Monday, October 29, 2012

Autumn in New York

We just barely made it back from New York last night.  Apparently JFK closed about an hour after we took off (which was 3 hours later than scheduled), due to the storm coming.  

The Giants won the "World" Series while we were in flight.  Big win for San Francisco {yay!} not so big win for those of us trying to sleep on the plane.

We had an amazing time.  I couldn't have asked for a better weekend. I'd never been to New York in October and it was the perfect autumn.  

{central park}

It was like something out of a movie scene.  The trees were filled with leaves of gorgeous fall colors that just showered down on us while we walked. 

New York is absolutely one of the best cities in the world.  I realize many people may have different opinions than than mine, but it's definitely one of my favorites.  

I love all the little neighborhoods and all the loads of people on the streets.  I love walking everywhere! Something that I definitely miss now that I've moved back to Northern California.

We stayed with friends in Williamsburg and took the ferry into the city, which made for a great view of the city.

We visited the Met {my first time!} and strolled around central park; saw my brother perform in a club in Williamsburg {amazing!} and then pretty much just hung out shopping and eating in the city with friends and family.  My perfect kind of weekend!

{interesting art}

As always, we had some amazing food in the city.  I'll post this week with some of my favorites.

Stay safe East Coasters!


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

New York

We're headed to New York tonight on the red-eye. 

Visiting some really good friends and hopefully seeing my brother play one night.

I don't think I've been shy about my love for the airport, but there's something even more exciting for me when the plane's headed to NYC. 

It's one of my favorite cities in the world.  And I feel very spoiled getting to see these friends twice in one month!  

She's the kind of friend that no matter how long we go without talking we pick right back up where we left off.  There never seems enough time during our visits to say everything that needs to be said.  I hope everyone is lucky enough to have a friend like that.

Aside from the guys playing golf a few times, our long weekend is completely open - my favorite kind of vacation!

We'll definitely spend one afternoon in central park.

And I'm hoping one day will be a bit grey out so that we can head to the Guggenheim or the MOMA.  It's so hard to spend a sunny day in a museum and even after all my trips to New York, I've never been to either.

In so many of my favorite cities I have a favorite food I have to get.  
In New York it's the black and white cookie.

"The key to eating a black and white cookie, Elaine, is you want to get some black and some white in each bite. Nothing mixes better than vanilla and chocolate. And yet, still, somehow racial harmony eludes us. If people would only look to the cookie. All our problems would be solved." ~Jerry

Amen Jerry!

What are some of your favorite shops / restaurants / sites in New York?
I'm always looking for new places to try!

Have a fabulous week and weekend!


Friday, October 19, 2012

The Ring

While we were shopping in San Francisco last weekend, we somehow found ourselves in at Tiffany and Co. :)  Girls being girls we were tempted by all the sparkly things in the window.


Now I'm not married, nor engaged, so I haven't been through this thing before.  But looking at all the lovely sparkling rings in the cases and the people shopping for them got me wondering.

How do you buy an engagement ring?  Is it something you pick out together?  Or is the guy expected to pick out something on his own and completely surprise his girl?


I've had friends proposed to all sorts of ways.  

One friend was proposed to with a necklace so that they could go together to the jewelry store and pick out her wedding rings. 

It was so sweet because he wore the necklace tucked under his shirt so that when he went to propose it wouldn't be lost in his pocket.  She saw the chain and just thought he was trying a new style. :)
{not sure the source - please let me know so I can update}

Another friend was given a solitaire diamond ring when he was proposed and later they went to the jewelry store together so she could pick out the setting.

he completely surprised her with the ring.

I wonder too, do guys feel a lot of pressure to pick out something for their girl on their own that she's going to wear forever?  I think I know Dan pretty well and I'm not sure I could pick out something he'd wear for the rest of his life {unless it was lululemon boxers - has your guys tried these? Apparently they're like diamonds to a girl!}.

So I'm curious, how was your ring chosen? Or how would you prefer it to happen?
Please leave a comment below.  I love engagement stories!


Monday, October 15, 2012

The Weekend {& Winner Announced!}

This has been a crazy, wonderful, extremely comical and very busy weekend!

A bit of craziness started when I picked up my friends from the airport Friday night.  One of their bags didn't arrive and it was an important one - golf clubs and toiletries!

Then on the drive home at around 1.30am, the road started to feel funny, quite bumpy actually.  We pulled over and saw that the tread from the back tire was completely off the wheel.  Not good.

