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May 31, 2011

Overnight Anniversary Vacation in Calistoga (whoop!)

Sometimes we forget how lucky we are to live in the Bay Area.

We just got home from a 19 hour anniversary vacation in Calistoga (Napa Valley), surrounded by people from Europe, New York, Minnesota and other (over there) places, we remembered that not everyone lives in heaven.

We dropped the boy off with his cousins and he was THRILLED to be there. He knows them well (we babysat them for three days last weekend) and got cozy immediatly. Fourty minutes later, Bubbs and I were in Calistoga. Our room wasn't quite ready, so we got a wine map and took off.

We started at August Briggs Winery. This was a recommendation from our hotel and it was great. We got some cork trivia there (that cork shortage you keep hearing about? TOTALLY FALSE), bought a bottle of somethin or other (not my favorite, but Tim was a fan), and got to do a little barrel tasting. Their 2010 Pinot Noir knocked my socks off - we're heading back when that gets bottled.

As we walked in we made up rules:
1) no bottles over $30 unless we both LOVE it. Bubbs must say "That is fantastic" and I must say "oh my god - amazing"
2) no tasting fees over $10

We shook on them...

We drove down "the trail" (the silverado trail) and stopped in at what looked like a small tasting room. Quaint twinkle lights and a cat strolled along. All I can say about this place, Dutch Henry, is that the pourer was NOT there to sell wines. That they were the most INTENSE wines I've ever tasted and we didn't buy a thing. Their tasting fee was $15. We broke our rule.

After that we got a recommendation from the hotel (after asking for "no castles" small, family owned wineries) for Twomey. We knew walking in it would be a mistake and should have walked out...they all had on uniforms, no smiles, and we decided their wine tasted like "next door neighbor wine" or like something you could buy at the grocery store for $10 bucks. Almost everything was over $50 a bottle - not worth it to us.

We then pulled up to our favorite winery of the trip - Casa Nuestra. Funky farm-like tasting room, gravel driveway, fantastic wines. We ended up buying one red, one white, and two dessert wines. The added bonus is that the owner is a San Francisco civil rights attorney :) I love supporting people with the right politics (which is SO hard to find in the wine industry).

Our final stop on this trip was Frank Family. It was a recommendation too, but ridiculously pretentious, the wine wasn't great and there was a tasting fee. Everyone tasting here and working here acted as if we should know who they were.

We decided that only places with bad wine have tasting fees. People go there and don't buy the wine so they have to charge. The higher the tasting fee, the worse the wine.

We always bought where there weren't tasting fees.

We got back to our hotel, the Mount View Hotel and Spa, and they let us know that they were upgrading us to a King Suite (and I used a coupon to book the room - so whoo hoo) for our anniversary! The room was fantastic, clean, well decorated, and there was a pillow top on the bed!

One of my favorite things about our last Calistoga trip (I was 36 week pregnant) was the warm pools - so we suited up and headed down. We did what any couple does on their anniversary.

Raced. No hands swimming races, no feet swimming races, all the good ones. You know the drill. Good old fashioned mature grown up fun :)

We then headed out to Ochoa winery's tasting room and bought a bottle there (an 05 Cab! - 05 was a fantastic year and its all gone in most places) and then headed to dinner at JoLe.

JoLe is supposed to be a super fancy place - I was less than impressed, but we're now inspired to eat at great restaurants in the city.

Chocolate Banana dessert for me, and two cheeses for Bubbs - and we headed up the stairs to our room to watch friends episodes and eat our dessert in bed :)

I was hoping to eat at Miguel's Restaurant and get their Huevos Rancheros (the best I've ever had and what inspired me to learn how to make it), but we were awake at 6am (per our usual) and just wanted to head back to get our boy.

All in all 19 hour vacation was all we needed - and our wine rack (when we get around to making it) will be stocked :)

May 28, 2011

Rearranging once again

As we start to get our house together things are constantly moving to find the right place...

When we finally got the chandelier up, we realized that if the table was going to be centered underneath it, there would be no way to get to the piano...and if it wasn't centered, it drove me nuts.

(see how its off center here?)


(my big ole new mama butt won't fit through there without squeezing by)


I ordered popps to get the measuring tape and measure the wall between the dining room and the living room. We had a large wooden trunk taking up space there (it held our spare blankets) and voila! The piano and the wall were EXACTLY the same length.

Moved it over, added an orchid, and it looks great.

(from this *that's the leaf for the dining room table on the trunk)


(to this!)


My sister is redecorating her place so she came over to get the trunk the next day!

Now we just need to find a groovy buffet for this wall - I need a place to store my home office supplies...

Sugar Snap Pea Snack



I was in LA a couple weeks ago at my favorite deli picking up snacks and bought some sugar snap peas that were AMAZING and addictive. I thought I'd try to recreate them...

