Thursday, December 13, 2012

Happy Birthday, SFBay.CA!

Last night SFBay celebrated their first year of publication at Salle Piano & Events with the help of an overwhelming number of contributors, readers, friends and sponsors. 

If you haven't checked out their website yet, please do! SFBay's coverage of Bay Area news, events and interests is impressive, and their staff happens to be stacked with some of my favorite professors from my good ol' days at San Francisco State's school of journalism.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Restoration Hardware Sale

I absolutely adore Restoration Hardware, but being the savvy bargain hunter I am, I don't wind up swiping my credit card there all too often. I mean, honestly - $500 chairs and $100 slippers? Give me a break. Well, for the holidays, that's exactly what they did.

A couple of weeks ago I found myself fingering through the RH winter catalog and about fell out of my chair when I saw the markdowns. So while I was in Walnut Creek doing some shopping with a girlfriend last weekend, of course I popped in to grab a few more stocking stuffers.

I can't tell you exactly what I bought since some items are Christmas gifts, but here are a few deals you can still get on their website, in case there isn't a location near you. I will tell you though, I regret not snagging one of those travel Scrabble sets, and if one showed up in my stocking on Christmas morning I wouldn't be upset about it... ;)


Slippers: $19, Throw: $79, Scarf: $29, Wine Bag: $9, SF Stamps: $13, Travel Scrabble: $24

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Fall Crafts

I realize we're now nearly a week into December and the weather is fully winter outside, but better late than never, right? Here are some fun fall crafts I did for Thanksgiving, and since I'm so late posting those, a Christmas one too. 

A few years ago I got this idea out of Safeway's quarterly magazine, which featured recipes and craft ideas for each season. These are a bit messy to make, but if you're already carving up jack-o-lanterns it's no biggie to do these at the same time. You'll need a medium sized pumpkin with a stable bottom. Cut out a circle at the top of the pumpkin and gut it as clean as possible. Arrange flowers of your choice in the pumpkin and display! It won't last more than a few days to a week because of the raw pumpkin, but you'll get more time out of it if there's no water inside and it is displayed a cool place.

 The week before Thanksgiving I attended a friend's Friendsgiving dinner. She had a "Thankful Tree" and I thought it was the cutest idea so I made one to take up to my grandparents' house for our family Thanksgiving. You'll need a tall slender flower vase, reeds or branches, ribbon, and scrapbook paper. Look for reeds or branches with small knots in the texture so that the leaves will catch at various heights. Tie ribbon around the vase. Use scissors or a dye cut to cut leaf shapes out of scrapbook paper, making a small hole on one end. Allow guests to write on the leaves what they are thankful for and hang on the branches. 

I had a hard time finding initial ornaments that I liked, so I decided to make my own. You'll need holiday ribbon, wooden letters, and gold leaf paint (can also use gold spray paint but I went with a jar because of the size of the project). Paint the letters, allow to dry, and hot glue the ribbon in a loop to the back of the letter. So easy! I ended up hanging these on our stockings instead of the tree.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Apple Squash Galette

Makes 2 galettes

o   Full batch of below pie dough recipe
o   1 ½ lbs butternut squash (peeled, seeded, sliced)
o   3-4 large granny smith apples (peeled, cored, sliced)
o   1 tsp ground cinnamon
o   ¼ tsp each round nutmeg, cloves, salt
o   3 tbsp wheat flour
o   1/3 cup brown sugar
o   1 ½ cup sugar
o   2 tbsp whiskey
o   2 tbsp coarse decorating sugar
o   2 tbsp apricot jam

o   Set dough on lightly floured surface and roll into a large round about 1/8 in thick. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill until ready to fill.
o   Preheat oven to 375 degrees with a rack on bottom rung. Lay squash pieces on a greased baking sheet. Roast, turning once, until tender when pierced.
o   Mix apples, spices, salt, flour, both sugars, and whiskey until evenly coated. Add squash and toss to combine.
o   Pour filling into center of dough, leaving a 1 ½ inch boarder. Fold edges over filling, allowing dough to pleat as you go. Dip a pastry brush in apricot jam and brush folded edges of dough. Sprinkles with course sugar.
o   Bake galette until browned and bubbling, about 75 minutes. Let cool before cutting. Best served slightly warm.
Pie Dough

