Ooh, my favorite!

Light stencils
July 26, 2010, 6:50 pm
Filed under: Art and Design, Photography

Dandelions by TigTab

Look at these beautiful images from flickr user TigTab. These are photos composed of light stencils, so no post production work to create the beautiful effects. Bravo!

Check out the tutorial from tdub303 if you’re curious to see how to make your own.

Butterflies by TigTab

Beauty amongst rubble by TigTab

By the way I’ve been trying to get back into work mode so posting has been sparse lately. It’s amazing how three wonderful months off can completely knock you on your ass when it comes time to being a responsible adult again. Ahh, hopefully soon I’ll have my new routine set so that I can stay up past 10 o’clock every night. Believe it or not I used to be quite the night owl.

[via the wonderful Neatorama]

July 21, 2010, 4:11 pm
Filed under: Nature, Videos

Lots going on this week, so this soothing video was a welcomed addition to my evening. I’ll never tire of underwater videos.

Galapagos from Darek Sepiolo on Vimeo.

Life is good
July 16, 2010, 8:25 am
Filed under: Personal, Smile

{image via jessicainreallife}

Let me count just a few of the ways…

  1. My lover is coming home after a month away! (The Net is a strange place, so I didn’t mention this before.) I had a lot of fun these past few weeks: girls night’s out, eating excursions around the Bay, solo date night at the Opera and then again at the 4th of July Bonobo show. (Yes, I went to a club…on the 4th of July…alone. IT. WAS. AWESOME!). But as great as this time alone was I can’t wait to have my best friend come home.
  2. My LA friends are coming up to bid adieu to Foodie Friend Brian. Once again there is much to be eaten.
  3. I start a new job next week! A chance free-lance lead turned into a full-time offer. This is going to be fun….

Life is good.

Happy weekend, friends. Hope life is good with you too.

July 15, 2010, 10:42 am
Filed under: Home, Yes please

{image via flickr user elseachelsea}

Daydreaming of the beautiful room that sits behind this gorgeous balcony window in Budapest. Ahh, I can see myself just on the other side of the lace curtain.

I’m remembering
July 14, 2010, 8:51 am
Filed under: Nostalgia, Silly

Fisher-Price breakfast set

It’s been a long time since I posted on this, but I’m a sucker for all things pop-culture and nostalgic (especially anything that reminds me of being a kid), so I flipped when I came across the Tumblr site I’m Remembering. It’s the motherload of all things 80’s and early 90’s – pages and pages filled with things I remember and things I wish I could remember.

Most of these were from when I was really young, but I’m sure I’ll be posting some other goodies on occasion. The site is a gold mine.

McDonald’s Halloween Pails

Totally remembering these McDonald’s Halloween pails! I had the pumpkin.

Fisher-Price Cookie Counter

This one seemed so familiar, but it took a second to recall. When I saw the screen with Cookie Monster juggling the cookies that’s when it all came back. So funny how that works! Speaking of recalling…have you ever been suddenly overcome by a scent that instantly takes you back to a place or time? It hasn’t happened to me in a long time, but it’s always a crazy sensation, so powerful and surprising. I have heard that scent is the sense that is most strongly tied to memory, so it makes sense to me.

Snoopy Bow Biters

I never rocked these but I remember them. There were other characters too, but I’m not recalling those ones. Maybe Sesame Street?

Cabbage Patch Kids Comforter

I definitely remember this, I actually had this comforter but looking at it now I’m totally creeped out. The funny thing is that I had a Cabbage Patch doll that I couldn’t stand. I disliked her so much that I named her Odetta or Odeada is probably more how I envisioned it at the time.

Any of these doing anything for you? If not hop over to I’m Remembering to see what you can find. Come back and tell me if you find anything good!

[images via I’m Remembering]

Crixa Cakes – Berkeley
July 13, 2010, 7:20 am
Filed under: Food, Sweets

I mentioned last week that I had quite the food itinerary for the weekend with my soon-to-be-gone foodie friend Brian. We spent Friday night eating around Sunnyvale  with his roommate and all day Saturday on a sweets tour of Berkeley.

One of the favorite stops was Crixa Cakes, the cutest little Eastern European bakery with some of the best pastries and pies that I’ve had in a while. Very different from other styles of pastry, Crixa has mastered the art of avoiding the sickeningly sweet treat.

Inside is comfortable and homey with the lovely cases of cakes and pies giving way to the kitchen just beyond. Eight or so marble top tables line near the windows, or if you prefer there are a few tables and chairs just outside. It’s a great spot for a morning alone with a good book if you’re flying solo.

Since it was a farewell visit there was much to be tasted, and we didn’t even make it over to the cake side of the case. Since this was our second bakery stop (Arizmendi was first) I opted to start with a savory treat, so I ordered the dilled cabbage pirog. The cabbage was wonderfully tasty and had salt I was craving after my piece of coffee cake from the first stop. The pastry that encased it was perfectly buttery and flakey, and I only wish I had gotten there earlier so I could have enjoyed it piping hot from the oven. To accompany my pirog Brian ordered the cherry pie and the peach blackberry pie. Both were lovely, and without all of the sugar you’re able to appreciate the seasonal and perfectly ripe ingredients in each. Ah, what a concept

There was also a takeaway container for later, but we kinda got into that too. I believe there was an apricot cake, a cinnamon rugelach, and a peach blackberry pie. I had a bite of the rugelach and it was unbelievably good! Looking back I wish I’d gotten some to takeaway as well, but that would have been dangerous as I would have had to eat it all myself.

