73 posts by ZoeP

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I am going to keep this post really brief because I am guessing that everybody is shopping, cooking or traveling today and I just wanted to post one quick side dish for anybody looking for a last minute add to Thanksgiving. In the winter, I cook brussel sprouts about once a week and this is my favorite way to cook them so that they are crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The pancetta adds a smoky flavor and the lemon adds a touch of citrus. If you need one more dish this Thanksgiving, Pancetta and Brussel Sprouts are a great addition to the Thanksgiving feast.

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Off to the kitchen to finish brining the turkey …. everybody have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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Setting the table for Thanksgiving is probably one of my favorite parts of the Thanksgiving holiday. Sharing a Thanksgiving meal is a family tradition and for me setting the table is like setting the stage for a great meal and conversation. This year, I was inspired to use my left over Halloween pumpkins and a quick trip to the flowermart provided some directional color scheming. I matched the color of the pumpkins to a pop of orange in some freshly picked persimmons. I dropped in some gold leafing for a touch of elegance and anchored the table with white pillar candles and white napkins.

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With two kids this year, I was looking for shortcuts when it came to a table setting. After years of dry-cleaning my placemats, I discovered paper placemats and I instantly became a fan. I use them both for the everyday dinning and special occasions. Featured on the table (above) are Confetti Paper Placemats. You can even customize them though the Paper Source for events such as birthday parties or weddings. There are so many different paper placemat options on the market now and they are great for kids who like to color! I keep a few different designs in my linen drawer for all occasions and the best part of using them – the end of the night they go in the recycling.

I love using persimmons when they are in season on my table for a beautiful pop of orange. Costco has them at a great price in bulk and they are found just about everywhere right now. They make for a great addition to a cheese plate if you get a few extra. I picked up some gold leaf trim for an added sparkle on-top of mini pumpkin centerpieces at the flowermart. You can also spray paint some gold leaf if you want to have a quick crafty solution for some added gold.

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DIY Mini Pumpkin Center Pieces:

What you will need: 3-5 small pumpkins (purchased at the grocery store) // Mellon ball scooper (remove the seeds) // Oasis // Three different types of flowers trimmed with a 4” stem //

Steps for assembly (10 minutes): Cut the top off the tops of the pumpkins and remove seeds with melon baller. Cut oasis to fit inside pumpkin and then soak in water. Clean flowers and leave 4” stem. Assemble by sticking flowers in oasis inside pumpkin. Try to cover all sides so that the flowers are spilling outside the pumpkin.

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I could not resist making a flower crown for Strawberry Blonded with the left over flowers. I can hear the bells from the kitchen as she runs down the hall wearing her crown no doubt ruling her kingdom.

From my table to yours – Happy Thanksgiving!

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Today, we headed out on another city adventure. We had some old bread and I took the kids out to the waters edge to feed the birds. The cold has settled in as we turn towards the winter months and as most of the county is getting a layer of snow, it is now acceptable in San Francisco to wear a knit hat and a extra warm sweatshirt. As we walked to the edge of the water in search of the right place to feed the birds, we stumbled on old VW Bus, granite pillars and a sandstone ramp. Each of these objects provided entertainment and exploration for Strawberry Blonded and added to the excitement of the adventure.

Location: The end of Yacht Road pass the St. Francis Yacht Club off Marina Greens

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Sweatshirts are the new trend and I have been stocking up for the entire family. I saw this sweatshirt at Crewcuts and it made me laugh and feel really old. Luckily, I could still translate this shorthand (cheat sheet at the end of the post), but it did make me think about the future of language and technology and how it will effect my kids. The OMG sweatshirt paired with Strawberry Blonded’s new wax coated jeans. As an added bonus wax coated denim are really warm for the winter months and Strawberry Blonded likes the fact that they were a bit “shinny”. Her hat is her new favorite hat and is fleece lined, I am really hoping that we don’t loose this one and scarf was a gift from a great online boutique called Persnickety. The tag caught my attention because they donate a part of each purchase to a child in need.

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Hat: GAP Cable Knit Pom-Pom // Scarf: Persenickety Eternity Scarf //Sweatshirt: Crewcuts OMG Sweatshirt //Jeans: GAP Waxed Coated //Shoes: Glitter Ballet Flats

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Just in case you need a bit of translation on the sweatshirt there is the quick guide:

OMG = Oh My God // LOL = Laugh Out Loud // XO = Hugs and Kisses // BFF = Best Friend Forever // BRB = Be Right Back // NP = No Problem // IDK = I Don’t Know // YOLO = You Only Live Once // TTLY = Talk To You Later // :) = Happy Face

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> SAGE SOURDOUGH STUFFING / November 19, 2014
Written by Posted in Eat + Drink Comments 1