I picked up a truck load at the Haight Street/Cole Valley farmer's market, washed them off and coated them in kosher salt, sesame oil, and a splash of rice vinegar.

OMG - amazing.

I think the fact that they were from the farmer's market helped - they weren't too pretty, but the pretty trader joe's snap peas didn't taste nearly as good.

A little messy...but a fantastic snack.

May 25, 2011

We have dancing

A few weeks ago I got worried.

Little T won't dance.

We tried everything we could think of - we had dance parties, we tried all genres of music, we danced with him, but the dude wouldn't keep a beat.

Over the last few weeks we've played music non stop and danced...and last night, we got this:


video

May 21, 2011

Backyard Compromises


So, my hubbs is really opposed to fake grass - though some of it I've seen looks fantastic - and it means no mud, no mowing - and I think Turner will like to play on it.

Our tiny urban backyard needs something soft to play on.

We had patio and grass in the house I grew up in and I liked to play on the grass (even though it was in HORRIBLE condition).

Hubbs thinks we should just put a deck over the whole backyard.

I think I found a compromise: Eco-Lawn. No mowing, no watering and its pretty :)

Isn't it pretty?

May 20, 2011

Chandelier is UP!



It only took us four hours to completely hang it, but it completely changes the dining room and finally breaks up that super dark blue a bit. We love love love it.

There were three layers of these glass links


this was the mess that came out of the other box


This was when we had to untangle someone else's bad assembly job.

The bag of screws was open, no instructions, and everything was a tangled mess.

But mama fixed it :)


After I finally convinced him to turn off the power...

carefully unhooking the old fixture (and by old, I mean like 50 years old)


see what I mean?


yeah - we're not keeping that.

almost there


Imagine The Real Housewives of Orange County on and me surrounded by hundreds of glass links...

Then

The finished product




We're so happy with how it looks and despite the frustration and hours more it took us to assemble it, I called West Elm and they gave us 20% of the purchase price back to our card - which is fantastic.

While at West Elm, I stopped in at Ikea to get these:
We'll be making shelves on that back wall with these and reclaimed wood for displays for my insanely large and totally unnecessary collection of bud vases.

May 18, 2011

Glass Link Chandelier Installation OR how to kill your husband

*for a better idea of installation click here.

After months of going back and forth between

This:
West Elm Glass Link Chandelier


and this:

West Elm Capiz Chandelier



We pulled the trigger yesterday and bought the Glass Link West Elm Chandelier.

Don't get me started on the lame customer service at West Elm. No matter which store, the clerks are soft spoken, aloof, and not too helpful. Plus, each time we've purchased something (our bedframe and the chandelier) there are NO instructions. So we have to look them up online. Which was a BAD idea on the bed since there were two sets of instructions for our same bed and hopefully not too bad of an idea for the chandelier but we're not done yet...so who knows :)

This time, it appeared that our box had been opened and when we started following the instructions...the cables were all tangled. Tim wanted to unscrew some of it and try to untangle, but mama wouldn't let him get his tools out. All I had to mention was 1) the washing machine (just imagine what happens with a man, no directions, and a broken washing machine 2) the bed (what happens when an ikea bed is missing parts and you decide to "make it work" with stuff around the house? Let's say we ended up VERY uncomfortable sleeping on the floor and spending more money on a new bed).

After careful inspection by mama, I realized that the person who probably bought it before us (and returned it) made one mistake in putting it together and probably gave up. I was able to untangle the chandelier WITHOUT using a screwdriver.

I started reading the installation instructions to Tim.

1) we recommend that you hire a professional to install this chandelier.
2) turn off power to the entire house.

What did my husband want to do?

Turn off the light switch in the room and leave the power running through the house.

Mama started googling and decided that we'd better buy life insurance before he made that decision.

Sometimes his country boy Tennessee comes out a little too much.

We decided to put the installation on hold until the next morning when we could turn off the power and do it right.

8am next morning:

Power is off.

I asked if he wanted me to read him the installation instructions. His response?

"As much as I love directions, I'd rather just pay attention to what I'm doing"

Yeah - um no.

He's at the hardware store now getting some electrical tape and I'm thinking mama's gonna end up installing this chandelier.

***
He's back and back on the table:

Whispering under his breath:

"take off this old funky sh*t"
"there's the base"
"that's the ground, right? make sure I'm touching the right part"
"mark that with this"

More to come :)

May 17, 2011

Turquoise & Yellow Bedroom

We've had some major hiccups along the way to getting our bedroom the way it should be.

Our furniture from our old house just wasn't working together (same size room, different door placement).

Plus, since we lost an office/music room in the last move it sort of became the stashing place for all things I didn't want in other parts of the house.


exhibit A: all the art, furniture, and "stuff" that doesn't fit anywhere else. Luckily, this has been remedied.



