Monday, January 31, 2011

Hiking with cows

Although we live in a very urban area, we are pretty lucky to have a lot of regional parks close by. This weekend we headed to a new (to us) park, Chabot Regional Park, which is in the hills just south of where we live. It was overcast and sprinkling rain so it wasn't surprising we didn't run into many people on the path. A few hikers and mountain bikers here and there, but but mostly just us. 

That is until we rounded the corner and stumbled upon this mama and her calf just off the path! 

I wasn't sure what to do, as I haven't run into a lot of cows in my life. For some reason my mind jumped to mama bear with their cubs (what? i know) so I walked out of the way to not disrupt or taunt the mama. Don't mind us...we'll snap your picture and keep walking. 

That's when we realized there wasn't just one but TWO calves! Clearly this mama has more to worry about than us walking by. Funny side note: when this second calf stopped nursing to look at us, it had milk ALL OVER its face...unfortunately we didn't capture that!

As we continued on our way we ran into the rest of the herd, cow-pies and all. 

There had to be at least 20 of them! Apparently I've been in Oakland a little too long because I was so excited to have run into all these cows. That is until we were walking through the herd and two were wrestling (I guess), which startled the rest of the crew. I didn't think they'd stampede us, but I was honestly a little nervous. That's when we stopped taking pictures and move along. We also refrained from mentioning that we were headed to In&Out Burger after the hike!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

See ya later spammers and wealthy foreign diplomats

I feel like I've been on the run from spam for years. First it was my AOL account, Chell42467, which I had forwarded to my address so that I wouldn't lose any precious connections I might have made on AOL (ha!). In addition to school emails, during college we had a theta email group that allowed you to send important emails to the whole house (ex: girls, if you make a mess in the tv landing clean it up. your mom doesn't live here.)   I was happy to leave those emails and all the forward garbage from my AOL account behind when I graduated. Although I was sad to leave my college email address, I was excited to enter the real world of email and signed up for a free yahoo account.

I've rocked my yahoo email since college. It's crazy to think of all the emails that have been sent and received from that email address. Photos, recipes, juicy emails, online statements, airline confirmations, random forwards and the everyday correspondents with family and friends. I have a lot of them saved in folders appropriately titled. One of my favorite folders "brian" contains all of the emails from the first few months we knew each other and only communicated via email.

At the recommendation of several friends and B, I signed up for a gmail account. I've used my gmail account for over a year (maybe even two), mainly for blogger and twitter, but
couldn't seem to make the switch. As I checked my yahoo email this morning, deleting spam and junk mail (again) I was inspired. Today's the day...I'm ripping off the bandaid and going to gmail full time.

When I mentioned to B I was finally going to make the switch today he reminded me of when he made the switch two years ago. Here is the email he sent out to his contacts:


It goes without saying that this is truly a sad day for me and the entire email community. After years of relentless emails for Viagra, Cialis and wealthy foreign diplomats from Madagascar offering a 10% cut of $13,358,169.25 for my bank account information, it is with the deepest regret that I must say, the spammers (and terrorist) have won! It is this 26th day of January 2009 that I will officially be retiring the hotmail* email address.

I will be hoping for greener pastures and less erectile dysfunction Spam with a new gmail account. I have chosen the ultra original email address of firsrname{dot}lastname{at}gmail* I know this must be tough for some of you that have come to love the hotmail, but this is much tougher on me. I think of the countless hours I have spent\wasted reading and sending worthless forwards, that time I will never get back.

As I push the send button on the hotmail email address for the last time, I listen to Europe’s “The Final Countdown”, and one single solitary tear rolls down my face.  


*actual email addresses have been removed for obvious reasons!  

He cracks me up! With that, I'm also saying SEE YA LATER spammers! And wealthy foreign can take your requests up with my gmail spam filter. As I make the switch, tips and hints for gmail are welcomed!

Friday, January 28, 2011

hip, hip, hooray!

I feel fortunate to be surround by awesome people - family, friends and coworkers. I am continually inspired by these people and hope I inspire them too! I wanted to give a little shout to two ladies who deserve a hip, hip, hooray and a thank you for continuing to inspire me.

In the summer of 2007, Jessica followed her heart and moved to Portland, OR. I was lucky enough to drive out with her in the filled-to-the-brim truck. Her move (and a few other things) inspired me to pick up my things are try life on the west coast as well. Even though we were in different cities, it was always nice to know someone understood what you were going through (and was in the same time zone!).

