Saturday, April 28, 2012

San Francisco Treat

Did you guys know that Dan & I went to San Francisco last week? Well, we did! We flew out of Seattle last Saturday, and had a great time taking in The City by The Bay. Walked around, looked around, ate delicious food at every meal!

Before we left, we downloaded the San Francisco Trip Advisor App and the SF transit map, which was pretty much the smartest thing ever! Once we got a lay of the land (and figured out which ways were uphill and which down) we just would hop onto the Muni, and go wherever we wanted! Usually we rode uphill and walked down!

Some trip highlights were:
Alcatraz Island
Fascinating, interesting, and thought provoking. They have a fantastic audio tour of the cell house, which is really well done. We highly recommend going to Alcatraz if you ever travel to SF!

There are gorgeous gardens on Alcatraz Island. I loved the giant Hens & Chicks. Seriously, the size of your head!

 Biking across Golden Gate Bridge
We rented bikes and rode across, then had lunch in Sausalito and took the ferry back to SF. This is a total tourist trap, but it was really fun.

Lunch in beautiful Sausalito!

Pier 39
Fun just to walk around here, people watch, sea lion watch, eat ice cream, seafood, hot dogs, watch the bakers at Boudin make sourdough bread, catch the cable car.

We took the Cable Car to the top of Lombard Street, home to 8 hairpin turns in a 1 block stretch! (Yes, we may have mocked people taking photos of the street, even though we had just done the same!)

crocodile sourdough!

Visit the Balclutha
Dan & I happened to stumble upon this one day as we were heading toward the cable car stop. The Balclutha is a ship that is permanently docked at Hyde Street Pier. It had three careers as a cargo ship: shipping timber, then running supplies for the gold rush, then shipping salmon from Alaska. Inside, you can go all through the rooms and under the deck. They have cargo underneath, and exhibits and signs throughout that tell about the three careers the ship had. It was really interesting, and was free (and I knew my dad would like it!).

Painted Ladies
They are houses! Don't get too excited over there! I don't know why I liked this so much; I just did! We did a self-guided walking tour in the Hayes Valley neighborhood, and it brought us to Alamo Square, where you can see 6 gorgeous (and iconic) Victorian houses all in a row. If you ever watched Full House, you know exactly which houses I am referring to! Also Hayes Valley was a  cool neighborhood - full of boutiques and vintage shops. Dan & I stopped in a few furniture/home stores, admired everything, and merrily went on our way!

Eat. Food. Everywhere.
There are a ton of restaurants in SF, and we of course could only try a tiny fraction of them. Our hotel had continental breakfast, so we usually did one cheaper meal during the day, and one sit down/more expensive one. This is really where that Trip Advisor App came in handy! We'd look up restaurants that were nearby to wherever we were, read the reviews and either tried it or searched again! So, because this is my blog, and I can do what I want with it, I will now share with you our favorite restaurants and what we had! Feel free to skip ahead!

Fog Harbor Fish House - Clam Chowder & Crab Cakes
Tommy's Joynt - Sweet & Sour Ribs and Turkey Enchilada (this place was a bit of a dive, but it was right across the street from our hotel and the food was freakin' awesome! I could eat those ribs ALL THE TIME!)
Olive - Fish Tacos & Spicy Sausage pizza
Brenda's French Soul Food - Crawfish Beignets (so good), Shrimp & Grits, Fried Chicken
Olivo's - giant Burritos. (This place was nothing special atmosphere-wise, but the food was excellent and it was inexpensive!)

Another fun and unexpected part of our trip was that we got a room upgrade! Our first room was fine, but we asked it we could move since the adjacent room had a crying baby that kept waking us up at night. We got upgraded to a Junior Suite, which was a major improvement in both comfort and quality (and noise factor) from the first room. Sometimes it pays to complain!

