Sunday, December 18, 2011

two zero eleven coming to a close.

The week before leaving on vacation is always the longest. This week was also complete with a major low and major high (I'm glad the week ended with the high).

Around this time last year I was bombarding people with letters and cards asking for donations in support of Jumpstart and my marathon training. Although I've started running again regularly, it doesn't compare to training in the Newton hills. I'm hoping to join the 2012 team on a training run next month when I'm in town and hoping that my daily hill walking in SF will be a good training substitute.

On Thursday I welcomed visitor #5 (I think?): Brooke! I found out that she would be driving to Lake Tahoe from her home in Abilene, TX so I bribed her with a burrito from the Mission and a little site seeing (on top of the always present hug and high-five). It was amazing to see her and I am so thankful that we had some time to just chill and chat before she deploys in January. Friday morning we woke up to gorgeous weather and took off to the Golden Gate bridge. Along the way we saw the Palace of Fine Arts, which I've been wanting to check out for a while. I'm so glad we stopped because it's a very impressive structure. We walked around a bit, took some pictures of ducks and talked about how envious we were of the people who lived across the street and walked out their door in the morning with the palace as their view. Next we drove across the bridge to the lookout spots and then back into the city to see the Painted Ladies in Alamo Square. And yes, we sang the Full House theme song as she parallel parked impressively (there is photo evidence) on a hill.

We were in the market for some sushi for lunch, but stumbled upon an eatery right next to Mad Dog in the Fog called Greenburger, on Haight Street. It was the perfect place to stumble upon - I had a vegan sloppy joe (I never even thought to make one, but will definitely try on my own) and Brooke got a veggie burger. Really solid meal and I'll definitely go back if I'm in the area. Brooke needed to get back on the road and I had to get some work done so we parted ways after lunch, but it was such a great visit. Thanks for taking a bit of a detour, Brooke! It was a Christmas miracle!

On Saturday I helped Maddy with some cooking for a Christmas party (I'm always happy to lend a hand in the kitchen) and then off to the airport in the evening to head back to Seattle. Today I finally was able to visit a friend (Hope) who lives in Ballard and pick up a set of drawings that I asked her to do for our apartment. First off, they were even more beautiful than I thought when she sent me a picture, and second, they were EXACTLY what I was imagining. I'll post a picture when they are up in the apartment.

Well, I'm off tomorrow on vacation for the holidays so no posts until 2012 (where did 2011 go?). Happy holidays everyone - safe travels!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

running in the country > running on a treadmill

I can't believe it's almost Christmas. I hate to gloat (although it sounds like the New England has had it's fair share of nice weather) but it has rained only three or four days since I moved here. I've been told this is unseasonably nice; I'm pretending that isn't the case though. The weather has changed to sunny and brisk; I pulled out the gloves for the first time this week, but I don't mind.

Corey left Tuesday morning so we had Monday night to cook dinner together. Our meal consisted of fresh black pepper pasta (bought at the Fort Mason farmers market), butternut squash and sage sauce, and roasted brussel sprouts (on the stock - also form the farmers market). I learned a new trick from Corey - put a tiny bit of water on the pan of the brussel sprouts before you put them in the oven; it cooks them a little more thoroughly so they are nice and tender. It totally worked and they were delicious!

Tuesday I did some baking for my work Christmas party/cookie competition. I made Ginger Molasses Sandwich Cookies, which turned out alright. I did not win, but did get an intense sugar high/crash after tasting seventeen different types of cookies. What were we thinking? I also did not win the ugly sweater competition, but did wear mine the entire day (including out to lunch) so I should have at least won a prize for that. I did some more cooking that night with a friend and it was my first time making souffles. Saying that word makes me feel weird about making them, like they are too fancy for me. I contributed the swiss chard side dish, a little more up my alley.

This week consisted of two back to back concerts at the Masonic Center, a concert hall literally four blocks from my apartment. On Thursday I went to see the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus and man were they awesome! Two of my co-workers sing in the group of 275+ men and they sounded great, had so much energy and were hilarious. I love Christmas music and was happy that a bell choir accompanied them on some of the songs (I know, it's weird to like bell choirs). All in all a great concert and was so happy to support Kenyon and Chris. The second concert on Friday was a show put on by KFOG (a local radio station) called Concert for Kids. My aunt was really excited for me to move to San Francisco because she wants someone to go to concerts with; I was happy to oblige, especially when she picks up the tab. The opener was Airborne Toxic Event with headliner Death Cab for Cutie. I was happy to support the hometown boys - Death Cab is from Seattle. The audience was such a wide range of people (which I expected going into it). The sixteen year old girls behind us yelling "I love you, Ben" every five minutes was a bit overplayed; I think he heard them the first time.

The rest of the weekend I spent out in Brentwood on my grandma's farm. It is so peaceful out there, I could just sit outside for hours staring at the sky. We spent a few hours at my uncle's house yesterday and played a card game that I grew up playing - Liverpool Rummy. It brings back good memories of my grandfather because he loved playing. \We are always way more competitive than necessary and (tame) trash talk is a requirement. Aside from seeing my family, which is obviously the highlight, I was ecstatic about running both days on the road around my grandma's. It's so nice to run on flat ground and breathe the air out there.
I look forward to those visits to the farm when I can essentially go into hibernation mode for a while.

