Pets

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Special Delivery

This past Thursday, I loaded up my car to drop off the goodies for our family adopted through Compass Family Services.  In general, it is better to donate to large, well vetted nonprofit organizations who can best use your dollars for maximum impact.  However, there's nothing more fulfilling to me than knowing you can touch the lives of people in your own community, especially during the holiday season.  So, our philanthropic strategy encompasses both: we give annually to organizations we believe in, and we buy Christmas presents for deserving families through Compass.  It feels like a win-win.

Bonding Time

I am not a diaper changing sort of aunt.  However, I am quite good at baby holding, and middling to decent at feeding and soothing.  So, when my sister was in a bind this week and able to work from home but in need of another pair of eyes and hands so that she could actually do some of said work, I happily headed over to her house for an afternoon of bonding with my niece.  She's six months old, smiley and sweet, and gloriously chunky - not exactly tough duty!

Cone of Shame

For those of you who follow Petunia's Instagram (@petuniapibblepie), you may have noticed that she has been sporting the lampshade of doom recently.  It all started, as it often does in her case, with a little too much enthusiasm.  She's very strong, and her tail is very long, and she gets very excited, so she often thwacks her tail into walls, furniture, people, etc. when she's happy.  One too many knocks and it started bleeding... and then she started chewing on it... and of course it got infected and disgusting.  So, we have been diligently heading into the vet every three days for a bandage change and re-check, and stuffing antibiotic pills down her throat with yogurt every night.  The things we do for this beast!

Shown here: oysters and an Old Fashioned, two quality Christmas traditions in my family.

Merry Merry

I'll be spending Christmas with my husband and family, which is really all a girl can ask for.  Plus, this will be our first Christmas as three generations, with the addition of my niece this summer, so this holiday is sure to be extra sweet.  To those who celebrate, all my best wishes for a very merry Christmas!

 

The Halls are Decked

I love the Christmas season and everything that comes with it, I always have. And when it comes to Christmas décor, I’m very much a traditionalist: I like simple, homey touches in red and gold.  It’s a literal and obvious style, especially given the current trend toward subtle holiday decorations in muted tones, but it feels more welcoming and cozy to me.  And if I want my home to be one thing, welcoming is it!

On the left, my dream advent calendar: a solid wood replica of Fortnum & Mason, schlepped back to the US by my doting sister and sister in law!

So, I’ve accumulated my collection of ornaments, nutcrackers, figures, and other festive items over the years, rather than trying to create a total look from scratch. I did buy large boxes of inexpensive red and gold ball ornaments before our first married Christmas just to tie everything together, and there were so many that I now use them as vase filler and even made a garland for our family room fireplace with them!  That is literally the only DIY you will see in my house, I promise.  I am so not a crafty person!

In foreground, a traditional German Christmas pyramid I picked out in Berlin, with a bakery theme instead of the traditional nativity!

I keep it simple with the greenery, too.  Costco has everything but the tree that I need, and I’m there once every couple of weeks anyway: cedar boughs for the hearths, a fresh wreath for the front door, and ribbon to add a little extra zing to said wreath.  Some years I get poinsettia plants, but I still haven’t figured out the best place to deploy them in the new house.  

We always get our tree from Delancey Street - great service, and their trees are always fresh and beautiful!

The centerpiece, of course, is the tree. To me, the tree has to be real, and it has to be a Noble fir.  The smell of the tree takes me back to childhood, when I would literally stand among and branches, stick my nose into the tree, and sniff… I was kind of a weird kid.  I also love to have an eclectic tree filled with memories, rather than a pristine themed tree, so every ornament we have ever been given goes up.  It all started in 2009, when one of my mom’s best friends threw us a Christmas ornament shower.  Plus, my mom signed me up for an annual silver bell ornament – they’re a beautiful addition and a sentimental record of our Christmases together.  And then there’s my husband’s best friend, who makes it a point to give us a so-ridiculously-ugly-it’s-awesome ornament every year!

Sad photobombing dog in cone is confused about why I'm standing outside in my slippers in 49 degree weather.

Finally, I love adding some lights to the outside of our house.  I am uncoordinated at best so I’m not about to be climbing on ladders to trim our doors and windows, but we do have a little magnolia tree next to our front door that can accommodate a few oversized ornaments and light garlands.  I’ve always loved these lighted balls for outdoors, and found them this year at Costco – brilliant!

