolina

Our trip to North Carolina was a bit of a whirlwind! We flew all day Wednesday and arrived just in time for dinner with Jean, Trent and my parents.  Jean had booked us at a vacation rental nearby, a pretty house that is part of a co-housing farm development.  The chickens down by the compost are named after female heads of state to give you a general sense of it.  Aside from the waterbed, it really was lovely.

On Thursday, Mom and I got up early to get out to Replacements in time for the very first warehouse tour of the day! We got a behind the scenes look at the 8 football fields of china, silver, glass and crystal kept onsite.  I stocked up on antique shower gifts from the showroom including an arts & craft ceramic baby plate and Norwegian silver baby spoon. 

Back to Carrboro in time for lunch together with Trent's parents at a nearby cafe.  We split up to run errands in the afternoon and get manicures. Dinner all together at Panzanella, a community-owned restaurant next to the organic grocery store (Oh, Carrboro!). Our friends Jackie & Pierre arrived from Atlanta late that night.

On Friday, we left Jean at home to prepare her defense. Jackie, Pierre, Rob and I went to explore Chapel Hill. First stop: Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen for a huge fried chicken biscuit breakfast.

We wanted to get a little history and saw that Chapel Hill's only historic home open to the public, the Horace Williams house, was nearby. A surprised volunteer welcomed us in and Jackie admired the drapes. For a city with so much history (and so many grand homes) it's surprising that this is the only one you can visit.

We hit up the UNC campus next, where a nice student guide at the visitor's center gave us the lay of the land. Quick visit to the NASA training exhibits at the planetarium and then over to see the famous UNC well, which was WAY bigger in our imaginations.  Cutely full of graduates doing family photoshoots in advance of Saturday's events.

After campus, the four of us walked down Franklin Street, visiting little galleries and getting a snack of fried pickle chips at Top of the Hill. We ordered flowers for Jean from a little local shop and went to the Sutton Drug Store to work on signs and enjoy a milkshake.

Jean's PhD defense at 3:00 went smoothly.  She kept a crowd of about 50 science students and non-scientist relatives engaged through her hour-long presentation about E2F1 transcription factors in the cell cycles of fruit flies.  The new doctor stayed behind for the question portion with her committee while the rest of us peeled off to set up a reception at her lab.  Students and instructors from her program came out to celebrate with her and see the tradition of popping a champagne cork into the ceiling and signing the indentation.

Celebratory dinner that evening at Provence, a delicious french bistro in Carrboro.  Despite being exhausted, Jean convinced us to go dancing at The Station after the parents peeled off. Strange, fun place!

Saturday morning, we had breakfast and then dressed for Trent's graduation from the Masters of Public Health program.

The school held a nice luncheon for the graduates and their families after the ceremony.  Back at Jean and Trent's house, we went in to party prep mode. I'll share more photos and details of the event tomorrow. It was a grand southern backyard affair!

We turned in to bed at midnight and woke up again before 4:00 am for our flight home.  Brutal day of flying and trying to sleep as we made our way back to California. Home in time for lunch, we spent the rest of the day being very lazy.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

To Do: North Carolina

Rob and I are headed to North Carolina this week for Jean's PhD graduation. With their move back to California in the summer, this could be our last time to ever visit the state. That means...I need to go to Replacements!

A warehouse the size of 7 football fields full of 360,000 china patterns. Plus, silver, glass and crystal. It is heaven

Along with visiting Jean and going to Replacements, I'm looking forward to fried pickle chips, chicken biscuits and spiked Arnold Palmers made with sweet tea vodka. Back on Monday!

Monday, May 07, 2012

To Do: Daisies

By popular demand (thanks Rebecca!), here are some photos from Sunday's daisy session in the park with Rob. Apologies for the cell phone camera blurriness. There was the daisy crown:

The classic daisy chain (this is Rob's favorite photo).

And, finally, the daisy mohawk. 

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Weekend Round-Up: Vitamin D

This was the first sunny weekend where I haven't been sick or out of town in the longest time!

On Friday, Rob and I exercised and played ping pong at home for the evening. On Saturday, he went for a bike ride with Rebecca's husband in the morning and I headed off to the hair salon. Quick stop at Nordstrom Rack and Trader Joe's on the way home. Rob and Derek returned from their ride full of business ideas.