Only one more week of work until a vacation (holler). Have a good week!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

food is best stumbled upon.

This past week was the first Sunday that I missed an entry, but my excuse is that I was home for Thanksgiving and when I'm home everything else in real life stops. It was a bit of an unconventional Thanksgiving - went to the movies (saw The Descendents), had salmon for dinner (and brussel sprouts - obviously) and played a few rousing games of bananagrams. My parents recently renovated their kitchen and it was a dream to cook in; in fact I could live in this kitchen. I might be moving back to good old Covington at some point in my life just to be with this kitchen. I returned to SF on Monday night so I had a solid six days at home.

Some highlights from my time in WA/Seattle include: sushi with Emma, going out with high school folks and singing a little karaoke (along with it, more so), eating brunch with Janelle and Kenzie, making Italian bread with my mom, hearing all about Portland from an old friend and confirming that Portlandia is mostly true, and talking to my dad about his new band. All in all, a great trip.

This week I took it pretty easy and crashed most days after work. Mine and Maddy's Friday night consisted of laundry, bad TV and buying a mini Christmas tree. It's small, but fits perfectly in a nook in our apartment. Enter visitor #4 - Corey - a friend from UMass and current resident of Denver (I must visit Denver now that I've heard all about it from an insider). He arrived on Saturday around noon and we wasted no time, heading to the Mission for lunch. Our friend Eric recommended Tartine Bakery and I've been meaning to go for a while so we checked it out. There was a line, but it moved quickly and the shortbread I had was so tasty.

From the Mission, we walked through the Castro and up to Alamo Square to see the infamous Painted Ladies (essentially the Full House houses). Alamo Square is just north of the Haight and I wanted to go to Amoeba Music - my brother and dad have been talking about it for years and now I know why. It is the mecca of music stores. New, used, obscure, everything. I can't wait for a rainy day to just go there and spend hours searching through albums. We then headed to Mad Dog in the Fog to meet up with a group and I was immediately distracted by the tables right as we walked in that have taps and kegs at the table. The system tracks how much you pour, which could get costly and dangerous, but is equally awesome. We enjoyed a few beers (and also experienced a record three beers spilled in less than 15 seconds) then headed in search of food. We ended up to be across the street at Rosamunde Sausage Grill because the smell of onions and sauerkraut lured us in. They had a vegan sausage ( surprisingly good) but what isn't good when it's smothered with the fixings and spicy mustard? Next we walked to another bar close by called The Page - very fitting because it was on Page Street. We called it an early night after that then spent two hours listening to Tiny Desk Concerts on NPR (which blew my mind) and ate popcorn made over the stove (best decision of the day).

Sunday funday was spent doing more walking, but started off right with a run outside. The weather has been amazing these past few days and I'm still in denial it's December. Lombard Street is not far from my apartment so we ran to the top to look down - it's amazing that people actually use it for the purpose of getting from point A to point B. We did a lot more walking today - up to Coit Tower then to the Wharf to see the sea lions, smell the seafood and see the Bushman. Who is the Bushman you ask? Click on the link. I remember this guy from when I was a kid and he's still doing his thing. Funnily enough I was telling Corey about him only moments before we ran into him. We then stumbled upon an amazing farmers market at Fort Mason and purchased spoils for dinner tomorrow. We ate samples for lunch, discovered a new dip (roasted leeks, lentils, and garlic) and I bought kale (obviously).

The afternoon consisted of a Bloody Mary at Nook (I'm obsessed), bananagrams (I'm obsessed) and sitting in the sun. Although it started to get windy and a bit cold, we had our minds set on playing a game of bocce in Alta Vista Park. The views from the park are amazing. I still am in awe of every view I see of the city - it's just surreal. For dinner we headed out to Richmond for sushi at Sushi Bistro on the recommendation of someone I met while home for Thanksgiving and also from Eric. I got a tip to get a roll that's off the menu, which I won't divulge what it's called, but if you visit and want sushi we're going there and getting it. Best sushi roll ever.

I'm looking forward to a full week and some time out in Brentwood this weekend. But what I'm really looking forward to is the feast Corey and I will be making tomorrow. Thanks Fort Mason farmers market!

 Outside of Tartine Bakery with the building across the street reflecting off the window 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

there's a marching band. in a bar.

Thanks to Katy for posting last week! You made everything sound so cool (which is true).

I'm already to post number eleven and can't help thinking about the many more ahead. I'm in shock that it's already Thanksgiving - this time last year I was starting to prep for marathon training (good luck to all who will be running Boston this year!). I'm pretty excited to be going home to Seattle this year for the holiday; the last time I spent it at home was seven years ago when I was a senior in high school. I think I've told that to every person who will listen, like I should win a prize or something. But yes, I'm excited.

This week/weekend consisted of visitor(s) #4 - Paul and Paige. So great to see some more familiar faces and former neighbors (close enough) from Cambridge. Paige unfortunately is here for work, but has the evenings free to we'll get to see each other a few times. I played tourist again this weekend and also showed off some of the places that I've discovered. I'm unusually tired tonight, possibly because of all of the walking I made Paul do this weekend (sorry!) so I'm going to make use of some bullets this time around.