This evening, we’re going to light a fire in the fireplace and kick back in the glow of the Christmas tree.  I hope you find similar peaceful moments during this holiday week!

LM

What I'm Reading

Clutter Stresses You Out, According To Science

Of course I'm going to toot my own horn first!  Brute Storage, a valet storage service, recently featured a slightly edited version of one of my previous posts on their blog.  They also featured me as one of their recommended organizers.  Thank you, Brute Storage!

Photo courtesy of harpersbazaar.com (Patrick T. Fallon)

Meet the Republican Party's Makeup Artist

Sometimes things like political conventions seem like giant impersonal machines, but this is a good reminder that ultimately everything happens thanks to individuals doing their jobs well.

Photo courtesy of 10news.com

Therapy Pig Roams San Francisco Airport

I've seen therapy dogs at SFO before, and there's nothing like a good snuggle in golden retriever fur on a travel day. But I didn't know about the pig! How sad am I that I don't have to go the airport again this calendar year??

Photo courtesy of nytimes.com (Patricia Wall)

"The Revenge of Analog:" See It. Feel It. Touch It. (Don't Click)

This one is courtesy of my dad, who has an encyclopedic knowledge of the content of the New York Times.  While I haven't read the book, I think the review could take the analysis a step farther: I for one am seeing not only analog perceived as better, but analog used to signal luxury and wealth.

Weekly Peek

Petunia, positively delighted by all the attention she got at Fleet Week

Doing Fleet Week?

I was alerted by a friend who recently moved here from NYC that the phrase "doing Fleet Week" has a different meaning there.  Here, it means going to Marina Green (or someone's rooftop, if you're lucky) to watch the Blue Angels air show.  There it means... not that!  Cue me turning bright red.  Anyway, a really good friend celebrates her birthday by taking a picnic to the air show every year and she has it down pat: she and her husband go early, bring lots of umbrellas and blankets and coolers, and stake out a prime spot behind the VIP viewing area.  It's a really relaxed, good time to catch up with friends, and we even get in a little exercise since the parking situation is so insane we walk the 2+ miles from our house with Petunia.  Every year I think maybe I'm not that excited so see the Blue Angels, and every year they blow me away!

Photo courtesy of yelp.com

Neighborhood Spot

My husband and I have recently been lamenting that we haven't been trying enough new restaurants.  Living in San Francisco, home of foodies and organic local everything, we could never hope to keep up with all the openings, but still we find ourselves going back to the same few favorites.  It's hard not to, when there are so many great options within walking distance!  We recently headed out for a leisurely weeknight double date to Tataki.  This Japanese restaurant is a local favorite, partly because it only serves sustainable seafood, but also because everything is just so delicious.  It's the perfect place to go when you're craving authentic Japanese food (as opposed to your garden variety cheap sushi joint) but not looking for a big deal omakase experience.

Still smiling at the reunion tailgate!

10 Years Later

We recently attended my husband's 10th Stanford reunion.  Although I'm literally the only person in my immediate family without a Stanford degree (plus a couple of cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents... we're one of THOSE families), the place is very special to me because that's where we met and fell in love.  So, in a way, his reunions feel like coming home!  In order to make sure we could attend all the events without going crazy, we spent all our hoarded American Express points on a room at the Rosewood Sand Hill for the weekend.  And we're so glad we did: the hotel is gorgeous, even the basic rooms are big and luxurious, and the service is truly stellar.  

Family Friendly Halloween

One of my friends throws a Halloween open house every year, and this was the first year I was able to go.  She lives in Cole Valley, right near the epicenter of trick or treating and Halloween decor gone crazy - they even shut down multiple city blocks by her house for the festivities!  Her house was warm and fun and full of families with rambunctious toddlers - there was a sword fight going on between Superman and a Ninja Turtle in the foyer for about half an hour!  And after the kids were all taken home for bed, a couple of the girls and I stayed for a last glass of wine and a chat.  Since I didn't want to be a party pooper, but also knew the event was all about the kids, I went with a half costume: wore my tiger ears, pinned my tiger tail to my orange t-shirt dress, and called it a day!  You can see more reasonable day to day (and party) outfits on my Instagram: @lmwedits.

