Monthly Archives: August 2011

Nifty Thrifty!

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My Dad was busy the weekend of my actual birthday so the weekend after he came to spoil me. We started off with some thrift-ing so I thought I would share my special birthday booty with you beautiful people. Please ignore the mess around me in the pictures. I also don’t wear make-up often so just please focus on the clothes!

The following my Dad wrapped and gave to me upon arriving in the city. The swimsuit and the hat are from my Dad.

The picture my Dad gave me is now hanging in my hallway, but I will be posting all about that later. Yes, that is a Mennonite bonnet. Who doesn’t need a Mennonite bonnet?

Most of the following clothes came from the Goodwill on S Van Ness. The blue dress came from Mission Thrift.

First on the “runway” we have the casual wear.

Now for a little Fabulousness in the work place or on the town! And a picture of me holding my cat just to mix things up.

My father was also nice enough to buy me new ballet slippers! Yay!!!

After all that shopping we went to House of Prime Rib to refuel. My father, my boyfriend, and I were early so we had a drink at the bar while we waited for my Aunts and Uncle. The House of Prime Rib makes one of the best Whiskey Sours I have had in the city so far which was a good thing since “The House” will not seat you until your entire party has arrived. My relatives were ten minutes late because of traffic. Normally that wouldn’t be that big of a deal unless you are in one of the most popular restaurants in the city. We had to wait another hour and fifteen or so after our reservation time because of being ten minutes late. Good thing the food was fantastic (still not nearly as good as my mom’s), the servers professional and the waiter was super cute!

Overall a great day! Thank you Papa!

Ode to Starch, Part Three

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Bakery Crawl – Day Two

Here you go kids, the last installment of the Bakery Crawl adventures.

Arizmendi
http://www.arizmendibakery.org/

This ended up being my favorite bakery. This is my kind of paradise! Cases and stacks of breads, a few sweets, and fresh pizza! I’m swooning just thinking about it. Give me a moment….

Okay I’m back.

I bought two things here. One, a cheesy roll with olives and two, a eggplant, summer squash, sundried tomato pizza on Focaccia. The roll was fantastic, but the pizza was amazing! The Focaccia bread was the best I have ever had! It was so light, airy, soft, and delicious! The veggies were very fresh, the olive oil was quality, and the herbs were the perfect finishing touch. Even John’s cheese pizza on Focaccia was really good. I WILL be back here!!!

La Boulangerie
http://laboulangebakery.com/

La Boulangerie was a lovely french bakery with displays of beautiful desserts and one long table for those who would like to stay in to enjoy their treats. Very cozy. Very Tasty. Great place to stop in and treat yourself. I had two macaroons, chocolate and violet and a choux something or other (berries, whipped cream and choux, a soft sweet bread). The violet macaroon was really good. Creamy, soft,  lightly sweetened floral flavor. Lovely. The choux concoction was very refreshing as well. The whipped cream was just that, not a bunch of unneeded sugar added, the pastry so soft with a lovely delicate flavor and yummy berries. The conversation with another couple was delightful as well. Good times indeed!

John Campbell’s
http://www.johncampbells.com/

We thought it was fitting to end with an Irish bakery. This little Irish girl loves a good round of brown bread and delcious flaky pasties. So that’s what I ordered, a beef pastie and Irish brown bread. Oh and a mini rhubarb tart. The pastie was good, but had a little too much pepper in it for my taste. The tart was very nice and not to tart or sweet, but nothing like my mothers. The brown bread though was perfect! Irish Brown Bread is a course, whole wheat bread that is a little more dry than most breads we are used to in the states, much like corn bread. This was by no means dry, but it did have that glorious course texture to it. This bread with or without a large slab of butter is the thing that gingers dream of (wink, wink).

Sorry I forgot to take pictures of everything.

(This picture was taken from the John Campbell’s website)

That my friends concludes the Bakery Crawl series. I hope you enjoyed it!