We also went to Golden Gate park and went up to the 9th floor of the de Young museum, which gives a fantastic panoramic view of San Francisco. Another night we went to City Lights bookstore and browsed around there. We went on a hop-on-hop-off bus tour from Union Square, and while our tour guide was pretty good and did know stuff about the city, he mainly told us where expensive neighborhoods to eat & live in were! All in all, it was a really fun trip, and our 4 days of actually being there was just enough time for us. We saw what we wanted to see, did what we wanted to do, and were ready to come home at the end. (Also, our legs were tired from walking up & down all the hills!)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Dining Room Dreaming

I have been thinking about the eating area in our house lately. It needs some help/attention. (In this post you can vaguely see our eating area in the second photo from the left. Sorry, I'm lazy today and don't feel like taking another pic! Besides, it's exactly the same today - the only change has been what sort of clutter is on the table! Today it's paper, a plastic bag with magazines it in, and a cardboard tube instead of party food! [Though I could go for some party food right about now!])

So what have I exactly been thinking about regarding the dining room? (It's not really a room...more like a corner.) A few things, such as:
  • Dan & I never eat at the table if it's just the two of us. We sit at the island, or, to be perfectly honest, sit on the couch. 
  • When we have company over to eat, the eating corner feels cramped. Our table is awesomely huge - 42" wide by 6'-9" long when extended. Our "designated area" is 10'-8" long, and only 7'-9" wide. If you sit on the window side of the table, it's just not enough room between the table and the wall to sit comfortably and get in & out. 
  • While the aforementioned table is great for large gatherings, we have only once had 10+ people over for a sit down meal. Ever. And they were family. Not to discount Dan's family as "real guests", but the times we do have everyone over, it's usually for dessert/birthday cake/wiener roast (which is outside anyway) and it's very casual. Our big family meals happen at the in-laws house, where there is a gorgeous kitchen, spacious dining room, and it's just down the street. I can't imagine that this will change drastically any time soon.
  • With some kitchen island changes in mind for sometime in the future, we are planning on being able to seat 4 people on stools. So even with bigger groups, there would be places to sit.
  • Curtains, fabric, accessories. We have just the one painting (an original piece by artist, friend & all-round nice guy Matt Holdsworth!) which we love, but it looks lonely. I'd like to get some kind of curtains going, maybe get fabric on the chairs, think about a rug, switch out the light fixture for something a little more my style and if I can figure out some way to fit a buffet, maybe stick a lamp on there, and some pretty things too. (Side note about light fixture selections: one of the most stressful ways to pick light fixtures for your new place is to go on the day after your husband has had shoulder surgery! Learn from me and don't do that!)
In light of all those points above, here's a little plan I came up with that could maybe remedy my drab and ignored eating area:

I think the round table (the one shown is 54" diameter) gives some wiggle room on the window side. I am not sure if a 60" (which seats 6 people) table would fit comfortably, but we could probably get by with a 42" or a 54". 

I LOVE this one from West Elm:

Source: via Erica on Pinterest

Not sold on the chairs, but I have been thinking about other accessories! A few weeks ago I scored this cowhide rug second hand, and think it would be great to add some interest down low, since we have long views in our house. I'm not sure if rugs & dining rooms are a good idea, but hey, we're still child free, so why not?

I am also liking the idea of burlap curtains. It's relatively inexpensive, gives a casual feel, and comes in a variety of colours. I ordered a bunch of samples from, and they finally arrived today! Also, I just saw a photo of white burlap pinch pleat curtains in a magazine at Elissa's house, and it looked great. (I think the magazine was called House Beautiful, but I can't find the photo online.) To give you an idea:

What else is inspiring me? This buffet I spotted at MCC this morning. I mainly liked the size, and the simple leg shape. 

As far as a light fixture goes, there is nothing wrong with ours, but I am looking for something with a little more charm, or perhaps less chandelier-y. Something interesting, but still simple, casual, and clean looking. 

What do you think of my plan? Any tips or suggestions to pass on to me? This it still all pretend at the moment, (except for the curtains - those I will do) so all opinions welcome!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


My latest trip to the grocery store had me stopping at the bakery case to take this sneaky picture:

Jesus IS the man! But I still had to laugh, because it's on a cake! 
(And not even on sale, even though it was after Easter! What's up with that Save-On??)


Thank goodness it started raining mid-morning.

My arms & shoulders are sore! 

