Saturday, December 3, 2016

Kicking off the Festive Feeling at Filoli and Joules Coats

 Each year I love visiting the gorgeous Woodside's Filoli Mansion and their annual Christmas shopping days. The 1915 estate and 654 acre grounds are a California Landmark and on the National Registry of Historic Places. The Bourns who built it were prominent San Franciscans that owned a gold mine in Grass Valley and the Crystal Springs Water Company and Crystal Springs Lake.

 In the 1930's the property was purchased by the Roth family who made the formal gardens famous. Mrs Roth lived there until 1975 when she donated it to The National Trust for Historic Preservation.  There are events happening at Filoli all year long as well as classes and tours of this beautifully preserved home and property. It's an easy jaunt off freeway 280, but enter the gates and you are in a magical place surrounded by green rolling hill, moss-covered oaks and little deer!

The holiday shopping days are usually sold out a few months ahead. So you need to plan by October to go to this. All of the rooms are transformed into seasonal boutiques which are really well done, beautifully decorated and filled with unique finds from cooking items, to holiday gifts and home decor and even some furniture.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Holiday Cards- Minted is My Go To and Local

I know some of you are already doing your holiday shopping! I'm not there yet, but I have made a start and ordered my cards from the San Francisco company, Minted, which I've done for several years now. Minted is dedicated to featuring independent artists and helping them gain exposure and has some of the most creative and freshest looking cards designs, so I always find something different.

This year they are addressing envelopes for free if your place an order. That was an offer I couldn't pass up, so last night spent an hour with the husband making an actual spreadsheet of all our address book/contact list together. It only took us 20 years of marriage to do it, but now we have it!!  I sent that off and am looking forward to getting my cards out a bit earlier this year. I won't have to sit long hours addressing them and can take time to write notes in those for far off relatives and friends.

We were in San Francisco for Cirque du Soleil last week and had some time to kill near China Basin and the ballpark. My sons skateboarded around a bit and I cajoled them into posing for a quick photo. They aren't matching, or even wearing their nicest clothes, but they look like authentic teenage guys. I love these impromptu photos more than any staged photo sessions and this card design was modern which I think goes well with the casual feel of our cards.

   Minted always uses unexpected colors in their designs as well. I like that you can often choose the color of the writing on the card fonts as some photos clearly stand out more with cool or warm tones. I'm crazy like that, but it makes a photo sometimes.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving and Things I'm Trying to Do

Hi friends. How are you all holding up? Sorry I haven't blogged since the election post. Thank you everyone for your words of support and also your opinions and ideas. Love you guys!

I've been trying to think about what matters, what to chat about. The world around us is changing and I have some more ideas on how we can make a difference and not let this become the new normal. I'll include ways we can at the bottom of each post for a while. Please, please add any other good thoughts to share with us all who are feeling the same. I want this to be a safe forum where we can come together to share ideas to be the change.

 Today let's take solace in Thanksgiving and upcoming holidays. That brightens my world a little and the thought of all the small joys that come with this time of year is something to cheer us in these unsettling times.

Some small bouquets I was working on for my home, below. Thanksgiving is a good time to shine everything up and make it festive and there's nothing like houseguests to motivate.

This year we are lucky to have Max's sister and husband who are traveling from Seattle to be with us.  My oldest is home from school and I am so looking forward to some quality time with everyone including a beach day, some long walks, board games, and movies.

I dashed into Crate and Barrel this week as the boys/guest bath has been looking a little faded. I bought a new shower curtain, towels and bath mat. Just small things like that make such a huge difference. I don't know why I don't invest in home things more often. It's so easy for us all to say yes to a new pair of jeans or a top, but how rare it is we spend on the things we use and see everyday? Crazy as they are so worth the money if you think of how many days, hours, years our home things serve us!

I also picked up these wood grain placemats. Something about them felt very me and so I cleaned them out of this pattern and the matching chocolate napkins. We had friends from my husband's childhood over for a fun dinner the other night and I paired them with white plates and black napkins and flatware. They are still online here and also the brindle brown napkins which are reduced if you buy a set of 8, which I did.

At first I was going to get some other placemats and napkins from the clearance. I didn't love them as much, but was thinking I could make them work.  I have this thing in my head I should always be looking for a bargain. Does anyone else have that issue? Well, actually adding it up, it was about a twenty dollar savings to get the sale set instead of the ones I was first attracted to and really loved. In the long run, that would be not a savings at all since I probably wouldn't keep them around for long. The old me would do that before getting the full-price set. I am trying hard to retrain myself to stop buying what I call sale stand-ins instead of what I actually want.

The result is a house full of items bought at a bargain, but many you just feel lukewarm about. If I think logically I can better save by buying what I really love- usually a more quality item, not because it's on sale, but because I need and adore it. If I shop like that I will have a home of things I cherish, and hopefully need less. It's a quality over quantity mindset which is smart.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

How We Deal With Now

 I just couldn't survive this week without coming together here on this blog with you all. It's been a tough week and to chat about home remodeling right now seems pretty lame.

You probably suspected and rightly so, as the title of this blog alludes to, I am a Northern Californian through and through and yes I am liberal. I grew up among free-thinkers, hippies and a lot of what we call 'granolas' here. Old word now! I had moderate, but open-minded parents. One thing I got from them was acceptance of everyone, and always do onto others, be the best person you can be, read, be informed and be kind.  I have voted both Republican and Democrat in my life. I try always to see both sides.