After three years of helping keep Portland weird, Jess decided it was time to move home. As we all know, this economy is not friendly for the job seeker. Jess took a leap of faith by accepting a temporary position to move back. Within a few short months she scored a full time position (with full benefits) at the Children's Hospital! 

hip, hip, 
{paper: carolyn gavin greenhouse, cricut: jubilee}

Jnelly, aka Janelle, has always had an eye for art, design and style. It's no surprise her degree is in Interior Design! When the housing market tanked, she was let go from her Interior Design position. As a way to make some money she used those talents to open an Etsy shop and start a photography business

Jnelly's most recent accomplishment was turning her business into a LLC. That's right, she's officially official! Big step, lots of paper work but I know it will be totally worth it. I look forward to watching Jnelly Photography grow. Someday maybe we'll be in the same city...she can be the photographer, I'll be the wedding planner and "on the side" we'll make cards :)

hip, hip, 
{paper: carolyn gavin greenhouse  , cricut: jubilee}

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Passport Required

Today marks ONE MONTH until Melissa and Parker tie the knot in Tambor, Costa Rica!! They have planned a small destination wedding with immediate family and close friends. The wedding will take place on the beach at awesome is that? 

I've never been to Costa Rica, but I've heard so many great things. In addition to the wedding and time with friends, here's what I'm picturing our trip to look like:
{style me pretty}
{style me pretty}

Perfectly fitting for their destination wedding, Melissa and Parker created Passport wedding invitations from the website Beach Wedlock.

The inside of the invitation includes all the important wedding details in the layout of an actual Passport. It's so clever, I love it!

This was also a good reminder for me to check my passport to make sure it hasn't expired. Good news - I have until 2015 (phew!). Over the next month I will be continuing to workout, finish up a few fun details I'm helping with and figuring out how to pack within a 26 lbs weight limit (not a typo). Costa Rica here we come!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

a dose of lovely

With Valentine's day just around the corner, the blog world has been all a flutter with crafts, DIY projects and decorations. Here is a dose of some of the lovely things that caught my eye.

My favorite part of Valentine's day is, no surprise, making and sending cards! Paper Source has cooked up some festive card ideas and is sharing the recipes here.
{paper source}

{sparkle power}

I LA LA LOVE this cute poster, but not quite as much as I love these felt hearts! The first set were stitched with love by the Inspired Honey Bee. See the how-to here and her whole love filled mantel here
{inspired honey bee}

These felt hearts were created as a Save the Date magnet. The tag could be used to write something like "i heart you" or be just as cute with no tag at all! 

Perfect for any day of the year, this little print is especially cute for Valentine's day decorating.

{a little lovely, via eighteen25}
eighteen25 has done it again...charming subway art that you can download for FREE!

Lately I've been on a bunting banner kick, but I'm loving these unique heart banners. The first is made out of fabric. I love the dimension of the hearts! 
{how about orange}

This one is made from photo strips.  It could also be made using 
patterned paper and still be lovely.
{scrappergirl, via eighteen25}

Here's a clever gift idea....turning a 6 pack of soda into a 6 pack of candy and snacks.

{naptimejournal, via tatertots and jello}

What first caught my eye was this "you are hot" tea bag label.
{tatertots and jello}
Then I realized there was another tag AND a lovely wrapper for the whole tea bag! 
I heart this.
{tatertots and jello}

For all the bakers in my life, how cute are these paper treat bags? Sweet treats for the sweetest day. My mouth is watering now just thinking of a heart shaped chocolate brownie! you can download the image here to print and add to your own treat bags!

{twig and thistle}

I am a fan of cloths pins and clear treat bags,
so of course I loved this sweet combination of the two.

{no biggie, via tatertots and jello}

Make your own Valentine's treat boxes using these FREE fortunate for you tags!

Unless otherwise noted, links for all of these project can be found beneath each picture! 

Monday, January 24, 2011


Over the weekend we were graced with gorgeous weather and the company of my dad and step mom. We had a fun weekend and really enjoyed having them in town!

Since it was the first time they met B, my dad mentioned more than once he had some questions for B. While he may look like a crabby guy, I knew he was mostly joking and wouldn't really grill him.

I was right, no hard hitting questions. The only heat B really received was for his lack of culinary skills. I love to cook so most of the time I don't mind making dinner. Clearly the 'rents picked up on something. They asked if we'd thought about getting a grill. 

