A belated Red, White, & Blue | Wearables

posted on: July 21, 2014

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While typically dressing up like the American flag is reserved for that eponymous July holiday (ed note: never blog without coffee!), I’m making an exception this year. Summer activities are in full swing here, with picnics and farmer’s markets abounding, and though the weather may not always match the day’s plans, we can at least pretend until fall hits (aka, until tomorrow morning when the fog rolls in.)

San Francisco’s summer is notoriously cold and breeze-ridden (I think Chicago might have some competition for that Windy City thing) so anytime one can wear something reminiscent of barbeques and Budweiser, one should. Without wearing, like, an actual tee shirt that says “Budweiser” across the front – because no one wants to be that girl, right? Right.

 

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dress | Madewell, old (similar)
clutch | Lulu’s (on sale)
scarf | Zara, sold out (similar)
wedges | old (similar)
bracelet | Ciela Bangle, Bauble Bar
watch | Cartier (similar)

High Five for Friday | 07/18

posted on: July 18, 2014

You guys ready to recap?

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1. I finally picked up the needles again (knitting needles, that is) to start this long-overdue scarf for my friend Kate, who won it in an auction. It got me brainstorming all kinds of great things for fall, and now I just need the time to make them tangible!

2. Visited the AIM Farmer’s Market with my mom on Sunday – there were vendors from all over California! I picked up some flowers and cheese and peaches for a BBQ I attended later that day, but I only stopped there because we were on a bit of a time crunch. Must go back!

3. The parents and I tried a new seafood place in Larkspur for lunch this weekend – I got delicious fish and chips, mom had fish tacos, and Big T got some kind of shrimp louie thing. It’ll be on the blog someday!

4. I went to a Welcome Back BBQ in Alameda for my friend Chelsea, who is moving back to California after too many years away! Chelsea and I met in college and hadn’t seen each other in years before this weekend, so I’m ecstatic that she’s nearby again.

5. A friend had a cooking class at her house for her birthday (will also be on the blog soon!) and one of the first dishes we made was a broiled pear dessert with cinnamon and ginger. It was incredible. Someone buy me a dutch oven, stat!

What did you get up to this week? Eat anything see anything meet anybody fun?  

PS, I’m linking up with Lauren Elizabeth today!

Fork it Over | Puff Pastry Pizzas

posted on: July 17, 2014

There are days when the last thing you feel like doing is cooking anything of substance that takes any effort at all more than digging out your credit card to order something from GrubHub (my fav food delivery site), when the idea of grocery shopping and mentally planning or googling a recipe seems like the absolute last thing you’d want to do.

This recipe is for those days.

Or, there are other days when you want to change it up from the norm, when you know how to cook salmon and brown rice and broccolini, but you’d rather have something a smidge more indulgent that you can make yourself and still not feel “guilty” about later.

You’re in luck – this recipe is for those days too!

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These puff pastry pizzas (inspired by The Londoner’s Tommy Tart - I love her blog, especially the recipes!) carry the fabulous cheesy goodness of pizza without necessarily being as doughy or carb-based. Now, let’s not get things twisted – puff pastry still has tons of butter in them, so these aren’t as healthy as cauliflower crust pizzas or anything else that is completely carb-free. But it is still a really fun twist on the usual make-at-home pizzas, and great for offering a little nibble at a party depending on how you cut them up.

Come on in, and I’ll show you how to make two different pizza pies! Read More

Amber India (Dhruvi’s Farewell Dinner)

posted on: July 16, 2014

Friends, I have sad news. Dhruvi of Stilettos & Sequins (who took many outfit photos for me over the past two months, like these and these and these) has moved back East.

I know, it’s very disappointing. Sad panda. A non-sarcastic “womp womp.” She’s not just a blogger buddy, she’s become a real friend! I’m sad her time in SF was cut so short and that we couldn’t fully explore the city together like the crazy paparazzi we are.

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Luckily, we got together a couple of days before her departure for a farewell hang sesh – and checked out a well-known Indian resto in the process.

Amber India is well known in the Bay Area for being an upscale Indian restaurant, offering delicious, traditional Indian food with a more modern dining experience (for example, the cocktails we ordered before dinner!) Amber India has been rated by Zagat, given the title of Best Indian Restaurant in the Bay Area for 11 straight years, and was included on SF Chronicle’s 2014 list of Top 100 Restaurants.

So, you know. We don’t do shabby. Or if we do, we do it in PJs and not for a farewell dinner!