On Friday, I met up with Paul and Paige for a quick cup of coffee to say hi and catch up before they went to dinner. Then I went out to Schroeder's with for drinks with Maddy, a German beer bar in the financial district. Turns out the Cal Berkeley marching band was also setting their sights on Schroeder's and played many tunes. They took a break to eat meatballs and drink, coke for the underage. It was a trip though seeing a marching band in a bar - too bad Cal lost to Sanford the next day.

The next morning, Paul and I set our sites on the Castro and the Mission. Our only stop in the Castro was to get a macaroon from Hot Cookie (among a few other treats). Probably the best macaroon I've ever had; we decided against the penis shaped ones, but I'm sure they were just as good. Here are some hightlights from the Mission:
  • 826 Valencia: the flagship writing center of the nonprofit 826. All of the 826 writing centers have stores with different themes and Valencia's theme is pirates - it. was. awesome.
  • Next door to 826 was Paxton Gate, a taxidermy shop. Lots of bones of animals, animal heads, animals in jars, bugs pinned to boards - it was a seven year old boys dream come true. I also thought it was cool. 
  • Mission Cheese: a fairly new place with amazing grilled cheese sandwiches. I had a mushroom one. Yum. 
  • Elbo Room: on a recommendation of Paige's friend, we checked this place out. She totally hit the nail on the head. I played Iron Man pinball and we took pictures in the photo booth. Drinks were strong, the music was loud. Good times had by all. 
  • Monk's Kettle: I'd been dying to go back here since Maddy took me during my visit in May. It has a great beer list and more beer glassware than I've ever seen. I had Death and Taxes and we drew pictures on the chalk board in front of us. Fitting.
  • So the burrito's are better on the west coast. Fact. We went to El Toro and in the seven minutes (guesstimate) it took me to eat the monster burrito, it took another 25 for me to regret my decision of finished said burrito. 

Today we wandered a bit in Haight, which was my first visit and jaunt along Haight street. As you'd imagine there is a smoke shop every six or so stores and murals all over the place. We walked by Haight/Ashbury and saw the clock permanently set at 4:20. Stood in front of a house where a five piece band was playing on a stoop; it felt like New Orleans. Then headed into Magnolia Pub and Brewery for a drink - the food smelled amazing though. I'm looking forward to heading back there at some point to go to Amoeba Music and spend hours looking at music I won't buy.

Happy Thanksgiving to all and safe travels!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

there's a wig on the sidewalk. welcome to san francisco.

Visitor #3. This week was AWEsome. My co-worker, I mean friend, visited and we had five packed days of work, activities, food/beer consuming, etc. I asked her to do a guest post to give me a break this week, but in reality I'm going to be hovering over her as she types to make sure she captured everything. Take it away Katy...

I feel it is my responsibility to impart on future visitors some lessons learned when visiting Dana:

1: Be prepared to eat your way through San Francisco.  You may enjoy the delicacies of San Francisco's finest food trucks at Off the Grid, or the amazingness of Nook (fervent followers of the blog already know about Nook). Regardless, it's going to be good.  Some favorites: a mac and cheese spring roll with cheese fondue dipping sauce, a salted caramel hot chocolate at Ghiradelli Square, an aptly named "kitchen sink" cookie that contained, among other things, potato chips, pretzels, and butterscotch chips - and spatzel in one of the best German beer bars (outside of Germany), Leopold's.

2: Expect the unexpected. A bar with a deer head on the wall whose antlers become guns, you drink "death and taxes", learn salsa and/or dance under a glittery disco ball shaped like an atomic bomb? Yes, it may happen (Madrone). A woman selling goods in the Mission that gifts Dana a pair of glittery, Rocket Dog platform sneakers?  Yes, I've seen it with my own eyes (and have photographic evidence for the unbelievers). You may trek through a tunnel nearly a mile long in search of Jumpstart San Francisco's newest attraction Pam the fish or do traditional toursit-y things such as seeing the Sea Lions at Pier 39, driving across the Golden Gate bridge, or watch episodes of "I didn't know I was pregnant". A hair salon (Backstage) may become a modern art gallery when you least expect it. The free Charles Shaw wine drew us in, but we didn't regret the visit. A little live music turned out to be a great band who sounded like they belonged at the Newport Folk Festival (Dana's favorite). Pack extra shoes, rain gear, and you should be set for whatever you encounter on any given day.

3: Know that Dana will not take "no" for an answer.  While enjoying a relaxing, idyllic hike through Muir Woods, we were saddened to learn that the "Tourist Club" (A German Bar built into the hillside in the middle of the forest) was closed for a work day. Dana pounded on the door of the bar until they let us in and served us a beer*, as she had promised.

*Ok, so that didn't exactly happen, but having witnessed first hand her sassing of police officers in the aftermath of her phone's theft ("So, since you won't do anything with this information, do I need to go on a witch hunt myself?"), I have no doubt she contemplated it.  To avoid this witch hunt/door pounding wrath, just buck up and drink that 40 in a paper bag she hands you at the frat house party turned SF bar (Bullitt) or drink that giant stein that contains 10 beers from Leopold's (we just witnessed this).  Trust me.  It's in your best interest.

4. Learn your limitations: Maybe you don't enjoy bathing in champagne, in which case, Bullitt may not be for you. (Trust us). San Francisco is far too large to see it all--so start making your list of to-dos for your next trip to visit Dana. There will always be more hikes, restaurants, and more delicious yellow curry from the side of a truck to be eaten--next time.

