Thursday, December 22, 2011

Winter Solstice

Winter is officially here - today marks the shortest day of the year, which in my mind is an exiciting thing.  That means that from here on out, the days will be getting longer again.  The seasonal beginnings have always been a cool thing for celebration in my family as we have always made a point to celebrate non-holidays. When my sister and I were growing up, my mom would plan something special and fun to mark the change of the seasons.

For the spring equinox, we'd have our own version of a may day, and my mom would make us flower crowns for our hair - we got to wear them to school - which was quite a big deal in elementary school.  For the summer solstice, we'd always bbq - in my mind, the universal sign for summertime is a bbq - even just the smell still triggers that feeling of warm weather and playing outside until late (even if its foggy and we are shivering on a friend's SF porch).

The fall equinox always happens right after my mom's birthday at the end of September.  My parents live on a really pretty tree lined street, and the sycamores start to drop their leaves right as the weather starts to cool at night.  To welcome Autumn, we'd go and rake up all the leaves we could find, make a pile as big as we could, and jump in it.  Oh the simple pleasures of childhood...

Winter comes to the bay area before the winter solstice - the month of December is by far the coldest of all the months in the year, and at night, it frequently gets down to the 30's.  To welcome winter, we stay inside, wear our pajamas all day, and bake trays upon trays of Christmas cookies.  I REALLY wish I were there right now, holed up in my mom's warm kitchen, baking cookies, and laughing over a cup of coffee.  Unfortunately, I am at work, so in the spirit of the winter solstice, I will eat cookies for breakfast, and let out a quiet cheer to myself that after today, the days will get longer, and another spring is just around the corner!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wedding Dress Bliss - Vera Wang

She's done it again!

I was needing a break from spreadsheets today and what better way to escape than with this amazing dreamlike dress from Vera Wang's 2012 Fall Collection.

Look at the detail in the hand-cut organza blossom hem, the perfect asymmetrically pleated bodice.  It's oh my god amazing, and I so wish I were planning a wedding (anyone's wedding) rather than planning yet another ad campaign.  Oh the woe of real life...

Tis the Season!

Fa la la lala, la la laa laaaa!

I have been inundated with holiday parties this year and am just plain worn out (poor me, I know)!  Tonight I am heading home from work early to do laundry and clean the apartment, and honestly I could not be more excited!!  Is that insanely sad?  Oh well!

The above picture is from the Salesforce 2011 Christmas party from last Friday night which proved yet again to be the ultimate in over-the-top, fabulous parties.  Each year, they try to out-do themselves for the most outlandish, original ideas, and this year was nothing short of swanky, urban perfection.

There was such a fabulous bar set up with fiber-optic light sculptures, back-lit bars, and ever flowing champagne poured from none other than the most talented performers Cirque du Soile could spare for the evening.  What party wouldn't be complete without a performance from Hootie and the Blowfish, or endless platters of corn-dogs?!  Overall, a magical evening - so fun!

Enjoy these gorgeous photos from Orange Photography!

Style Me Pretty - the creme de la creme

So one of my amazing friends Aimee is just as obcessed with weddings as I am.  She got married just over a year ago, and while she loves the glamour, the details, and of course what the wedding symbolizes, the wedding planning experience was less than stellar for her.  To put it simply, Aimee's mother-in-law was less than supportive, and did her best to undermine every decision she made.

Despite the hurdles with her in-laws, she was married to her long-time college sweetheart and they are currently living happily ever after.  Months after her stressful wedding, her florist approached her with an opportunity to get back in her gorgeous Lazaro wedding dress, and participate in a photo shoot for a Style Me Pretty submission.  I get a text from her one morning at work saying, "I am playing hooky from work and am wearing my wedding dress!"  Needless to say, I was shocked, intrigued, and a bit worried for her sanity at the same time.

Later, over cocktails she spilled the rest - "I am trying to get on Style Me Pretty" she exclaimed - she did not even need to say anything more. I have been a SMP loyalist for years, pouring over the endless gorgeous details of thousands of weddings, so I fully understand the importance of being featured on this holy grail of blogs.  We celebrated to the fullest - perhaps over-celebrated a bit ordering not one, but two bottles of champagne and very little dinner.

