Tuesday, November 30, 2010

love florida sunsets

FLORIDA
i'm thankful for your ...
beautiful sunsets
salt water smell
tropical flowers
fish
sunshine
Lucy had her first boat ride tonight.  homegirl was terrified.  
then she started to enjoy it. (i think!)
smooooches under a sarasota sunset

I feel like Florida gets a bad rep.  i do understand why!  
But all in all, i love it here.  
Its beauty is breathtaking on a daily basis.  
maybe I'd feel that way about anywhere though.
my mom was talking today about how she looooves her home.  she's so gushy over it.
but then she said - she's loved everywhere she has lived.  even the teeny tiny apartments right after they married.   I think I'll also feel that way if JB is by my side.  
Plus, I truly believe that there is beauty everywhere - if you really look for it. 
Do you love where you live?  

Let's take a trip Tuesday - San Francisco, CA

So happy to have Grace here from the whati!  Enjoy everyone!!

Name: Grace H. 
Location: San Francisco, California

How long have you lived there? 
I've been living in San Francisco for just over one year.
 
If you moved from somewhere else, where did you move from? Why? 
I was living in Cambridge, Massachusettes, and though I loved that cute little city- I was ready to take a break with New England.  I grew up in Connecticut and spent my college career in Massachusetts, so after 23 years I was ready to make  a big change! I figured now or never, better take a chance when I'm young and free!
 
How is the weather? 
Oh, the weather.  The weather is a very weird thing here.  It never gets to be very cold, though my cold tolerance is high because of my New England blood.  When it hits 65 degrees here I swear to you: down coats, knit hats and mittens come out!  We had a horribly cold "summer" here with the average temperatures never really rising up above 65.  However, now that its November it has been sunny and in the high 70's - so who the heck knows!  The weather also changes depending on where you are in the city so layering is a must!

Tell us what a typical weekend is like for you there? 
My weekends here are the best.   I try to keep them the right balance of active and indulgent.   Yoga in the mornings, window shopping on my way home from the studio is unavoidable, and the afternoons usually lead to coffee/ wine with friends sitting in the sun at my favorite cafe, Nook.  (With a name like that, what's not to love!?)  Funds permitting, nights are usually spent out on the town at favorite restaurants or new bars.  However, that is a rather low-key version.  Not a weekend goes by where there isn't a food festival, free concert/movie in the park, street fair, or special event of some sort to wander into!  Pair that with the variety of restaurants, neighborhoods, museums, parks, cafes, shops.... I'm not kidding you when I say that you could spend every single weekend here doing something new and exciting.  Perfect example, read up on Bay to Breakers- its the most outrageous event I've seen in this city- it involves the entire city getting up at 6am, getting into costume, and spending the day running wild through the streets- I think there is an actual foot race involved too.
  
Where do you like to eat in your town? 
San Francisco is a foodie city so making a list of my favorite restaurants would require not only an entire blog-post, but an entire blog!  If money and/or sugar daddy's grew on trees, I would eat out three times a day!  I've found that the quality of food out here is just out of this world because we're literally at the source.  "Eating locally" is not a new trend in this city and much of what restaurants cook with comes from just miles outside of the city.  That being said, I'll just link you to  a few of my favorite restaurants:
 
1. Andalu  
2. ROAM, 
3. Delarosa (boyfriend's fave) 
5. Dottie's True Blue Cafe (a SF must, don't go hungry the line is 45 min. always) 
6. La Boulange (multiple locations!)
8. Farmer's Market at the Ferry Building where you can pick from tons of vendors with fresh produce. 
 9. Dell Uva  (my most favorite wine bar)
10. American Cupcake (mini cupcake/wine flights... need i say more)

Where do you like to shop?
Everywhere.  There are SO many different shopping options in this city.  Since every neighborhood had a really unique flavor, the shopping usually follows suit.  There is no shopping itch you can't scratch here.   
A few of my favorite small privately owned boutiques (think, where would I go to find that special piece:)  Seamsmarmalade, and Picnic.   
A few of the best shopping areas to spend an afternoon (think, where could i peruse with a cup of coffee and my girlfriends:)  Filmore Street (Jonathan Adler, Marc Jacobs, a million cute shoe stores,)  Haight Street (thrifting GALORE, wasteland, buffalo exchange, etc.) and Hayes Valley (totally hipster: innovate furniture stores, darling stationary stores and more!)   
The most condensed shopping area (think, I just need to buy something cute and fast for my date tonight) is Union Square (H&M, F21, Urban, Macy's, Nordstrom's, J. Crew, Anthro.- all your basics)   
All this talk of shopping...  oh geez.  Thats the crazy part is to get anywhere you have to walk by all of these money suckers!