5. And lastly, woo your hostess.  If you really want to impress Dana, take her to the Rainbow Grocery in the Mission and share your extensive knowledge of organic bulk grains and raw organic olives. "Dana!  Did you see that bin of squash? Or see how inexpensive Siggis yogurt is here?  This is Heaven!". She will impress you with her uncanny ability to guess the weight of said squash - it was unreal. Buy some Taza chocolate or salted caramels to go and recommend you hit up Cafe Meuse to enjoy live music sung into an old fashioned microphone. You'll have her eating out of the palm of your hand before the end of the night.

Places we visited and I highly recommend:
  • Squat and Gobble: a brunch lovers paradise in the Castro. You have to stand in line to order your food, which means the prices are a bit less and you have lots of time to decide. The name alone makes the place, but it's very vegetarian friendly. Awesome. 
  • Nopalito: a sustainable, mexican, organic kitchen that's a spin off of an up scale restaurant in NOPA (north of the Panhandle). So tasty. Get small plates and share - it's worth it.
  • The Plant: Any Jumpstart folk that come to visit need to get lunch here. It's so close to the office and has stellar food.
  • Cable Car Museum: steps away from Dana's Nob Hill apartment. It's not only a cool museum with an abundance of photos from the 1906 earthquake/fire, but it is fully functional and operates all of the SF cable cars in the city. We didn't ride one this time around -- it's on the list for the next visit. 

  • North Beach: Jack Early Park, Cafe Divine and the San Remo: She now just wanted to show off her knowledge of the city by taking me here. Jack Early - what a view. Cafe Divine - the pizza was epic. San Remo - a bit of Bisordi family history, as her family owned the hotel for close to half a century (there's even a picture of the Bisordi's in the lobby, including her grandfather). 
  • The Mission: Dolores Park offers the perfect greenery for frisbee, lounging, or whatever you'd like to do in a park. Valencia Street has all of the coffee shops and shopping you could ask for and probably 100 french bulldogs (seriously). And a wig on the sidewalk -- someone had a good Saturday night.
The list I have of things to do when I return is long. I'm thinking late-May for Bay to Breakers so I can witness Dana's new sparkly shoes in all their glory. Oh, and did I forget to mention that the woman gave her an 80's prom dress to match? Priceless.

Off to my red eye back to Boston. Thanks Maddy, Lindsay, Lindsey, David and Dana for a great trip -- see you in the spring!

Monday, November 7, 2011

outdoor adventures.

I usually post on Sunday's but if I would have attempted to post anything last night it would have been even worse writing than usual. This weekend was incredibly active, going from one thing to the next. I wouldn't have had it any different. Since I knew I was going to run a half marathon Sunday I was trying to take it easy when we went out on Friday, but alas, I was tempted by Anchor Steam. Late night pizza reminded me of Antonio's and made me a little less sad that I missed out on homecoming this year. Go UMass!

Saturday consisted of my first official brunch in SF. Unfortunately the restaurant we went to in North Beach was underwhelming, but there was a dog there and so my attention was directed at him for the morning. After brunch, we did the tourist thing and walked down to the wharf. Along the way, we stopped in at Buena Vista Cafe for a little drink since the weather is starting to change here and it was feeling a bit brisk. The underwhelming brunch also meant we were still hungry to off to Scoma's for a true Italian gem. I'd been here once before when my uncle got married about five years ago - it looks exactly the same. Wood paneled walls filled with pictures, white table cloths, a little stuffy, but so good.

I headed off to the Presidio to grab my bib for the race and walked along the water, which turns out was a part of the course. Pretty uneventful, but the place that they handed the bibs out is called Sports Basement, where you can rent bikes (Maddy and I did this when I visited in May). It's an outdoor lovers paradise in the and I had to walk out quickly before I bought anything; also very close to the Golden Gate bridge, making it the perfect place to rent bikes.

I'm not usually who eats out a lot, but I was in the mood and had a bit of coaxing so I followed along with others to this great Thai place close by called Lemongrass. The dish I had (eggplant and tofu) was incredible - possibly the best Thai food I've ever had (although I don't have much to compare it to). That night we had some rain, which we all welcomed. It just felt like back home and I didn't mind the mist at all.

Sunday I ran the SF half-marathon - in my last post I said that Tank Hill was the best view of the city, well, I take that back. Mile 7 of the half was on a look out spot in Marin County looking back at the city. It was absolutely breathtaking. I couldn't take a picture because the sun was so bright, but took others along the way. I don't know if I'd run the specific race again because there were at least four bottlenecks on the bridge because of the amount of people in the race, but it was a perfect day for a race. Nice and cool at the start, sun warmed you up around mile 5 and didn't get very hot. I took it slow and didn't push myself (mostly because I wanted to walk today). At the finish, I remembered that all participants could get a free Lagunitus, so I headed straight for the keg. I'm embarrassed to say that I bypassed the water and just went for it. Oh well.

Shot from the course.
I gave myself a break and rode the cable car for the first time - so fun! It's pretty expensive for just single rides, but I couldn't handle walking all the way back up the hill so I treated myself. Treat Yourself 2011. After a shower and some coffee,  we headed out to Ocean Beach to the Rip Curl Pro Search to catch a heat of the surfing contest. So cool! I'm looking forward to going to Hawaii for Christmas and will try to get on a surfboard (it's been 12 years, so I'm not sure how that will go).