Makes two pie crusts

o   Mix together 3 cups flour, 1 tbsp sugar, and 1 ½ tsp kosher salt in a food processor.
o   Add 1 cup cold, cubed unsalted butter and pulse into pea-size pieces.
o   Drizzle 2/3 cup very cold water over crumbs and pulse just until moistened.
o   Turn dough out onto a work surface and gather into a ball, turning to combine any dry crumbs.
o   Divide dough in half, form each piece into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, chill at least 30 minutes.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Luxardo Thumbprint Cookies


2 sticks butter at room temperature
½ cup sugar
2 eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
2 cups wheat flour
1 cup chopped almonds


With electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar on high speed for about 3 minutes.

Separate yolk from egg white. Set aside egg whites. Add yolks and vanilla extract to butter mixture and mix. Then add flour and salt to the mixture.

Place the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In shallow dish, whisk egg whites until bubbly and frothy. Chop almonds (I suggest tossing a couple handfuls into a food processor and pulsing a few times). Roll dough into one-inch balls. Dip nuts into egg whites and roll in nuts.

Place balls on parchment lined cookie sheet. Press thumb lightly into center of each ball. Fill each cookie with ½ tsp of Luxardo jam. 

Bake for 12-15 minutes until slightly firm. Cool and serve!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Victory Regalia Launch Party & Artist Reception

Last night a girlfriend and I dropped by the Victory Regalia Launch Party & Artist Reception at Heath Ceramics, a little shindig to celebrate the launch of Christine Schmidt's Victory Regalia Collection for Schoolhouse Electric. Thanks SFGirlByBay for the heads up! 

We RSVP'd on Eventbrite but it didn't seem to matter much, as the door was open and the bars were pouring without any "checking in." There were a few dozen folks mingling and enjoying hors d'oeuvres and cocktails. We hadn't attended the event as a "work thing," but were elated to find bar tenders making gin cocktails with gin from Portland's New Deal Distillery and... Anchor Steam!


Monday, November 12, 2012

La Pink Mobile Boutique

Food trucks have been all the rage in California metros for years now, so it only makes sense that fashion boutiques have started to pick up on the trend! 

A hometown friend, Gabbie Biedinger, spent her summer having a box truck gutted and remodeled, and hit the streets of the Central Valley as La Pink just last month. She has already gotten tons of great press and admits this has turned into a far more booming business than anticipated. 

As much as I'd love to keep La Pink as my own little secret for scoring fabulously fashionable and reasonably priced items, I'm too excited for Gabbie's insta-success to not rave about her... and who am I to withhold delicious deals from the masses? You're welcome. 

Here are some photos of La Pink in front of Versailles in Tracy last weekend (shameless plug for my hair salon and the brilliant Kari Potter, holler!). I snagged an adorable blue dress with exposed gold zipper, which I'm planning on wearing to Thanksgiving with my camel colored leather boots.


Gilt Warehouse Sale

A girlfriend and I went to the Gilt Warehouse Sale at Fort Mason on Saturday. Any serious online discount savvy fashionista is familiar with Gilt, so naturally the thought of a Gilt warehouse sale was thrilling! I have been to a zillion trunk shows and fashion events in the city, but this was my first real warehouse sale. I expected it would be some cross between other events I've attended and a day-after-Thanksgiving Nordstrom Rack rush.

We scored free curbside parking a few blocks down and eagerly paced over to the Fort Mason Fleet Room. Our wave was 12-2pm, and at ten till noon there was a line of fifty or so shoppers leading up to the door. Around a quarter past we got to the entrance where we were asked to check our coats and purses, and then were let loose on a relatively small and heavily packed room full of racks of clothing; women's on the right, men's on the left, and an assortment of other items on tables down the center. Just inside the entrance was a complimentary Veev cocktail bar, a display of Vita Coco waters and a Benefit table. At the far end of the room was a table pouring La Marca Prosecco and a tented off "dressing room." The promised KIND bars, Popchips and Fiji Water were nowhere to be found, but everyone was too busy rabidly thrashing their way through piles and racks to even notice.