Over the next several weeks I checked StyleMePretty incessantly, looking for her lovely face, but nothing.  I had almost forgotten about the entire photoshoot when one day at work I was browsing the blog, and found myself staring into the brown eyes of my dear friend.

"OH MY GOD," I squealed at work... let me interject to add that my team at work consists of baby 20-somethings who did not end up understanding the importance of any of this when I tried to explain my excitement.  Still buzzing with excitement, I shut the door and proceeded to call Aimee for the details, and then my best friend Kira to relay the details (a fellow wedding obsesser).

In few words, Aimee looked stunning in a very non-Aimee way.  To know her is to know the epitome of "classic", and this photo-shoot was anything but - it was extremely avant garde and artsy - so lovely.

Go check out the rest of the gallery here.

Thank you to the very smart editors at SMP who chose her photo-shoot to post, and also for writing and maintaining one of the loveliest blogs I know.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

San Francisco Eats: Gary Danko

Today, our lovely partners at Collective media took our agency out for lunch - not only did they invite the entire agency team, but they rented out Gary Danko - one of the most premier restaurants in San Francisco.  They arranged to open the restaurant for our group, selected a phenomenal menu, and we spent a glorious 3 hours there this afternoon indulging over food, fabulous company, and wine pairings.

We started with this incredible butternut squash soup with apple compote and aged balsamic (I WISH I could make that), and moved on to scallops.  Then we moved on to filet mignon with risotto, and finally dessert.  What I wouldn't give if unbuttoning the top button on your jeans was socially acceptable!

Yet another over-the-top fabulous meal - with all of this holiday indulgence, I won't fit into my pants soon!

CUTEST Puppy in the world!!!

Ok, last video for the day, I swear!

Have a Laugh: Shit Girls Say

I don't consider myself to be a YouTube troller, spending hours watching and laughing at viral videos, but most recently, I (along with thousands of other people) have discovered the series "Shit Girls Say."

My co-worker passed me the link, and said "I know you don't usually watch the things I send you, but WATCH THIS."  It was the combination of her calling me out, along with her insistance that I watch the video, that I clicked on the link, and trust me, I am SO GLAD that I did.  I have now watched episode I at least 27 times, and this week, episode II came out.

WATCH THESE - you will thank me later!


Can you do me a huge favor?  Could you not do that please?  Twinsies!  Listen, Listen, Listen, Listen... SHUT UP!  I'm not even joking right now!


Do you want to split a cookie?  I kind of want a hot dog!  Can you do me a favor? Is that a Mojito?!  So Good right?!  That poor dog needs water! I can't believe I ate all that!

And... as an answer to this, there is another separate series that has spun off, "Shit black girls Say."  Equally hilarious - enjoy!

DELETE!  Ohh turn it up, that's my JAM!  She is CRAZY! It is so hot in here! Bitch!

There is nothing Cuter than a Puppy on Christmas

If you are looking for some cute overload, this is the perfect late afternoon fix!

The Help

What a FABULOUS book - I read this about a year ago, and just after I finished, I heard that production was starting on a movie.  They cast Emma Stone to play the part of Skeeter, and at first I was a bit dubious, but after finally seeing the movie last night, I am fully convinced that this is the best adaptation of a novel that I have EVER seen.

To paint the picture, Kris and I were eating dinner, and I decided we should rent it.  Kris reluctantly agreed, and proceeded to get out his laptop to do some work.  About half way through, I look over at him to see how uninterested he was, and by this point, he has put away his computer and is intently watching.  At the end, I was tearing up, and looked over to see if he was still watching and noticed that he too has teared up. What a sweetie - he has a good, kind heart - one of my favorite qualities in him.

A Surprise Fashion Find

I would describe my style in life and in clothing to be a blend of classic contemporary - clean lines, and a good fit are not optional, but I rely heavily on the staples - a good pair of jeans, a white button down, and funky shoes or accessories.  Same with my home - classic furniture, spicy throw pillows and artwork.

