Friday, June 29, 2007

Happy Birthday Tyler!

It's my handsome hubby's birthday today. That means In 'N' Out and German chocolate cake for us tonight.

Summer Non-Cooking

This was last night's dinner. We subsist on this meal pretty much all summer - heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil with a sprinkle of olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Handbag Obsession

This Marc Jacobs Stam bag is my current obsession. (I actually want it in black, but for picture purposes you can see the detail better in this color.)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Afternoon Excursion

Jordan and I took a drive over to Berkeley today to visit her favorite boutique, Tail of the Yak (2632 Ashby Ave.) They have a very eclectic collection of objects such as vintage jewelry, prints, ribbon, beautiful paper products, and more. I picked up some vintage-style shadow cards, tiny clothespin paper clips, and fortune sticks.

Before the boutique, we ate lunch at the Pizza Board on Shattuck Ave. See my post here. In my opinion, this is the best pizza in the Bay Area. The crust is perfectly crisp on the bottom and slightly soft on the top, but not too thick. They serve one type of pizza per day and there is always a Jazz ensemble to entertain as you enjoy your pizza.

Pandora Radio

Jeong-Im recently turned me onto Pandora Radio. You enter the name of your favorite music group and it creates a station that is similar in style and sound. You can enter several names and mix the stations too.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Dinner Club

Dinner club met last night at Karen's house. The food was excellent as usual. We started with chicken satay and peanut dipping sauce, mini toasts with pea mousse, and bruschetta. Next was Suzie's famous raspberry soup and a beautiful fruit salad. The main course was a hamburger and grilled corn on the cob. The hamburgers were not your typical ground beef patties. Karen used a combination of ground sirloin and chuck (I think?), eggs to bind, and steak sauce. Then she enveloped a pat of butter in each of the patties before grilling them. The toppings were arugula, tomato, and a thick slice of blue cheese. This was by far the best hamburger I've ever eaten. Finally, for dessert we had the most beautiful berry cobbler.

Family Reunion How To

Thanks for the great feedback about the family reunion in the comments section and in person. Some of you have asked questions about how to make some of the items. I bought the tote bags at and filled them with items mostly from Target. I really lucked out because Target's summer colors this year are aqua and red. I purchased all the paper and envelopes at Paper Source before I even started thinking about the gift bags.

For the guidebook, I typed up accumulated information from friends, research, and highlights from guide books into a word doc. I used downloaded fonts (Airstream, Fashion Victim, and Eurostile) from To finish the book, I punched three holes using a mini hole punch, stuck in color coordinated brads also from Paper Source and scored the length of the book on both sides with a bone folder so it would open easily. The brads will only work for small projects. Our book was about 20 double sided pages. The palm tree is simply a stamp and Robin's Egg Blue ink, also available through Paper Source.

Did I cover all the questions? I'm happy to answer any other questions you have.

Speaking of Pride & Prejudice...

If you haven't seen the A&E version of Pride & Prejudice with Collin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, you must see it as soon as possible. (The new version with Kiera Knightly doesn't count.) It is hands down my favorite movie. I can watch it over and over and never tire of it. The tension between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth is so palpable that I wonder if they are ever going to get together everytime I watch it. Plus I get to fall in love with Collin Firth over and over again. My friend Ryan's theory as to why girls love Mr. Darcy - the house and money, but I'm pretty sure it's the accent. That house is pretty fabulous though!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Face Lift

You've probably noticed the new background for my blog. I was going through a really traditional, old world opulence phase for a while, probably because I watched Pride & Prejudice one too many times (the Collin Firth version, of course.) Is that possible? Well, now I am feeling rebellious and heading the opposite direction into a modern phase.

p.s. I finally figured out how to post a profile picture. Thanks to Kathy for the picture from last year's Halloween party. I got to be Marie Antoinette for the night.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

I just finished reading this book for book club. It's the best new fiction I've read in a while. The author has a very original style. The story follows a 9 year-old boy on his quest to find information about his deceased father. The boy is brilliant, a little on the strange side, and very endearing. The major theme of the book is dealing with loss, but the author makes loss seem beatifuly tragic.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Pamper Your Man

Tyler loves black pepper. I thought of him immediately the first time I saw this Molton Brown black pepper product line. I recently bought him the candle and bath products. They were a big hit.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

It Takes a Village

Most of us aren't at an income level where we can justify dropping hundreds to thousands of dollars on designer labels. I've always been a believer in quality over quantity, but it's still hard to justify a designer handbag when I'm working on a down payment for a house. I don't do fake. I'd rather not have it at all than have the fake version. Here's my solution: I use any money that I get as a gift from grandparent, parents, in-laws, etc. to buy gift certificates at stores who sell my desired item such as Bloomingdale's, Saks, and Neiman Marcus. Once you've accumulated enough (or close enough) in gift cards you can get your item.

I use to just end up spending gift money on random things anyway that I forgot about quickly or didn't use for long. This way you can build a collection of items that transcends trends and your loved ones who send you money can help you purchase something that you'll use for a lifetime.

I just got my Louis Vuitton Speedy bag this way. Here are a few of the other items on my list:

1. Chanel sunglasses
2. Chanel ballet flats
3. Burberry trench coat (not the basic model, but a higher-end tailored piece)
4. Jimmy Choo shoes
5. Manolo Blahnik shoes
6. Marc Jacobs "Stam" bag
7. H. Stern jewelry
8. Catier Tank watch
9. Chloe bag
10. A really great medium-weight winter coat, maybe from Chloe

Friday, June 15, 2007

Paper Piles Be Gone: Part 3

What Financial Papers to Save and For How Long:

General Rule # 1: Get rid of what you can. Most paper falls into the categories of save for one year or less, save for 7 years (tax related), or save indefinitely.