The day was certainly not over and we had a few hours to kill with our zip car so from the ocean to the mountains we went. On the other side of the Golden Gate are some amazing cities and we headed uphill to Muir Woods. Maddy knew about this great place that sounded cool when she explained it but I didn't expect it to be so incredible. It's called the Tourist Club and it's a German bar that you have to hike down to (short hike). Only three beers were on tap, but it didn't matter. We grabbed a deck of card, parked ourselves outside on a picnic table and enjoyed the view. Next time I want to bring a full lunch and just hang out for a few hours.

Last, but certainly not least, we ate dinner in the Mission (so many neighborhoods in so little time). A couple of us were really craving some Indian food and we got a recommendation of Pakwan - it was cheap, fast and amazing. The food reminded me a bit of Punjabi Dhaba (miss it!).

Alright, that's all. If you made it this far, congrats. I was too tired tonight to filter this.

Have a great week!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

pumpkin carving. pumpkin beer.

This was a great week with a mix of busy days and relaxation (which I've done the entire day today). The big news is that Jumpstart's office is moving from Mission and 6th - a bit of a sketchy area - to Battery street tomorrow. We're going to be less than a 10 minute walk to the Ferry Building, which makes me incredibly happy. This happiness stems from the fact that there's a year round farmers market run by a local non-profit every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at the Ferry Building. I've been to the Saturday market (which is the largest of the three days) and it's amazing. I can't wait to some squash this week! Aside from my obsession with farmers markets, the office move is going to be a huge upgrade for us. The space is better, in a better part of town and it's going to be a much better working environment. Tomorrow is unpacking day!

On Friday, Maddy and I kept it pretty low key and carved some pumpkins. This is by far my favorite Halloween tradition (I could do without the dressing up). I was also dead set on drinking pumpkin beer as we carved, but forgot that beer seasons are like clothing in some ways, so I had a pretty limited selection, but was able to get my hands on a six pack of Buffalo Bill's Pumpkin Ale (brewery in  Hayward, CA). Not a Shipyard Pumpkinhead, but it definitely sufficed.

I always have grand plans for my pumpkins and tried to be a bit more creative this year. I attempted to carve The Pumpkin King from Nightmare Before Christmas and with the limited tools we had, I think it turned out alright. Maddy carved a pug and it's pretty darn impressive. I have yet to roast the pumpkin seeds but they were saved and will go in the oven this week likely.

On Saturday a friend from high school who lives in Mountain View came by to see the place and we went on a little tour of SF. The weather was amazing (sorry to those of you who were snowed in back east) and he has a Miada - the perfect cruising car. Brandon had some inside scoop of some not so commonly known places in the city from a former boss of his who has lived in SF for 15+ years. First we went to Best Buy (not exciting) and bought a wireless router for my apt. Funnily enough, the wireless router we had previously was in fact not a wireless router - that explains why it wasn't working.

Anyway, our next destination was Tank Hill in the neighborhood Twin Peaks. The view was breathtaking. This has to be the best view in the city - you can see Oakland, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge, Candlestick Park, AT&T Park, Mt. Diablo and everything in between. There is no obstruction and you can see for miles. I will definitely be going back here! The last stop was the most random thing I've seen in a city - concrete slides called the Seward Street Slides. They are in Noe Valley, very close to the Castro, andwere built in the 70's (as if that needed to be said). I didn't get the opportunity to slide this time around because I was wearing a dress, but again, a spot I will definitely go back to.

Last night was a Halloween progressive party - boy do people in this town love their Halloween. But the most exciting part of the weekend was finishing my first library book. Holler! On to the next - Dry.

Have a great week all!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

still sunny in late october.

The best thing I did this week was get a library card. Score! It's amazing how easy it was considering my first attempt to get one back in the day in South Boston was an utter failure because I still had my WA license. It was just as bad as trying to get my MA license and all I wanted to do was check out some books! Anyway, I don't have a CA license yet, but they graciously accepted my residency after I showed my address on a comcast bill (the only thing that being a comcast customer is good for). I checked out a book I've read (Dry by Augusten Aurroughs) a book I was half way through when I left Boston (Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell) and a book that I've checked out and returned three times in the past (The Corrections). Time to get my read on.

The week had some major new discoveries that really made me excited to do more exploring here. I went to Hayes Valley to get some food on Wednesday - it's a really great neighborhood with lots of small shops, eateries and other fun stuff. The highlight of it though was an ice cream stand called Smitten. I urge you to check out the website because my explanation of why it is so cool would not do it justice. I had a kiddie cup of chocolate ice cream with candid jalapenos (delish). I also went to a wine bar that you would never know was there but it was so cozy and such a great atmosphere for wine drinking. My partner in crime was much more knowledgeable about wine drinking than I so I fumbled through the wine conversation inserting the word "tannins" at all the wrong times. The place is called Hotel Biron - I will definitely try to make it back there.

Maddy and I had a high school friend visit this week. He was in town to see the Standford v. University of Washington game (poor Huskies). We hit the town on Friday and found ourselves at a Mexican place called Tortilla Heights. I was definitely the butt of some jokes when I asked if where we were going was a neighborhood. In my defense a) there are so many neighborhoods here I can't keep them straight and b) I feel like half of them have the word "Heights" in name. Still, I know, dumb comment. We carried on to a few other places, one being a piano bar.