If you had asked me about my thoughts on The Gap a week ago, my response would have been... ehh... not so much.  Well, now I am forced to eat my words!  Last night I was finishing my Christmas shopping, and in my endeavor to avoid the craziness of the SF downtown after work, I decided I'd "make it work" on Chestnut in the Marina.  I covered off on Kris' parents at Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel, covered Kris at Urban Outfitters, and on my walk back to the car, decided to stop into The Gap to just "take a quick look."

Honestly, I should not be trusted to do my Christmas shopping anywhere else other than online, because I am beginning to believe that my slight addiction to shopping is actually much more serious than it might appear.  Within 15 minutes or so, I proceeded to spend over $300, and came out glowing like I'd just run a marathon / gotten a facial.  I was triumphant, and $300 can really take you places at The Gap - TRUST ME.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Happy Weekend

Who's that Handsome Guy??

This was actually a photo I snapped while we were watching TV on the first Saturday after we moved into our apartment.  Doesn't Kris look especially cute here?

Last night, I dreamed that we had just gotten engaged and we were excitedly telling our families and friends.  I woke up this morning a bit sad upon realizing it was just a dream.  My friend Lindsay told me that if you dream it, it's going to happen soon.  I don't know if I'd go that far, but it certainly is a lovely thought...

It's the most Wonderful Time of the Year!

The tree is trimmed, and looking quite nice if I do say so myself!  I just love how at night we turn out all the lights except the Christmas Tree lights, and it feels like a soft, flowly dream land in our living room.  I wish we could keep the tree up all year!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

San Francisco Eats: Quince

I like to consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world, because part of my job requires a certain amount of wining and dining.  This means that at the ripe age of 27, I have eaten at some of the finest restaurants in San Francisco, and being an adventurous eater and a total foodie myself, I consider this an amazing treat!

Last night, we went to one of my all time favorites - Quince.  It is tucked into this cute little neighborhood - not quite downtown, not quite North Beach - and it reminds me of New York.  Lots of old original brick buildings, and leafy tree lined streets.  Not many people know about it since there are a lot of art galleries, and design studios located in these three blocks, but it really feels like you are in a different city.

In terms of fanciness, this place takes the cake - no suit required for men, but its fancy enough that there is a chauffeur to escort you to the bathroom - that kind of fancy :-)

In my humble opinion, Quince is the best restaurant in this city - better than Gary Danko's by a long-shot, and maybe a hair better than Michael Minna.  Perhaps its the service and ambiance that put it over the top.  As you can see from my sweet pics below (that I subtly snapped on my new iPhone) the food is incredible, and if you go, you MUST get the cheese cart!  You smell it before you even know it has rolled up, there are over 30 cheeses to choose from, and it is just to DIE for!!

Also - wine pairings - it's a bit pricey, but honestly the food is just good food without it... the wine pairings bring out all the best flavors and subtle hints that you just wouldn't fully appreciate otherwise.  Also, hearing the sommelier explain how they work together really changes the experience of savoring your food, and tasting each flavor.

This is the lamb - oh my god - they even took it off the rack for fanciness, and it came with a delicious demi glaze, and roasted root vegetables - half of which I couldn't even tell you.

And the infamous cheese cart - so fancy!

And my cheese selection - from the left, a bleu cheese from Ireland, then a creamy goat from Sonoma, then a fennel encrusted and infused cow's milk cheese from another cool place, and finally the triple creme from France.  Poor guy got cut off in the picture, but it was literally like butter... but better.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Engagement Ring Guide Part II: Maximizing Impact

Regardless of budget, every girl wants a ring she WANTS to show off to the world.  While not everyone is a Kardashian with a 17 carat paperweight on their hand, I've learned a few simple tips to keep in mind that will maximize the ring's wow factor.

1. Round Diamonds Look Bigger than All Other Sizes

    • It's true - in terms of surface area per carat, the round / brilliant diamonds give you more bang for your buck.  Compare a 1.0 carat round diamond to a 1.0 carat diamond of any other shape.  The average length to width ratio in millimeters for a round diamond would be 6.3 x 6.3mm.  For a 1.0 carat cushion cut diamond, the average length to width ratio is in the 5.5 x 5.5mm range.  That is a significant difference!