I won't go into details about why, but I didn't have a spare.  I also don't have AAA. 
{Please don't yell at me.}

So I called my Dad, at 1.30am.  Aren't Dad's wonderful?!  He text me a photo of his AAA card and we called a tow truck.  

We finally made it home at 3am and all of us collapsed into beds, which was like 6am for my friends coming in from New York.

I had planned on going to get groceries early the next morning for a few breakfast things.  With only me and Pacino living here I don't really keep a stocked pantry.  But without a car this was pretty impossible.

Dan was coming up from his house which is about an hour and a half away, but I knew I'd need to  give my friends some sort of food until he arrived.  She's 7 months pregnant and he was pretty hungry. {I knew this because he was yelling "I'm hungry" from the living room while we were getting ready.}    

I made black coffee, found some cinnamon graham crackers and gave my pregnant friend a glass of water.  I'm a wonderful hostess.

Dan called a little while later from the road.  He was running a bit late.  He'd left on time but when he stopped for gas, he left Pacino in the car and when he went to get back in, Pacino got very excited and raced across the console stepping on the lock button and locking him out of the car.

Luckily his Dad was able to bring him a spare key and he was able to get back on the road again. {See, Dad's really are wonderful!}

Things went pretty smoothly from there.
We headed to Alexander Valley for a bit of wine tasting and then to my parents house where they were having family over since my brother was in town, from New York too.

Sunday morning was the half-marathon, which kicked my butt!

But we finished!

After the race, while the boys golfed, I spent the rest of the day shopping (and walking) all around the city with Morgan, my friend from New York.  Which may not have been the smartest idea since I am still so sore now.  Stairs are not my friend today.

Amanda, who did the half-marathon with me, describes it as being a walking dead person, which I think is a fair assessment. I really should start training for these things!

Hope your weekend was wonderful too!

Winner of the Tiny Foods Giveaway is Anna!

(so sorry for the late announcement!)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Friday {& a Giveaway}

Happy Friday!  

Don't forget to enter the giveaway {here}!

As of right now there's only four people entered so there's a pretty good chance of winning!
{I assume because that's how many people read my blog, not because the prize isn't good.}

I'm spending the weekend with this beautiful girl.

And her amazing husband! 

My favorite photo of him :)
{From our vacation in Mustique - March 2010}

She's pregnant with their second baby! And they're not finding out the sex.  I don't know how they do it.  I am dying with anticipation.

I'll also be "running" in the Nike Women's Marathon on Sunday, so please pray for me!
I'm hoping that I'll be able to walk on Monday.

Hope your weekend's wonderful!


Thursday, October 11, 2012

It's all personal

One of my very good friends just moved to New Zealand last weekend.  I could not be more excited for her new adventure.  Thankfully I was able to convince her to blog about it {here} so that I (and anyone else who wants to) can follow along. :)

A couple of weeks ago we hosted a bunch of friends at my house for her send-off party.  There were a few Id never met before.  It was such a great night.  My sides hurt from laughing so hard. 
I was excited to host a party – everyone always brings wine and theres always a few bottles left unopened to help fill my wine rack.  Apparently, this is not the case when you invite a bunch a girls over who grew up in Sonoma County!

A lot of them hadnt been to my house before or hadnt seen it since Id bought furniture and was able to do a bit of decorating.

Everyone had such wonderful things to say and it was so nice to hear.  As usual though, my first response when someone complemented my home was Oh, theres so much I still need to do.  Because whenever I look around I see my list of to-dos and all the things that I havent gotten to yet.

One of the girls, who I had just met that night, said something thats kind of stuck with me.  She responded to my usual comment and said, oh no, everything looks really nice you just need to add some personal things.

I thought it was funny, because I had just been thinking maybe I needed a few more designer-type things, like what you see in interior décor magazines, to make it look a bit more finished.  When I look around my living room everything I see is personal.

My mantel holds one of my favorite photos of a bridge over the River Seine in Paris that I took while I when I lived there.  It was taken with a camera that used film.

Along side it are two gifts from my brother. One is a framed photo of the Brooklyn bridge, the other, limited edition artwork showing part of the exterior of the Guggenhiem museum. Every year when my brother asked me what I wanted for my birthday or Christmas I said the same thing: photos of New York (where he lives) from the street vendors or farmers markets there.  It took a few years before he gave me these and when he did he said these were the first ones hed seen that he liked for me.

