Friday, June 29, 2012

What a Week!

I love my crazy life! This has been a particularly busy week: my company announced our Series C funding yesterday. Plus, I went to two networking parties, helped put together a "squirrel princess" themed party for a member of my team, painted a poster, negotiated a five figure donation, sewed the rest of my LAC napkins and wore a version of this white jean & gray sweater outfit from Boden (with red sandals) to work.  I still have to host a three hour branding meeting, go to the opera and go camping...whew.



















Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What to Wear: Red, White & Blue Summer

I looked down today and realized I've been wearing an exclusive mix of red, white and blue for about the last two weeks. I think it started with that red, white and blue maxi dress outfit.  It's been so easy while traveling since everything coordinates.

Plus, the combo just feels like summer. Here are some ideas for building your own mix-and-match red, white and blue wardrobe. I count at least 16 really great combinations:



Red
  • Cropped trousers - In a vivid coral red from Theory
  • Striped top - Classic French style on sale at Lord & Taylor
  • Dress - Red pleated dress on sale for $99. I wish it was in my size!
White
  • Tailored shorts - On sale from Theory. I like wearing them with navy tights.
  • Tee - The cut of this $48 Anthropologie top seems so, so pretty
  • Cableknit sweater - $24 from Madewell
Blue
  • Tank - Light navy pattern for layering at $39
  • Chinos - Light blue chinos are a super comfortable alternative to jeans
  • Cardigan - A navy cardigan can be partnered with everything
Add a natural leather belt, some sandals and pumps...you're ready to go! 

Monday, June 25, 2012

New bikes

Rob surprised me last night with the gift of a new (old) bike!  He had been bike shopping for something to replace my Globe, which was too heavy to ride frequently.

My new Austrian-made Sears bike is probably from the 1960's. It has a great leather saddle, quick steering and three gears. But the best feature is that Rob bought a men's bike to match.  He goes much slower on this new rig, so its easier for me to keep up.  We rode along the water last night and took glamor shots of the bikes. I love them so much!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Weekend Round-Up: Ladies

I drove down to San Luis Obispo this weekend to celebrate two birthdays: Nicole's and my mom's! Margaret and I left the city at 3:30 with Lindsey, one of Nicole's friends along for the ride.  Rob made us watermelon slices to take along and we added bottles of lemon mint water to the road-trip supplies.  Which turned out to be a lifesaver when we hit so much traffic. Dropped off Lindsey in Paso Robles and made it home for a very late roast pork dinner with my parents. Dropped Margaret off at her parents and then turned in to bed.

The next morning, I did the traditional Saturday routine with my folks: farmer's market, dog park, Budget Cafe.

 



































After a quick break at home, I drove downtown to meet Nicole and five of her friends for lunch at Firestone. San Luis Obispo looks so pretty this time of year. Rob and I used to live just around the corner from this view:


















Big tri-tip lunch on the patio - such nice women! We walked around after, checking out bubble gum alley, the creek and the mission downtown.  We swung by the infamous Madonna Inn on the way out of town. The next stop was Sycamore Hot Springs out by Avila Beach.  These rent-by-the-hour outdoor sulfur tubs under an oak grove are a locals favorite.





































Home just in time to change into a nice dress for a celebratory dinner with my parents at Windows on the Water. We were celebrating my mom's birthday along with their 40th wedding anniversary and her upcoming retirement. Great meal starting with abalone, including delicious fish dishes and ending with a giant tiramisu.


















We wrapped up the meal just as the sun was setting behind Morro Rock.


















Back home and out again, this time to meet Margaret and Shane for a drink at a wine bar downtown. To bed at 10:30. I slept in on Sunday morning and spent a leisurely breakfast with the paper.  Mom and I took the dog for a long walk around the neighborhood. Turkey bacon BLTs on local sourdough bread for lunch.  I ran a couple errands and got a car wash.   Made lavendar lemon verbana water for the road before picking up Margaret and driving home.

Great to see Rob and catch up on his own festive weekend in Fresno. He took the train out to help his Dad put on the Central Valley Solar Cooking Festival.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Welcome to the Club: Richmond, VA

The latest Ladies Activity Club chapter is going strong in Richmond, Virginia! If you're interested in joining their ranks, check out the Richmond LAC on facebook or email carolynnwren@gmail.com for details. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Ladies Activity Club: Napkins

Last night's LAC party was hosted by Tracy - an amazingly talented seamstress who works in fabric sourcing. Her parties are always impressive, especially for those of us who are far less meticulous about hems. For June, seven of us came over to learn how to make picnic napkins.  (apologies for the cell phone photos - forgot my camera)





































The first step was selecting fabric from her collection and iron it before cutting 18" squares down to size along with contrasting 3" trim strips for the edge.





