Saturday I tagged along with Maddy, her boyfriend and another friend to The Bridge School Benefit Concert held at Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View (very close to where my mom grew up). It was such an amazing day - the weather was perfect, we got there early and snagged a prime lawn spot and spent seven hours listening to music. And the icing on the cake was the school that this concert supports, The Bridge School, teaches developmentally disabled students with an emphasis on building communication skills of all kinds. Definitely worth checking out. Of all the artists we saw, Norah Jones, Beck, and Mumford and Sons definitely stole the show. Norah. Wow.

Sunday has been a lazy day, but I made it to a park that I walk by a lot just to do some reading (thanks SF library). It was nice to just sit for a while and enjoy the weather. As you'll see below, I had a nice little view of the park. Please please please send me any books suggestions you have since I'm going to become a library junkie here soon. I also caught a late lunch and did some reading at a place called The Grove in Lower Pac Heights (see, another Heights). They have an awesome mayo-free tuna salad, one of the best I've ever had.

Looking forward to a quiet week and a possible visitor next weekend! Don't forget to send along book suggestions!


Sunday, October 16, 2011

clean room will not last.

As you saw in my post last week (or lack thereof) I went to Las Vegas for the weekend. Thanks to Columbus Day (or Indigenous People's Day as San Franciscans call it) I had a full three days in Las Vegas with Katy and Elian. Huge thanks to Elian for hosting us in her hometown! I added a picture of the gang - it was a great time with great people, amazing food and lots of dancing.

This weekend was the first weekend that I had nothing planned in advance. I'm starting to learn my routine a bit, where to go grocery shopping, when it's best to do laundry at the corner laundromat, etc. I'm definitely missing laundry in my apt and now spend all the change I save on laundry and I REALLY miss the bulk section in Harvest Co-op, but life goes on.

I didn't do much during the week since Vegas took a lot out of me and I was happy to tag along with Maddy and her co-worker to a play on Friday. First we went to Farmerbrown, a farm to table soul food restaurant, which had inventive cocktails (I had the "concord & divide - gin, concord grapes, fresh grapefruit & st. germaine) and food. We ordered a couple appetizers (much to the waitresses chagrin) and then headed over to Exit Theater for one of the performances in the Olympians Festival. The festival is going on all month, each night a different play that only will be performed that one time. I will definitely be going back to shows there! It was a great vibe and is one of the premiere independent theaters in the city.

On Saturday myself and others ventured to "Taste of Filmore", a street event in Lower Pac Heights. An afternoon of wine, finger food and dog watching. The group I was with took a little breather then went to dinner on Filmore at Chouquet's. Wow.

Today I spent a majority of the day unpacking my final boxes. The apartment is almost in good shape although we still have a many things to hoard (dining room chairs, microwave, toaster, some small storage, etc.). My room though is in MUCH better shape - no more boxes, no more clothes everywhere (yay!). But how it's set up now is pretty temporary, considering I cut up boxes to make "storage" for under my bed. Just call me DIY Dana.

Tomorrow is the inaugural soup group in the San Francisco office! I'm so excited to be bringing soup group here and share it with my new co-workers. I'm also considering signing up for a CSA delivery service, similar to Boston Organics. It would be helpful for soup group since each box contains a hefty amount of veggies. I'm strongly considering it.

Another Sunday night, another week. Looking forward to a big weekend next weekend with a Seattle visitor and concert. Booyah.

As I said, the room isn't done yet (notice the lack of wall hangings) but here's a little preview:

Sunday, October 2, 2011

i like free.

Another Sunday, another blog post. I’m starting to look forward to Sunday evenings to be able to recount the week – I hope you’re enjoying reading.

My parents stayed until this past Tuesday and I took them to a Giants game Monday night to make up for not attending my dad's sixtieth birthday party. Too bad the Giants took themselves out of the pennant race the game before; another World Series I won’t watch. Anyway, it was great to watch baseball with my dad – definitely brings back good memories.

I have a bed now, which is a big win. This whole week it’s felt like I’ve been sleeping on a cloud. Tomorrow the movers will bring the stuff that my grandma and aunt are generously donating to the “Maddy and Dana are poor and can’t afford furniture fund”. They swear that they wanted to get new things so I’m not going to complain. I can’t wait to have all of my boxes and feel like a whole person again.

This week held a few great adventures. I went to a few new bars (I think if I go to a couple a week for two years, I’ll hit about 13% of them in SF). On Saturday Maddy and I went out to Brentwood to see the stuff my grandma and aunt are giving to us. As much as I rag on Brentwood, it is so peaceful at my grandma’s house. She has such a beautiful place and it’s quiet. I can’t wait to escape there when I’ve had too much of the city.

Today was an ideal Sunday. Maddy and I got up early and went for a run starting at the Marina. Unfortunately there were a couple thousand other people down there also because of a 12K race, but we just waltzed right on the course and ran alongside. It was a beautiful day and we had amazing views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. I can definitely get used to this. I’m likely going to join a running group and the ones I've researched start their runs down there – it’s nice and flat, but it’s easy to find hills too.

