Sunday, August 28, 2011

DIY Baby Gifts for my Niece

i am thrilled that i am going to be an aunt again. my little brother and his wife are having their baby girl in october and today family and friends gathered to celebrate her upcoming arrival. as expected, there was much food, much laughter and much love. this sweet baby girl isn't going to know what hit her. there will always be a line a mile long to see her and hold her and rock her and squeeze her. for the record, i am staking my claim at the front of that line. i got dibs people ... are you hearing me?!

anyhow, i digress. my sister-in-law is one of the most amazingly creative people i have ever known. this of course lends itself to her having a fun, quirky, unique style. she has this way about her of turning the most mundane object into the PERFECT thing. something totally and uniquely hers. i am astounded by this talent always. and a little jealous if i'm being frank. it also makes gift giving, shall we say "challenging":)

i decided to embrace some of my own diy talents and try my hand at some special gifts for the shower. i wanted to give her something meaningful and something i hoped she would love. {fingers crossed}. i made a set of adorable, vintage style wooden blocks and a super snuggly baby blanket.

the blocks have been a project i have been looking forward to making. in a creative burst i thought of the idea and have been waiting to gift them to someone! a little nerve-racking in the beginning, but it all panned out. her stamped name on all the patterned paper just makes my heart smile. tons of patterns and colors to keep her interested. i hope.

i can thank my dear granny and mom for teaching me how to crochet a few years ago. i loved the little scalloped corners! they turned out looking like little petals on the ends of the blanket. the heather gray yarn was so soft and beautiful. however, i couldn't resist just a touch of peach with the flowers. peach, not pink. the blanket is under the blocks in the above pics. i think i have a better photo but i couldn't find it. i'll look again.  ** UPDATE ... i found them **

baby grubbs is sure to be loved beyond measure. her parents were literally showered with both love and gifts today. you know there are sometimes when i see my family and i think "geez. am i really related to this pack of loons?" then there are other times, like today, when i look around at a room full of wonderfully different individuals and think "geez. how did i get so lucky to have an incredible family like this?" family is big part of my life and today i felt truly blessed to be a part of one that continues to grow and evolve in ways that none of us could have imagined. i am so very lucky.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The San Francisco Treat.

No, not rice-a-roni. The San Francisco treat for us was our work/play vacation there this past week. The timing was absolutely impeccable. Saying that we were overdue for a little adventure and relaxation is the understatement of the day. It was such a fun trip and I have tons of great recommendations for anyone headed west to Cali.

I say this was a work/play vacation because we had our annual Subway Convention in downtown San Francisco for a few days and then we snuck off together for a few days. The convention was great. We got to see lots of subway peeps from all over the country. It is always fun to catch up and see how things have been going for everyone since last year. We sampled lots of delicious food from the vendors, gathered up tons of cute (mostly useless) tchotches from the trade show floor and checked out all the goodies coming up for the next year in the Subway world.

Vacation, in my universe, is largely defined by the eating lots of great food, preferably local fare that I can't get back at home. Avoiding chains when possible. I enjoy trying out local haunts and taking advice from cabbies/hotel staff/etc. on the best places to grab a bite. Some of my san fran favorites:
  • The Grove Cafe: to die for sandwiches, fresh squeezed juices, biggest breakfast burrito I have ever laid eyes on! and a cool, eclectic atmosphere. This one easily made it to the top of my list.
  • John's Grill: delicious steak and seafood. fun fact, it was the setting for the maltese falcon.
  • Annabelle's Bar and Bistro: they do an herb rubbed, rotisserie chicken with a quick flash-fry (yum!). the juiciest and most flavorful fried chicken I have ever eaten. 

PS: the shopping off market street in union square is absolutely insane. If you have money to burn, you would love this area. Too much for me and my empty pockets ... but worth remembering if I hit the lottery.

Then, we headed off for our Boatman vacay. Where did we go you ask? An all around decadent tour of Napa Valley and Sonoma. Beautiful. Breathtaking. Truly unforgettable. This might be one of my most favorite trips we have taken together. It was such a unique experience. I am not really a wine person, but I may have been converted after this trip. Visiting all the different wineries and partaking in the tours really gave me an appreciation for the skill and precision it takes to make all those different varieties of wine. It is incredible the level of devotion that these wine makers have to the perfection of their craft. In just a few days we were able to visit several different wineries and we loved something different about each one of them. Napa and Sonoma combined boast over 400 wineries, we did our best people!

I could go on and on about each stop, but my favorite was Kunde. The view was majestic, the wine was delicious and we had a moment of serendipity - we ended up at a tasting 1,400 feet on the mountain side with Jeff Kunde, current CEO and great, great grandson of the founder, who just happened to be there entertaining a client. Just a great experience. 

Great eats on this leg of our tour:
Norman Rose Tavern: grass fed local beef hamburger, local cheese, local bread. good lord this burger. They also serve fresh, dill pickles. I honestly never knew a pickle could be THAT delicious.
Gilwood's Cafe: eggs california = the most delicious breakfast of my life. Basic eggs benedict plus tomatoes and avocado. It's topped with the most incredible hollandaise sauce ... EVER.
Healdsburg Bar and Grill: another burger. I know, I couldn't help myself. A perfect patio with tons of seating to enjoy the Utopia-like weather. The parmesan and garlic fries ... heavenly.

I MUST give a huge shout out to our hotel. The Avia in Napa Valley was perfection. It was situated right in the heart of the Napa Valley Square and within walking distance to dozens of shops and delicious restaurants. Everything was ideal and romantic. The room was incredibly cozy and featured a huge soaking tub ... i do love a good bath. Most of all I could rave for days about the incredible staff. If you ever need a place to stay in Napa ... Avia is it.

We couldn't pass up visiting Fisherman's Wharf - it's one of those must-see tourist areas. It has all the typical tourist stops and shops. It does boasts beautiful views across the bay, of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate bridge. You can also visit with the sea lions at the end of Pier 39, who are super cute I might add. Ghiradelli Square is a shining star here. The restoration and repurposing of this building is spot on. It now features shops, restaurants and 3 Ghiradelli ice cream and chocolate shops. Plus, they give you free chocolate when you visit the shops. It's worth the walk. We did a tour of Alcatraz Island and it was well worth it. Such an interesting piece of history. The audio tour was narrated by former guards and former prisoners which added a nice, authentic element to the entire experience.


Overall, just a spectacular vacation. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to create so many beautiful memories with my sweet husband. This will be a vacation we remember forever. Safe and happy travels everyone!