Then, we sewed the trim strip on one edge before ironing, pinning and sewing the sides.  In between stations, we snacked on a spread of picnic food Tracy provided.















The final step was to "stitch the ditch" to close the folded over trim. Although most of us only finished one napkin, we were handsomely rewarded with chocolate chip pecan pizookies fresh out of the oven in their own ramekins with ice cream on top. 



Monday, June 18, 2012

Party Recipe: Summer Picnic

Here are all the details on our 2nd Place picnic for this year's Mountain Play. Next year, we're definitely taking home the gold! I've already started planning for Sound of Music.

Decor: Red, white and blue was the color scheme. We used four tablecloths that matched the colors on top of inflated sleeping pads to make the stone steps comfortable for sitting.  I fancied-up the picnic basket my dad bought be a few years ago with new Mottahedeh tin plates - an awesome purchase, so light and pretty.  Plus, new plastic cups and bowls designed to look like crystal, red and blue platters, bike napkins and paper straws.  Even the knives and bottle opener matched the theme. Red dahlias in a jam jar as a centerpiece. The awesome guests all dressed accordingly in their finest red, white and blue attire. 





































Food:  We had SO much food.  I brought three cold roast chickens, 6 loaves of pain epi bread from Acme, a massive orzo salad with lemon basil, watermelon, smoked trout, cream cheese, dill pickles, radishes, truffle mustard, caper mustard and jalapeno jelly.  Greg & Kevin contributed a white peach and tomato salad and a fennel arugula salad.  Seth & Amy brought an orzo salad with brussels sprouts, fresh fruit, a cheese platter with truffle cheese, pastrami and salami.  Rebecca & Kevin brought a kale, mango and avocado salad and strawberries. Jordan & Paul brought fruit skewers and a tabouli salad. 


















Amazingly, we ate almost everything!  The super enthusiastic bike riders in our group (pictured below) made a huge dent after their 25 mile climb.


















Drinks: My favorite trick is bringing empty glass bottles to fill at the top of the mountain. It gets really hot, so you end up going through gallons. This year, we did one with fresh mint and another with cucumber and lemon. We also served cold rose, sparkling blood orange soda and 21st Amendment beer.

































Dessert: Margaret topped off intermission with adorable berry shortcakes served in mason jars. She made the poundcake from scratch to top with strawberries, blueberries and whipped cream.  Portable and delicious!





































More photos here!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Weekend Round-Up: Theatrics

I officially became an "award-winning" picnicker this weekend!  On Friday, Rob and I went to see Verdi's Attila at the opera. It was too hot to change out of my maxi dress and sandals from work.
 
This was exactly the kind of opera I love: 135 packed on stage including a children's choir and corps de ballet, crazy over-the-top sets, a strong Italian bass lead named Ferruccio Furlanetto, a love triangle and murder.  Subway home at 10:30 (a short one). 

Saturday, the weather was even warmer. After sleeping in, Rob and I walked down to meet Nicole at the Ferry Building.  Bought some apricots, cherries, lemon basil and picnic supplies on sale from Sur La Table. We had a quick lunch up on the viewing deck.
 
Walked down Market Street from there to visit the bike shop and then parted ways with Nicole.  At home, Rob and I watered the garden and prepared for the big picnic event the next day.  Lots of running up and down to the storage unit gathering supplies. Major shopping trip to Whole Foods with the cart.  In between cooking and preparing, we watch an awesome documentary about a "horse whisperer" named Buck.  To bed late - it was too hot to sleep!

Up at 7:00 on Sunday - super early.  I packed up the car and Kevin came by to get a ride. We stopped for fresh bread from Acme on the way to pick up Margaret.  We made it to Mount Tam exactly when the gates opened at 9:00 to grab a primo spot in the shade.  We set up our picnic spot and had breakfast of pastries while reading the Sunday paper. 

Before we knew it, it was 11:00 and time for the picnic contest. We rushed to create a pretty plate for the judge with the various salads and meats. More details on the picnic spread later!
The gang started arriving soon after, and with them - more food! We fed 2-year olds and hungry mountain bikers with a grand California feast:
The play, Music Man, was great. Lots of strong singing and dancing with clever rotating sets.  We brought out the berry shortcake jars during intermission. 
 
We ended the day taking home 2nd place in the picnic contest! 

It was so nice to catch up with old friends and soak up the sun at Mountain Play this year.  We packed up everything and hit a solid wall of fog at the Golden Gate Bridge.  The weather in the city is definitely back to normal! 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Mission: Impossible

The original Mission: Impossible TV series is my new summer favorite.  Watching old series during the summer makes me nostalgic for lazy July mornings at the beach spent with I Love Lucy and Gilligan's Island waiting for the fog to burn off.

