Philanthropy

What I'm Reading

Image courtesy of news.nationalgeographic.com (Central Intelligence Agency)

See Historic Maps Declassified By The CIA

My dad and I would get out his giant atlas and just pore over maps for fun when I was a kid (nerd alert!), plus I'm a bit of a history geek, so I found these declassified maps incredibly fascinating.

Photo courtesy of modernluxury.com (Nadia Lachance)

The Bay Area's 50 Most Essential New Dishes

I have friends who traipse all over town trying to catch all these dishes while they're still being served, and I know that's never going to be me, but there is an ongoing conversation with a couple of friends of ours about pursuing item #21...

The Mistakes We Make When Giving to Charity

Having worked in fundraising as both a volunteer and a staff member, all I can say is that this should be required reading for all Americans engaging in philanthropy.  If you really want to make an impact with your charitable donations, this is a must read.

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg

Ok, I'm a little behind the times.  I just powered through this book on a lazy, rainy Sunday and really enjoyed it.  It was less funny than I thought it would be, in a good way, and more thought provoking/less obvious than I expected as well.  Highly recommend, especially for my friends navigating the dating scene!

Weekly Peek

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!

 

Weekly Peek

Friends pictured - the family was too busy exploring!

A Family Affair

This year, I served again on the event committee for the March of Dimes Signature Chefs gala, and as a dutiful committee member, I purchased a table of ten.  But who to invite to share the night of food and wine tastings?  We decided to make it a family affair!  My husband's mom flew in from the east coast, my sister in law and brother in law came into town from the Peninsula, and a few other friends were able to join us for a great night.  As usual, my husband made me promise not to bid at the live auction, and as usual, we came home with something from the live auction.  Hey, it was all for the babies!

Social Media Diet

As of about 8pm on November 8, I have not visited news sites or my personal social media accounts (other than my Instagram feed, an oasis of babies, travel, and food).  I was sick of the partisan back and forth, and wanted to take some time to regroup without the endless noise of memes, comment sections, and dire predictions.  And I have to admit: I am truly ashamed about how much time that has freed up!  In place of the bright blue screen, I've been reading more actual books, getting more work done, and generally feeling less like a human waste of space.  I don't know how long it's going to last, but I hope to be able to moderate my social media consumption more effectively in the future! 

Photo courtesy of soul-cycle.com

Soul What?

My best friend came into town for a weekend to attend our friend's baby shower, and she had one request while she was here: to take a SoulCycle class.  I don't generally go in for super fad workouts, plus I was absolutely terrified that I'd keel over and die, but she's my best friend and I couldn't let her go in there alone!  And you know what, it was fine.  It was a good workout and the time passed quickly because of the great music and the enthusiastic instructor.  I'm really not a fan of the extra hot and humid room (I produce enough sweat on my own thankyouverymuch), and I could do without all that intensity... the staff were pretty unimpressed with us as newbies and we could tell.  Still, I can totally see myself going to the odd class, especially when traveling, since it's super easy to sign up online and show up.

Photo courtesy of sf.eater.com (we got one of these cool booths!)

New Openings

I have a friend who's always on the pulse of the latest restaurant openings.  If you have a friend like that in a city like San Francisco, you know how great it is!  So it was that my three best girlfriends and I found ourselves sitting down to dinner on the very second night of service at August 1 Five, a modern Indian restaurant.  There was a little comedy to do with working out the kinks - my friend accidentally got a wine menu with someone's notes on it - but everyone was friendly and the food was so delicious.  We loved everything, even ordering more after we'd cleaned our first round of plates, but it must be said that the chicken biryani was stellar.  And the cocktails are excellent, but also note that it's just a couple of blocks from Whitechapel, a truly excellent gin bar, should you want to extend your night on either end!

What I'm Organizing

The time has come: it's the Christmas season!  And like many people, I'm starting to get serious about my Christmas shopping.  I do believe that it's truly better to give then receive, and I get a total charge out of pairing the perfect present with a person I love.  However, it's still a challenge to get everything bought, wrapped, and shipped in time!