Suggest some must see places for an out of town visitor. 
The Golden Gate Bridge- (of course) but rent a bike and ride over it to look back on the city, you'll really be able to see the insane-o layout of this place on all the of the hills.  Take a hike on Angel Island for the same reasons... you can take the ferry and have a hike and a picnic lunch!  Go to Boudin's Bakery (and Museum) on the Wharf for a sourdough breadbowl with New England Clam Chowder.  Though it's in a super touristy area, the breadbowls are worth the headache... and a museum dedicated to bread?  Um, yes.  Have a cocktail at the Top of the Mark in the Mark Hopkins hotel- beautiful citywide views while you sip your favorite adult beverage!  Visit Dolores Park (and grab an ice cream and the local favorite Bi-Rite Creamery worth the wait in line.  I promise.  Do it.) to experience some true San Francisco flavor... that park is a constant party! If the fog rolls in, and it will, go visit the Cal Academy of Science where you can take a walk through the Rainforest Bio-dome, listen to Woopie narrate in the Planetarium, or quietly watch the fist swim around the LIVING indoor Coral Reef.  The best coffee you will ever drink in your life (ok, second only to a cappacino in Florence) is Blue Bottle Coffee.  It is a caffeine infused experience you won't regret.  No matter what you do, take on the city in on foot or by cable car... there is so much to experience and see and really the best way is to wander around.  Plus you're favorite souvenir will be your toned booty... the hills really shape things up.


 
Tell us why you love your town: 
Oh let me count the ways!  First of all, I love this town because there is a place for everyone.  There is literally nothing you could say, do, or wear that wouldn't be accepted here.  Example: on my way home from work on Halloween, I saw a totally "normal" looking businessman riding his bike home from work in his BIRTHDAY suit... and you know what I mean.  (An extreme example- but I've seen more naked old men here than a young lady like myself EVER should!) 
The architecture here is so interesting that it makes even a walk to the grocery store delightful.  As a sharp contrast to the softness of the classic buildings is the technological forward thinking aspect of SF.   Both Google and Apple have their headquarters here and the city is buzzing with innovation.   
My absolute favorite thing about this wild city though, is it's proximity to nature and all the activities nature allows.  It's not uncommon to see people walking down the busy city streets carrying surf boards, skis, camping gear, etc.  If you drive outside of this city for an hour in any direction you can be completely submerged in nature.  You can have an incredible hike on the pacific coast, hop back in your car, throw on a sassy outfit, and have a fancy romantic date night in a tiny Italian bistro... all in one day! I've never really experienced that in other cities and I think it really sets this place apart.

Anything else we should know about where you live? 
Give yourself more than a weekend to visit!  There is so much to see and do and eat and buy you couldn't possibly do it all in 3 days!  You can tailor a trip here to any personality type, so whether you're here for the art, the crazy, the food, or just sightseeing, you can really make your time here unique and special.  Also- email me for personal suggestions and I'd be happy to share more about my personal favorites!  (Oh, and if you're wondering where those Full House houses are- Almo Square!)


Thanks Grace for sharing!!  I believe it is safe to say - You are the cutest thing on the blogosphere.    I'm left scratching my head, wondering why i don't live in San Fran!  
Aren't y'all?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas gift guide

{from left to right}
really good olive oil  - $49
 a fondue pot. from cuisinart. - $79.95
bright nail polish to go well with your tan - $8


baggu bag - $6
a great book - $17
an eco coffee cup - $14


custom shirt by wedding chicks that says "future mrs. _____" - $36
at least an hour long massage!
custom ring bowl by paloma's nest - $48

a sea life finger puppet collection -$38
organic blanket - $52
socks to keep those cute toes warm -$13
garden labels - $14
heirloom seed collection - $24


to be continued.  