Also I will hopefully do a post on all the fun clothes I got while thrift-ing with my dad this past weekend. I LOVE thrift stores!

On a side note, I added a poll on my site’s sidebar asking about those who subscribe via Google Reader since those subscriptions are not counted. If you already subscribe via Google Reader please visit my blog site and vote so I can get a better idea how many people actually read this thing. Thank you!

Ode to Starch, Part Two

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As I mentioned in the previous post I went on a Bakery Crawl for my birthday on Friday. I live in San Francisco with many a beautiful bakeries, so a one day crawl turned into a two day crawl therefor there will be a two post report on the yummy events mentioned above.

Before we begin a:

Disclaimer: If you are on the Atkin’s diet or some other low carb diet please refrain from reading any further since this post may result in binge eating carbs. I will not be held responsible!

Any bakery owners: you are welcome. Feel free to thank me in starchy, delicious goodness. I kid, I kid…unless you really do want to shower me with tasty treats.

I woke up early on my day off just to rush to the Ferry Building so I could start off my day with friends and empanadas at El Porteno. Thank you boyfriend John for pigging out with me and thank you Kristin for driving from Sacramento with a screaming child just to gorge yourself with me. Also much love to my coworkers who could take a little time away from the work day to join me for breakfast! Thank you, Jennifer, Anita, Maureen, Quiana, and Sandra. Much thanks to those of you who tried to make it but were unable too! To my team who had to be in a meeting: HA!, I mean I ate an empanada in your honor.

On to the FOOD!

El Porteno (Empanadas) – Ferry Plaza
http://www.elportenosf.com/menu.html

I had a Pollo (chicken) empanada: Fulton Valley All Natural Chicken, Chicken Chorizo, Raisins, Olives. I knew there were going to be enough sweets that day and starting off with protein would be a good idea, so I will have to try the sweet empanadas next time. Boy did they look good!

Anyway, I digress.

(Excuse the unflattering pictures! I’ll get better I swear.)

The pastry was flaky, buttery, and perfect. The olives made it a little salty for my personal taste, but that is only because I hardly ever use salt myself, neither did my mother when I was growing up. The salt content did not stop me from scarfing down the empanada since it did enhance the other flavors as it was meant to do. Overall: Yum!

Acme Bread – Ferry Plaza
http://www.acmebread.com/

After empanadas we walked to the other end of the Ferry building to the Acme Bread Co. where I got a Rye Raisin Rabbit roll. This thing was packed! with raisins and that’s how I like it! So fresh and soft.

Trish’s Mini Doughnuts – Pier 39
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Trishs-Mini-Donuts/122441034454211

I was surprised at how soft and airy these doughnuts were. I mean a tourist trap doughnut that you can buy by the bucket? Good? Awesome!

Cafe Boudin – Pier 39
http://www.boudinbakery.com/

Sourdough turtle loaf!

You think San Francisco, you think seafood and sourdough. I doubt this is the best sourdough in the city but it is still pretty tasty.

Mara’s – North Beach

You visit an Italian bakery in North Beach and what do you get, too many choices! I figured I would just go with something iconic, something not too sweet, something special like the Cannoli! I also bought some little butter cookies with the jam in the middle, forgot the name.

The cannoli pastry was crunchy, not at all soggy or soft. The surface was lightly “pot marked”, the kind of “pastry scaring” you only get with light batter fried by hand, with love. The filling was creamy, smooth, and not too sweet.

The buttery, jammy cookies were lovely, buttery, melt in your mouth and just a little fruity, just like San Francisco… wait a second… maybe SF isn’t so much melt in your mouth. 😀

Stella’s – North Beach

I tried Stella’s cannoli just so I could draw up a comparison. The pastry on this one was not as remarkable, but still good. A little sweet and much larger than Mara’s. The filling had chocolate chips in it though. It was overall very good. It seemed like the American version of a cannoli, but since I have never been to Italy who am I to judge. Overall I would prefer Mara’s cannoli, but I could imagine Mara’s pastry with Stella’s filling would make for a great dessert cannoli.