General Rule #2: Invest in a confetti shredder to guard against identity theft. They cost about $40 which is a minimal price to pay for safe-guarding your financial future.

Toss Monthly:
ATM & deposit slips - after you've checked them against your statement, credit card receipts** - same as above applies, receipts for minor purchases**

**I'm breaking my cardinal rule here because you don't need to keep receipts once you reconcile them to your statements, however for ease, I just toss them into an envelope labeled with the month that I keep in my monthly folder and then clean them out every year when I clean the folder. This has come in handy a couple times when I've wanted to return something. See Paper Piles Be Gone: Part Two.

Toss After One Year:
Monthly bank and credit card statements, monthly or quarterly brokerage and mutual fund statements, phone and other utility bills, paycheck stubs - once you've reconciled to W-2 statement

* The exception to the guidelines above is keep it if it supports for your tax return, especially any deductions you take.

Keep for Seven Years:
W-2 and 1099 forms, cancelled checks and receipts/ statements that support your tax returns, pretty much anything tax related

Keep Forever:
Tax returns (you can ditch the support documentation after 7 years if you are an honest taxpayer, unless shredding it helps you case!), year end summaries from financial service companies, confirmation slips with purchase price of any investment you own, home improvement records, major purchase receipts - anything that you would claim on your homeowners or renters insurance

You can view Paper Piles Be Gone: Part One and Part Two here and here for more ideas about how to set up a short-term filing system for projects and outstanding items like bills and long-term files.

Next for Paper Piles Be Gone - how to get off the junk mail circuit, especially the multiple daily credit cards offers that put you at risk for identity theft and pile up until you find the time to shred them.


Aren't my nieces adorable?


Pink's, the celebrity frequented hot dog joint in Hollywood, was a fun moment from our vacation. I don't believe that celebrities actually eat there though, because I was feeling about 100 pounds heavier after my Mullholland Drive Dog smothered in cheese, bacon, grilled onions, and grilled mushrooms.

(That's Tyler's cute baby brother, Trevor, pictured.)

Getty Villa

For all the things that Southern California is or isn't to us folks up north, I have to admit that they have some pretty amazing museums. One in particular that I actually got to visit twice (because the first group I went with told the people who didn't go how awesome it was, so the second group wanted to go too) was the Getty Villa on the southern end of Malibu just off the PCH.

Getty's vision was to build a classic Roman villa modeled after the Villa dei Papiri which was buried in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius and later partially excavated. He built the villa with the intent of housing his art collection for the public and giving us common folk a taste of what it would have been like to be a Roman citizen back in the hey day, albeit a really rich Roman citizen.

The result is an amazingly beautiful setting overlooking the coast. Today the villa only houses the antiquities collection. The rest of the collection has been moved to the new Getty Center just off the 405. I always forget that I really love antiquities. Usually at other museums like the Met or Louvre which house significant antiquity collections, I breeze past the ancient Roman and Greek art to see the "good" stuff like the 19th century French and modern paintings. When you are surrounded by only antiquities, they take on a whole new significance and beauty. It's also the type of art that you really need good explanations or a good guide to tell you the mythology stories and explain the context since it is so different from the way we live today or common religious beliefs.

The museum cafe is pretty good too. So if you get the chance stop by, enjoy a relaxing day of browsing antiquities, going on tours, and lunching on the patio overlooking the villa. The museum is free except for the $8 parking fee, but make sure you make a reservation in advance.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Welcome Bags & Snack Packs

We arranged a welcome bag in each of the rooms that included sunscreen, aloe vera, beach towels, a beach mat, and sporting equipment. We also made a box of snacks for each person for easy portability to the beach or wherever.

Activity & Dining Guide

We made a guide book for everyone at the reunion that was organized by interest: art & architecture, science, history & local culture, theme parks, and outdoor activities. We also included a dining guide organized by area which included picks for the major neighborhoods in L.A., the beach towns of Orange County, and San Diego.

Family Reunion Kickoff

Tyler and I were in charge of planning a recent family reunion for Tyler's parents, brothers, and their families. We rented a beach house in Huntington Beach rather than opting for a hotel. It cost about the same, but provided a great place for everyone to hang out. We were in a really beautiful neighborhood a little over a block from the beach and a 15 minute walk to the pier.

Before the reunion, we sent out a packet to get everyone excited. The package included a letter with information about the accommodations, directions to the house, and activity ideas. We also included a mix c.d. for the road trip that mostly included songs about Southern California, sunny vacations, road trips, and songs by artists easy to identify as being from Southern California.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Trader Joe's Dinner Club

We've had some very creative themes for dinner club recently. Kim hosted an Iron Chef: Chocolate challenge in April and the most recent was Michelle's Trader Joe's night. All ingredients had to be purchased at Trader Joe's. We started off with appetizers from the freezer section, cilantro jalapeno hummus and pita chips, and thinly sliced whole grain bread with goat cheese and ginger preserve. From there we moved on to soup and bread which was the roasted tomato and red pepper (comes in a carton) and bread sticks made from pizza dough with yummy toppings like tapenade and pancetta. Next we had a prepackaged Italian salad with chick peas, salami, and tomatoes. The entree for the night was a mix of two frozen gnocchi - one with a Gorgonzola sauce and one with a tomato sauce topped with roasted asparagus. We finished off the meal with blintzes. Our drink was Blood Orange juice with sparkling water.

Michelle had really fun decorations including a checkout station with a cash register and gift bags with some of her favorite Joe's goodies. My favorite new Trader Joe's items as a result of the night? Cilantro jalapeno hummus and sesame cashews. Thanks for a fun night Michelle!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Paris, je 'taime

I laughed. I cried. Sometimes I did both at the same time.