Weekly Peek

Photo courtesy of yelp.com

Photo courtesy of korbinkameron.com

New Discoveries

One of my sorority sisters got married a couple of weeks ago in Sonoma, so ten of us decided to get an Air BnB house so that we could grill, chill, and lay by the pool all weekend.  We didn't plan to wine taste in favor of leaving our schedule open, but on Saturday morning my husband realized that the adorable hamlet of Glen Ellen was a) walking distance and b) in possession of several tasting rooms.  Off we went, and make two excellent discoveries: Korbin Kameron, a family run winery producing high end reds, and Kivelstadt, a fun startup embracing the weird, funky, and wonderful in wine (try the orange, it's crazy!).  Both places were super friendly, and we'll be back - we signed up for both wine clubs!

Photo courtesy of campari.com

A Light Beverage

I'm embracing the bitter in spirits these days - my new summer go-to is Campari and soda.  This is a classic you don't see people order a lot, probably because the bitterness of Campari is an acquired taste and an unexpected contrast to its festive bright red color.  But I find that if you add ice, soda, and a twist of orange peel, you have a refreshing summer drink that's neither sweet nor overly alcoholic.

Attempting (failing) to get Petunia to pose with the paw prints at Hopper's Hands at Fort Point

Walk the City

I'm so lucky to live in San Francisco, where we have plenty of parks and open space.  I've walked my dog in the Presido before and always wanted to go all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge but never found the time - until this past weekend!  We leashed up Petunia, grabbed a couple of friends, and set off on the ultimate urban hike.  The fog was just rolling in over the bridge, meaning that the Presidio was sunny and green, the bridge dramatic, and the weather just warm enough for a light layer.  After working up an appetite, we inhaled burrito bowls and tacos at Bonita, then moseyed up to Union Street for coffee at Wrecking Ball followed by a glass of wine at Wine Cask.  And even though the hill was daunting at that point, we did complete the entire loop by walking home, bringing our total for the day to just under 12 miles.  Bucket list item: checked!

Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe last weekend (in which I sadly did not swim)

Taking a Break

I recently had yet another abnormal mole removed (not cancerous, everything is fine!), leaving me with stitches on the back of my leg.  In order to make sure I don't rip the incision, I've been instructed to take it easy: walking ok, weight lifting not so much.  Oh, and I can't swim - excellent timing in the middle of the summer!  I'm frustrated, but doing my best to use the opportunity to work on my upper body and core strength (as I'm basically configured like T-Rex, I can always use extra work in this department) as well as my patience (which does NOT come naturally).  Looking forward to getting my stitches out next week!

Weekly Peek

Big News!

Five weeks ago, I became an aunt!  My "little" sister (she's 20 months younger and 3 inches taller) and her wife welcomed their daughter and the whole family became instantly smitten.  My husband and I took our aunt and uncle duties seriously from the start by bringing the tired new moms a complete steak dinner from Harris in the hospital (and we may or may not have smuggled in a dirty martini for my sister as well...).  I'm looking forward for many more years of being "Crazy Aunt Lucy."

Photo taken by @nibblinggypsy at Sugar Pine Point State Park

My Happy Place

Summer at Tahoe is glorious, and we've been lucky enough to get away for a couple long weekends so far.  Petunia's a fan of snoozing in the sun on the deck, all the nature smells, and the wind in her ears... but not so much the water!  

Photo courtesy of thecheeseschool.com

Bad Student

We went back to school just for a night - Cheese School, that is!  Cheese School is a fun concept that gives you an in-depth look at cheese and beverage pairings, letting you taste and sample as you learn.  My husband and I went with friends who had been before on an evening that just so happened to be my birthday, so while the three of them scribbled notes and debated pairings I happily munched on my cheese and sipped my wines and beers without a care in the world.  Cheese?  Good.  Wine?  Good.  Cheese and wine?  GOOD.

Girls Weekend

It's a cliche for a reason: there's nothing like a weekend getaway with your closest crew of friends to relax, refresh, and get a little bit of a new lease on life.  If your group is looking for the perfect spot, may I recommend The Phonecian in Scottsdale?  We went for four nights (we only do this once a year and don't all live in the same city, so we wanted to make the most of our time together) and we wanted a place big enough that there would be enough variety in food and activities while still feeling like a luxurious treat.  This place definitely fit the bill: we tried all the restaurants, I do believe all the exercise options including a hike up Camelback Mountain, and a solid proportion of the spa treatments as well. Yes, my friends are all gorgeous, but they're also all amazing women who have always supported each other - I'm so lucky to have them in my life. 