One side of the mantel holds a sake carafe from the restaurant where Dan and I had one of our first dates. {I plead the fifth on how it got on my mantel.}  I use it as a vase to hold lavender from my moms garden.  It sits next to a birthday card given to me by my best friend around the time that I bought the house.  She wrote the nicest things in it and I cant read it without getting teary-eyed {or type about it apparently}.

 The other side has the crowns I made for Pacinos first birthday {DIY found here}, the votive holders I made from Glitter Guides post {here} and the LOVE print I made with poster board and glitter wrapping paper and I had left from a Christmas project.

It also has my favorite photo from Thailand.  It was taken after an all night beach party on Koh Phangan, a small island off Koh Samuii.  It was before 7 am and my friend and I had walked around the island to the other side of the beach and watched the sun rise.  Her camera had gotten sand in it and wasnt working well, so she borrowed mine and I have no idea who took the picture.  There were small empty boats scattered around the water and Ive never seen so many beautiful pastel colors in one sky.  Its in a frame I bought at Zara Home on Regent Street when I lived in London.

On the wall hangs a sconce that my best friend in high school gave me as a Christmas present one year.   When I opened it, she complained that Im the hardest person to shop for.  Its hung in every home Ive lived in since then.

Another wall hangs a frame with two photos from a road trip I took with my friend who just moved to New Zealand.  In September 2010, we drove to Utah and spent 10 days camping and hiking the national parks.  The photos were taken at The Arches and Canyonlands and I love that you cant see our faces in them; its just vast beauty spread out in front of us.

Theres a large colorful cachepot on the floor.  It used to sit in my grandmothers entryway.  My aunt bought it for her from Gumps, the historic San Francisco department store where she used to work.  She used to bring me there with her on take your daughter to work day".  {Do those still exist?}

Across the room is the mirror and console table my dad built for me.  He surprised me with the console table after I showed him the one I wanted from West Elm.  Its built from wood that was from my parents old water bed from over 25 years ago. {Why he saved it, I dont know}.  For the mirror, we picked out all the wood and trim and paint together and he text me photos along the way of his progress.

On the table theres a small silver dish thats engraved Welcome Home. My parents gave it to me when I closed on the house.  I set my keys there every day.

Theres a framed photograph of my cousins from their engagement session.  Theyre on Baker Beach in San Francisco with the Golden Gate bridge and the fog in the background.  My cousin was my best friend growing up and he lives across the country now.  It makes me happy every time I see.

For Christmas, my aunt found a frame similar to the others that I have around the living room and framed an old photo she had of me and her. Im about 2 years old in a ruffled and polka dot one-piece swimsuit {I guess it's true, styles do always come back around!}.

Theres an etched glass bowl from my grandmothers house.  It used to sit on her bar cart next to her sliding glass door.  I wasnt allowed to roll her bar cart even though it had wheels and a handle.

Theres a candle holder that my dad made from a wine barrel stave.  He used the same stain as the console table he made of rme.  He bought the wine barrel from a Sonoma County wine maker (my hometown).

One of the first décor things I put up in my home was my gallery wall.  I went through all my travel photos and ordered prints online.  Once they arrived, it took me all night deciding which photos and which sizes to use and how to arrange them on the wall.  I took every one of the photos myself, aside from one which I bought it from a street vendor in Prague.  Its of the Charles bridge at night and its almost perfectly reflected in the water lit by the city lights.  The photographer signed the mat for me. 

On the gallery wall, theres a photo taken of the view from my bedroom window in my flat in Paris.  Theres one of the water running through the lush green rainforest when we were on a hike in Costa Rica.  We were looking for a waterfall we never thought wed find.  We went swimming in the pool under the waterfall a little while later.

In Croatia, we went kayaking in the sea off Hvar.  The next morning when we woke we stopped first thing to get coffee.  One of the guys who worked at the kayaking places saw us and asked to sit and have coffee with us.  I am ashamed to say that when I saw him, my first thought was oh no, I have to make small talk.  (I am not always at ease with people I dont know well.) 

While we were having coffee with him, he pointed to a small island just off Hvar.  He said it had a private beach and a small bar that only locals really knew about.  He was going out there that day.  We walked to the dock and saw a woman and her young daughter on the boat headed to the island as well, so we got on the boat.

When we got there, his friend owned the bar and gave us each a beer and brought out a small tray with meats and cheeses and fresh fruit.  When it came time to pay the bill, the guy who brought us said it was covered as well as our fee for the boat ride over.

