Friday, April 29, 2011

Wedding Stationery

I didn't wake up at whatever o'clock in the morning to catch the Royal Wedding on the telly but I have been thinking about weddings recently. I'm looking forward to being in my friend Cate's wedding this summer, and I've been touched by the amazing flood of positive feedback from friends and internet strangers alike about my wedding posting on Style Me Pretty. Thank you to everyone who shared my work with friends, liked a wall post, or cared enough about my ideas to swing by and visit my own silly little blog.

I got some questions about designing wedding invitations so I hope you'll all forgive me if I do a little self-promoting PSA here while the whole western world seems to have weddings on the brain. Below is a photo of my wedding suite to clarify the pieces I am currently offering to customize. There is the wedding invitation (with my original teapot illustration) and the matching RSVP postcard back with return address—I can customize these with the bride and groom's information. I also do little cartoony portraits like the ones I used on our postage stamps.

I've been in the process of organizing photos and design files to put up some listings in my Etsy shop, but in the meantime, I am definitely available for custom orders of stationery or portraits. Message me for a quote and once we work out the details, I'll post a reserved listing in the shop for you. If you're interested or have questions, I love getting email here:

More details for future brides: For the envelopes, I bought the polka-dotted paper, envelope liner stencils, envelopes, and this great adhesive runner from Paper Source and assembled everything myself. For custom rubber stamps, I highly recommend Berkeley Stamp & Engraving Co. for their fast and friendly service; I used them for the "please do not bend" stamp and have used them for other custom rubber stamp projects in the past.

| Photo Credit: Me. |

Thursday, April 28, 2011

California Poppies

I took this photo a couple weeks ago at the edge of Mission Dolores Park while we were waiting for the J train line. As a little kid growing up in the dessert, I always wondered why the poppy was the California state flower because the only ones I ever saw had been planted in people's flower beds. Now I see how they make our state pretty by growing wild in unexpected places. I love being constantly reminded of how magical this city is—there are poppies blooming all over even these ruddy old train tracks.

Here are some other ways to bring the brightness of poppy orange to your life.

| 1. Penguin Group, Postcards from Penguin | 2. RJ Graziano, Chain Hoop Earrings | 3. Jack Spade, Leather Flask | 4. J.Crew, Retro Dot Underwire Tank |

| Photo Credit: top. Me; 1–4. See links provided. |

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My Wedding Is on Style Me Pretty!

I am very excited to announce that my wedding is being featured on Style Me Pretty today. This is a pretty big deal for me because I poured a lot of heart and soul into styling my wedding last year, and it is so great to have an opportunity to share all those little details with other brides looking for ideas. You can check out the full post right here. And to those of you who helped make that day such a lovely one—thanks again for being awesome.

Here are just a few shots of some of the details from that day. If you are looking for someone to design party invitations or style your wedding, shoot me a note at and I would love to find out how I can be of help.

| Photo Credit: Wedding photos by Aubrey Trinnaman and Blake Henderson of Jerry Yoon Photography. |

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mystery White Flowers

I saw these pretty white flowers at Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous a couple weekends ago. These are just the right kind of flowers to throw in jars around the house if guests are coming over because you don't have to buy very many stalks to get a full-blooming arrangement. Does anyone know what kind they are? I will give a gold star to the person who can find me the answer!

P.S. I've been fiddling with a new template that I am hoping to implement very soon, so I apologize in advance if things are a bit askew during the transition. Thanks for your patience! ♥

Updated on 05|03|11: These flowers appear to be called chincherinchee.

| Photo Credit: Me. |

Monday, April 25, 2011

Hoppin' Hounds and Easter Biscuits

Instead of going to an Easter egg hunt over the weekend, we went to an Easter biscuit hunt just for dogs. Every year at the Byrne Preserve in Los Altos Hills, there is a Hoppin' Hounds Easter Biscuit Hunt that raises money for Palo Alto Animal Services. The event runs from 9 to 10:30 but getting there on the earlier side is a good idea because by 10, things had already significantly died down. The doggie treats were not too deeply hidden in the hunt area, but Lillabelle didn't seem to care about looking for treats. I think she was just stoked to be outside, prancing around in the tall grass. I don't think we've ever let here run free in such a big open space before. We thought it was a pretty epic setting for an Easter hunt.

