“Two redheads walk into a bar…”

June 26, 2015

…which happens to be on a boat!

I know this sounds like the opener to a horribly crass joke, but really it’s… the opener to a relaxing afternoon involving wine, cheese, and a lot of oceanic creatures!

Let me explain.

When Wanderable, the adorably hip honeymoon registry site that also offers activities for those who are pre-engagement (read: dating) or pre-pre-pre-engagement (read: single and hanging out with friends on the weekends), offers to send you on a San Francisco activity, you say yes.

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And then when you peruse the options and see a Wine Therapy Tour on the Bay, you say “YES!”

Seeing as I am a (happily? willingly? decidedly?) single lady, I brought a dear friend along for the ride while exploring the best this wine cruise had to offer. We got all gussied up (She was even wearing wedges! What a classy date.), took a Lyft over to Pier 39, dodged tourists with toddlers in tow, and asked a nice security guard where Dock I was.

Well, first, I had to remember the word for “dock.” And this was before the wine cruise, people.

Once we’d found the correct gate, we joined the other passengers who were clearly awaiting their maiden voyage on the Neptune.

Bobby the First Mate came to retrieve us, checked us off the list on his clipboard, and we were on our way to adventure!

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One thing you need to know about Pier 39? It is covered in sea lions.

This is the place, actually, where tourists come from far and wide (like Topeka!) to view them in person. They are gigantic, slithering, slick from the water, shining in the sun, and undulating on the dock whilst constantly readjusting their positions and pushing each other back into the bay.

I probably could have just sat on a boat all day and watched these guys, but we had other sights to see.

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Melissa, our cruise director for the day (conveniently married to Captain Kevin – it’s a family affair), told us all about where she buys the wines from, how to put our wine glasses down properly while on the boat, and what kinds of cheeses were on offer for us that day, while the captain steered us skillfully out of the marina.

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First, we went past the famous Pier 39 sea lions, as seen above. Then we carried on towards another small inlet on San Francisco’s coastline, housing historical ships and military boats, and giving us a spectacular view of the city’s skyline on this clear blue day.

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We saw more, and more, and more sea lions. I tell you, it’s an invasion! One that I happily welcome. They are probably not as friendly as I imagine them to be, but from the safety of the Neptune, I was enthralled.

(Can you spot them below?)

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We went past Ghirardelli Square and turned left, heading out towards Alcatraz. Normally the tour goes up under the Golden Gate Bridge, they told us, allowing a different view of that iconic San Franciscan marvel – unfortunately, it was too choppy for us to go that far that day, so we stuck to tooling around the inside of the Bay.

(Maybe it’s because I live in the area and drive over the bridge multiple times a month, but I didn’t feel the detour took away from the itinerary at all. We still had lovely views of the city, as you’ll see.)

As we neared Alcatraz, we got to witness an oil tanker being accompanied through the pass by the Coast Guard escort. I’ve never really thought about oil tankers needing an escort before, but it was nice to see everyone doing their job accordingly!

(Shrug.)

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We noshed on the cheese and crackers with Melissa offering us tastings of a variety of wines (all from small, local wineries) whenever our cups got low and Bobby the First Mate volunteering to take as many snapshots of us as we desired.

Luckily, Rachel and I have perfected the art of photographing each other, so we got plenty of candid shots too without making Bobby be our indentured servant for the day. We wanted to spread the wealth amongst the rest of our tour, which consisted of a couple on their anniversary, an older man and woman, and a couple who seemed to be honeymooning.

It was a quiet, relaxed group – everyone was friendly, but there was no forced mingling, and everyone was free to enjoy the boat ride as they pleased.

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We began circling around Alcatraz (which I learned was only a federal prison from 1933 to 1963! Such a short career…) and it was slightly surreal to look at the abandoned structures and sheer cliffs and remember that not too many decades ago, people were actually imprisoned on The Rock.

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We made a full loop around the craggy island and headed south again towards the Bay Bridge and AT&T Park.

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(After getting a refill or two, of course!)

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We ran into new friends along the way – this friendly chap encouraged us along while sunning himself pleasantly. And there was the sailor too!

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(That’s a little seagull joke for you.)

Did I mention that we were being serenaded by the classics for the duration of the 90 minute cruise? Sinatra, Elvis, Sammy Davis Jr., Tony Bennett… all crooned and swooned as we gazed out the windows of the Neptune, transporting us back through time and space.

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Honestly, the highlight for me was when “Lights” by Journey came on at the exact moment we pulled into McCovey Cove. It could not have been a more perfect San Francisco memory.