Horrible, disgusting, broken purple blinds that were a first thing to come down.

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Yellow inspiration fabric. Purchased on etsy for 7.50 a yard!

IMG_5258
Inspiration art from ebay.


Halfway there with the room. The guitars are now hiding in my closet until we get a music room built. The goal is to paint the base of the lamps with turquoise paint.


The armoir in the corner is the great traveling armoir that can't seem to find a permanent home -but it works there for now. It holds all the office stuff for both of us.

The dresser had ALL of our framed pics for awhile, but they have since been scattered around the house (I'm still not happy with where they are and they might end up finding alternative frames to be hung).


That groovy tall dresser is an awesome craigslist find (and where Tim keeps his clothes). $55 bucks.

I can't figure out what color I want to paint - I'm kinda obsessed with grey, but I feel like everyone's doing grey and I don't wanna be a copycat :)

Slowly but surely...

Thrift Store SCORES!

Back when Tim and I were just us and fancy free we loved to thrift store shop.

We would travel to the magical world of Vallejo and go to their magical thrift shops (if you aren't from the Bay Area, note that Vallejo - the town- just filed bankruptcy ). We would make weekly trips to our local Salvation Army Family Store looking for furniture, trinkets, and hats for Tim.

My entire first studio apartment was furnished from the Family Store and it looked pretty damn good. Our last place had a few things, but ever since we had the baby we haven't been able to spend the time we used to.

Saturday - we did it. We put the baby in the car and we headed out to the store of musty smells, awkward sales people, and stained curtains. We were trying to find a large piece of art to go above our couch, but $100 and four decorative pieces later, we came home with everything but that:


This amazing piece is textured. That's real sand under the boat. It was listed for $60, but we asked the sales person if we could get a discount and we got it for thirty bucks. Still a hefty price for the Salvation Army, but we love it and Turner "ooooohhhh"s when he looks at it.


This amazing piece of folk art was definitly lovingly created by a real person in the 60's. That bird, I know its difficult to see, is 3D. It sticks out and is STUFFED. Another magical piece. $25 buckaroos.


This fruit bowl is going to take the place of our green porcelain salad bowl that is currently holding our fruit. In our move I made Tim give away his collection of over 40 wooden bowls (since our new place has WAY less storage) and I hate to admit it, but we probably should have saved some. Price? $7.


Of all of our finds, this cow is Turner's favorite (above the door - see it?). It kinda makes the kitchen. He came with a red leather collar - but that went in the trash.

It was in the "boutique" for $12.50, but when we got to the register, the cashier let us know that it was on sale for $9! He also tried to convince us to drill holes in the cow's nose, add a ring, and mount it on our front door as a knocker.

May 15, 2011

Tiny Urban Backyard

We have an itty bitty ugly ugly ugly backyard. This is probably one of the reasons our house was so affordable. People usually move into our neighborhood because you get the most land for your money in San Francisco. We pretty much consider Golden Gate Park the closest thing we have to a real backyard.



Despite our concrete jungle, aspestos siding, foggy wonderland reality, I have visions of a cozy urban oasis that adds to the square footage of the house with a deck, a teeny square of (fake) grass, walls of green, and christmas lights. We already have a firepit.

Problem is - there are two other parties involved (my hubbs and my mom) so the negotiations begin.

Here's my starting point of inspiration:




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May 14, 2011

Saturday nap time favorite things!

I'm preparing a roast chicken. Organic free range hippy chicken, roasted in the best, simplest way possible. I really LOVE Thomas Keller's fancy way in his "at home" cook-book, but I'll take this way since the babe doesn't really allow for hours upon hours of precise chopping. This is FANTASTIC and delicious and easy (and I've never had the smokey problem that everyone in the reviews talks about).

Also, my favorite nail polish color has been discontinued. It was a mabeline red that had quick dry qualities. It was the perfect shade of red. Now they have one that's too raspberry and one that's too orange.

Since I was 14 my toes have been red - I think I read in a cosmo that red was the only classic nailpolish color. There wasn't a day that my nails were naked or chipped (can't say the same thing for my fingernails).

So, anyway - since the babe was born, my toe nails have been horrible - never painted or chipped. So - I finally searched for another quick dry and finally found the next best thing!

Revlon, Top speed cherry nail polish.

Thank god.

May 9, 2011

Office - here we come!

We hired someone to demo our garage - ugly built in crappy job on weird storage (the demo guy thinks it was a personal pot grow room). There was insulation, cardboard walls, and it was raised up off the basement floor.

The asbestos guys are here to remove our duct work, and the furnace guy comes in tomorrow to replace our vintage mid century furnace (think that would make them sell for major bucks on Craigslist?).

