Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Hello from the chilly east coast! I flew into New York last week, slurped ramen and sake with friends, tried to stay warm in the blustery city, and then hopped a train to my parents'. The Hill was, as always, beautiful. But cold, so cold. Some of what we got up to:

Homebrew drinking. This was a delicious saison that was a bit sour.
Snowshoeing. Which is just like walking, but with more gear.
Checking on the maple syrup taps, frozen solid right now but soon to start flowing again in this week's thaw.
Firewood splitting. For fun, because, you know.
Pickle eating. This was my mom's first attempt at pickling, with lemon cucumbers from her summer garden. They were divine.
Running along the partially-frozen Delaware river. Stinking cold, stinking beautiful. We saw two bald eagles!
Now I'm back in the city for the week, facing meetings, more meetings, and some wintry mix. I also plan to eat all the pizza.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Bits and pieces

From around the intertubes. I pulled this together last week but forgot to publish, so apologies if anything is out of date or has since been embarrassingly discredited, a la Beyonce's inauguration performance.
  • The Bold Italic has a great story about the auto shop in the Tenderloin with the always-changing sign out front. 
  • This poster is really, really spot on.
  • This author's account of his book tour is totally hilarious. Oh, publishing, you are a ridiculous and occasionally depressing industry.
  • Sandwich cakes are a thing. Happy birthday to me, not soon enough.
  • A coworker was assaulted in the Mission recently, and her email to the office sharing her story was met with a less-than-stellar reaction from many clueless male coworkers. (Why were you walking home alone at night? etc). This post describes well the kind of rage I feel when I see that kind of shit. It also makes me feel better about how rude I am when a dude comes up to a group of my ladyfriends at a bar to peel off the one he wants to talk to. Oh, did we not seem like we were enjoying ourselves and having a good conversation? Please, by all means, barge in with your privilege and your bad pickup lines and whisk her away, she'll be much happier making small talk with you. 
The article also mentions a browser extension called Jailbreak the Patriarchy that, when activated, switches the gender pronouns on whatever site you're reading to highlight the differences in how men and women are written about. It's a novelty, yes, but it's made me more aware of something I already knew to be true. For example, the lead article on the New York Times website right now is about a female tennis player's death. The headline? "Her Skirt Shocked Wimbledon". 
"Moran’s daring tennis outfit worn in a bastion of English propriety won her more renown than her tennis playing, though she was ranked as high as No. 4 in the United States, won the United States women’s indoor championship in 1949 and reached the quarterfinals that year at Wimbledon."
How much coverage of women's tennis still focuses on outfits, and the players' looks? Way, way, way too much.
  • Langan wrote a great peace-I'm-out letter from Hilary.
  • How perfect is this nook from Apartment Therapy's profile of a house in Bernal Heights?
  • My love for John McPhee continues unabated. Check out this Paris Review interview with him. It also made me a bit homesick for Princeton. I thought this description of his writing was particularly spot on:
In A Sense of Where You Are, McPhee describes Bradley playing basketball “according to the foundation pattern of the game.” Despite possessing an amazingly accurate shot, the athlete distinguished himself primarily through attention to footwork, passing, and strategy. In a sense, McPhee writes the same way. He rarely draws attention to himself, but his sense of structure, detail, and language is so refined that his presence is felt on every page. 
If you haven't read him at all, start with his readers - there are two collections of chapters from his many books, and they give a great overview of the many, many subjects he's covered, from oranges to Alaska to geology. He's the best.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My parents' first maple syrup of 2013. Behold this thing of beauty.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Warp speed

This year is picking up momentum mighty fast. Probably because I pushed all work/chores/errands from the last two weeks of 2012 into January. Also because, well because. Life.