On Sunday, I made some paper bunny ears to put on Lillabelle and we tried to photograph her with a basket of plastic eggs. She was a lot less stoked about that.

| Photo Credit: Me. |

Friday, April 22, 2011

An Illustrated Guide to Unusual Advertising

I don't know how I got on their mailing list but somehow I received a catalog from The J. Peterman Company in the mail the other day. What was odd about the catalog, or "Owner's Manual" as it was labeled, was that rather than there being photographs of the products being sold, there were these adorable illustrations. They remind me of paper doll clothes that I played with when I was little.

I've been reflecting on effective advertising lately because a sweet marketing student contacted me last week to ask for help with learning about marketing to the yuppie demographic. And while I think that J. Peterman's illustrations are incredibly charming, I don't think anyone these days would buy an article of clothing that they'd never even seen a photo of. There's no practical way get a sense of fit or fabric with this approach. To make things even more laughable, each item in the catalog has these hilariously verbose descriptions, which are allegedly written by J. Peterman as he either philosophizes about the item or recounts the exotic adventure on which he found the inspiration for it. Here is the description for the striped Russian Navy Shirt above.
Wait a minute. Does Russia really have a navy?
They do. Of course they do.
Watch the news on TV tonight. If they're wearing striped shirts like this, it's the Russian Navy.
Unless you see a dark-eyed girl paddling a green boat and her boyfriend laughs and smokes and laughs and his cigarette is slightly less than one inch long and permanently attached and he is wearing a not bad-looking striped navy shirt, then it's France.
Unless it's New York.
But if the girl and her boyfriend are both blonde, and pale smoky-eyed, and he, you notice, is deeply tanned and wearing a striped navy shirt, then it's Finland.
Or the island of Sylt.
Or Krk.
Or Sukhumi.
Under a suit jacket, it's L.A. Or maybe Munich.
But when they're both wearing striped navy shirts, it's Zihuatanejo.
Or Sochi.
If there are two girls and one boyfriend and all three are wearing striped navy shirts, then it's definitely Russia.
Unless it's Central Park.
Russian Navy Shirt (No. 1017), for men and women. A faithful copy; like the original, it's “unimproved.” Pure cotton. The blue is wonderful: dark, deep, moody. Maybe it's the Russian soul, coming back.
Who needs to buy children's toys when you can cut out the clothes from J. Peterman's catalog for paper dolls and read your children stories like these at bedtime? They certainly made for a good evening of dramatic readings at the dinner table at our house.

| Art Credit: From The J. Peterman Company. |

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Keeping in Healthy Spirits

After getting a lot of positive feedback from male readers on my post about men's shirts, I asked Nick for suggestions for more male-oriented posts and he told me to write about Healthy Spirits. Healthy Spirits is a neat little shop with a huge selection of beers imported from Europe. We like it there because it is not the sort of shop you'd run into to pick up a six pack of any old American beer on your way to a party. Tucked away on a residential corner a few blocks uphill from the main Castro strip, it is a shop clearly run by people who care about helping you find a well-crafted beer you'll enjoy.

Nick loves Belgian brews so it is nice that all the beers are sold by the bottle and we can get a few different ones to try whenever we are in the area. They have a section of beers that are fruitier and sweeter too, so if you aren't typically a beer drinker or are looking for something a little more "girly" they'll be able to recommend something for you. If you're looking for a snack to enjoy while getting your beverage on, their hummus supposedly gets rave reviews and they also have a great selection of some of fabulous ice creams by the pint. Despite the name, hard-to-find quality beers are really their specialty and the highlight of this shop is the shelves and shelves of different beers that they've somehow managed to cram into the small space.

Healthy Spirits is located at 2299 15th Street, San Francisco, California 94114.

| Photo Credit: Me. |

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Veggies Are Good for You and Pretty Too

I am kind of obsessed with monochromatic art so this print caught my eye on Pinterest. Pinterest is a neat site for creating virtual pinboards for beautiful things you stumble upon on around the internet. You just put a little bookmarklet in your browser toolbar and you can "pin" any image right away. They're a startup out of Palo Alto and I was lucky enough to snag an invite from a friend in the first couple months of the site, when people were really using it for what it was intended to be and it was awesome to see what designers, photographers, and other creative types were sharing.