 If you've only seen the Tom Cruise movies, you're in for a nice surprise. The complex spy plots (mostly, using theatrical arts to trick bad Russian dudes) are engaging. The diverse cast is a nice reminder that the late 1960s wasn't all terrible Mad Men-style sexism.  Plus, the clothes and sets are really great too.  They're available on Netflix streaming right now.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Recipe: Roasted Tomatillo Salsa






















Yum! I made fresh tomatillo salsa last week and have been putting it on everything ever since. It was so easy to make:

10 fresh tomatillos (around a pound)
1/2 an onion, diced
1 jalapeno
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon of salt (to taste)

Remove the "paper" skin from the tomatillos and rinse them off.  Cook the tomatillos and jalapeno under the broiler for about 10 minutes until things are browned, turning things over halfway through. Remove the stem and seeds from the jalapeno.

If you have a blender - you can just dump everything in together to blend into a smoother salsa at this point.  I don't - so chopping with a knife once the tomatillos and jalapeno are cooled off works just fine.  The finished salsa keeps in the fridge for two weeks or in the freezer for longer. It also makes really great guacamole with the addition of an avocado and lime.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Inspired: Women Entrepreneurs

I went to a cool event last night hosted by Ruth's Chris Steak House and Marie Claire featuring an interview with Jennifer Hyman, the CEO of Rent the Runway. 

It was so inspiring hearing her story of launching and funding a startup, then growing it to a team of 120. She reached out directly to Diane von Furstenberg just days after coming up with the idea and actually got a meeting. The company now offers unlimited maternity leave, dance classes and on-site day care for it's 70% female team in New York.

A lot of it rang true to my own startup experience: being scrappy to get media exposure for your initial brand, learning to interview job candidates critically and getting comfortable with hands-off management as the team grows.  Most importantly, she stressed staying positive (the "appreciation chip") and not being intimidated by the male-dominated startup world ("just do it").

Plus, killer gift bag at the end of the night including Opi nail polish and Burt's Bees cosmetics - how often do you get that at the end of a networking event?!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Weekend Round-Up: Blue Ribbon

This was an awesome weekend!  Finally, a chance to relax at home and take it easy. On Friday, Rob and I went to the opera after work.  Nixon in China kicked off our summer series.  It was a particularly long and arty production, but well done. The ballet scenes were an extra treat.  We ran into a couple old friends on the subway home at midnight.















On Saturday morning, I got up early to go to the hair salon in Dogpatch.  Always nice to catch up with my hair stylist of six years. At noon, I picked up Margaret and then tracked down Rob on his bike in San Bruno to drive to the San Mateo County Fair.  Margaret and I grew up with the (much larger) Mid-State Fair being the hottest ticket of the summer - so this was like old times! 

We watched her boyfriend's band perform country song covers on an outdoor stage, ate tri-tip and Hot Dog on a Stick for lunch, visited the 4-H cows and cheered on the pig races. Rob was feeling artistic with the black & white photos:














By 3:30, it was too hot to stay outside any longer. Rob and I drove to Sloat Garden Center by the beach on the way home for shade plants and organic potting soil.  Stopped at Safeway in the Castro for a major grocery run and then had a quiet night at home with artichokes and cantaloupe with lime for dinner.

On Sunday, we read the paper in bed with coffee and apple cake.  Our friends Seth and Amy invited us for a leisurely lunch at their new apartment in the Richmond.  Rob and I rode over by tandem bike - which took about an hour thanks to the crowds for the Escape from Alcatraz triathalon. Super gorgeous warm day in the city  - very unusual for June!

Massive delicious lunch together with the kids: grilled steak, lemon chicken, lavender corn bread with honey butter, artichokes and a green salad with fresh berries and avocado. I ate SO much!





































After a short break, we topped it all off with homemade mocha brownies and ice cream.  What a great way to spend a leisurely afternoon!  Quick bike ride home through the Presidio, Crissy Field and Embarcadero - still super warm out at 5:00.  It was time for some serious gardening when we got home.  Rob helped cut the roots on an overgrown jasmine vine, fertilize everything with steer manure and settle in the new plants.





































It was messy work - but spending time in the garden always feels so rewarding.  Major house cleaning after the garden was settled.  We had a light dinner of nachos with fresh guacamole and cantaloupe for dinner.  Tomorrow's weather is supposed to return to a much more reasonable 74 degrees - I can't wait!