I’m already counting down the months until their pumpkin pie returns; my trip before Thanksgiving last year is still haunting me. Poor Brian, he will most definitely need some consoling when November rolls around. Nevertheless, it was a wonderful way to send him off, and an even better way to spend a beautiful Saturday in Berkeley.

Oscar Diaz – Ink calendar
July 12, 2010, 7:48 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

As each day passes the ink slowly colors the corresponding number for each day. Designed and created by Oscar Diaz. So cool!

[via leaplikelinda]

Happy Friday!
July 9, 2010, 12:48 pm
Filed under: San Francisco

Market Street, downtown San Francisco

Welcome to the weekend friends. I hope you have some lovely plans ahead of you. My Seattle friends are enjoying quite the heat wave, and I must admit that I’m just a tad jealous.

I’ll be bopping around downtown and over in Berkeley this weekend. My dearest foodie friend Brian is moving away in the next few weeks, so we’re packing in as much eating as possible before he’s gone. I’m completely devastated but at least he’s going out with a bang. I’ll be sure to share anything juicy with you. TTFN, ta ta for now.

[image via sideshowbob]

Manresa – Early Summer menu
July 8, 2010, 1:47 pm
Filed under: Food, Restaurants

The meal to end all meals, I had the culinary experience of a lifetime at Manresa. Oh, the endorphins! A non-stop rush of gastronomic happiness that lasted course, after course, after course  – only to peak at the end with an invitation into the kitchen. I was in HEAVEN!

Nestled in the quaint village area of Los Gatos (about an hour south of San Francisco) Manresa is the home of Chef David Kinch, the recently awarded Best Chefs in America for the Pacific region from the James Beard Foundation. An award that is most certainly deserved, and I have the pictures below to prove it!

In addition hosting such an amazing and gifted chef, Manresa also boasts a proud partnership with the nearby Love Apple Farm. Any given plate on any given day will reflect only the best of what the garden has to offer – the freshest most vibrant produce and herbs. If there was anywhere to go in search of the perfect preparation of fruits, vegetables, and herbs harvested at their peak, one would most certainly be led to Manresa. Did I mention I was in heaven?

Enough chatter. Let us begin…

We had a beautiful seat next to the back patio window, so I had some light to help with pictures. Foodie friend Brian was a little bummed to be away from the main dining room as there weren’t as many dishes to ogle on the way to other tables. Wouldn’t have expected anything less from the ultimate gastronome!

Petit fours – Black olive madeleine and red pepper gelées

Oh the butter in the madeleines! A perfect bit of a crusty outer shell with a rich and warm center. The accompanying gelées had a soft but distinctive red pepper taste.

Strawberry gazpacho with a marcona almond

A wonderful savory take on strawberry. So light and refreshing but perfectly satisfying with a touch of salty goodness floating on the top.

Mustard ice and carrot

A gorgeous mix here. The mustard ice was lighter than I had anticipated, but I think it was really there to boost the carrot to new heights. I’m a bit of a carrot snob lately, only buying the smaller ones with tops still on because they actually taste like carrots. (What a novel idea!) This carrot concoction showcased how a carrot should truly taste, and it was a beautiful thing.

Arpege farm egg with sherry vinaigrette and maple syrup

An homage to Alain Passard’s L’Arpège in Paris, the flavors that were packed into this tiny eggshell were indescribably brilliant. The richly golden egg yolk, with the perfectly salty and acidic vinaigrette, and that touch of sweetness from the maple syrup was truly a work of art. I could have had a dozen, easily.

House mackerel in flowering coriander ice with green strawberries

An in your face burst of coriander. A lovely taste and texture contrast to the mackerel, which was served sashimi-style.

Summer squash shoots and soft shell crab in bonito butter with toasted seeds

There’s no way I could possibly pick a favorite course, but this one was definitely one of the highlights. I could have bathed in the bonito butter. There was so much flavor and depth in the butter that once it was paired with the beautifully crisp soft shell crab and the squash the entire dish became a wondrous symphony of flavors with a richness that wasn’t overpowering, but perfectly suited for every element on the plate.

Into the vegetable garden…

Okay, I’m not picking a favorite but the signature dish of Manresa did not disappoint; in fact it was heavenly, and the perfect dish to follow the crab before it. A playground of different textures and tempatures, each vegetable is individually braised, and their juices fused to created the dewy foam. The quinoa “dirt” was a wonderful touch to add the perfect bit of crunch. All in all, a beautiful tribute to the garden.

Atlantic cod and carrots in exotic spice, coriander

The rich aromatic spices coming from this dish made my mouth water before it even hit the table. Perfectly cooked cod with a spice that reminded me of my dad’s Chinese black bean sauce. Once again the carrot was a gorgeous addition.