When the lights go down in the city
And the sun shines on the Bay
Oh I want to be there in my city…

And just at the time when you think to yourself, “Alright, this is gorgeous, but I probably shouldn’t drink any more wine this afternoon if I’m going to be productive,” the boat makes a steady turn, you find yourself sailing past those now-familiar sea lions, and the Neptune has brought you back home again.

 

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Thank you so much to Wanderable for sponsoring our lovely afternoon on the water, and thank you to Melissa, Kevin, and Bobby for showing us a fabulous time on the Neptune! Though this tour was provided free of charge, all opinions are my own. 

High Five for Friday, vol. 10

June 19, 2015

(Follow my blog with Bloglovin)

Somehow, it always takes me a couple of weeks to get back into the swing of things from a vacation.

At least, that’s what I’m telling myself this week!

Have you ever felt that way? A vacation or a long weekend can be a wonderful reprieve from the day-to-day routine, but other times it just makes getting back into that routine even more difficult. Whether it’s because you’re physically exhausted, wishing you were on an island somewhere, or just overwhelmed by work that piled up in your absence, sometimes it’s hard to remember the joys of a trip when you’re returning to the real world.

UntitledAll of that is to say, I’m still getting my ducks in a row after our family’s trip to DC. I can’t wait to share pictures and stories with you! Look for that sometime next week.

High Five

I had two major high moments this week – first, I know I keep saying it, but I really am so touched by your responses to Monday’s post! It’s nice to see I’m not the only one feeling like that, and I’m glad now maybe some of you feel comfortable talking about it too! You know where to find me.

The second major high of the week was a discussion I had with a few fellow bloggers and lady entrepreneurs from across the country… it really inspired me to take a look at the direction in which this blog is going, to jumpstart my knitting for the year, and to aspire to great things in general! I can’t wait to put some of these ideas into action.

Low Five

My low five this week is a major lack of sleep. I blame this on Orange is the New Black. (Have you seen? Do you love?)

Your Five

– I love this advice by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about not trying so hard to be likable at the expense of being honest and genuine.

– BRB I have to go buy all of these Harry Potter candles.

– We’ve all heard about the dangers of being too sedentary, but now here are some pro tips about how to counteract that. Lord knows I need them!

– I am a perpetual shopper, and I love my stuff dearly, but I really like the idea of this 5-Piece French Wardrobe. It really forces you to buy quality pieces, and not to get sucked into flash trends!

– This Onion article about San Francisco needing to move out of San Francisco due to rising rents is only funny because it’s so sadly close to being true. Womp womp.

It’s supposed to be beautiful this weekend! I hope you all enjoy some time this Father’s Day with your family and friends.

A comfort food you can count on.

June 18, 2015

Does anyone need a Xanax after that last post? Y’all ok?

(Truly though, thank you so much for your kind words – it’s nice to know I’m not the only almost-30-something who feels this way!)

But now, it’s time to bring the mood up again, and what better way than with a comfort food as old as mankind?

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I’m talking about NOODLE SOUP, people. Since the first time a caveman (or woman, it was probably a woman) dropped a potato in a pot of water, people have turned to soup for nourishment, tradition, and just a good old “warms me up inside” feeling.

And it doesn’t hurt that carbs are a time-honored comfort food of human beings everywhere, so this recipe is the perfect combination.

This soup is so easy that you’ll be amazed how often you turn to it for a last-minute meal. Unlike other soups that really should simmer for hours to get the flavors mixed, this is a pseudo-ramen-pho masterpiece that uses fresh ingredients and pre-made broth. Hey, we’re not cavewomen, we don’t have hours to kill sitting around a fire.

Ingredients (serves 2): 

1 carton chicken broth / one-half diced white onion / 2 diced green onions (scallions) / 2-3 chopped garlic cloves / one package udon noodles (approx 0.25 lb per person) / 1 egg per person / basil, mint, spinach leaves / sriracha, lime, olive oil

If you want to swap out the udon noodles for something more delicate like vermicelli rice noodles, go right ahead. That sounds delicious too!

Read the rest of the post to find out how these all come together… Read More

This semi-charmed kind of life.

June 15, 2015

Honestly, friends, this started out in my mind as a much different post.

(For one thing, there were going to be a lot more puns centered around the Halliwells and Third-Eye-Blind. And maybe something about the new reboot of The Craft.)

This was going to be a jokey mess about the perils of wearing too much leather in your later years and being confused for a gothic tween or a New Yorker rebelling against the conformity of Californian fashion (that is to say: flip flops.)

Instead, if I’m being completely honest – and hey, it’s the internet, why shouldn’t I bare my soul to the masses? – I would tell you that I’ve been having a bit of a life crisis over here.