When we moved into our apartment last summer I really wanted to get a grill. Although we're in an apartment, we do have a small back porch, (emphasis on the small). With bigger items like a couch, area rugs and more, a grill fell to the bottom of our list. 

While driving around Saturday they suggested we swing by Loews. Next thing you know we're all looking at grills. There are a lot of awesome affordable grills out there, but given our small space it was a little tricky. We also didn't want to get a petite grill, because sooner than later we'd like to get a house with a yard and wanted a decent size grill we can have for a few years.

At our second Loews stop we found the perfect grill - the Master Forge small space gas grill!

 That's right, it was practically made just for our small patio. I love that it looks like a beefy grill but the sides can fold down to look like a small fry, if necessary. We were fortunate to receive this grill as an early birthday present (our birthdays are in May). We also got a grilling pan for veggies!

 Look at that: he's grilling, sipping a beer, is good!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bay Area Welcome Bag

Today my dad and step mom arrive to the Bay Area for a long weekend. We are happy to have them visit! You might be thinking, hmm wasn't your mom just there? Yep, welcome to parent weekend number two (this weekend will also be the first time they'll meet B...dun, dun, dunnnn). We love having visitors, not only because it makes us feel popular, but we enjoy playing tour guides around town. 

While in town, they will be staying at a hotel near by. While I'd love to have them stay with us at our huge house one bedroom apartment, I think we'll all be more comfortable. It's always nice to have a little something extra at your hotel, so I put together a very Bay Area welcome bag for them. All of the items come from California, with a large majority coming from Berkeley! 

Included in the bag: 
Bison IPA (Berkeley and because its a bison, which my dad will totally appreciate - go buffs!) 
apples (wherever apples are grown in CA) 
Blue Diamond almonds (Sactown) 
ScharffenBerger chocolate (Berkeley) 
peanut butter cookie mini Luna bars (Berkeley)  
bottled water 

I put all the items in an old Anthropologie bag and tied it up with a golden gate greeting (as seen in top photo)Here's an up-close of the greeting card. Bridge photo taken by B, aka Brian Adams  as my dad says (in reference to Ansel Adams).

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

what's cookin: Hardy Homemade Pasta Sauce

Growing up I remember both my parents making their own pasta sauce. What I remember most is the delicious smell of the sauce as it cooked for hours.  Although I grew up on homemade pasta sauce, I often purchase the jar sauce from the store because I was intimidated to make my own. 

Sometime last year my friend/coworker taught me how to make her homemade pasta sauce. It was then I realized that it really isn't hard to make, it just takes time. The longer it cooks, the more savory the flavor.
Over the holidays my family hosted B's family for dinner. Since I had the gift of time and needed to feed a big group (11 people total), I decided to make a big batch of homemade pasta sauce. Using aspects from the sauce I'd learned and a few recipes online, I came up with my own recipe. I was a little nervous trying something new with a big group, but it was a total success! It was so good in fact that I made another batch this past weekend for my mom's birthday party.  

As promised, I wanted to share my recipe. Don't be fooled by the name, its a hardy sauce but rather simple to make. 

Hardy Homemade Pasta Sauce
1 pound Italian sausage links (if you like spicy, I recommend using hot Italian sausage) 
1 pound lean ground beef
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic 
1 32 oz can whole or diced tomatoes 
1 30 oz can tomato sauce *
1 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
2 teaspoon dried basil
2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1. Remove casing from sausage links. In a large skillet, brown sausage over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Continually stir and use the spatula to break sausage into small pieces. Remove from heat and place in strainer. Run hot water over meat to remove the extra fat/grease. Set aside. 
2. In a large skillet, heat ground beef, olive oil, garlic and onion over medium heat until meat is nicely browned; drain and rinse (similar to end of step 1). 
3. In a large pot, pour in tomatoes and tomato sauce. Mix in salt, ground pepper, basil, oregano, bay leaf and the cooked meat. Simmer uncovered for (at least) 1 hour**, stirring occasionally. 
4. Remove bay leaf. Serve over spaghetti, ravioli, tortellini or whatever floats your boat. 

Pairs well with garlic bread and red wine. Enjoy! 

* Depending on your consistency preference, you may want to add more tomato sauce. When I made the recipe to service 11 people, I used an additional 15oz can tomato sauce.
** If cooking for several hours (for added deliciousness) be sure to add additional water or broth because liquid will cook off leaving your your sauce a little dry.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

mark your calendar: 2011 Renegade Craft Fairs!