Enter my three saving graces of Christmas shopping: Evernote, Costco, and free shipping.  I used to be a notebook-and-pen kind of girl but made the total switch to Evernote this year and it really works for me.  I can write down my present ideas and then check them off as I buy them so I don't miss anything, whether it's on my phone or laptop.  As for Costco, I don't buy wrapping paper or ribbon anywhere else because the quality is amazing (love the grid print on the back of the wrapping paper for easy measuring and cutting!) and the rolls are huge.  I haven't bought wrapping paper for Christmas in 2 years!  Free shipping, I think, is self-explanatory... I usually know what I'm looking for so I can do most of my shopping online.

Each year, we adopt a family through Christmas through Compass Family Services.  It is SO much fun to shop for these kids and families, and if you're in San Francisco, I cannot recommend this program highly enough!  In a world of myriad donation options, this one is really well organized, with clear shopping guidelines and drop off procedures.  

Other than that, I don't buy for that many people.  Lest I sound like a Grinch, let me clarify: our families are relatively small, and we prefer to celebrate the season with friends by hosting a big old party every year.  So, I'll be shopping for my husband, my niece and honorary nephews, and my person in my family's annual Secret Santa, while he takes care of his family.  Plus I'm always on the hunt for the most fun part: stocking stuffers!  

Enjoy the season!

LMW

 

 

Weekly Peek

Photo courtesy of absinthelasvegas.com

Green Fairy

As I mentioned last year, my husband and I spend our anniversary in Vegas every year - sounds weird, is always a great time.  This year, our trip was delayed until the end of August, but no matter.  We were still able to try out restaurants, shop and people watch until we dropped, and relax by the pool.  We also checked out Absinthe, a R-rated cirque-style show that's been in a tent outside Ceasar's for years.  All I can say is, if you're not afraid of a little profanity, GO!  The acts are top notch and the whole thing is hilarious from start to finish.  The show is moving inside to the Rose. Rabbit. Lie. space at the Cosmopolitan, which is another really fun evening in itself, so there should be plenty of future opportunity.

Only in San Francisco

One of my dear friends got married over Labor Day weekend - a gorgeous, understated backyard wedding full of love and family - which gave my best friend who moved away two years ago an opportunity to come visit.  My husband had a different wedding to go to, and her husband stayed home to take care of their kids, so she and I had a great girl's wedding hitting old haunts around the city.  One of those was none other than Swan Oyster Depot (which doesn't have a link because it doesn't have a website).  This place is a favorite of Anthony Bourdain and has lines out the door for a reason: the seafood is served simply and is the best you'll find anywhere.  Forewarning: they open at 11, but the line starts forming around 9:45 most mornings.

New Trails

The bride and groom also invited us for a casual BBQ and hike the day after their wedding.  I never exactly look forward to a schlep to the East Bay because of the inevitable bridge traffic, but on this day the trek was totally worth it.  My friends and I got the chance to catch up with the bride, which is so hard to do at the actual wedding, and discovered a dog-friendly park with a great variety of trails for everything from a one mile saunter to a multi mile serious hike.  If you're looking for a place to get outdoors, try Redwood Regional Park!

Making a funny face just as I catch the photo being taken...

Run This City

One of the things I love most about being a member of the Junior League of San Francisco is the opportunity to interact with this city in unexpected ways while giving time to a great cause.  This past weekend was the Giant Race, a half marathon/10k/5k put on by the San Francisco Giants to benefit Project Open Hand.  One free t-shirt and a quick lesson later, and I was checking runners in and handing out bibs and wristbands, chatting with people about the race, and generally having a great time alongside other JLSF volunteers and a big group from Salesforce.

Weekly Peek

Photo courtesy of counterpulse.org (Robbie Sweeny)

New Role

I've just been asked to serve on the board of Counterpulse, a wonderful organization in San Francisco that seeks in incubate, support, and exhibit performing arts with a strong community focus.  The company has been a major force in San Francisco's arts scene for years, and its presence has become even stronger with a move to a new location in the deep Tenderloin. I love the traditional dance companies we have in our city, but I also believe that there needs to be a place for experimentation, radical voices, and emerging artists - and Counterpulse is that place.  I'm honored to have been selected, and look forward to working with the amazing staff and board going forward.