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Maybe “crisis” is the wrong word, but it lends a bit more dramatic flair than “I’ve been having the urge to eat everything in sight and then go to the gym just for the endorphins and also I want to binge-watch every horrible CW television show and shirk my duties and thanks for asking I’m just a bit stressed.” That just sounds nutty.

Essentially, I’ve been hitting the point in the past couple of months that I think almost everyone hits at some time in life: the one where you get the feeling that everyone else is more accomplished than you are. That everyone else is more stable than you are. That somehow, magically, all of your friends and coworkers have everything figured out and were given some sort of “life stage handbook” that they forgot to print out for you.

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This feeling is, of course, conveniently timed with my contract ending and wedding season beginning for the summer. There are lots of “I need a job and a boyfriend and oh yeah they just sold our building” jokes running around these parts.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

I’d say what bothers me the most is that I’ve never felt this way. I’ve had other friends have great accomplishments before and been so genuinely happy for them! I’ve had friends be meeting great partners and going out to fun events, while I was single and felt like my closest friends were hundreds of miles away, and I was still sincerely pleased that their lives were moving forward. I’ve always believed that you shouldn’t begrudge anyone else their successes – they have nothing to do with you, so why bother sulking?

Oh, how wrong I was.

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I’m not saying you should resent someone for any forward momentum. Rather, that I now understand that feeling of being left behind that can cause any rational human to sulk it up a bit at their local Starbucks with a gigantic frappuccino.

I now get why there are so many sitcoms and romcoms and just straight up coms (comedies, please) about adult-children who are still struggling to get it together when their peers are having their second babies and paying mortgages and worrying about organic produce for their progeny.

If I buy organic produce, I feel like my adulthood quotient has been filled for the week (“I’m feeding myself healthily, y’all!”) and I am almost overly proud of myself.

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Now I’ve entered the stage where multiple friends are getting engaged and married and moving in together and buying their own houses and getting promotions and taking their companies to the next level, and so on and so forth. It seems like so many fantastic things are happening for my peers, my friends, and I am truly happy for them all. But I’m also a little bit…jealous, a little bit anxious about it, and that’s new for me.

There’s a feeling of being happy for them while also questioning myself and my progress in life.

But, here’s the thing: I now realize that we’re all there. We’re all feeling that way (to some extent!)

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This life phase is just that – a life phase. There’s some uniformity about it for everyone. While I’m sitting here feeling like I’m struggling to keep up, others may look at me and think, “Wow, she went to graduate school. She passed the Bar. She sure has her ducks in a row!”

You just don’t ever know what someone else sees when they look at you. And what they do see, how they do think of you, just might surprise and delight you!

“A rising tide floats all boats.”

If you have people around you who are genuine, kind, caring people, who are the sorts that you consider lifelong friends, you have to remember that they won’t ever really leave you behind. You may feel stagnant at this place in your life, but your friends probably don’t see you that way.

Everyone is dealing with his or her own struggle, their own life path, and I haven’t met a single person yet who doesn’t question some of the life choices he or she has made to get where they are. People understand this sentiment, as much as it may seem that they don’t.

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In Under the Tuscan Sun (a classic around our apartment in college), one character says to another,

“Listen, when I was a little girl I used to spend hours looking for ladybugs. Finally, I’d just give up and fall asleep in the grass. When I woke up, they were crawling all over me.”

You don’t necessarily get to choose when these big moments in life happen. You can work towards things, you can put energy into achieving your goals, but the biggest moments are the ones that take you by surprise. You just have to have some amount of faith in the universe that these things will come about for you too…and continue working on and towards those goals that you can control!

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In the end, your relationships might change as your life paths differ, but the good friends will never make you feel badly about that. The good friends will try to help you, lift you up, remind you of your strengths, and that everyone has gone through these spells.

(That was a little witchy humor for you.)

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And, when the time comes, they might even let you babysit their super cute kids for an afternoon and then give them back at the end of the night when they’re tired and crabby.

(Now that’s just living the dream, isn’t it?)

 

—–

jacket | Nordstrom (similar here, here, and here)
dress | Uniqlo (similar here and here)
boots | Rag & Bone (similar)
tote | MZ Wallace (similar here and here)
necklace | Rocksbox (similar here and here)
sunglasses | Ray-Ban (similar)

High Five for Friday, vol. 9

June 13, 2015

This week was a doozy, y’all!

Between catching up on sleep from DC, catching up on work that I missed, and diving headfirst into the job hunt (not to mention book club, wine night with Rachel, and trying to go to bed before 10:30 each night), this week felt exhausting.

IMG_3323But, you know what they say – “if you want to get something done, give it to a busy person!”