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Love Is All Around

My sister in law (my husband's younger sister) got married this past weekend!  It was such a happy wedding from start (they both cried as she was walking down the aisle, which of course made everyone cry) to finish (the dance floor was packed all night).  It also gave us an excuse to host some out of town family for a relaxed brunch at our house the next day.  Most of these aunts, uncles, and cousins live far away, so it was so fun to be able to provide a location for everyone to just hang out, relax, and catch up (oh, and snuggle Petunia - my husband's uncle is obsessed!).

Bloody Marys and Potato Peels

Our most recent read for book club was The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Anne Shaffer and Annie Burrows.  We chose it because we really needed an upper after slogging through the incredible but horribly depressing novel The Orphan Master's Son.  Now, we were all a little wary because the title seemed to connote old ladies and doilies.  But I promise, if you like historical fiction and things about World War II you haven't necessarily read before, you should check this out.  It's a truly cozy book, which we very much enjoyed discussing over my friend's homemade Bloody Marys, egg casserole, and hash browns!

Pillow drawn by my sister after this mobile, needlepointed by me, finished by an expert!

New Projects

My nerdy hobby is needlepoint.  It's kind of like adult coloring (simple, meditative, can be done while chatting and enjoying a glass of wine) but you get something pretty and durable at the end.  Every time a close friend of mine has a baby, I make a pillow to match the nursery with the child's name on it.  It's been a fun way to keep up my hobby and at the same time think about and stay close to people I love who I may not necessarily see all the time.  It appears that there are quite a few little ones in the pipeline these days, so I'm going to be working overtime!

Photo courtesy of March of Dimes Bay Area

Sneak Peek

I'm helping to organize not one but two fundraisers this year, both for causes very close to my heart.  One must remain close to the vest for now, but I can happily announce that the Signature Chefs Gala benefiting the March of Dimes will be at the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco on November 3.  Mark your calendar: some of our most fabulous chefs have already re-committed to the event, so it's going to be an amazing opportunity to sample excellent food.  And of course, it's all for the babies and their families!

 

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Photo courtesy of Jorge Suarez Rivera

Spring Skiing

Although El Nino has just dumped another couple of feet of snow on the Sierras (hurray!), this past weekend was warm and sunny with classic spring conditions.  My friend and fellow patroller insisted that I stop on our way down the mountain for our final checks at the end of the day so that he could snap this picture, and I have to say it captures the essence of why I love patrolling.  I can't wait to get back up there!

Wake Up Call

I'm a pale person with a family history of skin cancer, so I get an annual skin check at my dermatologist.  If you're looking for someone in SF, I can't recommend Dr. Diana Camarillo at Presidio Dermatology more highly.  She's thorough, efficient, thoughtful, and kind - I always feel reassured after leaving her office!  However, at my last check, Dr. Camarillo was concerned about a mole on my arm and told me to keep an eye on it.  It seemed to be doing some growing, so I went in last week to have it biopsied.  Good thing I did - there was melanoma on the surface!  I was able to get in this week for quick outpatient surgery to remove everything.  Please get regular skin checks, especially if you are like me and have several risk factors!  They could save your life.

This baby just want you to take him home!  Photo courtesy of SF SPCA

Puppies and Kitties, Oh My!

Last week, I had the opportunity to take a behind the scenes tour at the San Francisco SPCA. In addition to getting to ooh and ahh over the adorable animals available for adoption, I was amazed to find out the huge breadth and depth of work the SPCA undertakes in San Francisco.  From educational outreach in schools to a TNR (trap, neuter, release) program that has drastically reduced the number of feral cats in San Francisco to mobile vet services in underserved neighborhoods (there is not a single vet in Bayview/Hunger's Point), the SPCA is on the ground improving animal welfare.  Check out the SFSPCA's gorgeous new adoption facility (no scary kennels, just airy and bright condos) if you're on the lookout for a furry new family member!