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I’m sad Ms. Dhruvi has left the Best Coast, but I know she shall return someday after learning a ton at her fab new East Coast job! Plus, now I have another friend to visit on my sporadic NYC trips. I’m trying to see the silver lining here, people.

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Ignore the napkin in the above photograph – the restaurant decor was impeccable. I was completely transfixed with a light fixture on the ceiling, featuring layered pieces of textured metal over one another with a center lightbulb giving off a dim, atmospheric light. Everytime I thought to take a picture of it, the waiter came over – I haven’t yet reached the level of blogger-tude where I ask him to move out of my shot. Ha! Next time…

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The booths were wood-lined and had gorgeous mirrors behind each other, backlit by a romantic purple hue. This was such a good blogger-date!

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We started our date with some cocktails – a mango mojito for her, and a…ok, I’ll be totally honest, I forget what I got. Shoot. It was delicious and had mint leaves and some kind of lemony sugary gin flavor?

Alright, yes, worst blogger ever. Both of our cocktails were delicious, that’s all you need to know!

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Then, the food arrived! Huzzah!

Dhruvi is vegetarian so while I got the chicken tikka masala, rice, raita, and plain naan (my usual, but a bit more upscale this time…), D got a paneer dish (Kadhai Paneer, I believe?) and butter naan.

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chicken tikka masala with fig and orange

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Kadhai Paneer

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IMG_0581As we approached the limits of our stomachs, we reminisced about her two months in SF… we laughed, we cried, it was better than Cats! Alright, we talked about her new tattoo and what she was doing on her last weekend in San Francisco while I went home to see the family, but it really was better than Cats.

Hope this girl comes back soon – until she does, you can check out her adventures at Stilettos & Sequins!

And if anyone wants to try Amber India, you know here to find me. I’m in.

Hot Spot | Shanghai Dumpling King

posted on: July 15, 2014

Wow, how mean would it be to just leave you with this picture (and all the pictures behind the jump) of delicious dim sum dumplings, without telling you when or where I got them?

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Well, luckily for you, I already put the necessary info in this Hot Spot heading. Crisis averted!

I have been going to dim sum lunches with my family (and extended family) for years, but a couple of years ago I met my true dumpling love: Shanghai Dumplings. These soup dumplings are filled with meat and broth, served on a soup spoon, and topped with a vinegar sauce to add a small kick – then, eaten whole, the broth explodes out of the dumpling wrapper and you simultaneously do the “waving your hand in front of your burnt mouth” motion while signaling for more.

Yeah, I may have done that once or twice. I’m not a very patient eater, you know? Especially when there’s delicious food sitting in front of me!

So, when I heard that there was a restaurant in the Outer Richmond named for one such favorite dumpling, I had to make a special trip over there. Introducing: Shanghai Dumpling King.

(Come on in for more pictures…) Read More

Wearables | A review of the Shop It To Me app

posted on: July 14, 2014

See this bag, you guys? This one right here?

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This bag is called the Basilisk Bag from Free People. You know why I love it?

BECAUSE HARRY POTTER, THAT’S WHY.

Alright, nerded out there for a second. But for anyone who isn’t yet aware, my love for all things HP runs deep. It started somewhere around age eleven when the first book was published, and ended… well, it clearly hasn’t yet ended, seeing as I routinely reread the books whenever I feel like I need some literary comfort and rewatch all eight of the movies every holiday season. There’s a Christmas scene in every one – that makes it ok!

In case you aren’t as obsessed as I am, you should know a basilisk plays a major role in the books – so when I saw the title of this already-cute bag, I knew it was fashion fate. I just got this bag on Friday, and have been using it nonstop since then, with no plans to give it a rest anytime soon. I love the mustard yellow pattern combined with the natural straw color, and the texture makes it perfect for summer without looking like a total beach bag.

And, the tassel. Who doesn’t love a good tassel? NO ONE, that’s the answer. Tassels for all.

I wouldn’t have found this pretty lady, however, without Shop It To Me.

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(images via Shop It To Me

Shop It To Me is a shopping app (currently optimized for iPhone) that not only lets you browse items and find great sales each day, but will actually update you on those sales and let you know if the price of an item you’ve favorited has dropped even lower – you don’t have to keep checking back on each site to make sure you’re getting the best deal! Perfect for someone like me who tries not to get sucked into the web of internet deal sites, but still likes to shop around now and then…or all the time.

I had actually been trying to implement a spending freeze (ha) when Shop It To Me reached out about trying this app, so I never would have found this bag without them. Signing up in-app was a cinch, and the app itself is beautiful to look at. The graphics, text, and functions are all seamless and understated – it’s like the Pinterest of shopping apps.

