Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Simple Joys

Joy comes in all shapes and sizes. 
I find it in varying places dependent upon my outlook for any given day. Sometimes it reveals itself in small ways. Such as the perfect amount of coconut creamer in my morning Americano (which is kind of a crapshoot since the barista has to put it in for me. Creamer is something I prefer to handle all by myself). Or an AM bus commute into the financial district free of debilitating traffic through the tunnel which saves me seemingly 5 hours of sitting in harsh, stale air while the hot bus lurches forward in molasses. Or passing a street musician who is soulfully sharing his rendition of a song I love (which is pretty rare these days. They seem to always be playing some sh*tty cover of a Bob Marley song. Makes me want to yell - "No woman, please stop. Please.".)

And, of course, it has a way of jumping out into the wide open when the big things happen. Such as a hard-earned promotion. Or a booked flight for a much needed vacation. Or when you order art online and it takes 4-6 weeks to arrive like you live in the stone age and you come home from work to find it waiting for you in the lobby, all shiny and new. Eeee.

Joy is everywhere.

And on Sunday night, I found it in the view from my side of the bed - the night owl side. Cause way over on the early bird side, was a snarly, mess of human limbs, dog paws, fingers, tails, noses and snouts. I thought about how long I had to make my case for us to get a dog. And when he finally relented, how worried I was that he would only consider it my dog. I envisioned a tired Jay asking me to take out "my dog" or clean up after "my dog"

It never happened once. Just as I had hoped, Jay fell in love with Chandler as swiftly as I did. And the three of us, day by day, have created a little quiet life that only we know about. A life of bedtime tea and down comforters and snuggles and reruns of shows with homemade popcorn. And tangled sleeping between man and beast.
And knowing that I end all my days, joyless or otherwise, in bed with these two - brought me a whole heaping serving of joy to coast me right on into Monday.

Editor's note: To take these pictures, I had to grab my phone and quickly stand on the bed. Eventually, my movements woke him up. He frustratingly grumbled something about being tired and "can I turn the light off?" and rolled over. Hashtag marriage.
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Monday, January 30, 2017

Delarosa Restaurant | SF, CA

Most people I know love Italian food. Love, love, love it. However, refuse to let themselves indulge in it as much as they wish. Why? Because carbs on carbs on carbs on carbs. Never mind that it's full of earthly treasures such as the goodness of a rich red tomato or the zest that comes with natural herbs. For most, it's seen as a no go or a splurge. Myself tends to be included. We don't make it at home too much as a result and it remains almost an out-to-eat treat vs. anything we create in our own kitchen. 
One of the great perplexities of my life involved my visit to Italy. Though their food is known as some of the heaviest stateside, I was fascinated to see how incredibly fit all of the people I encountered were. In fact, everyone that I met who was remotely out of shape was from another country. Even my elder Italian relatives, who consume a daily diet of carbs on carbs on carbs, were spritely, fit and ready to walk their way all over town. How do they do it? I'm not sure of the answer to that. However, my brother surmised after living there that the ingredients themselves were healthier, less processed and organically made. In other words - they only ate the good stuff.

I'm not sure if he's right or not but if I had to guess about our neighborhood Italian haunt, I'd reach the conclusion that they only use the good stuff too. Because every single thing we've eaten there requires a slow motion musical montage to "How D[id] I Live Without You" upon first bite. It is to die.
^Start with some wine and some photos opps on that rich blue table.
^This is the olive oil they use and there are no words to express how good it is - especially paired with crackling bread.
^With outdoor seating, it's easy to bring your best buddy along. He was swiftly moved up to my lap so he chat with Jay and me as well as soak up some of the outdoor heat lamp.
^Have you ever had good marinara? Gooooood marinara? Marinara you would gladly drink in a cup? If you know what I'm saying (or merely want to know what I'm saying), go here. Really.

^We love this place for happy hour. Therefore, some wine and some appetizers do the trick - we are big fans of the meatballs in spicy marinara.
If you need me, I'll be facedown in a plate of that marinara for the next week.

Located in the Marina District on Chestnut Ave.
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Friday, January 27, 2017

Little Things Lately ...

Sipping ... some soupy, shrimpy, savory dish I'm not worthy of enjoying. Man, what is it with soups? Yummy, yummy, yummy. This one was made at Izzy's  (not the buffet chain, lol) in my neighborhood and was paired with mashed potatoes and my family on their last night in the city at Christmas.