This fantastic print is called "Hello Spring" by an illustrator named Heidi Schweigert; she has a shop called Red Cruiser on Etsy that has other great work like this. But for some reason, when I saw it on Pinterest it was credited to Eric Carle with no backlink to the Red Cruiser shop listing. Not cool. Like a game of telephone, it got repinned over and over with the wrong information because people assumed it was labeled correctly in the first place. So, this is a little reminder about how important it is to give people credit for their work.

You can follow me on Pinterest here.

| Art Credit: Red Cruiser/Heidi Schweigert. |

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

2011 Cherry Blossom Festival

Every year there is a big Cherry Blossom Festival in SF's Japantown that spans across two weekends. I think the best day to go is the day of the Grand Parade. The Japantown here is not very big so the area was pretty packed but it was still a lot of fun to be there. These are some of the photos I took of the huge cast of characters that made an appearance. All of the kids in the parade were so adorable and the anime costume portion of the parade was quite intense! I thought the guy with the pointy helmet thingy over his head and the giant blade was especially hardcore.

| Photo Credit: Me. |

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Mission Here Is Cheese

Last Saturday, Nick and I checked out Mission Cheese, the brand new cheese bar that just opened last week. Once I read about the existence of a cheese bar in the Mission on one of my favorite blogs, I had to check it out. The concept is similar to that of a wine bar, except instead of a long list of many categories of wines, there's an extensive cheese list for you to choose from to put together your own cheese plate. If that does not already sound magical enough, you can also get sound advice about what cheese to buy and bring home and there are a few great hot food options. It is like a one-stop shop for the most awesome things to do with cheese. We stopped by at lunch to have a couple sandwiches, but I'll definitely be going back to try the mac and cheese and the raclette.

In Nick's California Gold sandwich, the prosciutto and cheese worked together instead of competing with each other; I usually don't like prosciutto sandwiches because a lot of places stuff the sandwiches with overly salty, low-quality prosciutto but Mission Cheese really nailed it. I got the Cheddar Head, which was surprisingly light and fruity while still being delightfully cheesy. One thing I will say about the sandwiches is that since they are pressed sandwiches and not grilled, the finely-grated cheese they use is very soft and warmed through but not melted down all the way to any sort of stringy consistency. I thought this was a nice change—especially because the lightly-pressed technique left the bread crispy on the outer surface without making the crust hurt-your-mouth hard—but I mention it because people looking for melty and messy might be surprised.

Despite having only been open for a few days, Mission Cheese is clearly an operation that's been well thought-out and put together with care. I loved the contrast of the standard SF modern dark interior with the happy touches that made the place so inviting: the chartreuse tiles at the bar, the cute ruffly aprons on the friendly staff members, and the beautiful orange ranunculus in little jars at each table. They even got the napkins just right with their soft, comforting texture. The place is a little hard to find right now because all they have is a paper sign taped to the inside of their front window, but I don't see how this place could possibly be anything but an epic win if they keep up the great work.

Mission Cheese is located at 736 Valencia Street, San Francisco, California 94117.

| Photo Credit: Me. |

Friday, April 15, 2011

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia in a Bottle

Nick and I got some of these Mamma Chia "vitality beverages" at the Green Festival. They have a nice subtle fruit flavor and the chia seeds add a nifty texture that is makes the beverage more satisfying than drinking regular fruit juice (without being weird). The texture reminds me of what you'd get if you ordered a milk tea with sago instead of the big tapioca pearls. We thought they were really cool, and since we were hitting up the vendor booths at the tail end of the Green Festival, we got a really good deal on them.

We didn't learn until we looked it up later that the chia seeds in these beverages are the very same chia seeds of Chia Pet fame. Apparently they are a great source of Omega-3s and have essential minerals in quantities comparable to flax seeds. Who knew? We recommend the raspberry and blackberry flavors.

| Photo Credit: from Mamma Chia. |

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Cheap, Chic Flats

A couple of my friends have recently alerted me to some of the cute flats they have going on at Target right now. These would both be great for showing off brightly-colored pedicures. I tried to get a pair for myself over the weekend but the Target I went to was out of my size.

| 1. Merona, Makana Cutout Sliver Wedges | 2. Xhilaration, Sinead Peep-Toe Flats |

| Photo Credit: See links provided. |

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Bottomless Brunch at Ironside

Last Saturday, Nick and I had the bottomless brunch at Ironside. Overall it was really quality food for a buffet. I thought the biscuits and gravy, caramelized plantains, and chocolate bread pudding were especially good. They also had this neat make-your-own Bloody Mary bar that was fun (their house Bloody Mary mix was potent stuff!)—I think this would be a cool thing to do for a brunch party at home, too. I know some professional food critics hate brunch, but I love it.