Woo-hooo, the Renegade Craft Fair is coming back to San Francisco this summer! Mark your calendar for July 9 & 10. 

Never been? I highly recommend checking it out! I attended my first one over the holidays and loved it. Want to come visit and go with me? Ok great, see you then! 

celebrating candy

over the weekend my mom, aka candy, came for a visit. her visit coincided with her birthday, so naturally we celebrated! we had a great weekend, but the best part was having a party for her on saturday. here are a few photos from the party... 

{birthday cake by rachel - birthday card from yours truly (made with cricut simply sweet cartridge) - mom and two of her best friends from college, those ladies still know how to party - a birthday crown fit for a duchess - homemade wine glass  tags - pre-birthday happy hour at Dave's bar }

Here's to many more years of celebrations! Thanks for spending your special day here in the bay ;) 

Monday, January 17, 2011

his + hers: who wore it best?

Friday after work, B met up with my mom and I in SF for happy hour. As we were discussing the day, I realized we were wearing the same outfit. In the spirit of US Weekly's Who Wore It Best?, I give you this weeks his + hers

Black shirts...

...paired with denim and tan shoes!

Since we weren't actually wearing the same outfit, there won't be a section to cast your vote for Who Wore It Best. Just thought it was funny...clearly, great minds think alike!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I feel like this was stitched just for me.

follow your heart to... california
{chez sucre chez}

Happy to report (from the artist): coming soon -- follow your heart... ...... -- custom stitched with whatever place you want...  Hmmm, I choose Colorado!

Monday, January 10, 2011

shut the front door

{from etsy.  spotted here.}

reference 1: more publicly acceptable and PG version of STFU. i learned this term from Brandee. to this day thinking of the way she says shut the front door in her Iowan accent makes me laugh.

reference 2: the door is ajar, not fully closed and/or wide open. please close it all the way and check that its locked. 


While I've been known to drop reference 1 of shut the front door from time to time, this post actually applies to reference 2. 

Friday evening after our purge party, we headed out for sushi to a hole-in-the-wall hot spot within walking distance. Saki and sushi was followed by a little fro yo. We took the fro yo to-go and headed home. Commenting on how we could see our breath and we're eating frozen treats, we hurried into our house. 

Our apartment is on the second floor, but you enter the actual apartment on the first floor and immediately go up a flight of stairs. Our front door has three locks, two of which we use at all times. The bottom locks automatically and the top requires the turn of a knob. 

We spent the remainder of the evening in the warmest spot in our house, the living room. When I went to get ready for bed I was freezing. On most days our house is drafty so this wasn't too out of the ordinary. However, we made an executive decision to camp out in the living room for the night. It was my first time sleeping on our new(ish) couch. Survey says - comfy!

The next morning we got ready and headed out for bagels & coffee (we heart you Noah's!) and some errands. To our complete shock and horror the front door was ajar, not wide open but also not fully closed. The knob on the top lock had been turned, unfortunately the door had not been fully shut. I can't remember who was the last in, but I blame the cold weather and my desire to get warm enough to eat my fro yo. This also explains the extra drafty air we were feeling in the apartment.

The good news is that we survived a night in Oakland with our front door wide open. We are lucky and maybe our neighborhood isn't so urban after all? Just in case we'll be shutting the front door AND locking it from here on out.  

his + hers: its gotta go

Between the new year, this Sunset article about the zero waste home and the three upcoming weekends of house guests, I've had the urge to purge. Friday after work when most hip people are hitting up happy hour, I was eager to get home and tackle my dresser and closet. I created three piles: sell, swap and Goodwill. I'm planning to host a clothing swap with some friends and co-workers at the end of the month. Whatever I can't sell will be added to the swap pile, and anything that's not sold or swapped goes to the Goodwill (along with a few straight to goodwill items)

I'd mentioned my urge to purge to B a few times. I don't think he was expecting to come home from work to three large piles, but much to my delight he jumped right into the purge party! We ended up with five bags of clothes and shoes. My dresser drawers and hangers in the closet haven't glided with such ease in quite a while. I love how tidy everything looks and feel extremely satisfied that we were able to let go of so much.

Well, not everything was that easy to let go. There are times we all need a little honest and loving push encouragement to get rid of. Which brings me to this weeks his + hers post, the items we told each other "its gotta go."