We walked around the teeny island and found hammocks.  I laid in the hammock and looked up at the sun shining through the tree branches and was so grateful and humbled that I was having this moment in my life.  I laid my camera on my lap and took a photo straight up into the trees.  That photo is framed on my gallery wall.

Its all personal.  I look around the room and every item feels personal.

On the bookshelf theres a box covered in stamps from all the countries I visited on my first trip to Europe.  My aunt made it for me.  Theres a framed photo of my Dad hugging me super tight at my going away party when I moved to London.  And one of my grandmother, unposed and smiling, who passed away 7 years ago.

Its all personal. 
And its funny what someone else sees, what an outsider sees, when they look around.

And it reminds me that I dont need the designer-type items to place around my home to make it look like the interiors in the décor magazines or blogs. 

Sometimes I am unsure if I want something or if Ive just seen it so often on a must have or currently conveting wish list, that I think its something that I want.  Im glad that Ive been slow to buy those things.  Because Ive found that when I stop seeing them as often, I sort of want them a bit less too.

And Im happy that when I look around my home, even though its still very much a work in progress for me, its all still personal to me, even if not everyone can see it.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

DIY Eagan Pottery Barn Mirror

My new mirror is finally up in my living room and I could not be more happy.  

I pinned this {link} from The Lettered Cottage last year and sent it to my Dad to see if he could build it.  Their directions were pretty spot on, so thank you Layla and Kevin!

The only thing my Dad changed was adding hardware so that I could hang it either vertically or horizontally.  We figured it'd be easier to add this before the mirrors were in place than later if I decided to change it.  {I use the term 'we' very loosely.}

I love that he sent me progress pictures along the way.

It's a copy of the Pottery Barn Eagan mirror that sells for around $700 but my Dad customized the size for me.  He had left over plywood for the backing for the headboard he built for me and I bought the mirrors at Michaels with 40% off coupons.

I think the total cost of the project was around $150 dollars.  It's becoming very economical for me to have a Dad that can build anything!

I think he did a fantastic job with it!

And it looks perfect over the console table he built for me 
{which is a copy of the West Elm Parsons console table}.  

Thanks Dad!

Don't forget to enter my giveaway {here}.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Tiny Food Party {& a Giveaway!} {book review}

Have you heard of spoon fork bacon?
It's Jenny and Teri's gorgeous food blog with the most delicious recipes and stunning photos.  

The first thing I ever made from their blog was the cinnamon sugar messy bread {here}.

It was amazing and now has become a regularly requested item for weekend brunches.

These talented girls have just come out with their first recipe book and
I managed to snag myself a copy.

I always wonder when food bloggers come out with a recipe book if it's worth buying it since they post so much online.  This one does not disappoint.

True to their blog, the photographs are amazing and the recipes look delicious and uncomplicated.  I don't do well with long lists of ingredients and complicated steps.

All of the recipes are for small bites or finger foods.  My favorite way to eat!
I love to try a little bit of everything.

It wouldn't be difficult to make things on a larger scale if needed.  But why is food just so much cuter in mini size?!

Did I mention that Teri is the photographer and Jenny is the stylist.  Serious talent here.

Throughout the book, they've given ideas for different menus.  
I love the breakfast food party one!

We're making these cinnamon spiced cupcakes for a party this weekend.

This says candied bacon churros and they show how to make it with three different dipping sauces.  And it looks easy!

They really left nothing out.  The last chapter is titled "Darling Drinks" and includes recipes for some yummy-looking cocktails (or mocktails - if you so choose).

Dan will be making the Bloody Marys for the next NFL Sunday.  I'm not sure if the guys will go for the itty bitty version though. :) But I think they're adorable!

I loved the raspberry champagne cocktail for a pretty brunch idea.

And great for the holidays - eggnog shooters!

Amazing book, Ladies!  I am seriously overwhelmed by your talents and so thankful for your delicious recipes and clever ideas!

Here's where you can find a copy: Tiny Food Party at Amazon

The book release date is Tuesday, October 9, 2012.  Tomorrow!
And for an amazing pre-order price of $10!

I'm also giving away one copy.

To enter:
Follow Champagne Reveries on bloglovin' or your favorite blog reader and leave a comment below telling me which one.
{Please make sure your email address is linked or leave it in your comment.}

Winner will be announced next Monday, October 15, 2012.  Please check back next week to see if you've won!

Good luck!

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