My favorite part, however, is that you can sort by clothing or accessory type and then by brand and SITM will show you all instances of that brand across major stores and websites. I searched for Foley + Corinna under handbags and was shown all available F + C bags on sale at all of the major stores I would normally check. And the best part? They show you duplicates! I can see the same bag at Nordstrom, Macy’s, and Nieman Marcus Last Call – which means I can truly find the best price before buying.

The only limitation I saw was that the app takes you to an external site to buy the product, and I usually hate being taken to external sites – but this means SITM doesn’t have to handle the money or product delivery at all, which means more time to focus on search algorithms for products! It’s a worthwhile tradeoff, in my opinion.

The bottom line is, I usually don’t use shopping apps (since I never need help encouraging my spending habits), but this one is beautifully made and has fantastic features to make sure I find the best deals for the brands I actually wear. I love Shop It To Me!

Warning: those price drop alerts can be dangerous…ly tempting.

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bag | Free People Basilisk Straw Hobo (courtesy of Shop It To Me), sold out (similar)
jeans | Zara (on sale)
shirt | Old Navy (similar here and here)
sandals | Nine West, old (similar)
sunglasses | ASOS

 

Download Shop It To Me for iPhone, and follow them on Twitter and Facebook! Please note I was compensated for reviewing this app but that, as always, all opinions are my own. 

Hot Spot | Uva Enoteca

posted on: July 11, 2014

Uva Enoteca is one of those rare finds – a place that makes you feel comfortable and at ease while simultaneously offering you fantastic quality food and wines, with lighting and decor that perfectly compliments the casual-date like quality…even if the “date” is your good friend, Rachel!

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In Uva’s own words, “Enotecas are popular throughout Italy for their inviting atmosphere, simple, honest food, and good wine.” As soon as you walk in the door, you know this will be a night of good food and conversation – while the restaurant is a bit loud, it is buzzing with activity and people, encouraging you to buzz right along.

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Uva serves wine Quartino-style (about 1/3 of a normal bottle of wine in a small decanter) so that you can share with friends and try different wines, or simply get enough of one you love on your own. I got a white wine that I was very happy with (that’s not difficult) while our waiter was helpful in finding Rachel the perfect red.

After we were served our Quartinos, we got so caught up in chatting that we hadn’t even looked at the menu by the time our server came back around – luckily, I’d been there twice before (with my friend Valerie on another friend date, and for Lindsay’s SF bachelorette dinner)! I must like this place.

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The first thing I told Rachel we just HAD to get was the kale, ricotta, and almond salad. It’s lightly tossed with a lemony vinaigrette and has the perfect balance of ricotta and almond slivers to add a bit of depth and crunch. I could eat this salad everyday.

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Next, we each ordered a pizza and then split them – I got my unexpected (if you know me) favorite, the spicy salami, while she ordered the traditional pizza margherita.

The spicy salami really has a kick to it, but for some reason, I just can’t get enough! Maybe it’s the parsley (which I actually really like), maybe it’s the subtle sweetness underpinning the layer of cheesy goodness, who knows. Either way, I’ll continue to order this one until someone physically makes me try a new ‘za…

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The margherita pizza, on the other hand, was a great baseline to keep coming back to in between spicy salami slices. The mozzarella was perfectly melted and — when combined with the flavorful sauce, beautiful basil, and fluffy crust — completely satisfying.

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Let me just say, we took down our fair share of slices.

After the plates were cleared and we each had a few more sips of wine, I told Rachel we just must order dessert – if only for the pictures! Ah, blogging: the greatest excuse to order dessert that ever was.

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Not that anyone needs an excuse to order dessert in a restaurant that offers: cheesecake with seasonal toppings (they’re boasting cherries currently but I’ve seen it with strawberries); a vanilla & pistachio semifreddo; vanilla gelato with sea salt and olive oil; an affogato (espresso with vanilla gelato); and (my personal favorite) the chocolate budino with caramel, whipped cream, and marcona almonds.

IMG_0479These were the “before” pictures. I’ll save you all the horror of witnessing the destruction’s aftermath.

Phew, what an evening! Who wants to be my next Uva Enoteca guest? I won’t stop until I’ve introduced all my San Francisco friends (and some out of town visitors) to this fabulous eatery. Maybe I should try their brunch menu next time!

 

TCC | Cucumber & Avocado Soup

posted on: July 9, 2014

I realized this weekend that, despite my initial excitement and hopeful attitude about The Cookbook Challenge, there may be some recipes that I just… don’t love. Don’t jive with. Don’t want to make again.