Delaying ... the laundry. Speaking of Christmas, I spent it at a cabin in Sonoma. And one might think that the most exciting part of that was Sonoma itself or the local wineries or sharing meals and love with my entire family. But that would be false. The most exciting part of that was the fact that I filled my car with laundry like I'm a college student and leisurely did it over the course of 4 days from the cabin. And it was mahhhhvelous (since we don't have laundry in our very old unit). Well shucks, I felt like one of them mighty fine rich folk you see on that there TV.

Smooching ... Chandler on his actual birthday on Friday 1/20. I had meetings that day that I had to drive to so I didn't head into the office first thing in the morning and rather worked on my couch for a couple hours. Since it was his birthday - I was giving him extra toys, treats and all sorts of love. But really, it was me who needed the cuddles and kisses in light of what was going on that day.

Married to ... Amazon, for pretty much all our non-grocery store needs. They will even bring things SAME DAY. So it helps with errant tasks that I find scribbled on my to-do list. I really like being able to say "YES NETFLIX, I'M STILL WATCHING" because I no longer have to run across town for nails.
Sporting ... Big sweaters and monochromatic hues. So basically nothing is new and I am not ashamed!

Can't stop ... kissing my husband. He's been really cute this week and as punishment, he has to move from room to room with me bear hugging him and basically providing lots of dead weight. Take that, cute husband.

Seriously.. into wall art and picture frames right now. It's funny how what you want to buy ebbs and flows (at least for me). I'll either be in a season of wanting furniture or clothes or wall art ... but never at the same time.

Hoping ... Everyone is practicing random acts of kindness. I've been working on mine and trying to reach out as much as I can to people I do not know. Hopefully it's making some small difference in a tough week for many.

Have a fabulous weekend & TGIF.
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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Let Me Clear My Throat

Blogging is a little (okay, a lot) weird. I put little snippets of myself out there and do so within the context of my own truth. However, because you're not in my own head (nobody makes me bleed my own blood) - some sentiments may not resonate on delivery as much as I'm assuming they are. So with respect to various things I post about, here's some clarifications:
That I believe that kindness cannot be understated as the most noble human behavior (especially because it serves as evidence of other qualities such as confidence).
But that sarcasm and jokes are separate but equal joys against the former. And gosh dangit, sometimes you must shelve kindness for a second to have private laughs with your idiot friends who you've been immature with since the early '90s.

That I do love wine on the weekends and greatly enjoy a photo op on a bright Saturday of a glistening glass resting on a rustic pine table.
But that tea is my drink of choice all week long (after my morning coffees, of course) and I drink about 45 cups of lemon tea a day.

That Jay and I love, love, love exploring restaurants and noshing on artistic fare all over our fair cities.
But that we balance that against the more economical work week fodder. So much so, that we devote much of our Sundays to its planning and compilation.

That I have a strong work ethic and love having a career in downtown SF.
But that it's something I'd prefer to keep the specifics of offline. 

That I think fashion, beauty and personal presentation are very important.
But that I think it's merely a vessel to improve your mental health. I find that feeling good on the outside helps how you feel good about yourself on the inside. That's like a quote from a guidance counselor that you roll your eyes to but it's so true. And please know that sometimes I'm outside walking my dog, impishly lurking from tree to tree for cover like the Grinch because I was too tired to put on anything remotely attractive or decent.

That pictures bring me the greatest joy in life - what else is better? I don't care if it was snapped last week or forty years ago - images conjure up so much joy.
But that that unbridled feeling is largely because of what, or more specifically - who, is captured within those images.

That I love my dog so very much it hurts my heart.
But that I love children too. And cats. And turtles. And squirrels. AND ANYTHING ELSE LITTLE THAT YOU HAVE TO TAKE CARE OF.

That city life is indescribably awesome and I'm so grateful to know that I have experienced it for over 6+ years now. So very different from the suburbs and arguably not very sustainable as you propel forward in life (raising a family without a yard?). But something that I am soulfully thankful for experiencing.
But that doesn't mean that I think everyone needs to live in a city. What you want may be different than me.

That I love blogging about the more fun parts of my life because that's what I utilize the blog exactly for - it's a hobby. An escape. A place to pretend I have a career consisting of mocking-up magazine layouts and a space to document my doings.
But that doesn't mean that the whole picture of life is there. I struggle with issues I wouldn't put online and I would say it's more of a highlight reel by design. I blog for fun. Therefore, I use it as such for the most part. Sidenote: People often say online personas are "a highlight reel!" as if that is an insult. I find it a bit more mature to not broadcast every hardship one faces on an online platform. I don't think it's manipulative, conniving or an intention to evade the truth - I think it's grown-up. If I'm ever spilling my guts to you in a YouTube video weeping ... consider telling Comcast to cancel my internet for a year until I can get my life in order.