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Thanksgiving is just over a week away and my kitchen has turned into a test kitchen for the perfect side dishes this Thanksgiving. With two kids, I need fast and easy receipts without sacrificing flavor and goodness. Truth be told, my mom was always in charge of the stuffing and it was not my favorite dish at Thanksgiving. First I am not a huge celery fan and second she added nuts. That being said I am a huge sourdough lover and so when we came across this bag of sourdough stuffing at Costco, I had to bring it home and test it out. To my delight the receipt on the back was easy and simple and delicious. I added my own topper (cranberries and pinenuts) to mix it up a bit and add a touch of color. Not only will I be cooking this stuffing for Thanksgiving, I will be gifting this bag of Boudin San Francisco to all my friends this Thanksgiving.

stuffingNote that this bag of Boudin Sourdough Stuffing is only available at Costco for a short selling season!

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> WKNDR WARRIOR / November 7, 2014
Written by Posted in Style Comments 0

“The Weekender. Because your weekend bag should not cost more than your weekend getaway” – Everlane

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Once and awhile, I find a new retailer that really inspires me both with the product they produce and the execution of their message. Eight months ago, I found Everlane and I have been a brand addict ever since. Just last week, I got their first catalog and I was so impressed I thought I would post these photos of some of my favorite Everlane items.

Besides great product one of the selling points about Everlane is that as company they are committed to Radical Transparency – meaning they show you all of their costs and the cost associated with delivering the goods (including where it is made). For every product the cost is listed out by material, labor and transportation providing a true cost and selling cost (mark-up). They also note the traditional retail which makes you feel like you are getting a piece of quality clothing without the insane mark-up of other competitive brands. It truly is an inspired business model selling great product at a real affordable price. It is a straight forward message just as their fashion pieces are both elegant and basic – they are the perfect pieces to build out your wardrobe. If you are not familiar with Everlane – check them out, it is well worth your time.

final_2Here are a few of my favorite pieces for the fall season:

Weekender + Bomber Backpack / Weekender (shown in Navy) comes in 12 colors and retails for just $95 and the Snap Backpack (shown in Navy) is available in 11 colors and retails for $65. Both of them make a great weekend pair. The backpack is perfect for my laptop, camera and book and the weekender is a great size for weekend worth of clothing.

Swing Trench + The Seed Stitch Raglan / The swing trench ($138) is perfect for the San Francisco winter (shown in Sage). It is easy to throw on with jeans and but can also be dressed up. It is the perfect layer piece! If you are looking for a comfortable sweater that is easy to wear than the Seed Stitch ($60) is a great option – it wears like your old favorite sweatshirt, but provides a bit more warmth and structure.

Have a great weekend!

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> EVERYDAY GARDENING / November 5, 2014
Written by Posted in Strawberry Blonded Comments 0

final_1Gardening is a year round excuse to wear rain boots!

The backyard is a perfect place to squish around while watering the plants and rain boots are the perfect accessory to any backyard gardening party. Strawberry Blonded is still stuck in summer and insisting that she continues to wear her summer dresses. I thought a new pair of rain boots might be a great way to transition her into her winter wardrobe and for her to get a bit more excited about the colder months to come. She grabbed the floor model right off the display and of course it was pink Hunter Rain Boots. There was no talking her into anything else! I even tired to to talk her into the same color Hunter Rain Boots with the traditional buckle, but she just insisted that we get knee high socks with bunnies on them. Without much deliberation we walked out with these fun pink boots and knee high socks. I did insisted on buying them a bit big so hopefully we can get to wet seasons out of them.

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final_2Summer dresses have been really difficult for Strawberry Blonded to put away; every day it is a full-blown melt down when she can’t rock one of her sleeveless flocks. I am not sure if the issues is that she just had too much fun this summer of if she is always constantly hot. Either way getting her into jeans, sweaters, and long sleeve dresses has been a continual struggle. I get her dressed for school in in appropriate winter attire and the moment she walks back through the door her clothes go flying and it is back to her summer dresses. I fell in love with this jacquard dress on the Zara homepage and thought it might be a good transition piece. It is still a lightweight dress yet it has long sleeves. She actually liked the dress and now it has become a basic in her closet.

Hopefully, we have lots of needed rain this winter and these boots will get a ton of wear.

final_1.2 Jacquard Zara Dress // Hunter Boots

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> DIY: SUCCLULENT HOSTESS GIFTS / November 4, 2014
Written by Posted in Design Comments 1

final_2It is that time once again where the calendar starts to get booked with holiday parties, dinners parties and school events. My mom was the type of women who never to show up anywhere empty handed and so the importance of small gifts as a sign of gratitude is just as important to me as a hand written thank you note.

I love the idea of giving something green that will continue to grow and these small succulent tins are great for a kitchen window or even an office. They are small enough to carry out of the house and will survive long after the Holidays.

succletDIY Succulent Hostess Gifts:

I suggest making 3-6 of these at once and they can be stored in your house until they are needed. You can make a large enough batch to carry you though the whole Holiday season if needed. They only require water once ever week and a bit of sunlight.