It's been quiet over here lately, mostly because it's been beautiful outside and I've been out there digging this garden bed. I did start to wonder on day 3 of digging (keep in mind I am only out there for maybe 2 hours/day) if I had made it too big, but then I decided to just go with it! Hopefully, I can show you the plants and walkway part of my plan before next spring. Hopefully.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Tutu Twirling

As I mentioned before, part of Helen's Easter basket was a tutu. I found these very simple instructions on how to make a tutu, and it could not have been easier! Fun & satisfying to make. I had some white tulle on hand, and then I picked up 6" wide spools of tulle in pink & green at Michaels.

Helen loved it!!

Things Helen said while wearing & playing:
"I have to practice my pirouette so it's perfect!"
"Chant my name! Helen! Helen! Helen!"
"Does the audience want to clap for me?"

Then she found the fairy wings, and everything got that much more adorable!

Meanwhile, John was content to play with a bucket on his head. (He liked the echo!)

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

How to Sew a Box-Bottom Bag

No one asked, but today I am going to attempt to show you how to make a lined, box-bottom bag. These are super fun to make, don't use a whole lot of fabric, and once you figure out the basic method, are easy to size up! The size I am showing today is perfect for a play grocery sac! (Seen here & here.)

Materials & Supplies

You probably have everything you need for this project already on hand! 
 - fabric (2 fat quarters is all you need!)
 - thread

You also need the basic sewing tools:
 - sewing machine, iron, scissors, pencil, straight edge

1. Cut out fabric

Bag Exterior - Cut 2 rectangles 11" wide x 9 1/2" high
Bag Lining - Cut 2 rectangles 11" wide x 9 1/2" high
Handles - Cut 2 rectangles 4" x 12"

From the (4) 11" x 9 1/2" rectangles, cut away a 2.5" square in each bottom corner, like this: 

2. Handles

This is the best way to make handles for any bag project, and requires no turning!

Fold fabric in half lengthwise and press. 
Unfold, and fold in long raw edges to the line you just pressed.
Fold fabric again on original pressing line.
Clear as mud? Here's a photo!

Fold long raw edges to center press line. Fold again at center press line. 

Edge stitch both handles on each long side.

Now you should have this: (2 finished handles, 2 cut lining pieces, 2 cut bag exterior pieces)

3. Sewing the Bag

Align bag lining pieces with right sides together. Sew a 1/2" seam on two sides & the bottom edge, back stitching at each end. Press seam allowances open.

Now is the tricky part. You are going to use the cut away part in the lower corners to make the "box-bottom". Does this picture help? 

Opening up the bag slightly, line up the bottom side raw edge with the side bottom raw edge. (This is why it's important to cut away a square at the start!). Line up the side & bottom seam and pin together. Sew together with 1/2" seam allowance. Repeat with the other corner. Turn lining right side out and press the seam allowance in one direction. The bag should loosely hold it's shape now. Hopefully! 

Seams all lined up!

Repeat step 3 with the bag exterior.

Aligning the seams and with right sides together, put the lining piece into the exterior piece.

Now you'll need to figure out where your handles go. I usually go in about 3" from each side seam, but you can play around with what works best for the length of your handle. Mark the placement of the handles on both side of the bag. Pin them between the exterior & lining pieces, lining up with the marks you made. Also, (and this is important!!) make sure they aren't twisted!

Mark handle location and pin handle between lining & exterior.

Pin around the top of the bag. Sew through all layers with 1/2" seam, leaving an opening for turning.

Pull the bag through the opening, tucking the lining back into the bag exterior. Press around the top edge, and any seam you can to get the bag square and sharp looking.

Edgestich around the top edge, sewing shut the opening. Backstitch at each end.

Ta-da!! You are done! Fill with whatever you want, and enjoy! 

Or make several more! Or a bigger one! I hope the instructions all made sense. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments, or to email me. Have fun!

I made these 4 for my little people as [early] Easter baskets, and then filled them with some little things. Superstore t-shirts, sock monkey's for the little boys, a rhino for Johnny, and a tutu for Helen. (More to come on the tutu!!)

Sunday, April 01, 2012


Dan & I just had one of the most frustrating afternoons of our lives. 

Was it worth it?

I think so.