Here's the garage after the demo, but before the furnaces were replaced.





May 7, 2011

Cutest things

That I couldn't get on camera.

Little T held his own hands and tried to get them to go over his head in a circle. But his arms are too SHORT! He struggled and grunted and pulled them back but they got stuck by his ears.

I cracked up so much he got concerned.

And.

He picked his nose for the first time. I think it was an accident.

Wine Rack Inspiration

We need a wine rack.

For this space



How fantastic is this?


source

Building our Montessori type baby room

I may or may not have mentioned this, but our 10 month old doesn't sleep in a crib.

And he hasn't in almost two months.

When I was on maternity leave (till he was 7 months old), I would nurse him down for every nap and bedtime on the bed (he would ONLY nurse laying down. I KNOW). Then I would either lay there with him until he woke up, or Tim would move him to his crib. 50% of the time he would wake up - and then if he did stay asleep, it wasn't for long, since he would wake himself up hitting his head or arms on the sides of the crib.

We got a bumper (I know - the horrors) but it still didn't solve the problem.

So...we put a thin futon on the floor and I nursed him down...and then I left him. And then he slept most of the night! When he would wake up he wouldn't crawl away - he sits there and cries, then I would go get him and bring him into our room.

We were sort of half-assing it the whole time though. We kept his crib in there, the room was half office/half baby room (since we lost our office/third bedroom in the move and haven't built our new one in the garage yet).

Last weekend I decided enough was enough and we started to build the dude his own montessouri style room.

Some components we're choosing to adopt:
low bed he can get out of on his own
low bookcases and toy access
clean minimal "stuff"
childproofing the whole room, so when he does get up and play at 2am, he's safe



The Ikea expedit bookshelves are perfect and actually have WAY more storage than we need. Part of the Montessouri theory (I am SO not an expert) is that order and cleanliness and lack of clutter make for a calming space that give babies room to explore and play and not be overwhelmed with "stuff". I hate stuff, so I'm super on board. The little guinea pig thing is a glowing light from target. We bought it when I was nursing and needed just a little light in the middle of the night. It's the perfect night light. We call him "Chernobyl the glowing hamster". I realize how unfunny that is after the disaster in Japan, but the name stuck. Other suggestions?


The rug is all wool and natural, and believe it or not, one of the first wool rugs that doesn't make your pants look like you have a house full of cats by shedding all over them. Maybe that's because I never drop thousands on rugs, and this is the most I've ever spent (I usually buy rugs on Craigslist). Anyway, the boy likes to stand and curl his toes around the big chunks o rug, but then he tries to step and forgets to uncurl his toes. Super cute.



This was a side of the road (or street) find that we put a little old english (the furniture polish, not the malt liquor) on and it shined right up. I bought baskets for the inside to keep hats and socks in, and I covered the baskets underneath with fabric (they were just plastic bins from the hardware store). They keep his blocks and other toys that stay in his room.

The majority of Turner's toys (and he doesn't have a lot (or enough) according to his aunt and my best friend) are in the living room in these fake leather ottomans.



The ottomans worked well in our old house, but I'm not a huge fan of how they go in this one, but they are FANTASTIC for the boy. They house his toys, he can't get the lid off without help, he learned to pull up on them, and they have soft cushy edges so if he falls, it doesn't hurt. They are fake leather from China, so they sat in the garage for a couple days off gassing when I picked them up ($18 bucks each from JC Penny plus a 10% off coupon).

Like the rest of the house, I'm a little trigger shy (did I really just use a gun analogy?) in putting anything on the walls. So his walls are bare for now.

The Montessori idea is that all his art should be at his level along with his toys and books - so the room is accessible and he uses his own abilities to get to everything.

Future Plans/Projects:
1)pictures of all his extended family members in childsafe frames low on the walls
2)childproof his dresser because mama is SO scared of pinched fingers in drawers
3)install a permanent babygate so when he does decide to start crawling away in the middle of the night, we know he's safe
5)bring in a more substantial futon. This is all for mama's aesthetics - I think his bed now looks like a frat house room

Hopefully we'll get a good bit of this done this weekend...and I can update on Monday!

I spent more on this garbage can than I did on my wedding dress





But, in our teensy tiny kitchen with only a few cupboards, an under sink garbage can wouldn't work (we already lost one cupboard to put in the dishwasher).

We were using the white plastic garbage can we used in our old house for garbage and a paper grocery bag for recycling - but it was U G L Y and the baby discovered how he could unpack the garbage.


(looks good - are we overdoing the stainless steel? We're done now - I promise)

So we figured it into our May budget and on May 1st I bit the bullet. It is actually pretty fantastic, though when I think about how much it cost I cringe.

I also purchased a compost bin - I know. I never composted before this week. Don't tell.

Isn't it cute?!