Happy Shopping!!  

do you have any good gift guides?  let us know below!


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sweet Mollys 21st birthday soiree

my sweet baby sister, molly,  turned 21 back in october and  since we weren't able to be there we thought another celebration was in order.  
cute little molly and our traumatized boston terrier, lucy.
molly made this for her just before the party!
i made paula deen's hummingbird cake. recipe found here.  
cami gave molly a swagg she made!!  check more swaggs right here.  
Happy {belated} birthday Molly!
You make us so proud and we love you so much.
xoxoxo



Wednesday, November 24, 2010

thankful

{in no particular order}

kisses.
 hot showers.  
clean drinking water
living by the sea
a loving family
becoming a morning person
sweet and inspiring forever friends
anthropologie. even if i'm just looking.
for new opportunities
being able to travel to 13 countries this year
not having to wedding plan this holiday season
a marriage i've always prayed for
a healthy heart
swiss cheeses
grace and mercy from above



Hope you guys have a great
 THANKSGIVING!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

alternative to turkey

I made this for a little dinner party we had last weekend.  It was easy and impressive.  everyone likes to have their own little hen.  there's something a little decadent about it.  They'd also make a great alternative to turkey if you were just having you and your honey.

Roasted Cornish Hens with Grapes

(one of my favorite cook books)

  • Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 lbs. red and green seedless grapes
  • 8 shallots, root end intact, halved if large
  • 6 sprigs of thyme, plus more leaves for hens
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 (1 – 1 1/4 lb.) Cornish game hens*
*Substitution: Bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts – 10-12 oz. each
Process
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees (F).
2. Toss together grapes, shallots and thyme sprigs with olive oil, 1 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Spread on a large rimmed baking sheet.
3. Rinse the hens and pat dry, then tie the legs together with twine. (I just use thread from my sewing kit!)
4. Nestle hens among the grapes on the baking sheet, breast side up. Season with salt, pepper and thyme leaves.
5. Roast, basting the hens occasionally with pan juices, until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the leg reads 160 degrees (F), about 30-35 minutes.
Serves 4
Got a favorite cookbook?  Please share.  


Let's take a trip Tuesday - Toronto


Name: Sonja


Location: Toronto

I'm the one on the end holding the "O"

How long have you lived there? 
About 15 years

If you moved from somewhere else, where did you move from? Why? 
Long story, but I’m gonna make it super brief! ;o)
I was born in Sarajevo. Left when I was four because of the war, lived in Zagreb for a year with my mom, until my dad also managed to get out.  The three of us lived in Prague for two years, I started school, and then mid-grade two we moved to Toronto where I’ve lived ever since. 
That was quick! Good enough reason for moving right? haha

How is the weather?
It can be great! ...aaand it can be brutal.
This summer was super hot! And pretty darn humid too.
Winters can be rough, and living close to the water doesn’t help. I’m horrible with cold weather though, so don’t ask me... it’s the one thing I can complain about all the time, any time. hehe
But really, the weather here just has a bad rep, generally it’s not as bad as we like to make it seem ;o) 
Oh and I need to add that autumn is beauuutiful!
Short. But beeeeautiful, definitely my favorite here.  


Tell us what a typical weekend is like for you there? 
This really depends on the time of year. And honestly being an architecture student... I don’t really have a life haha. A free weekend would be an extreme luxury.
But typically  fun weekends go something like this...

In the Winter:
Skiing! I admit, we don’t have the mountains they do in Western Canada, heck we barely have hills... we have things I like to call bumps though.
They’re fun too!  hehe
There’s also plenty of skating, but I can’t skate. I used to, and now I’m pretty
much Bambi on Ice.


During  the warmer seasons:
Although Toronto sits on a Lake, sadly it’s not exactly one recommended for swimming in, but there are lots  and lots of lakes in the surrounding area so there’s plenty of swimming, and cottages during weekends. Lots of delicious fruits and veggies are grown in Ontario, so “pick-your-own” farms are always  fun.