Monterey bay abalone with smoked lentils and porcinis

My first abalone dish and I was in love. The texture was perfectly chewy, and the broth with the porcinis was light but still with a deep smoky taste.

Suckling porcelet and green shallots with celtuce

A very nice dish, but not quite as melt-in-your mouth fatty as I had expected. The boudin blanc with the celtuce (tasted to me of asparagus and celery) was my favorite part. Oh yeah, and the crackle on the top of the porcelet.

Young lamb with nasturtium pesto and pine nut pudding

A wonderful way to end the savory courses, this dish was magical. So tender and flowing of natural juices the two preparations were really all about showcasing the natural flavors of the lamb. I swear the radishes were poached in butter, oh they were so good.

Cheese cart and a selection of four cheeses with apple compote

We couldn’t decide whether or not we should do the cheese course, but oh how happy am I that we did. I’ll forever add it if only just to see the cheese cart wheeled tableside. Really though, it really was a great way to transition from the savory courses to dessert. I didn’t note which we selected, but they were all terrific, one was even served on a spoon, scooped right out of a wheel. (The apple compote was heavenly.)

Cherry tapioca and nasturtium ice cream with citrus granite

Talk about a citrus smack in the face! The granite was incredibly tart, but it packed with all the reasons why I am a citrus junkie. With the perfect texture of the tapioca and the rich nasturtium ice cream it was an inventive journey in tastes and textures that I’ve never had in a dessert.

Black pepper tuile with roasted strawberries and buttermilk ice cream

Where have roasted strawberries been all my life? So, so sweet with a wonderful chewy-but-not-sticky texture. The sweetness was perfectly balanced by the tart buttermilk ice cream and fresh raspberries. The hint of black pepper from the perfectly crisp tuile was a welcomed addition as well.

Petit fours – chocolate madeleine and strawberry gelées

A bit of deja vu at first, but this sweet take on the savory amuse was wonderful. Still can’t get the buttery taste of the madeleine off my mind. So clever!

Chocolate terrine

A rich and decadent pad from a chocolate terrine. It had all of the best qualities of a homemade cake batter, but the usual grit found in batter was happily missing here, and instead replaced with a silky-smooth texture.

I tried to keep myself under control, but I really couldn’t help but gush as each course made its way to our table. After a few gasps and a lot of making out with each dish, we were invited into the kitchen. I can’t tell you the elation, but also the nerves I felt at the thought of seeing Chef Kinch at work.

The wonderful Esteban and our server Amanda escorted us back after our meal, and at the height of dinner service I realized just how generous the invitation was. Not frantic or crazy, but with purpose and focus, the kitchen was beautifully organized but also blistering hot! I bowed a quick hello and thank you and suddenly noticed Chef Kinch coming forward to say hello. Oh, I was dying! He was so lovely and generous and took a quick moment to say hello and pose for a picture. It was all a bit of a blur, but I gushed a quick thank you and a sawasdee kah to my favorite food blogger (and his sweetheart) Pim and suddenly it was over just as it began. The most wonderful meal of my life had come to a close; but in true form I was already planning my next visit on the long ride home.

What’s in your make-up?
July 7, 2010, 1:29 pm
Filed under: Beauty, Clean, Green, Health

My quest for living a clean life goes far beyond organic produce and filtered (plastic-free) water, and dives deep into the products I use in my daily skin and hair care routine. Think about it…how many health and beauty products do you use in a single day? Shampoo, cream rinse, soap, astringent, lotion, and that’s all before the make-up goes on.

Well, the fact of the matter is that make-up ingredients are not regulated, and the most accessible products for skin and hair contain an endless list of toxins:

“The average woman exposes herself to 167 different chemicals on her face and body during her daily beauty regime.”

300 contaminants have been detected in the umbilical cord blood of newborns.”

These are just two of the facts that are featured in this quick and infinitely important message about health and beauty products and their effects on women, men, and babies. Please, if you do one thing today, watch this quick video to get an idea of what we’re all up against. Like the latest movement for food industry reform, this is another industry that is putting their product and dollar before the health of consumers.

Yes, it’s overwhemling, but for everyone and especially for us women of child-bearing age, it is essential for us to take charge of what we put in our bodies and on our skin and hair. We can change how these companies formulate their products.

Organic products DO help, you just have to make sure that the product you’re buying is actually what is says it is. It takes more work to figure it out, but that’s where the EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database is an essential tool for the arsenal. All of my make-up, shampoos, toothpastes, and lotions have a rating of 4 or below. If you do two things today, please poke around the database and learn a bit more about what you’re using at home.

My skin has never looked or felt better than the last few years that I’ve switched to organic and chemical-free products, while also taking my vitamins (all 9 of them!). I can’t believe the first picture I post of myself will be first thing in the morning without make-up, but my point is that you cannot buy healthy skin in a jar that promises fewer wrinkles or blemishes. It comes from so much more work and research, but ultimately from a clean lifestyle that anyone can have with some practice. Please, please know what your feeding your body!

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