That it's super important to treat others well.
But that you too deserve to be treated well. And if you must stand up for yourself, do it. With your fists thumping your chest. Or even with firm resolve. But treating others well doesn't translate to being a lamb when it comes to your own self-worth.

Have a grand ol' Wednesday!
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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Baby It's Not Cold Outside

By all accounts, Portland had a fantastically historical winter this year. In a city that usually gets a light dusting about every other year, they were pummeled with the white stuff for days on end. Patio furniture was barely visible as it endured the endless big chill and children gobbled up inventive ice cream dishes made with the free stuff that was delivered to their door. My nephew's FaceTimes were full of chapped red cheeks, runny noses and a big, ol' smile. Yup - it was certainly a snowapalooza.

And I missed it all.

That's not to say that I was not briefed daily about the Portland snow via texts from my sister, photos from my friend Elena or the live stream of conditions otherwise known as my Facebook feed. But I physically missed it. My feet did not crunch into textured earth. My hearth was not blazing inside while I worked remotely. I did not take my dog out to do his deed surrounded by silent streets and reflective white sidewalks. I threw no snowballs. I sledded no hills. I drank no hot cocoa in my ski pants. And at this point, I think it's fair to say that I was jealous. Supremely jealous. There's few things I crave more than a good ol' fashioned snow fest - and one that lasts days on end? Well, mother may I. Oh Portland, why'd you gotta play me like that and give me the snowstorm of my dreams 1.5 years after I've departed?

Oh well. There's other things one can do to pass the time in sunny California (which has actually been a soggy rainfest lately, which has me fighting the urge to be Ross Season 5). And that's to begin to scope online winter clothes. There are surely going to be deals that bolt from the gate in the next month or so and I plan to be there when it happens. Because if there's anything I love more than a snow day, it's the winter clothes that go along with it.
There really is nothing better than snowy ambiance. A love that my husband doesn't particularly share with me. I wanted to move to a big northern city to chase the snow, he brings us to California to chase the sun. And lately, we've been brainstorming getaway spots. I cooed over a wintry vacation and suggested Tahoe, Park City or Aspen only to have him tell me later he's looking into costs of flights for Mexico or Hawaii. Obviously these are all fun ideas - but give me a snowy mountain over a beach any day of the week (besides, sand and cameras don't mix. And not taking one to the beach is never an option so it always feels like a scary bout of Russian roulette).

Are you a snow or sun person?
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Sunday, January 22, 2017

The One Where They All Turn 3

Oh, my, God err’body, look at this mutt,
He is so big, he looks like
one of those little terrier’s boyfriends.
But, ya know, who understands those terrier girls?
They only like that speckled fur, because,
his tuxedo hair makes him look totally cute, okay?
I mean, this mutt, he’s just so big
I can't believe his age, so beyond,
it’s like out there.
I mean his growth, look,
He’s just so, mack!
Yes, our sweet little boy turned 3-years-old today. Well, not today - on Friday 1/20. And then again, maybe not even that day. Seeing how he and his sister were found at a construction site with no mom in sight and then turned over to the Oregon Humane Society - they do not know his birthdate but guesstimated 1/20 which is what we celebrate. And despite what these pictures depcit (he gets super serious when he's forced into wearing things and hates his life), he is a happy little guy who makes our house a home. Coming home to his bobbing little head, 10-foot vertical leap and his tail-wagging-so-hard-it's-almost-invisible is one of the great spoils of our lives. There's no doubt in my mind that dogs were sent here to save us pessimistic humans from ourselves.
^Pumpkin & Peanut Butter homemade cake for our little dude.
^I could eat him up - he's so cute.
^Little sad panda who is actually quite happy to eat his cake. Moments after this, he swatted his hat off and his tongue was flopping out in anticipation of his feast.
^Cake = coconut flour, peanut butter, pumpkin puree & 1 egg. // Frosting = pumpkin puree & cream cheese.

Chandler Bing - we love you so much.