HIS: white long sleeve t-shirt
This (off)white shirt has been well loved. Purchased from the Gap several years ago, its safe to say B has gotten his full ROI on this sucker. For an undisclosed amount of time I've encouraged B to let this one go. After a humorous discussion over a pair of Unionbay cargo shorts (M: "umm unionbay, do they still make that brand? how long have you had these?" B: "ooookkkkkkkkkk, they're going to Goodwill") I noticed B hanging this shirt in the closet. He jokingly placed it right next to my clothes, knowing its not my favorite. That's when I said its gotta go! It's in the straight-to-Goodwill pile, in case you're wondering.

HERS: pink flower pajama shorts
I'll admit, I've had these pajama shorts a little too long. About as long at the the cutoff jean skirt I decided to part ways with (ahh the college memories). Comfort and the patchwork flower have made them hard to let go! Ironically also from the Gap, these shorts have lasted a long time. I had them in my 'maybe' pile while purging. Once I commented on B's white shirt, I knew immediately what he'd pick for its gotta go...They also headed straight to the Goodwill pile.

They say the key to a long lasting relationship is compromise. I'd say honesty and humor are right up there too. Like joking for three years about a shirt you don't love and then having the heart to finally say...its gotta go!

Last weeks his + hers posts here.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

new uses for old things: can opener

{real simple}

One of the most useful Christmas gifts I received (thank you, Kaci!) was the new book by Real Simple, 869 new uses for old things. I've always loved the section in the magazine and now I have an entire encyclopedia of ideas at my fingertips!

Today Debbie and I stumbled upon $10 cricut cartridges at Michael's - amazing deal! We each bought a different one (so we can share) but I took them both home to work on a project. Debbie commented "oh good, you can open that stupid plastic." While it's true the cartridges and many plastic clamshell packages are insanely hard to open, thanks to my new book I have a solution!

How to: use a can opener to open clamshell plastic packaging 
without cursing or cutting yourself.

Get out your manual can opener. 
Automatic can openers, you're sitting the bench on this one.

Open the can opener and clamp onto the long edge of the packaging. Squeeze until you feel its clamped on. Now turn the handle until you've cut along the entire long edge. For thicker plastic you may need this more than once.

 Now carefully remove your product from the plastic (the cut plastic may be sharp). Take a moment to pat yourself on the back for not losing your cool. Now enjoy your new toy/device!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Adventures in Calligraphy

I've always been impressed by the beauty of calligraphy. Its amazing how even the simplest of words becomes art when written in calligraphy. When I found out my local Paper Source had a class, I signed up immediately. Literally, I was the first and only person to sign up in the fall. Between planning weddings and making cards it felt like a perfect addition to my skill set. The class was postponed a few months and after great anticipation I attended the first of two classes this week. What I quickly realized is that just because you are crafty or have nice handwriting does not mean you'll be good at calligraphy. Like any skill or art form, it takes practice and patience. 

During our first class we covered the basics - terminology, our tools, how to put the pen to paper and lower case letters. Our teacher, also named Michele (great name, even with just one l), demonstrated the entire alphabet for us and then sent us on our way. While I was thrilled to learn we were using real calligraphy pens and ink (as seen below), it was really hard for me to even draw a straight line. Come to find out our ink was too thick. Once that was remedied I was on my way working on the alphabet.

After a few times through the alphabet, Michele encouraged us to connect letters by writing out words. Here's what I came up with... clever, I know! 


The best and worst part of the class was when Michele watched each student write the alphabet. I was having flashbacks to elementary school spelling tests with all the red corrections - yikes.

In this case the red corrections were very helpful. When I struggled with a letter, she'd demonstrate the letter in red and have me follow her leed with the pen and ink. Although I have a lot of red marks where I'm in serious need of improvement, I'd like to highlight the areas where I did the letters correctly and received an x of approval!

The biggest things I learned in the first class were how to hold the pen correctly (it's different from how I normally hold a pen) and to slow down. To me some of the movements of calligrpahy felt like cursive. What I learned is that my cursive is extremely rusty, therefore not a good form of comparison, and most importantly that calligraphy isn't cursive. Calligraphy is artistic and requires slow, deliberate pen movements not loopy, quick cursive letters.

In an effort to inspire us to practice our calligraphy, Michele showed us her skills by writing our names. Even on lined notebook paper, look how fun this is... 

We left class with a large stack of practice paper and a felt tipped calligraphy pen to practice (easier to manage than the pen and ink). While I won't be addressing wedding invitations any time soon, I will continue to practice my letters and admire the professionals with a greater sense of appreciation for this fancy lettering!