Sometimes you need that extra scheduling push to make sure you fit everything in, and this week was no exception.

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This week’s high five had to be book club on Wednesday. We had a new member (hey Liz!), everyone seemed to like (or at least tolerate) the book, and there were margaritas involved. Who needs more than that for a weeknight friend date?

Low Five

With all that was going on this week, I found it really hard to stay motivated to work out. I went running once by myself, bailed twice after I’d said I would go after work, and then went once with a coworker only because she was there for the moral support. Somehow I need to come up with a better system for making sure I follow through – maybe gold stars?

…And now, some things for you!

– Speaking of fitness, I found this article really interesting on whether you should sacrifice sleep for more early morning work outs (hint: you shouldn’t!)

– Think this mug would help me wake up in the morning?

– Articles on travel are always inspiring, but this one on the 10 ways travel changed Jinna Yang of Grease and Glamour fame was a great read!

– Looking for a healthy (but not totally rabbit-feeling) salad? This lentil & tofu one looks and sounds delicious.

– This wicker crab purse by the ever-talented Kate Spade is so perfect for summer. Like, so perfect.

It’s gorgeous in San Francisco this weekend, and I’m off on a fun mini-adventure tomorrow that (hopefully) I’ll get to tell you all about next week! Enjoy your weekend, lovelies.

 

Lemon chicken and summer squash

June 10, 2015

Don’t worry guys – I’m not going to talk about the weather in this post. But really, can you believe it’s raining in SF right now? I SWEAR!

I do have a slight confession though: these pictures from a meal I cooked with my mom at home are a couple of months old. And, seeing as my mom is all about the seasonal produce and the fresh organic whatever and the yadda yadda, we used an acorn squash.

Which I just realized last night is a winter squash. Quel horreur!

I promise, these recipes are still delicious enough to be in your repertoire year-round, even if you have to switch up some of the base ingredients depending on what veggies you can get in your little chefs hands.

Lemon Chicken

Ingredients: 5 chicken breasts, 5 drumsticks / Flour, salt, pepper / Thyme, herbs de Provence (you can usually get this mix at the grocery store), rosemary / 2 lemons / 2-3 large shallots, 8 garlic cloves / olive oil / half-cup Vermouth.

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Wash and pat dry the chicken, then roll in a mixture of flour, salt, pepper, thyme, and herbs de Provence so both sides are coated lightly.

Lightly drizzle olive oil on top (a cooking spray of olive oil works just fine here too) and put rosemary and lemon wedges on top.

Add sliced shallots and 8 peeled garlic cloves to the mix.

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Pour the 1/2 cup Vermouth over the top.

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes then open the oven door and, without burning any vital parts of your fingers, baste with the juices. This can be done with a large serving spoon if you don’t have a baster (but you should get one, they’re fun!)

Use tongs or a large spoon to turn the pieces over, then cook for another 30 minutes.

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This may look a bit of a mess since you’ve been basting and turning, but I promise it will be the most delicious mess you’ve ever eaten.

Well, one that involves chicken, at least.

Summer Acorn Squash

Ingredients: Squash of your choosing, half per person / butter / rosemary / salt, pepper

Cut each squash in half and leave in their skins, but dig out the insides and seeds.

Put a (generous) slice of butter and a sprig of rosemary in the middle of each. Add ground salt and pepper.

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Place in a pan suitable for cooking and add a full cup of water to the bottom of the pan. Cover the pan with tin foil.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour at 400 degrees. When you remove the squash it should be soft enough to scoop out with a spoon, but not overdone.

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Now friends, go forth and roast things! I know this may not be tempting when it’s 95 degrees out, but just pretend it’s a barbeque or something. You can do it. You won’t be sorry.

Still Fall-ing into Spring

June 8, 2015

This may be a short post today, since I’m still recovering from last week’s trip to DC and Lexington, Virginia for a family wedding.

(Did you follow along? Have you spent time on the East Coast?)

And, much to my own chagrin, I’m going to talk about the weather.

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Because, you see, this is California. And in California the weather is seventy-five and sunny every day from April until October. You’d think, right?

Oh, and we all surf to work.

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The very sad truth is that in San Francisco, none of the usual rules apply. Down in Palo Alto, or over in Oakland, the weather follows pretty typical patterns, and they have gorgeous days for picnicking and sailing and running and drinking outside and generally just absorbing Vitamin D from the atmosphere.

In San Francisco, the summers are grey, cold, and windy like you wouldn’t believe. And our October is a heat wave of epic climate-change proportions.