On the agenda for the next few months:
  • A quick last-minute trip to Portland this weekend! Our friend made this brewery map, and we are going to crush it.
  • A New York trip for work at the end of January, which will involve a side trip to my parents' and hopefully some snow.
  • A trip to the French Alps to visit Ashley right after. (!)
  • A Beer Week event that I'm helping plan, coming up when I get back from France. More on that when we officially announce it.
  • A possible weekend in Cabo if I can figure out how to make the timing work, and if my self esteem will let me join two beautiful toned tanned ladies on the beach.
  • The GRE at the beginning of March. I'm starting to study the math section, and, as my 16 year old self would say every night over her homework: I really suck at math.
  • A biggie: a popup dinner and reading at Brick and Mortar on March 11. You heard it here first! (Maybe.) Mike and I are pulling it together as a launch party for Freemade SF, Mike's new ebook entreprise. It's an experiment in dinner-and-some-culture event planning. If it goes well, we'll keep it going, first serving a sit-down dinner and then a show by a local band, a movie screening, a reading, etc. We're hoping to charge as little as possible, just enough to cover costs, and to combine our favorite things to do; I love to cook and entertain, Mike loves to see live music. Boom! More on that as we figure out the details.
  • SXSW in March, as always, but as always it's exciting. We head to Austin the day after the Brick and Mortar event, which is slightly less than ideal, but I'm guessing by the time we're done with the event we'll be ready for some margaritas and music.
  • A Hawaii trip in May that I scared Mike into booking after having a meltdown over some expiring United miles. I called customer support three times before admitting defeat. "But they're miiiiine," I wailed, failing at being at once firm and polite. "You gave them to me, you can't take them baaaaaaaack." At one point, I could physically feel the hatred of the customer service rep on the other end of the line as she repeated, "Ma'am, there is absolutely. nothing. I. can. do". That kind of hatred is really humbling. But Hawaii, yay!
Can't wait for it all, man. Feeling very lucky.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


UPDATE as of 3/19/13: The owner of Tosca is apparently happy with the sale, according to this NYT article:
I expected to find Etheredge with a heavy heart; I had heard the news that she was turning the bar over to April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman of New York’s Spotted Pig. What I found was the opposite. They’re going to keep Tosca much as it is, she told me, down to the signature House Cappuccino, a Prohibition-era concoction of chocolate, brandy and steamed milk. “Of course, I’ll still hang out here,” Etheredge said. “I won’t have to be working.”
Tosca is a strange, magical bar in North Beach that walks the high-low line by repeatedly stumbling from one side of it to the other. It has old standards on the jukebox, bartenders who wear white jackets, and a long wooden bar that always has a line of Irish coffees in progress. It also has uncomfortable diner-y tables and chairs scattered around a cavernous room that gets unbearably loud on weekend nights.

On weeknights, however, when it's just you and some old men at the bar, it feels special. I've posted about it before. In case you don't want to follow that link, for which I do not blame you, here's the Broke Ass Stuart Tosca tribute I excerpted:
In a time where San Francisco was just declared the most expensive city in the US, and The City’s artists and working class people are being quickly replaced by boy faced millionaires who care more about reaching their IPO than creating A-R-T, places like Tosca allow us to romanticize this beautiful city. They allow us to remember that this city was built on gold dust and denim, union organizers and poets. They allow us to remember that, for much of its history, San Francisco has been a place to fit in if you didn’t fit in anywhere else. What’s important about Tosca is that its sheer existence reminds us that San Francisco is not like everywhere else.  
Well, Tosca went under, apparently, but got bailed out by none other than April Bloomfield of The Spotted Pig in New York. So says Tablehopper. I haven't yet been to The Spotted Pig, despite it being only a few blocks from my New York office, because there's always an epic wait, but I've read quite a bit about Bloomfield and her other ventures. I'm excited to see what they do with Tosca, and, honestly, a little proud that a New York chef (well, British, but whatever) not only decided to open a place here but swooped in to rescue a local institution. Of course, though, it's also scary to think of it losing its old school charm.

Here are a few photos I took while getting a little sloshy on a random Tuesday with Esme.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Brunch it out

Brunch, as a meal, works for me. We wake up late on the weekends, and usually try to go for a run right away so a big meal in the early afternoon hits the spot. Brunch as an event, however, is a pain in the ass. The places that take reservations book up, the places that don't take reservations have epic waits, and it's physically painful to mill around outside a restaurant for an hour when you haven't eaten anything yet for the day.

The easy solution, it turns out, is to have people over for brunch. This works well as a standalone event, and it works even better when your boyfriend is in playoffs mode and spends the weekend on the couch yelling at the TV. I like football, but I don't like that much football. I'm not sure Mike even really likes that much football; by Sunday night he was a little fatigued, but maybe that was just the exhaustion of vigilantly fast forwarding through millions of car insurance commercials while muttering about how crappy they are.

On Saturday I brought in entertainment reinforcements: friends, for brunch. I made a frittata based loosely on the one here, with mushrooms, chard, brie, and a lot of tarragon. Mike whipped up hot mess, his take on the Midwestern delight of tater tot hot dish. Swap out the ground beef for breakfast "soysage" and you're good to go. Homemade bagels made an appearance, as well as some really tasty bloody marys.
If you haven't made a bloody mary sans mix before, take that leap - once you have the ingredients it comes together quickly, and the flavor is just right. I got hippie tomato juice, which was all you can get in my neighborhood, so I added more olive juice than called for to amp up the salt. I also made ice cubes with the juice to minimize waterdown. I used smoked paprika for the rim, because again, the hippie yuppie shops apparently don't sell things like Old Bay, but otherwise I stuck to the recipe, and it did me right.
Ain't brunch grand?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Small hands, smell like cabbage

(Jesus, I can't even remember what movie the above reference is from, but it has been in my brain for so very long.)