Eastern Bakery – China Town
http://easternbakery.com/

We planned on going to the Golden Gate Bakery, great reviews, but it was closed so we stopped in to the Eastern Bakery. I got some almond cookies and a steamed BBQ pork bun. Talk about buttery cookies! Muy Rico! (That’s right, I’m speaking spanish while talking about a Chinese bakery. That’s how I roll.) The pork bun was also really good, but not the best I ever had. It did hit the spot after all the sugar though.

Vital Tea Leaf – China Town
http://www.vitaltealeaf.net/

We decided to break up the carbs and aid digestion with a little tea, so we stopped into the Vital Tea Leaf Shop for a tasting. It made me wonder why it took me so long to hit up China Town to get some real tea! All the tea we tried were amazing and if you are ever in San Francisco I suggest you stop by this place. I have a feeling they could even  find a tea for non tea drinkers. Maybe the buttery, popcorn like tea with a sweeter after taste (it really does taste better than it sounds).

Beard Papas

If you like sweat cream fillings stop by Beard Papas. I had the classic cream puff. YUM! They must have used vanilla bean, or one hell of an extract, because it had the depth of flavor I have only experienced when fresh vanilla bean was used. And the pastry was SO soft and airy! If I had not consumed so many sweets I would have scarfed that thing down, but I could only eat about half.

My boyfriend John got a small Chocolate Lava cake. It was pretty good too.

Tartine Bakery – Mission
http://www.tartinebakery.com/

I was close to hitting the wall at this point, especially since I am more of a savory carb gal and we had been to so many places for sweets, but I managed to solider on. Tartine is VERY popular and the line was out the door even in late afternoon. Aren’t these desserts amazing looking!

I tried the bavarian cream, pound cake and berries. Om nom nom!

I also got a small side salad to break up the sugar. This is not the place to get a salad. I had a plate of lettuce with a lemon and oil dressing. I think there was some parm cheese on it too, but not enough to make a difference. That’s it people.

John got a sandwich, spicy turkey pesto, I think. The sandwich was really good, but the bread was amazing! So hardy and delicious!

Hot Cookie – Castro
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hot-Cookie-San-Francisco/115593001822706

By this time I had trouble even thinking about ingesting ANY more sugar so I bought two ginger cookies to go. They were good, but nothing life changing. I think this place is more for the “atmosphere” and underwear than mind blowing cookies. Yes, you can buy underwear that says Hot Cookie on it. You can even submit a picture wearing said underwear for the wall of the shop.

All in all the first day was exhausting but SO much fun. So worth the slight pink-n-ing. That’s right whitey Mcwhityson got a sunburn since she forgot her sunscreen in her big purse (changed to the small purse for the crawl) Opps.

Day two of the bakery crawl to come!

Ode to Starch, Part One (Happy Birthday Me!)

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My birthday is tomorrow, August 12. I am taking the day off from work to celebrate with some friends and my favorite vice, starch. That’s right, I am planning a Bakery Crawl! We are not just talking sweets, but also breads and empanadas. I can’t wait! I may feel like a fat pug by tomorrow evening, but it will be worth it!

Stay tuned for pictures and highlights of the day!

In the meantime here is a doddle of mine. Be warned it’s bad! Bad, as in a kindergartner could do better.

Visually Simplify

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Inspired by the lovely Laura’s recent post at I’m an Organizing Junkie, What Does Simplify Mean to You? http://orgjunkie.com/2011/08/52-weeks-31-what-does-simplify-mean-to-you-giveaway.html, I decided to dedicate a post to organizing tips for the visual learner.  Thank you for the inspiration Laura!

I love to organize and LOVE the Container Store with a passion! I have also been known to count pennies to relax, but I have not always been so together. I started becoming an organizational “freak” in High School as a way to cope with ADD. It took a while to figure out how exactly my brain works but I can now set up systems to keep me on track, most of the time. I am a very visual person which can be a double edged sword. Clutter drives me crazy, but out of site is practically out of mind for me. Luckily this world is full of beautiful and functional things.