After our run, we quickly showered and headed out to Golden Gate park for Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, a three day free music festival. We got there in the early afternoon and it was swarmed with people. The first two days included great acts: M. Ward (who I saw this summer at the Newport Folk Fest), Bright Eyes, The Felice Brothers, Hugh Laurie. Today was the only day we could go, but I think it was probably the best day. We parked ourselves at one (there were five total) stage and started off listening to Bela Flek and then The Blind Boys of Alabama. Trekking out there was totally worth it just to the latter - they are all over 80 (I think) and still rocking, and they are really blind. The writer of the music from O Brother Where Art Thou (Ralph Stranger) followed and then Emmy Lou Harris. To beat the crowds we left early from Emmy’s set, but caught a bit of Gomez on our way out.

I’m still in shock this festival is free. Massive stages, tons of space, well organized, just great. Every walk of life was there – I think I was high off of second hand smoke and people, just regular people were selling beers out of coolers, treats were being sold out of backpacks and baskets. We also met a really nice couple that let us sit right in front of them – people are so nice here.

Such a great week/weekend. Here are the standard bullets:
  • Paragon - bar near AT&T park that we discovered on our walk to the game. It sounds like it's usually packed before games but because the season was basically over, we were able to get a table outside and enjoy a beer. I had a New Belgium 1554 - definitely a new favorite.
  • 620 Jones - really cool outdoor bar/restaurant. Tons of tables and there were heat lamps - so genius.
  • Bourbon and Branch - a speakeasy style bar with amazing drinks. It requires a password to get in and you have to ask to go to the library. The wall that opens is a book case and you're led to a back room - it was a million degrees, probably just to be authentic. Definitely going back.
  • Hardly Strictly Bluegrass - I will go to this every year I live here. It was amazing. I hope that next year I'll be able to attend at least two days and just spend the whole time basking in the sun.
Tonight is a new episode of The Good Wife - I miss watching it with the old roomie, Candice. I miss you Candice! I'm so glad that Maddy is addicted now though!


Sunday, September 25, 2011

the first of many (I hope) visitors.

Moving to San Francisco puts me about 2000 miles closer to home (Seattle). Therefore when I first solidified my move, my parents bought tickets down here within a week. It does help that they love San Francisco and grew up in the bay area. It's always amazing to spend time with them although it never seems like it's enough; I'm happy to say that a ticket home for Thanksgiving was purchased this week, the first in seven years. I could go on and on about this so I'll start from the beginning of the week.

One of my first Boston roommates (she now lives is New York) happened to be in town for work this week. It was so great catching up and I got to show off my new place for the first time (even though I'm still sleeping on an air mattress). Jill is an explorer type like me so we walked a bit then found a cool wine bar to grab a drink and some food. I took her down to Polk Street for another drink and dessert - there are so many places, it seems like it will be impossible to ever get to all of them. It sounds like she might be a regular visitor to SF for work starting in the winter - I'm crossing my fingers that will happen.

On Wednesday I went to see The Lion King in 3D at this awesome theater in Pacific Heights where there are tables and can order food and drinks. Unfortunately the projector was broken so we didn't see it there, BUT we hightailed it downtown on the bus to catch a showing at another theater. Just picture eight mid-twenty year old girls making every effort possible to see The Lion King. It seems sad thinking about it, but I wouldn't have changed a thing. I am almost embarrassed to admit how many of the songs and dialogue I know, but equally proud. Four words: The Circle of Life.

I could barely contain my excitement for Saturday morning when my parents arrived. They love the apartment and my mom had a bag of tricks ready for me (these tricks included pillow cases, lamps, curtains, a comforter - the things I now get excited about). We spent all day looking for apartment furniture. We went to Goodwill, thrift stores, consignment shops, boutiques, etc. Very few finds until the last stop at a little store in the Mission. Couch - purchased. Side table - purchased. Bed - purchased (although that was at Mattress Discounters a few hours prior). Do you ever get the Mattress Discounters jingle stuck in your head? Well, I couldn't stop singing it in the store and I'm pretty sure the sales guy wanted to politely ask me to leave.

Today we did some more shopping around. Filing cabinet acting as a dresser - purchased. Lamp shade - purchased. Desk chair - purchased. Great finds! Oh, and lunch two days in a row at Nook - that place is going to get addicting. I wish I could talk all about the Polk Street Blues Festival, but we only were able to walk by it (although probably more than five times) so we just heard snippets.

HOWEVER, we did get to hear some great music tonight! There's a jazz club in SF and Oakland called Yoshi's that my uncle used to go to all the time. My parents had been to the Oakland location a couple of times, but never the one in SF. Brandford Marsalis (Whinton's brother) was playing with a quartet and it was something my dad couldn't pass up. So off we went for sushi and jazz, a much better combination than you'd think.

Recap of the week in bulleted form:
  • Cafe Meuse - wine bar that Jill and I went to. Very small, unassuming. Good food, not too expensive. In Nob Hill.
  • La Folie - on Polk street. Kind of loungy, but in a good way. The dessert there was great - fresh fruit with chocolate and biscotti.
  • Kabuki Theater - the movie theater we almost saw The Lion King. Went in May during my visit - looking forward to going back.
  • Embarcadero - I've run a couple of times outside now (not very successfully) but my run at night along a stretch of the Embarcadero was beautiful on Thursday. Absolutely gorgeous.
  • Yoshi's - premier jazz club. Great vibe and amazing food. I'm such a sucker for sushi. I definitely could not afford this solo, but looking forward to a next time I can go back.
  • Lower Haight - cool neighborhood that we went to for used furniture shopping. I could see myself back there hanging out at some point, but it's a little far.
Tomorrow is going to be equally eventful with some more family time and another night time activity. This post is incredibly random because I have so much to say, but feel like I've already gone overboard and have gone into information overload territory. You can expect future posts to be more intentional, I hope.