I desperately love cabbage. I think it has to do with my peasant roots, and the fact that those roots are Irish and Eastern European. Those people love the cabbage. I don't let myself buy it more than once or twice a month, as is not rare for Mike to come home from band practice to find a baking pan on top of the stove, cooled, flecks of salt scattered about it.

"Did you make cabbage?" he'll ask, advancing into the room slowly.

I nod.

"Did you put some of it away?"

I shake my head.

"So you ate it all, again?" Nod. "A whole head of cabbage?" Nod on my part, sigh on his.

In fact, I will have eaten it standing at the stove, the heat from the oven drifting up (leftover oven heat is a crucial part of my apartment warming strategy), pulling off each leaf with my fingers and salting it individually.

It is so. damn. good. Quarter it, salt the hell out of it, throw it in the oven, and you've got a brown-on-the-outside creamy-on-the-inside flavor sensation.

And today, today! Today of all days, the world is loving cabbage along with me. Both Food52 and The Yellow House posted odes to the stuff, though they're sexing it up way more than I usually do. As much as you can sex up one of the most musical fruits, anyway.

It's chilly out, and about to get chillier here in San Francisco, so now is a better time than any other. Get your cabbage on.

Monday, January 7, 2013

What I Did with My Winter Vacation

Before Mike and I flew to Houston for Christmas, I threw one last party of 2012: my first sitdown dinner party, to celebrate the acquisition of a grown up dinner table! It's made of lovely dark wood and extends through a series of gears and pulleys that are steampunkishly delightful. A friend made a delicious soup, and I served a filo dough veggie pie and an arugula and beet salad for dinner. Dessert was a store bought cake (I'm just not a baker, but that may change since I got the Flour cookbook for Christmas!) and Talenti's sea salt caramel gelato. This stuff is available all over the place now, and it is sick. Sick as in good, sick as in delicious, sick as in you will scarf it until it makes you ill.
We spent the holidays at Mike's parents' house, then a few days with his brother's family. Mike has three nephews who are smart and funny and unreasonably cute, and who also fight a lot. It's a good reminder that kidhood isn't easy or innocent or la di da. Also, it seems a bit tiring for the parents. Just a bit.
There were also many restorative things to do, like bake and drink wine and admire my new bracelet.

Friday, January 4, 2013


I don't have any new year's resolutions, per se, because I'm rarely resolved to anything. True fact. But I do feel like I'm on a good trajectory, flung-from-the-trebuchet style, and I want to keep moving along. How to do that? Continue to shake it up. More of what's good, less of what's not so good - I know the difference, I just have to suck it up and pay attention. Keep asking questions of everyone, from small and dumb to big and exciting/scary. This has gotten me everything from great sheets (seriously) to insights on the Big Questions, like what to do and how to be. Thanks, friends.

So. See it, point at it, chase it. Goes for goals, snacks, furry animals, and brains.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

I'm back! Hello, 2013. 2012 went out with some good times - Christmas with Mike's family, a last-minute New Year's party with friends - and some bad ones. The executive director of Mike's organization died suddenly while on vacation the day after Christmas, which was both really sad and really stressful for Mike, who was scheduled to send fundraising emails from her. Becky's obit is in the NYT here, and here is a really lovely and more personal post on her. She was a part of the RAN gang as well as its leader, and her absence is going to be felt acutely for a very long time.

There was a lot of shit in 2012, huh? I guess there always is, and we're biased to remember what happened near the end of the year (the Oscars effect), so things like Becky's death and the Newtown shooting are top of mind. It actually was a crappy year for a lot of people I love, but everyone made it out ok(ish), and I'm guessing that this is just the way life is going to be as we get older (I'm pfft pfft spitting at the good luck I've had til now). Up, down, sickness, health, good luck, bad luck, change. I read an article today exploring the idea that while we humans will readily acknowledge how different we are now from who we were ten years ago, we're unable to wrap our minds around how different we'll be ten years hence. So, to all the future versions of us, hi. May you look back on your 2013 selves  - us, now - with an eye roll, sure, but also a high five.