Photo courtesy of Princeton University (Seth Affournado)

Photo courtesy of Princeton University (Seth Affournado)

Tiger Pride

I'm a proud alumna of Princeton University - it was an incredible experience, and I'm so grateful to have been able to attend.  One of my best friends from college also lives in SF, and she suggested we go see Christopher L. Eisgruber, the relatively new university president, who is currently on a listening tour around the US.  Having worked at a university before and being used to the well intentioned awkwardness of many in academia, I wasn't expecting much.  However, I was completely blown away by President Eisgruber, his presence, his thoughtfulness in addressing the challenges Princeton is facing today, and his enthusiasm for the school.  The university is lucky to have him, and I'll be watching more closely to see what he's able to do during his tenure.

 

 

Weekly Peek

We were sure Super Bowl City spelled impending doom... Photo courtesy of 7x7.com

#SB50

So, there was this little thing called the Super Bowl that came to San Francisco recently.  I, like many locals, was generally grumpy about the whole thing, and not particularly excited about the hordes of revelers and accompanying traffic that would invade the city.  However, I have to admit that as I meandered my way through Super Bowl City last Friday to meet some girlfriends for lunch (near Embarcadero BART is our easiest mutual meeting point), I kind of got caught up in the excitement of it all.  I hope everyone who came to our fair city had a great time and took some of the San Francisco free spirit home with them when they left!

Photo courtesy of dispatch.com

PUPPIES!

Plus, you guys, there was a live Puppy Bowl stadium set up outside the Ferry Building!  I think I managed to stop by three times: both before and after said girls' lunch, and then again when I dragged my husband downtown the following day.  There's seriously nothing better than puppies to perk you up, especially since the volunteers would periodically pick them up and take them around to the crowd for pets and love.  There were tons of people all smooshed up close watching the puppies, and no pushing or shoving at all because everyone was literally in the enthrall of puppy magic!

Admittedly crappy cell phone pic, but look how close we were!

Nostalgia Trip

Friends of ours invited us to a Dave Matthews Band concert last Thursday.  Now, I had never been to a DMB concert before, but the Live at Red Rocks album was the soundtrack of my high school years.  Of course we had to go!  The venue was pretty small so even though we found a spot to stand at the back, we had a pretty great view of Dave and the band.  The man looks like he has not aged at all and is an amazing live performer.  

Photo courtesy of cooksillustrated.com

Party Go-to

We usually don't do anything major for the Super Bowl itself, but friends invited us over for a casual afternoon at their house with another couple and their kids.  There were 3 little ones total, which kept our attention even when the Super Bowl itself was a bit of a snooze.  The hostess had all the food covered, so I brought a batch of classic sugar cookies from the Cooks Illustrated The New Best Recipe cookbook.  The book was given to us for our wedding by one of my beloved high school teachers (thank you Mr. and Mrs. Meyer!) and every single thing I've tried from it has been excellent.  This particular recipe is a no-fail: there are no special skills required, they take about half an hour start to finish, and if you ever bake you likely already have all the ingredients in your kitchen.  

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The Move

It happened, you guys.  It was a two-day process: the movers came one day to pack, and the following day to transport.  This pic used to be our bedroom and became a staging area for boxes - yikes!  Once again we could not have been happier with our experience using Delancey Street Moving, and I'll be expanding on that in an upcoming post.

It's All for the Babies!

I've been volunteering on the committee that organizes the Signature Chefs Gala to benefit March of Dimes San Francisco, held this year on November 12.  We've put together an amazing event, with tastings from over a dozen local wineries, over a dozen local restaurants including Michelin starred chefs and reality show champions, and a truly stellar live auction with items from exclusive Giants owners seats to one of a kind experiences like a walk-on role on a hit TV show and luxury getaways to Belize and Hawaii.  I hope you'll join me on November 12 to support healthy moms and healthy babies!

Sittin' Pretty in the Skybox

Last weekend was homecoming at Stanford, and my husband and I were the grateful recipients of Skybox tickets to the football game against Washington (a friend of my mom's wasn't going to be using her tickets and heard it was my husband's birthday!).  He's a proud Stanford alum and I'm a HUGE Stanford fan (sorry to my alma mater, but rooting for Princeton just doesn't have the same thrill), so we were like two giddy kids running around up there.  Of course we had to sample all the free food, catch up with staff we know from our old jobs, check out the balcony, and of course watch the game gobsmacked from our 50 yard line seats.  It may never happen again, but we made the most of the experience!

New Digs

I'm pleased to report that Petunia is greatly enjoying the new house.  The back lawn and deck catch the morning sun perfectly, and she has been enjoying many a snooze strategically placed to make the most of it.