This week ...I just can't. I truly felt an excitement and elation about actually having the first woman president. This woman did her homework, spent her life doing right and was the most overqualified and experienced candidate ever- man or woman. The Facebook group Pantsuit Nation got me even more energized hearing the stories of -men, women, children, old folks, immigrants, all sharing their hope for this woman president. We were ready to make history and see the world change together.

Well it was not to be.

Tuesday night I was feeling sick to my stomach by 7 p.m. I had to turn of the PBS Newshour as I could see it on their faces. It wasn't good. I went to bed fearful and woke up afraid to get out of bed. I wanted so badly to see this woman elected president. I wanted it for my mother who always admired Hilary and told me women can do anything. I wanted it for my 99 year old grandmother who said,' It's her time honey, she will do it.' I wanted this for the little girls of the world and the big girls too. I wanted it for the young women in college who have dreams. I wanted it for women who have sweated and suffered through so much to give their families a decent life. I wanted it for my sons so they could live in a country where a woman was the leader of the free world. We were ready for that ceiling to shatter. I can't write this without crying. It has broken my heart. I could barely get out of bed. My college freshman son texted me, 'Mom I just can't believe it.' What to say to him?

I think what has made this loss even more painful is the winner is someone who has openly disrespected women, belittled us, and possibly even assaulted us. The class bully was chosen over the girl who did her homework. The bully cheated his way through class too.

How my fellow Americans, especially women, could choose this man to be our president is incomprehensible to so many of us. Yesterday my phone literally blew up with messages of despair from friends far and near. What will happen to us now?

Monday, November 7, 2016

What's Been Happening Around These Parts...

Hello friends. Sorry I've been a little busy and I just haven't been able to sit and write. The past few weeks have been a flurry of Halloween, get-togethers, and lots of goings on. Though we did have some unusual October rain, it's just gorgeous right now in the Bay Area and this week we are supposed to have 70s temps!

I've been especially enjoying the warm afternoons and have been trying to get out to soak up some winter sun and marvel at all the pretty leaves.

This is just a smattering and some snaps of what's been happening around these parts. 

We had some fun at our annual street pumpkin carving gathering. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Weekend in San Francisco

How was your week? Some of us got an extended one as many are on fall school breaks right now. It's a great time to take a trip somewhere in California and especially San Francisco as October is unofficially the best weather month unlike summer which is cooler and foggy.

On the sculpture terrace at the top floor of the new SFMOMA.

Max and I finally got to getaway for our 20th anniversary and decided to stay in the city. We considered Napa, but this time of year it's exorbitantly expensive. We thought, let's pay half that price and stay at the Four Seasons in SF, which we never have done.

The Four Seasons San Francisco is tucked away off Market Street and shares it's building with Four Season residences. The hotel lobby is on the fifth floor and has a cozy long bar with a fireplace area.

The MKT restaurant attached has floor to ceiling windows on some of the prettiest architectural landmarks in the city. We had breakfast there both mornings and it was amazing. The fresh fruit and juice and lemon ricotta pancakes were my favorite!

Drinks in the bar were good. We tried chicken sliders and the pub cheese appetizers which were exactly what we wanted.

The rooms have window seats onto the city and feel spacious yet cozy. Of course the bed and bedding was incredible and I slept like a baby both nights. The location is perfect. You're minutes from shopping, Union Square, and the new MOMA which we couldn't wait to check out.

Friday, September 30, 2016

What I'm Loving - Friday Favorites

Since it's Friday I wanted to share a few goodies I found in the past week..

First, how yummy does this slow cooker white bean soup from Martha Stewart look? I vow this fall to use my slow cooker more and this little post gives some great tips about using it better and some new recipes I want to give a shot at.

 I finally visited a Blue Mercury beauty store and I love it! I don't know why it took me so long to find get to this gem. Our town of Los Gatos has one and I love this small curated shop with just the right amount of brands for me to browse without getting overwhelmed as can often happen in a big department store.  Best of all, there's one sales person who is very knowledgeable about all the brands, but not hovering if you know what I mean. They give generous samples too.

One thing I discovered is that they carry Photo hair products from France. I used this line years ago when I worked at Nordstrom and the shampoos and conditioning cremes are miracle products. They are plant-based which I also like.

 I bought a tube of Phyto 7, a leave in conditioner which is still wonderful and made my hair look so healthy I postponed my highlight appointment a few weeks. My hair is fine, but if you have thicker more coarser texture the Photo 9 does the same job. You can use it as a hairdressing on the ends and before blowdrying, or as a regular conditioner. The small tube makes it easy to travel with. 

Travel has been on the brain for me lately and one of the things I need is an always packed beauty bag with some good size samples or products that do the job. Blue Mercury has an anniversary bonus (above pic) going on and it's free with a $150 purchase, but it's amazingly generous and has many good sized travel essentials. If you buy any of the brands they carry, you might get this bonus while they still have it! Obviously it's nice to visit the Blue Mercury in your town if you have one if not, they are online.

 I received a sample and now I'm addicted to their M-61 Power Glow Peel Pads and they really do work wonders. You use them just three times a week at night. It works for rosacea skin like mine as well and I woke to brighter, smoother and  prettier skin everyday last week. The price is good for $28 for the smallest box and you can cut a pad in half to use another night as they are fairly large. A few other things they sell that I love is Bliss's Triple Oxygen Serum, Clarin's Super Restorative Eye Concentrate and Nars Sheer Glow Foundation.

I'm also love with the home of Suzanne Kasler, one of my favorite designers. One King's Lane has her gorgeous Atlanta home including a curated sale with some of the similar things she decorates with. Her style is classic, but always with pretty and feminine details!  I need more pink accents and florals in my home...