But you can have a good time even if you just stay in the city, cause Toronto has a ridiculous number of festivals and events going on during the warmer seasons, so there’s always something to do :o) Plus we have lots of bike trails and parks which ask for picnics to be had in them.  

Where do you like to eat in your town?
Mmm so many good places!
Ok here it goes (but really I could add about 50 more places)

For Italian : Terronis  . Homemade Pizzas, Pastas, Mozzarella di bufala ...mmm!

For Coffee /Tea :
  “Moon Bean” in Kensington Market, my favorite there is actually the fresh squeezed lemonade, plus they have a great little courtyard patio in the back.
 “Coffee Tree” in Bloor West Village,  I’m biased I used to work there, but it’s a great place! They roast the beans on location and there tons of fair trade and organic coffee coffee choices.
“Bulldog Cafe” on church. This place doesn’t have a great location, but they make some gooood cappuccinos!
“Darkhorse” on Spadina (and one on Queen East).  This place has the best decor! and a great concept with huge tables so that lots of people can sit together.

Musa : This place was such a cute little restaurant with a delicious, varied menu for bruch, lunch, dinner, you name it! Plus they had the coolest facade! But sadly there was a massive fire in the building just a few months ago, and it’s been closed since then. We’ve all got our fingers crossed that it will re-open though. :o)

For sushi : Kuni Sushi Ya . It’s on a really cute little residential street (Baldwin St) right in the middle of downtown and there’s an all you can eat sushi menu, aaaand the sushi is incredible!

Jumbo Empanadas : In Kensington Market, cheap delicious amazingness - I love the veggie emapanada. This place has the best salsa I’ve ever tasted...except remember to bring a pack of gum

Ghandi Roti : delicious indian roti! It’s a tiny little shop though, so it’s not a good sit down option

 For brunch - lolas-commissary :   Now this one IS a good sit down option. Very cute little restaurant with the best egg white frittata you will EVER taste...topped with a sundried tomato pesto. Plus they have all sorts of brunch favorites, and a cheesecake stuffed french toast!

Vegeterian - Fresh! The best part is that after 4pm (i think?) each day, they  choose one item to sell at half price.
AND Hibiscus... I think it might be my new favourite place, its a cute little cafe in Kensington market which has a small but amazing menu of delicious soups, salads and crepes. mmm

...The list goes on and on


Where do you like to shop? 
So since I just wrote a novel about food...let’s make this quick!
Queen West cause you can find most stores that you  find in malls (but be outside) , plus tons of other fun, independent stores. Kensington Market for vintage clothes and major bargains.

Suggest some must see places for an out of town visitor. 
Here’s a jot form list (with a few elaborations hehe) :

The two tourist hot spots:
-   CN Tower/ Skydome ( These are a given, and the Skydome is no longer named Skydome the name was changed to “Rogers Centre” a few years ago, but I can’t bare to not call it its true name ... and you’ll seem like a such a Torontonian if you call it the Skydome ;o) hehe )
-        Niagara (It’s not in Toronto, but very close,  it’s extremely touristy but I guess  ‘a must’ if you’re in the area)

-  Distillery District
-   Kensington
-  Toronto Island
-  Check out different neighborhoods - Toronto is known for being a city of   neighborhoods, so it’s worth it to explore a few outside of downtown.
-  High Park
- St Lawrence Market
- Casa Loma
- Scarborough bluffs

- The PATH - our underground shopping centre / “path”. It winds all throughout the downtown core, and gets you from place to place while keeping you warm during the winter. But I’m gonna be honest and tell you that I have absolutely no idea how to use it. I’m actually very good with navigation...but I get SO lost in that thing. I once spent a good 20 minutes walking through the PATH to get to school and when I got out I ended up being across the street from where I had started!

Tell us why you love your town: 
Toronto is one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world!!! So you can imagine  how much exposure we get to different cultures through art, food, festivals and just meeting people. I LOVE that about this city!


Thanks Sonja for giving us such a great guide to Toronto! 

xoxo