Below are a few tips I assembled to help simplify your routines and your life

    • Make sure to have a space or system that is beautiful enough to make you smile while still functioning. If everything is all about function it will probably drive the visual person nuts. It’s all about finding the balance.
    • Recognize the most used areas and find a way to make those spaces work as your “command or action centers”.  ie: where you set you purse/wallet down, by the coffee pot or front door.
    • Figure out your weaknesses and focus on solutions for those first. Paying bills on time, piles of paper, forgetting items your need for the day? A pretty, “staged” bookcase is nice but spend your time on something that will make your life easier first. Less time tracking down coupons can save you time and money so down the line you can make that bookcase shine with less stress.
    • Figure out what makes you feel the most alive and find a system to inspire you. That can mean organizing the kitchen cabinets so you can get to your favorite sauce pan and get creative with your favorite edible masterpieces. Maybe that means sorting your paints or pastels and keeping a space clear to express yourself.
    • Find free or cheap solutions to test run a system before spending a bunch of money. It is a horrible feeling to get excited about a new organizer only to find out your solution creates unseen problems.

Above is the area that has become my “command center”. Here I set my purse, mail and my boyfriend sets his HUGE bag. There is only so much room for our stuff so I wanted to move my mail center off the bookcase and on the wall. I found the below inspiration picture on Pinterest and figured I could sew something similar to the fabric pockets.

Before I went through the process of picking fabrics and measuring I went the quick and easy route to try the system out. I gathered two different sizes of envelopes, cut off the flaps, glued them together and stuck them on the wall with 3m strips. I only had a few of the 3m strips so I used a little masking tape as well.


It may take a little more time to settle on the categories but so far I really like it.

I have now come up with a new system that streamlines my needs for a mail center which I tested on the cheap, will look fabulous once I pick fun fabric, and I can still SEE the bills I need to pay. One more gold star for ADD girl! (wink)

What projects have you done lately to simplify and bring order to your home? Do you have any tips for the blogosphhere?

 

*I joined Organizing Junkies link party here: http://orgjunkie.com/2011/08/52-weeks-33-using-weekly-planner-pages-for-organizing.html

This One Takes The Cake!

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I had the strangest dream about cakes last night. Well there was a whole lot more going on than cakey goodness, but I will leave out the side stories and the ping pong for the sake of my readers. 🙂

This one starts out with a dream within a dream. Dream me is dreaming about talking to someone about a brand new cake I just made. The first few bites are your average marble cake with chocolate frosting, but in the middle of the slice is a surprise. Suddenly a grid of fruit gel and it was very effective. The fruit gel is similar to gel food coloring and taffy in that it looked like the coloring but more tension is needed to break it.

I then wake up from the dream within the dream and go to my mother to tell her all about it. I get as far as, “I had the strangest dream about a new cake that,” when we walk into this massive room and we are motioned to sit at this long table in the middle of the room. At the table is a faceless man, the host?, and two respected female Chinese chefs. We are then told we are being challenged to a culinary cake contention akin to Iron Chef. (Sorry for the horrible alliteration!) I whisper in my mom’s ear, “Do you want to try something new and risky or go with a proven crowd pleaser, like your German Chocolate Cake?”

We are then introduced to our “secret ingredient”, some crazy cone shaped cooking oven balanced at an angle in a giant metal bucket. On the inside of the cone it is flat on one half, but the other half has these open wire basket like sections. The baskets stir and incorporate ingredients where as the flat part acts as a wok (as far as I could tell).

To the kitchen! I start with the fruit purees: Rasberry, Apple, and Carrot as I watch the other team start a savory dessert bubbling away with shrimp in the giant cone oven.

And scene!

Crazy, right? This dream really made me want to play with gelatins but I have no idea where to start with this one. I also had plans for the day.

Hasta luego mis amigos!