My. body. is. le. tired. I must sleep.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

having a home is good.

 Last week was a bit nuts. Anyone who knows me knows that I struggle with decision making (this includes ordering food at restaurants). In the end, I always choose the more realistic choice (luckily) and that's what happened with my apartment hunt. I totally lucked out and will be living with a friend from high school (Maddy, for those of you who know her). The apartment is pretty spacious and though my room is a bit small, the common space is huge and has a ton of potential. The current roommate is taking a lot of stuff with her so we will need to become decorators quickly - it's a good thing my parents will be in town next weekend and my mom is a regular Martha Stewart. This weekend I walked by many small furniture and accessory stores - my wallet is going to suffer immensely, but whatever it takes to make an apartment a home is worth it!

It's been interesting getting used to my work schedule (I know this is a lame and boring topic). I'm in the office by 8:30AM and it's already 11:30AM in Boston - I think I'm going to be finding myself at work even earlier as time goes on. Thank god I'm a morning person and can function without coffee. I'm starting to get into the swing of things and figuring out the city a bit. The general downtown area is going to be easy to tackle in the first couple of months and then I'll start to spread my wings a bit. There are so many neighborhoods I want to check out: Sunset, Noe Valley, the Mission (already been there once) and some of the other neighborhoods on the outskirts.

Some cool places I checked out this weekend:
  • 83 Proof - a bar in SOMA - it's actually near my office, which could be bad news.
  • Marriott Hotel - the downtown hotel has an awesome view of the city. I met up with a fellow UMasser (friend of a friend) and we had a drink there.
  • Top of the Mark - in Nob Hill, it's the equivalent of the Top of the Hub and Space Needle, but less expensive, a little more relaxed and there was a great band. We got our dance on.
  • The Tipsy Pig - the name alone made me like this place. Then I got there and LOVED it. Great back patio, really chill and great food/cocktails.
  • Polk Street - this street in general is so cool - great shops, bars and restaurants. I can see myself walking around aimlessly for hours here.
  • Nook - great little cafe/coffee place. Outdoor seating, which is a selling point for me. I had good company so that made it even better - although the highlight was the French bulldog that walked by and wouldn't leave my side. I will definitely be "working from home" here.
In other exciting news, I now have an iPhone. This has been revolutionary because it's making it a lot easier to get around here and get lost, but not too lost. It's also going to aid in my ability to keep in touch with people back east, which is incredibly important to me.

The whole weekend was awesome - again, great food, great company and really a great welcome to San Francisco. I am looking forward to my parents visit next weekend and can't wait to show them my new home! One last thing I wanted to mention is a great website that a new friend told me about: It's a whole listing of free and cheap things to do around the city - JUST what I need.

Au revoir until next weekend!

    Saturday, September 10, 2011

    triumphant return to the west.

    After months of deliberation, some tears and some coaxing from family, I decided to move back west. Seven years in Massachusetts definitely treated me well and I cannot wait for every wedding, music festival, birthday, housewarming party, clover food lab event...that will give me reason to visit, but it's nice to try start a new gig in San Francisco.

    If you ever decide to move cross country you should know two things:

    1. Buying a one way plane ticket is strange.
    2. That one way ticket will propel you into a set of events that includes selling off furniture on craigslist, many nights of drinking because it's your "last Monday" in town, and a new friendship with the post office worker because you're "that girl" with all of the boxes that are poorly taped and will inevitably break open in transit.

    Luckily, every one of my eleven boxes arrived safely. But I'm not realizing how important it was for me to label them with what the contents are. I just opened the "don't need until winter in New England" box. Whoops. Although right now, it's doesn't really matter because I don't have a place to live. Who knew that every twenty-something also wanted to live in SF in the same neighborhoods I do with the same rent costs? One showing I went to was with fifteen others, and that was the first showing. It was like rushing at a sorority and the girls at the apartment were my potential "bigs." Lets just say I didn't get the place. I find it difficult to be charming with girls whose lives revolve around Entourage.

    So I continue to stay with my wonderful friend from high school who has been gracious and very helpful. Hopefully a nice dinner and a bottle of wine will be enough to make it up to her considering I will be broke after my first rent check.
    This is what I've found interesting thus far:
    • North Beach is pretty cool - great bars, restaurants and very lively in the center. I found a beautiful lookout at Jack Early Park. The sign is a lie though, it's not really a park, just a look out. 
    • La Trappe Cafe - great Belgian Bistro/Lounge. Their beer list is a book - I went with the Victory Inception. The waiter had worked previously at B-side Lounge, very cool. 
    • The hills are killer, but I'm loving them.
    • Off the Grid is an amazing food truck rally that includes different trucks at each rally. I'm lucky to be right around the corner from it on Wednesdays - I now know when I'll buy lunch once a week. 
    Week one in California is complete. Let's see what week two holds, hopefully permanent shelter.