2. A Sparkly Diamond Always Looks Bigger than a Dull one
    • Look for a diamond shape that naturally reflects the most light.  Round will top the list every time, because of the way that the facets are cut, but close behind the round diamond for "sparkliness" is the marquise (I was shocked by that one), oval, pear, heart, and then Princess.  From there, sparkle tapers off rapidly, but if you are like me, and kind of hate the fancy shapes (marquis, pear, heart, etc) then stick with the round, oval, and princess - all safe bets.  
    • Do not sacrifice cut for carat - the result will be a dull, cloudy, or dark diamond.  In the first post, I talked a lot about the importance of a quality cut - going for an ideal or excellent cut will give you the most sparkle - substituting a good or fair cut for a slight increase in carat size is a very bad idea.

3.  Elongated Diamonds can Appear Larger

    • A non-symmetrical cushion cut that is rectangular can fake people out for a larger carat.  Especially if you have thin fingers, the length can create the illusion of a larger diamond. Also on this list of elongated shapes are the emerald cut (not a personal favorite of mine), radiant cut, and oval diamonds.  I'm not fully sold on this idea, but if you love this look, go for it!

4.  Settings with Additional Diamonds Enhance the Size of a Diamond
    • Extra embellishments on a ring do exactly what they promise - they enhance a center stone, so whether it's opting for a three stone ring, (with two sizable diamonds on either side of the center stone), or if it's having a micropave band that adds just a bit of extra pizzazz to your ring while still leaving the center stone as the main focus, or whether it's going all out for a micro-pave halo setting (having even more diamonds encircling the center stone and band), these are all great ways to enhance an already beautiful engagement ring.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Dad is turning 60!

I can't believe it!  My dad is turning 60 this year, and for quite some time, I have been brainstorming ways to make it a really special day!  I came across this amazing post on the blog Inchmark.  They posted the COOLEST idea that is relatively inexpensive but that will make a huge impact.

I had toyed with the idea of throwing a big party for my dad, but honestly, that would be my mom's dream - my dad would hate it.  He is more into intimate dinners with my mom, me and my sister, so in lieu of a big surprise party, I want all his family and friends to be a part of the celebration, so I will be making 60 postcards to send to 60 of the most important people in his life.  With these pre-stamped postcards, I am sending instructions to write the best, funniest or just favorite memories of my dad and mail it back as close to his birthday as possible.  This way, in the weeks surrounding his birthday, he will receive sweet little notes from everyone in his life.

What a wonderful way to turn the corner to a new decade!

Engagement Ring Guide Part I: Sparkle

Marilyn Monroe sang, "diamonds are a girl's best friend", and lately I have been doing a lot of thinking about the most important diamond a girl will receive... an engagement ring.  Most recently, I have been noticing lots of really different but amazing rings on other women and in the window's of my neighborhood jewelers that are not what I have traditionally liked.  I've been thinking about, how to save money when buying a diamond, what makes it most sparkly, and what the priorities should be...

Deciding to do some research, I think I have narrowed it down to my top "engagement ring essentials".  Because there is so much to learn and think about when buying a diamond, I wanted to break out these essentials into a series of posts to avoid an overwhelming amount of information.  It's really interesting and really helpful in terms of understanding priorities when you are looking since there are SO MANY options, so many things to weigh, and of course since it's costing several month's salary.

1.  SPARKLE:  Bigger is not better if the diamond doesn't shine.  This is not to say that I don't want a big rock flashing about on my left hand, but recently I have seen some women with very large stones, that are dull, and not very pretty.  I've never been a diamond expert, but wanting to know what causes this dullness, lack of sparkle, and even cloudy appearance, I've done some research...  The factors that most affect a diamond's sparkliness are CUT, SYMMETRY, DEPTH, and TABLE. 