Lazy pups on the terrace: Petunia and Eloise

Santa Barbara Dreaming

This past weekend, Petunia and I headed down the 101 to spend a lazy long weekend at my parents' house in Santa Barbara.  We lazed about in the sunshine and warm weather, ate dinner outside on the terrace, and hit one of my favorite restaurants: Lucky's steakhouse in Montecito.  My perfect order: gin gibson up, onion rings to share (they're the best anywhere, which is saying something since i have a major thing with onion rings), a wedge salad, panfried local abalone, and a round of spoons to dig into a turtle sundae.  And maybe a stolen bite of New York steak from someone else's plate...

Save the Date!

I'm on the event organizing committee for the Signature Chefs Auction to benefit March of Dimes again this year, and the save the date card just hit mailboxes last week.  If you're into food, want to support the health of babies and moms, or just want to enjoy a fun night out in our beautiful city, this party is for you!  We'll have amazing restaurants creating tastes (think RN74 and Omakase) and great wineries pouring, plus truly spectacular live auction items you can't find anywhere else.  Please save the evening of Thursday, November 3!

Photo courtesy of sacramentostreetshop.com

Shop Local

I just ran into Golden Gate Needlepoint again this afternoon, and realized again how lucky I am to have this resource within walking distance of my house.  Caroline, Reiko, and miniature poodles Chester and Hudson have created a cozy little space full of everything you would ever need for needlepoint.  They dispense advice and guidance with good humor and stories, and if they don't have what you're looking for they'll track it down and order it for you.  Plus, the finisher they work with is second to none - a friend of mine said the pillow I made for her daughter looked like she had purchased it in a fancy shop in Paris!

Weekly Peek

Spring Has Sprung

Here in San Francisco, we're enjoying a gorgeous April full of sunny weather and temps in the 70's.  The flowers in my backyard are loving it just as much as I am - would you look at those blooms?  Sadly, I can take absolutely no credit, as I have the blackest thumb you'll ever find.  Gardening is one of those things I leave to the professionals, and I thank our house's previous owners for planting some of my favorite flowers!

Philanthropic Challenges

 As I continue to go through the process of finding nonprofits where I can volunteer my time and skills, I'm wary of red flags that show the organization in question is unstable.  So many nonprofits operate on the literal brink of failure, and can go under at a moment's notice - even companies that have been around for years and are entrenched in the fabric of their communities.  This article from Inside Philanthropy makes that very real, and also points out the challenges we face here in the tech capital of the world of getting the new generation of wealth involved in philanthropy that isn't necessarily STEM related but is vital to the health of our society.

Photo courtesy of ringly.com

New Bling

I've been regarding the wearable tech trend somewhat warily.  I haven't gotten on the FitBit trend since I'm happy with my workout regimen and don't feel the need to track my steps.  And terms of fashion I'm often a form over function girl (have you seen my plethora of beautiful but impractical shoes?  Remind me to show you...), and I just don't love the look of the Apple Watch.  However, I have a serious issue with remembering to keep my phone on my person with the sound on so that I can actually receive texts and emails, especially when working.  Enter Ringly: specifically, their new bracelet.  It'll do everything I need (I plan to only set up alerts for text and email, everything else can wait), and nothing I don't (forget trying to talk into the thing), and look great to boot.  I've placed my pre-order for the Moonstone bracelet and can't wait for it to arrive later this summer.

Photo courtesy of drewaltizer.com

Party for a Purpose

My husband and I attended the annual Red Cross Gala last weekend to support both the organization and my friend Lillian who chaired the whole thing.  We ran into lots of friends, made new ones, and accidentally ended up at the afterparty far too late... I call that one successful evening!  Oh, and that gorgeous dress I'm wearing, and Drew's fabulous suit?  Both custom made for us by the amazing Jake Wall and Blake Patterson of JAKE.  They are as obsessive about fit and fabric as they are about the creativity and integrity of their designs.  Plus, hanging out with them and getting fitted is always a good time!

Weekly Peek

Open faced lobster roll sliders with...

Steak tartare with egg yolk and shaved black truffle with...

 

Tagine inspired lamb with...

Kentucky butter cake with...

...this lovely Sancerre by Dave and Julia

... sake, which he's really into right now, by my husband Drew

... this rich syrah by Nikki and Greg

... this delicious moscato by Dee and Drew

Party Time (all photos courtesy of my dear friend @nibblinggypsy)

Part of the fun of having so many good friends from different phases of our lives is bringing them together over a common interest to form an even bigger, more awesome group of friends.  And with us, said common interest is pretty much always good food and perhaps a liiiittle bit too much good wine.  Last weekend, we got a great motley crew together, our hostess chose the theme "exotic comfort food," and each couple prepared a course and brought a wine pairing. It worked so well, let's just say this group will definitely be eating and drinking together again!