Read my full review of dinner at Ironside here.

| Photo Credit: Me. |

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Planting a One-Pot Herb Garden

Over the weekend we planted an indoor herb garden in one big pot. Our big basil plant had a tragic bout with whiteflies a few months back so I wanted to start fresh this spring with a few smaller plants clustered together. We don't have a backyard but our place has a lot of big windows with direct sunlight so I am hoping that our little indoor herb garden will work out.

We used these instructions as a general guide and planted two sweet basils, a lemon thyme, an oregano, and a little six-pack of a really pretty lettuce mix I found at a local nursery. Our pot did not come with holes on the bottom so we drilled some to make sure there was adequate drainage. We got our supplies from all over the place but I would recommend the Home Depot Pro in Colma because the people there were helpful and the plants looked really healthy, as well as Flowercraft Garden Center here in SF for their wide selection, very reasonable prices, and just how pleasantly Zen the nursery felt.

I put Nick in charge of all the planting because I wanted the plants to get off to the best start possible and that likely involved not being handled by me.

| Photo Credit: Me. |

Monday, April 11, 2011

My Dog is 3 Years Old

Today is Lillabelle's 3rd birthday. Every year, to celebrate her birthday, I put a ridiculous bow on her and she poses politely for photos. What a good dog.
| Photo Credit: Me. |

Friday, April 8, 2011

Restaurant Review: Ironside

Ironside had been on my to-go list for awhile. Their website describes their dinner menu as inspired by American comfort food and I love to be comforted by food. I can certainly see that this is an influence, but the menu goes beyond the American classics with some more exotic touches and non-traditional approaches. They also have a $16 brunch buffet that sounds amazing—I've already made reservations to go back and try it out on Saturday.

Service: I found the staff to be really nice and incredibly detail-oriented. The busguy apologized after spilling one tiny drop of water on our table and doubled back to wipe it up. The waitress asked us if our wobbly table was bothering us before I even noticed it was wobbly, and wedged something underneath to fix it. And everyone smiled.

Food: I got the pressed veggie cubano which came with very thinly-sliced plantain chips, which I thought were a unique touch. I have had many a veggie sandwich but the vegetables inside this one were refreshingly unexpected; in addition to roasted bell peppers and the like, I also saw soft slices of purple turnips and bold, dark leafy greens. The sandwich was pressed in a way that slightly charred the outer surface of the bread, which imparted a very satisfying smokiness to it, too. Very yum. I also tried some of Nick's roasted mushroom pizza. The crust was soft and light and flavorful on its own and the mix of toppings was spread on in a very generous layer. I don't think this is the traditional Neapolitan-style pizza that's touted all over the city but that certainly should not matter because the pizza at Ironside was excellent.

Ambiance: Covers of classics from the '60s and '70s played subtly in the background. The interior was simple with brick walls and one giant vintage sign. There were iron and wood touches on the staircase and the railings on the upper level and my meal was served on an iron skillet atop a wooden platter. I felt that everything from the music to the building to the food seemed to belong together.

Rating: Strongly recommended.

Ironside is located at 680 2nd Street, San Francisco, California 94107.

| Photo Credit: Me. |

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Host of Golden Daffodils

What I love about daffodil season is that it means they are being sold everywhere for pretty cheap. For a few bucks or so you can pop over to your local grocery store and get a few bunches of bright yellow blooms, stick them around your house, and make your home feel like it is ready for spring. Daffodils are also cool because they are actually Narcissus flowers, and because of this rap.

I took this photo in Regent's Park when I told Nick to go pose in a big patch of daffodils. Here are some other ways to incorporate these bright spring hues into your life.

| 1. Something Bleu, Bow-Topped Slingbacks | 2. Kate Spade, Chrystie Street Large Anisha | 3. Latte Bowls | 4. Kate Spade, Sunny Kolette Skirt |

| Photo Credit: top. Me; 1–4. See links provided. |

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

My First Loaf of Homemade Bread

A couple days ago I made my own bread from scratch, by hand and without a bread machine. I am quite proud of myself for how well it turned out which is why I am showing you photos of it. I made half of this recipe and topped my loaf with Kosher flake salt and some dried Herbes de Provence that I got in France.