We started with the clothes racks, which, to our grave disappointment, were filled mostly with damaged dresses. I found three to try on while my friend, still empty handed, moved on to the shoes. I headed toward the dressing room. The attendant brushed aside one corner of the large heavy curtain and I stepped inside. There were two dozen half naked women guarding mounds of clothes on the floor while fighting for space in front of two large mirrors propped up against the wall. I made my way to the back of the dressing room and used my foot to clear away some space. Unable to squeeze into the mirror, I abandoned one dress and carried out two others, hoping they looked as good as they felt. If I'd been able to think more strategically at the time, I should have rummaged through the layers of clothing covering the entire dressing room floor, as no doubt that's where the most desirable items were tucked away.

My friend and I reunited at the La Marca table and rejuvenated ourselves with two glasses of sparkling wine before diving back into the chaos. Our second sweep of the clothing racks was more fruitful for her, but I stuck with my previous finds. Perhaps some of those hidden gems from the dressing room floor had made their way back to the racks by then. We picked through the accessories table before getting in the checkout line, but considering it was a mound of mismatched oddly sized bikinis, underwear and broken jewelry, we came up empty handed. 

I suppose I can't complain, having scored over $300 worth of dress for $95, but the event certainly didn't meet my expectations. I mean, come on, it's Gilt! Too bad the selection was more like along the lines of a Beverly Hills Goodwill. I think I'll stick to my trunk shows filled with high quality local designer's wares.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

South African Dinner Party in Sonoma

A dear friend and coworker is completing her master's degree in marketing this semester - hurray! Her thesis is in the form of a coffee table book, showcasing a hypothetical fine imports store based in Nashville. I certainly hope this store is brought to life at some point, because she's thought it through so beautifully, it would be a shame to never see the concept grow out of the pages of her book. 

Last weekend she hosted a South African dinner party at another friend's home in Sonoma, the table setting and overall ambiance reflecting the theme of her thesis. Being from South Africa, she blew our minds and taste buds with a self-prepared, three-course meal of traditional foods.

I don't generally eat meat, but having spent two summers in South Africa myself I knew what to be prepared for, and I so willingly savored every bite! There's a time to break any diet rule - and this was certainly one of those times. 

First Course:
Biltong (raw, dry cured beef)
Butternut and Barrel Aged Feta Salad (Arugula, roasted butternut squash, barrel aged feta cheese, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, balsamic vinegar) 
Wine: Haute Cabriere Chardonnay Pinot Noir

Second Course: 

Potjietkos (lamb shank, carrots, potato, butternut squash, chutney, spices slow stewed over fire/coal)
Vetkoek (Afrikaans fried biscuit)
Wine: Raka Shiraz

Third Course:

Malva Pudding ala mode (warm, Afrikaans cake made with brandy, apricots, caramel. Served with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.)
Wine: Diemersfontein Pinotage

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pumpkin Patch & Sonoma

Fall is my favorite season, and one of my favorite things about fall is going to the pumpkin patch! 

I was starting to worry that my insanely busy October was forcing me to miss out on the fun this year, but last weekend on a whim I wound up at a little patch along Highway 12 between Napa and Sonoma

I've got a not so secret obsession with ugly pumpkins - seriously, the more discolored and knobby they are the better! This particular patch had the ideal selection of both pretty, round carving pumpkins and misshapen, mantle-worthy ones. 

We finished off the afternoon tasting at Michael Mondavi and Domain Carneros. It was my first visit to Michael Mondavi (not to be confused with Robert Mondavi in St Helena), but I really enjoyed their tastings and even scored a case of chardonnay for half off! Domain Carneros is one of my all-time favorites and I try to pop by for a flight of sparkling wines every time I'm up that way.