Now 2:00, I remembered it was Cinco de Mayo.  Quickie dinner invitations by text went out to Seth, Amy, Margaret and Sean. With a guest list in place, Rob and I ran out to Whole Foods down the street. Then he picked up while I made margarita supplies.

Everyone arrived around 6:00. Pomegranate and strawberry margaritas, chips, salsa and ping pong to kick off the warm night. Then we sat down to mahi mahi and chicken tacos. Yum!

More ping pong. Then dessert of my favorite Three Twins chocolate ice cream with hot fudge whipped cream and sprinkles. Great conversation!

At the end of the party, we decided to hunt down the "super moon."  Didn't have to go much further than our front door, where the 14% larger moon was hanging out right down the street.  The party wrapped up after that and Rob and I turned in to bed shortly after.

Sunday morning, up pretty early. We read the paper downstairs with coffee, cereal and the Otis Redding station on Pandora.  Picked up and did a second load of dishes from the party the night before and then motivated to hop on the tandem bike.

Such a beautiful day in Golden Gate Park. Daisies and buttercups everywhere, the whole city out getting their dose of vitamin D for the month.  Grabbed picnic supplies at Safeway.


We met up with Sean and Margaret in the meadow. Sean played guitar while Margaret and I made daisy chains. Rob allowed me to deck him out in daisies from head to toe.

We rode home at 3:30. Rob and I are headed to North Carolina on Wednesday for Jean's graduation and needed to do some serious laundry before the trip. It's supposed to be nearly 80 degrees tomorrow...I think I might burn up!

Friday, May 04, 2012

What to Wear: Neon Pink Accent

I started on this outfit inspired by the neon pink belt. Neon is trendy this summer and easy to wear in small doses. After I finished, I realized it looked so much like a room I had pinned and painted recently.

Top - Grecian-style blouse with lots of soft pleats from Anthropologie.
Belt - In hot pink from DVF. I love the double-wrap style, especially over a blazer.
Pants - Cafe trousers (on sale!) from J. Crew.
Bag - At $1,500, there's no way I would buy this Dolce & Gabbana tote. But it is very handsome to look at.
Shoes - Basic beige patent pumps with fun pink detailing on the heels.
Earrings - Black drops that mirror the pattern in the black and white ginger jar.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Painting: Blue Bedside

With being sick this weekend, I had plenty of time to work on watercolor painting projects. I took on a lovely blue and white bedroom (my favorite color scheme!) with red flower from my inspiration folder on Pinterest.

I really like how the flowers and vase came out, the rest is a little too "fussy." I think I'll set a timer to see if I can make those brushstroke a bit looser with the next project. Also, it's hard to see the shading details in the scanned version.

Here are the two images side-by-side for comparison:

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Recipe: Angel Hair with Choi Sum & Sausage

Mmmm...Have you had thin crust pizza with broccoli rabe and spicy sausage? It's a delicious combination that inspired this easy weeknight pasta dinner.

Choi sum, with bright yellow flowers, is easily found at most asian markets or farmer's markets in the Bay Area through the summer. It's actually the young rapeseed plant, aka canola. I usually reach for choi sum to be a colorful addition to salads or sandwiches, but it was really good cooked! If you can't find it in your area, Chinese broccoli or rapini would be fine.

Angel Hair with Choi Sum & Sausage
Serves 2
3 chicken jalapeno sausages (Trader Joe's is my favorite), chopped
1lb of choi sum, rinsed and cut into 2 inch pieces
2 servings of Barilla Plus angel hair pasta
1 clove of fresh garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of butter (or olive oil)
Pepper & red chili flakes to taste

Toss your angel hair pasta in a pot of boiling water. Add the chopped sausage to a large skillet, cook on high until the sausage begins to brown. Turn the heat to low and add the yu choi, garlic and butter on top of the sausage. Cook only until the yu choi begins to wilt, about a minute. Turn off the heat on your skillet until the pasta finishes cooking for 7 minutes. Strain and add pasta to the sausage mixture in the skillet. Turn heat back up. Add pepper and red chili flakes to taste. Cook until fully mixed and serve!

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Happy May Day!

Do you celebrate May Day? When my sister and I were little girls, we always made May Day flower baskets for our neighbors and my mom even once put on a garden party with a real Maypole. Nothing's cuter than a bunch of girls in pastel dresses with flowers in their hair to celebrate spring.