Thursday, June 07, 2012

What to Travel: Weekender Bags

I use a weekender tote for about 90% of my travel.  For business trips, they're light and easy to cram in overhead bins on airplanes. For personal travel, just the right size for a couple of maxi dresses and a book. My poor 10-year old weekender is looking worse for wear lately - time for an upgrade:

1. Kelty Cargo Drum ($54),   2. Sandqvist Weekend Bag ($199),  3. Herschel Novel ($79),  4. Orla Kiely Laminated Weekender ($206),   5. Longchamp Le Pliage Bag ($135),   6. Boden Essential Holdall ($138) 



Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Craft Project: Cement Planters



























Cement planters packed with succulents were a standout at Sunset Celebration last weekend. The cement pots look surprisingly easy to make in this Apartment Therapy tutorial. Seems like it could be a great project to pair with a weekend brunch with some friends this summer

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Black & White Ball: Beauty Regime

Benefit sponsored the photobooth at the ball, so I'll make my cosmetics post in their honor.  My make-up was actually fairly simple. The giant Japanese false lashes were the centerpiece (these are similar). Gluing them off was as difficult as ever - but it's so worth it!

M.A.C Studio Fix foundation and Fleur Power blush. NARS Mont Blanc powder - the best!  Benefit Brow Zing. Dark blue eyeshadow as eyeliner with smoky eyeshadow on top. Revlon Fashion's Night Out nude lipstick.































Monday, June 04, 2012

Black & White Ball: Food

There was an incredible amount of food at the Black & White Ball this year.  I don't think I even had a chance to taste half of it!   One of the biggest spreads was about eight tables of fresh sushi, including a sashimi bar with really high quality salmon, unagi and himachi. Rob really loved the tuna:





































But that was just the start!  There were also meat stations with beer brats, hand carved roast beef, meatballs, kebobs and suckling pig on a spit.  Seafood stations with enormous jumbo shrimp cocktail and ceviche.  Asian stations with steamed pork buns and Vietnamese spring rolls. Fresh fruit and veggies in artful cup displays. Inside City Hall, there was a giant spread of cheeses and charcuterie, including freshly shaved prosciutto.

And don't forget the desserts:  gumball-sized profiteroles, chocolate dipped madelines, shortbread, biscotti, chocolate covered strawberries, truffles and tiny mousse cups in tall glasses made with liquor. Plus, roaming food that would appear and vanish at random times. I ate a delicious Bacetti ice cream bon bon and a midnight hot dog off passing displays.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Weekend Round-Up: Black & White

What a weekend!  The Black & White Ball was SO great...and it was just one of many highlights.

On Friday, we kicked off the festivities with a black and white themed night of Bike Party. About a 1,000 riders dressed up in black and white garb to ride across the city. Rob and I got decked out and had a nice time with our friends:
















Rob woke up early on Saturday morning to lock a bike outside for a friend to borrow. When he returned to the street just 15 minutes later...the bike was gone. Some quick-moving bike thief had used a car jack to break the u-lock and abscond with it.  We called SFPD and they were super helpful in filing a report and searching the neighborhood.  What a bummer.

At 11:00, Mary Kay swung by to drop off the finished Black & White Ball gown.  We held our breaths for the final fitting, but it went perfectly.  Margaret arrived shortly after. The three of us drove to Menlo Park for Sunset Magazine's Celebration Weekend.  Spent a lovely (hot!) few hours walking around garden displays, watching cooking demonstrations, touring the magazine's lovely offices and snacking on free food.





































Back home in the late afternoon. I spent the rest of the day painting my nails, showering, doing my hair and gluing on a particularly huge pair of false eyelashes purchased in Osaka.  Greg, Kevin, Nicole and Amber arrived between 7:30 and 8:00.  We had a quick drink + prom photo session before the towncars arrived to take us to the ball. I love the way my final look came together!





































Wow. The weather was SUPER bad but even freezing cold wind couldn't slow us down. The party was really stepped up this year in celebration of the symphony's 100th anniversary.  We started the evening with the traditional dash from venue to venue, checking out the different food and decor choices (I'll do a separate post about all the amazing food!).  They used City Hall as one of the main venues this year, really beautiful.  Dancing, Janelle Monae, The Drifters, The Wallflowers, Cyndi Lauper, drinking, eating...in a blur it was already midnight and time to gather on the plaza for the big surprise.


















Trolleys full of dancing sailors, hippies and giant crab costumes rolled down Van Ness. A band led us in a rendition of "Shout" backed by the Glide Church gospel choir. Giant confetti. Laser light show and fireworks. A pretty great midnight surprise!


















Towncar home at 1:00 am with a couple orchids for souvenirs.





































Slept in on Sunday morning. Coffee and the New York Times.  At noon, Rob and I took the subway down to the Mission to look at a new bike.  Valencia and 24th were closed down for Sunday Streets.  Dogs, kids, motorized ponies, live music, lots of running into friends and awesome snacking.  Rob bought a new bike on sale from a local shop and I grabbed a tempura handroll from a nice Japanese man next door.




































Burritos from Papalote for lunch on the church steps across the street.


















We then walked to the 16th Street station, picking up some fresh groceries along the way.  Back at  home for naps and photo uploading from the night before.  The ball already seems like a crazy dream. Only 2 years until the next one!



 


































You can see more photos from the weekend and the Black & White Ball online here.