    • CUT: This one is pretty easy to remember - the better the cut, the more light enters the diamond (meaning more sparkly).  This is probably the most important part to getting a sparkly diamond, so ALWAYS go for  the best cut possible (either ideal, or excellent).  Anything below that, and you will be losing significant sparkle. 
    • SYMMETRY: This refers to specific aspects of a diamond's cut; with poor symmetry, light can be lost as it enters and exits the diamond - a good rule of thumb, symmetry and cut go hand in hand, so if you stick to an ideal/excellent cut, you will end up with good symmetry.  This diagram gives a good idea about how this works and why poor symmetry can be a BIG problem:

    • DEPTH: This is really a matter of quality control - if the diamond is too shallow or too deep, light is lost and the diamond looks dull - something really interesting that I learned was that a too deep diamond adds carat weight without looking bigger - shady!  The best diamonds are considered to range in depth percentage from 58% - 64%.  Be sure you specify this when looking and you'll be good.
    • TABLE: Similar to depth - this is all in the cutting of a diamond, and is more mathmatical than anything; the ratio of the table width to diamond diameter and affects how much a diamond sparkles - the best diamonds range in table percentage from 53%-64%.  Stick to this, and you'll be fine.
So much to learn, so little time!!!  Next up, the how to maximize the impact of your diamond!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's a cozy cuddly day

Its cold, and we are spending the day snuggled on the couch - hot cocoa, cookies, and Christmas movies..... having lazy days like this always feel so luxurious... mmmmmmmmmm

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Baby it's cold outside

I have been so slammed with work this week, and have been out late most nights.  Tonight I am looking forward to getting home, turning the Christmas tree lights on, popping a bottle of wine, and writing out my Christmas cards next to the fire (aka the yule log channel on Kris's massive big screen).

Doesn't it just sound delish?!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I love this city!!

Do I have talented friends or what?!  My old friend Henrick took this photo on his new fancy shmancy camera... San Francisco is seriously one of the most picturesque cities in the world.  GORGEOUS!

These are TO DIE FOR

And well worth every penny I might add... yes, a splurge of course, but a woman literally pulled her car over on saturday to tell me how fabulous my new footwear was...

Kris has no idea how much they were, but I think it's best that way.  My feet have been thanking me.

Yes, Home Decor now makes me excited

Framed Blue Reflections Print

So a few months ago... it feels like years now... I was day-dreaming about our soon to be love nest, and moving into the new apartment.

I had posted that "compromise is like brussels sprouts" and noted how I was looking for decor that reflected both of our tastes - contemporary (a nice way of saying modern) and classic (a more "modern" way of saying traditional), HA!

Well, I had been lusting over this extremely reasonable print by Ballard Designs, and today, I finally pulled the trigger and bought it!  In seven to ten business days it will be mine, all mine!  I will have to post of a picture of it in our apartment that is slowly but surely coming together (slowly being the operative word here).

Wish I were Here!!

The high today in San Francisco is 50 degrees.  The to-do list at work is about a mile long.  One of my client's refuses to answer my emails.  It's 10am and I could really go for a pina colada on THIS beach.  Dear scientists of the world... please figure out this time travel thing a little faster, and transport me to this beach in Samara, Costa Rica right... now.

With this one...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

New Decorating Obcession: Topiaries

My mom has a rule - for every arrangement involving fake or dried flowers, you HAVE to have at least two fresh arrangements.  While this is her rule, and not a universal rule, I think it's a good one to go by.  Have you ever been to one of those discount craft / decor stores - Michaels, or Home Goods - and thought, "wow, they have some nice stuff in here but it seems kind of tacky"?  Well... its all the fake flowers and fake plants... trust me on this one... I've spent some time thinking about it.

That said, keeping fresh flowers on hand can really add up - while you can pick up a bouquet at the store for $10 - $15, they will be dead by the end of the week, so that is a minimum of $40 - $60 per month on flowers.  To some, this might be pocket change, but for me, this adds up to drinks with a good friend, a new pair of shoes, or my annual subscription of UsWeekly.

This brings us back to seeking simple, inexpensive solutions for a fresh look in your home.  I've found that topiaries are a great option.  They are small, easy to keep up, relatively inexpensive, and look tres chic!  If that's not enough, they have 10x the lasting power of flowers, and bring a pop of freshness to any room.  Honestly, if you took care of them, they could last years, but let's say they cost $8 each, and last 4 months... that will cost you $1 a week for two.  Look how amazing they look!

Photo courtesy of Kate's Place

Photo courtesy of Home Design 2011