Photo courtesy of CSDA Design Group

School Days

In my previous nonprofit fundraising career, I spent a couple of years managing the annual fund and donor relations for the Stanford Graduate School of Education.  Part of our mission was to support East Palo Alto Academy, a charter high school that remains the only public high school in the Ravenswood School District.  Over the years, EPAA has grown and thrived, and I was fortunate enough to be invited to tour the campus last week.  I was so impressed by everything, from the dedicated faculty to the sparkling campus to the students themselves, all of whom are on the path to college readiness.  Most EPAA students face challenges you and I could never imagine, but the school is built to provide them the social, emotional, and academic support they need to be succeed and thrive.  I donate annually, and I invite you to learn more and do the same!

Civic Duty

I've been assigned to jury duty many times, but recently I was actually called in for the process of jury selection.  I found it fascinating to watch our justice system in action, and many questions were asked of prospective jurors that made me analyze my own innate biases and morals.  About a day into the process, I felt ready to open my mind and be ready to serve on the jury - and then the DA started asking some tough questions that hit home personally and I knew this wouldn't be the case for me.  In the end, the jury was selected before I was even called up for questioning.  Who knows when I'll be called again - but next time I'll go into it with a lot less eye rolling and a lot more willingness to do my civic duty.

Photo courtesy of SF Gate (Erik Tomasson)

A Dose of Culture

For a few years now, I've gotten season tickets to the San Francisco Ballet with a small group of girlfriends.  We're all casual dance fans rather than serious ballet aficionados - we grew up taking ballet classes or going to the ballet with our mothers.  It's more of an excuse to get a little culture, and of course have dinner together beforehand to catch up!  The most recent production on our schedule was Coppélia, which I had actually never seen.  It's a light, colorful 19th century story ballet, and so fun to watch on the beautiful dancers and gorgeous sets and costumes of the SF Ballet.

Weekly Peek

Photo courtesy of Drybar

The Benefits of Membership

My husband is an amazing gift giver, and for my birthday last year he bought me a membership to Drybar, the famed chain of salons offering a short menu of blowouts only, no cuts or color.  The membership entitles me to two blowouts a month - and they stack up if I don't get around to using them!  Last week I knew I'd be attending a string of meetings and events where I'd want to look professional and polished, so I booked myself in at Drybar.  I've never gotten the same stylist twice, but I'm never disappointed and this time was no exception!

Photo courtesy of thevolunteercenter.net

Making a Contribution

One of those events I mentioned last week was The Board Match.  This is an event hosted annually in San Francisco by The Volunteer Center, where nonprofits looking for board members can connect with people who are hoping to put their skills to use in service of the community.  While I've been volunteering with the Junior League of San Francisco for years, I'm looking for other ways increase my impact.  I learned a lot at The Board Match, meeting representatives from organizations I had never even heard of before, and hopefully something fun and useful will eventually result!

Holding Up Half The Sky

I was so fortunate to be invited by a dear friend to attend the University of San Francisco's Women in Leadership & Philanthropy Luncheon and Symposium.  The keynote speakers Elle Luna, Lynne Twist, and Erin Michelson were inspiring, thought-provoking, and motivating.  While I didn't agree with or support each and every thing these women had to say, it was eye opening to hear their perspectives and experiences.  I felt challenged to do more and better, but at the same time recharged after having spent time in the company of like-minded women.  Thank you Jasmine for the lovely invitation - I so appreciated this opportunity!

Photo courtesy of JAKE

Celebrating Success

Last week wasn't all work - I dressed up my favorite JAKE leather skirt to celebrate the man himself and the opening of his gorgeous new store in Jackson Square.  Jake Wall has partnered with fellow Project Runway alum Blake Patterson to create a true destination shopping experience that features their custom lines and ready to wear capsule collections (as well as fine jewelry from Cake - love their delicate pavé diamond pieces!).  Jake is such a generous person - he has been a loyal supporter of the JLSF, and helped me out of an event related jam more than once - and I'm absolutely thrilled and honored to be even a tiny part of his success! 

 

Weekly Peek

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!