Materials Needed:

Spray paint – color based on personal preference

Nail – for holes in the bottom of the tin

Tins – You can use anything from kitchen tins to full planters. I liked these small planters Zinc Norah Vases

Leaves & material to tie around the tin (ribbon/burlap rope)

Succulent – I buy my succulent at the SF Flowermart, but Home Depot or Loews has a great selection of succulent.

How to Assemble:

Remove the tins from the packaging and use small nail to create a few holes in the bottom of the vase so water can drain and succulent will not mold. Spray the tins and while they are drying spray the leaves (I used gold spray paint on my leaves for an extra pop of sparkle). Once they are dry, plant tins and tie on leave with burlap rope.

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> TRICK OR TREAT / October 30, 2014
Written by Posted in Eat + Drink Comments 1

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Trick or Treat!

I volunteered to bring treats to Strawberry Blonded class for her Halloween party. Carmel apples have always been “my” treat growing up and when I saw a photo of mini caramel apple bites I thought that those were worth a test in the kitchen. Truth be told, I have never made caramel and I want to make it as Holiday gifts so I thought this cooking project would be a great place to start perfecting my caramels for the Holidays and a fun idea for a Halloween party.

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Embarking on making caramel turned out to be really fun – I was shocked at how easy it was once I got the candy thermometer ($5 from the grocery store). And dipping these apples into chocolate, nuts and sprinkles was a great project for Strawberry Blonded. Cooking the caramel mixture was is a bit dangerous for kids because of the heat factor!

Quick tips on this receipt: Make sure apples are dry before dipping and they have the sticks inserted before you start dipping so that the caramel sticks on the apples. If there is moisture the caramel will slide off. Have dipping ready to go and everything stationed so that once the caramel is ready the dipping can start. You can make apple bites these ahead of time and refrigerate, but be sure to serve at room temperature.

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Roasted Chicken Noodle soup was a favorite of mine growing up and has quickly become a favorite in my household. Strawberry Blonded loves chicken noodle and we have fun picking out noodles such as alphabet noodles or “car wheels” (as shown in the picture). What really gets me excited about cooking soup is the smell of homemade chicken noodle on the stove on a cold wet winter day.

When I am making roasted chicken noodle soup, I tend to have roaster chicken the night before for dinner and make the soup the following days with the left-over chicken and boil down the bones for homemade chicken stock. If I am in a hurry, I use a pre-cooked chicken and remove the meat for the soup and bones for the stock.

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Chicken Stock: 2 roasted chicken carcasses // 4 carrots (cut in haft and peeled) // 4 stocks of celery // 1/2 peeled onions // 5 cloves of garlic // tbs of salt /pepper // water

Pull off chicken and set aside. Throw the carcasses on a pot with carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Fill the pot with water and add salt/pepper. Cook on medium for one hour and then strain to remove all chicken/vegetable parts leaving just pure chicken stock. If you have time you can refrigerate the broth overnight and remove the top layer of fat. If you are making the broth while the soup is cooking you can transfer right away to your soup pot.

Roasted Chicken Noodle Soup:

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Keep warm and dry and enjoy!

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Having two children on my own, while I am out on maternity leave has had moments of real frustration followed by overwhelming sense of accomplishment when both children smile at the same time. This merry-go-round is a constant, moments of control followed only seconds later of total chaos. I am finding that the chaos kicks up a notch after a long morning inside the apartment. So I am always looking for outings, fresh air and a place to let Gjelina run wild. Ocean Beach seemed to be a great solution for a foggy morning. I have always found the ocean breeze calming and living in San Francisco, foggy mornings are just part of what makes this city great. The landscape at Ocean Beach allows kids to kick off their shoes and run along the large sand beach while misty surf spray fills the air.

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Working with the weather is just part of this city and so on this foggy morning, I bundled up Strawberry Blonded in her new Zara Military jacket. She referred to this new jacket as her ‘lion coat’ due to the fur around the hood and I instantly fell for the gold zipper and snaps. I grabbed one of her chucky hats from Zara as well to keep her ears warm and her hair out of her face while she ran wild at the beach.

Strawberry Blonded insist on wearing dresses year round so my solution to this request has been tights and leggings. She also is particular and does not like the feet on traditional tights so I have to find tights with open feet. Luna Leggings are a great solution to the need for leggings. They are organic cotton and super warm – not to mention stylish. Although when we left the house Gjelina had on her fall boots, the moment her feet hit the sand . . . . shoes went flying for the opportunity to have sand between her toes.

//Zara Knit Hat //Zara Parka with Fur //Arrows Luna Leggins //

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“Write it on your heart that everyday is the best day in the year” Emerson

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