Happy 3rd/21st birthday!
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Friday, January 20, 2017

Thanks, Obama

^Photo Credit = Pete Souza

I was scouring the internet for a few hours trying to find it: that one perfect image of the Obamas that captured with one click just how I wanted to sum up what the last eight years have meant to me. Instead, like attempts to declutter a memory chest or organize your childhood tchotchkes, I found myself hours later at the bottom of an [internet] rabbit hole that I had trouble finding my way out of. It was all just so good and I had to saturate myself with my findings. You did so much. You gave so much. You stood for so many things.

So I will say this (like everyone else who is reflecting on your legacy with bittersweet tears): Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you for your composure amongst the uneducated who mercilessly rallied against you due to perceived ideas regarding your heritage, your religion, your roots and your motives. Thank you for treating everyone with respect - and I do mean everyone. Thank you for warm fatherly smiles to your doting daughters. Thank you for your soul-piercing eye contact with your lovely wife. Thank you for your statesmanship. Your ridiculous and limitless intelligence. Your ruthless decision making. Your stalwart dignity. Your feminism. Your kindness. Your utterly horrible dad jeans. Thank you for your endless efforts to make our union a little more perfect.

But most of all, thank you for your words. In times of great sorrow, I often found myself seated on my familiar couch, wiping tears from my red cheeks as the steam from hot tea swirled around me. It was the only thing that was comforting and helped me start to narrow down the task of contemplating how I could positively contribute to the cause du jour. I often felt directionless. And then, I'd hear your words. And the velvety tone would jump off my computer screen and land firmly in my heart. And along the way, I'd figure out how I could make my little mark to aide my fellow man.

You could have merely coasted into the folds of our nation's legacy just with your historical win. And that would have been enough. But you took it further. With each deed, each misstep, each learning opportunity, each speech, each action, each hardship and each amazing triumph. You are a good man and I have no doubt that history will regard you as such.

The pleasure has truly been mine.

Thank you, Obama.
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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Bottega Louie | Los Angeles, CA

When I was little, I always fantasized about living downtown in a large city. And I mean downtown. By the huge skyscrapers. Adjacent to where business is done. Right next to men in tailored suits and women with silk scarves adorned atop their padded work jacket. I wanted to live right there in the mix. After all, that's where the action is - right?

What I didn't understand was that financial districts in cities are a funny thing. They are all hustle and all bustle Monday to Friday hovering around working hours. However, as the blue hour sky tapers off into black night and as Friday cascades into the weekend, financial districts tend to be dead. And therefore, living in the "hub" of one is generally not preferred by many people's standards who then lean towards the city's vibrant neighborhoods instead. Due to that, whenever I visit people in other major cities, our big adventures rarely include anything involving the financial district (likewise when people come to visit me and want to go to the Ferry Building - we'll go for sure but it's so associated with work and work lunches and downtown downtown, it's not a spot we'd think to take anyone here on vacation). Which is why I was stoked to be in Los Angeles for work and therefore actually imbibe in downtown downtown LA. An area virtually unknown to me after dozens of trips there. And it was my company's smack dab in the middle location that afforded me the luxury of finding the sweetest eatery in la-la-land: Bottega Louie.

I first heard of this abode after my colleague and I conducted a very thorough online search to find a restaurant we could walk to from our LA office. We were churning out productivity for long hours inside and while we wanted to enjoy a new city for an hour or two, we had to ensure it would be a relatively easy spot to get to from our desks. When we saw that the location was walkable and the fare was Italian, off we rushed.
^First thing we saw when we entered - bakery case upon bakery case of the most beautiful sweets you've ever seen.
^Since I was working, I never had my real camera with me so these will have to suffice. 
^Leaving the bakery portion and heading into the restaurant area for our dinner.
^As you head towards your table, you walk past a very active, vocal and electric kitchen. It reminded me of the scenes from "Ratatouille". 
^I devoured the Cesstini Gamber and my colleague imbibed in the Cioppino

After we sipped all the of delectable tomato-based sauces and their perfectly-paired seasons, the two of us were happily stuffed beyond belief and made our way back to our hotel to respectively slide into glorious pasta comas. But the memory of that meal ensured that I continued to visit the location for the rest of the week during my break-from-the-office walkabouts.
^The simple yet refined bar.
^Macaroons are good to eat but phenomenal to take pictures of.
^The little shop is seriously made for Eloise.
^I'm not even a sweets person but I'm pretty sure my tongue hit glass at least five times.
^I tried the pistachio and the lemon macaroons and they were delish.
^Happy Hour at the bar

Yes indeedy, I'm supremely glad that work afforded me the chance to spend some time in the financial district of LA because otherwise I would have never stumbled upon this little gem. 

Located in the Financial District on Grand Avenue

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