I think I’ve found the first one such recipe.

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Don’t get me wrong, I liked this soup! It doesn’t taste bad in any way. But Gwyneth’s “Cold Avocado and Cucumber Soup” tasted a smidgen too similar to… blended guacamole. I don’t think I could sit here eating bowl after bowl of the stuff – it would probably be better if accompanied by something like warm goat cheese on crostini, or maybe a roasted beet salad, etc. Something else has to happen in this meal!

Or maybe I could try it again with less avocado, a bit of olive oil to thicken it up, and some basil to make it more savory? That would be a fun experiment.

Either way, here’s the official recipe – try it for yourself and let me know what you think!

Ingredients
2 large cucumbers, peeled and seeded
2 avocados, peeled and pitted
3 limes, zested and juiced
1 teaspoon sea salt

Read More

Fourth of July

posted on: July 8, 2014

Warning: This is a ridiculously picture heavy post to accommodate the thousand dogs, children, and trucks seen at the Corte Madera Fourth of July parade. Just… scroll fast? I don’t know. It’s cute!

“America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You’ve gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say, ‘You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.’ You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then you can stand up and sing about the land of the free.” – The American President

I never think about whether or not I love America – like other things taken for granted in this fast-paced life, that question gets lost in the shuffle of “well, it’s my country, of course I like it.” And I know for a fact that I take many of my rights and privileges for granted, not even noticing how differently I am treated here than I would be anywhere else in the world (except maybe for Canada) until a news story pops up that stops me in my tracks. Why wouldn’t women get to go to school? Why wouldn’t it be safe to try to better yourself? Why shouldn’t people be able to watch the World Cup in peace? America has kept me blissfully sheltered from most of these atrocities, for better and for worse.

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I don’t agree with everything this country has done or stood for – I have major problems with the direction it is taking now with respect to minorities, women, and the LGBT population, for instance. I can’t believe we’re in 2014 and these three groups are not only treated without the respect and equality they (we) deserve, but that more and more divisions are being made amongst our citizenry. I have huge issues with that, and I look forward to being part of the change.

But I also think our country can do better. Say what you want about the (perhaps naively) hopeful tone of Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing, but I have faith that we can get there, to politics like that, to leaders like that all over our country. That our politicians can do better if we make them; that our people can do better if we teach them. We have to form this country we love so much into its true self: to return to the ideals set out in the beginning, to accept those with nowhere to go, and to shelter its population from tyranny – even tyranny on its own soil, by its own people. We can do better, and we will do better – because one thing you can never break is the American spirit. And we all have that in us, just by virtue of being here.

I love my country, and I loved celebrating it this year…even if we still have a long way to go.

Now, on to the parade…! Read More

Wearables | Copa, Copacabana

posted on: July 7, 2014

Introducing: Jenna from Visions of Vogue! J and I go way back, all the way to undergrad, where we were in the same sorority but didn’t really know each other. Now, thanks to the power of the internet, we are friends who talk on the regular! And, if you couldn’t tell, blogger buds!

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Today we’re bringing you a fun crossover post where we both challenged ourselves (and each other) to try a trend we might not ordinarily go for – Jenna’s trend was matching separates, and mine was a romper. Who do you think did it better? Alright, don’t answer that – I’m just loving her summery look with that soft lighting!

Check out her blog for more fun LA looks.

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The challenge was to try a trend you might not pick for yourself, but it turns out, the real challenge is getting me to stop buying rompers after I realize I can pull one off! I mean, I’m assuming – I can pull this one off, right? Right?

They’re just so comfortable, and the fun tropical print (so in right now!) almost makes me forget that I’m wearing a full body outfit. Although, there’s something to be said for the ease of getting dressed – just put on the one-piece and walk out the door. The rough part is determining whether to dress a romper up or down! It harkens back to the days of elementary school when the hardest part of the morning was figuring out which colored leggings to pair with which t-shirt! Hard stuff for a nine-year-old.

ASOS in particular has several that are calling my name, but I can resist! I shall withhold! Or, maybe I’ll just stick my credit card in the freezer for a while.

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romper | ESPRIT from ASOS
blazer | Banana Republic, old (similar)
heels | ZARA, sold out (similar)
bag | ZARA, sold out (similar)
necklace | Itsy Bitsy boutique, unavailable online (similar)
bracelet | Bauble Bar Ciela Bangle
watch | Cartier (similar)

 

ps – Were you aware that the lyrics to Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana” are so depressing? I was…not. Do not read more into this blog post title than tropical, summery, smooth crooning by Mr. Manilow.