I served it with a few little ramekins of different things—kalamata olives and figs from the Whole Foods olive bar, baked feta topped with pinenuts, and a mango-jalapeño chutney I made myself. I also made a bowl of spreadable chicken salad so that Nick would not starve from eating just a couple slices of bread and jam for dinner.

| Photo Credit: Me. |

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Today's Flavor: Vanilla Ice Cream Cone

The night I bought this dress, there was a special spring event at the French Connection store on Regent Street, complete with cocktails and swag bags. Not only was the store packed, but everyone was scrounging to find this dress in their size. The fitting room girl congratulated me when I told her I was getting the dress because at least twenty girls had asked her about it already that evening. It might very well be the most popular dress in London.

Soft neutral shades like cream, nude, and taupe are going to be big this spring. I love the way a man looks in a light-colored suit on a warm day, and I also love the way my cream dress looks with taupe nail polish. Here are some ways to work these easy-to-wear shades into your life this season.

| 1. Zara, Oxford Blazer and Trousers | 2. Badgley Mischka, Dasher Flats | 3. French Connection, Penny's Party Silk Dress | 4. Essie, Mink Muffs Polish | 5. Hobo International, Lauren Clutch |

| Photo Credit: top. Me; 1–5. See links provided. |

Monday, April 4, 2011

Opening Weekend at Bun Mee

I rarely get the chance to experience a brand new place in SF before I am influenced by hundreds of reviews on Yelp, so when I read that a Vietnamese fusion street food joint just opened in Pacific Heights, I made it a Sunday lunch destination. Bun Mee opened just a few days ago, serving fresh Vietnamese sandwiches, salads, and other simple lunch fare with a twist clearly influenced by the owner growing up in New Orleans. There's already a lot of buzz since we love our street food novelties around here. But sometimes being too popular can hurt you, and I think that was the theme of my visit to Bun Mee.

Every new eatery seems to need a little bit of time to iron out some newbie kinks. But the layout of the place is not conducive to it being popular, and that's not something that I think can be fixed with time. The line for placing orders is within the small dining area so there is nowhere for people to wait for to-go orders without blocking restaurant traffic; there's a bar in the back along the open kitchen but you have to climb over people to get there; no one bothers to explain to you how the seating even works (seating is first-come-first-serve). Everyone who worked there looked stressed and not a single person smiled; I know it's busy but remember that as a food business, that's a good thing, and you need to smile about it. We ordered four items and when the girl at the register repeated our order back to us, two of the items were wrong. Not off to a good start.

As for the food, I will say that the Imperial rolls were great. They were crunchy, fresh, and full of salty and meaty flavor and the tangy dipping sauce was a nice contrast. I also got the "Bun Mee combo", which was supposed to come with roasted pork, pâté, mortadella, and garlic aioli. It arrived having not been cut in half, even though other sandwiches were. Also not cool. If there was roasted pork in my sandwich, I could not see or taste it. For the first half that I ate, all I could taste was a big glob of pâté and some bland carrots and daikon that didn't seem to be pickled like I'd expect in a bánh mì. As you can see in the photo, the cilantro was only on one side of the sandwich. It had clearly been prepared with haste instead of love, which is just too bad.

Bun Mee is located at 2015 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, California 94115.

| Photo Credit: Me. |

Friday, April 1, 2011

Beautiful Baked Goods at Ottolenghi

Despite all the hullabaloo about French pastries, the most beautiful bakery I visited during my trip was in London. Ottolenghi was a delight to the senses and yet another place I wish I had near home. Just look at how their baked goods appear to be oozing with deliciousness.

After much deliberation, I picked out a pesto and chèvre muffin for a take-away breakfast. I think their other locations might be bigger but one we went to in Belgravia was teeny-tiny. We ate our breakfast while sitting on the edge of a flower planter because we tried to get into the immaculately-kept park at the end of the block but discovered it was locked and only for residents. This did not take away from experiencing the amazingness of the savory muffin.

| Photo Credit: Me. |