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What does this mean, you might ask? Well, it means that when I packed for DC last weekend, everyone said to expect “heat and humidity and don’t even bother bringing a sweater because it might rain but it’s more like a drizzling tropical rain than a hard, wet, soaking rain.”

So, of course, my family brought the overcast skies with us, and I had to wear the same pair of pants and same sweater many times over so that I wouldn’t freeze to death in the 61 degree temperatures.

The horror!

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There’s a saying that goes,

“The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”

Well, this outfit was shot right before I left, during said cold San Francisco summer.

To be blunt: I’m big on color. I like to think of it as my thing. Combining complimentary shades and trying to make them work together in surprising ways? That’s fun for me.

For example, the rust red and the moss green go pretty well together because they’re so earthy, but does the turquoise and neon pink clutch fit in? Does the black stand out too much, or pull the look together as a neutral? Would it have been better if the clutch were black too?

I’ll keep experimenting, and you can keep me accountable if any outfits get too ridiculous.

Just remember: it might look silly for a summer to you, but it’s probably keeping me from freezing to death out here.

 

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sweater | Aritzia, out of season (similar)
lace tee | Anthropologie, sold out (similar)
denim | 1969 Gap Always Skinny jeans
heels | Zara, from Poshmark (similar here and here)
clutch | Deux Lux (similar)

Mission: Make Pasta Healthy

June 4, 2015

Have you seen The Newsroom? Do you remember when Will McAvoy went on his “mission to civilize“?

Well, I have a mission too, and it is possibly the most important undertaking of my 29 year old life.

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I’m on a mission to make pasta healthy.

If you’ve been following along at all, you know how often I carboload throughout the week. That is: too often. But sometimes I avail myself of a delicious linguine or fettuccine or tagliatelle packed to the proverbial gills with vegetables and a splash of heart-healthy olive oil and I feel slightly less food-guilty about eating that three nights in a row.

Want to learn how? It’s not hard!

Read More

Maxi-mizing your look

June 3, 2015

This may come as a surprise, but I don’t necessarily consider myself a “girly girl.”

I know, I know. You’re thinking, “but Maddy! You have a shoe obsession bordering on Imelda Marcos level! You have more mascaras than I can count on two hands! You take pictures of outfits and post them on the internet!”

And, you’d be right — these are all stereotypical “girly” things. And they’re all authentic “Maddy” things! So what’s the problem?

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Hey, who knows. Everyone sees themselves differently, for better and for worse. Maybe it’s because I’m not stick-thin like other women I perceive to be more feminine. Maybe it’s because I always played sports in high school and felt perfectly comfortable in that space. Maybe it’s just because I can be loud and chatty and a bit sarcastic.

All I know is that when I reach for outfits that make me feel comfortable and cute, they are usually involving pants. Probably boots. And definitely some kind of boxy, flowy top.

These, however, are not always the most flattering looks. I feel like I’m missing out on dressing the best way for my body, simply because I’m nervous to be seen as trying too hard.

But who says trying hard is a bad thing?

Since I don’t view myself as someone who exudes this girlyness (regardless of how hard my friends may laugh at this thought), I already have to put more effort into making my outfits more exciting than “pair of jeans and sweater #1; pair of black jeans and sweater #2; pair of jeans and sweater #1 with boots #1.”

So would it kill me to appear that I’m actually meaning to look pulled together, and a bit dressy, and slightly more delicate? Probably not.

Consider this me, trying:

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My goal this year is to feel more comfortable wearing skirts and dresses in everyday life. Not just on the blog, and not just for nice occasions, but just because I feel like being a little more “girly” than normal.

Stay tuned for all of the dresses and skirts. There are going to be hundreds. Millions! Give or take.

(My first completed action item in this mission? Picking up a few pieces from the recent LOFT Memorial Day sale. Hopefully as this post goes live, I’m wearing one on my DC trip right now!)

 

—–

skirt | Zebra maxi skirt by LOFT (similar)
sweater | J.Crew, out of season (similar)
pink collared shirt | H&M, out of season (similar)
bag | Madewell, out of season (similar)
shoes | Zara, out of season (similar)
sunglasses | H&M (similar)
lipstick | Sephora brand

Pica-ing Up Arepas at Pica Pica

June 2, 2015

(You know I can never turn down the opportunity for a new pun.)

Pica Pica is one of those restaurants that, quite frankly, is a little too unassuming for how great the food actually is.

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I went there with a friend on a whim for a midday bite, not quite expecting the feast that ensued.

(…the 100% gluten-free guaranteed feast, I should say.)

For a restaurant that has such a large variety of entrés, perfectly-cooked yucca fries, and several house made frescas on the menu every day, you would think they would do some extra bragging about it!

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I love any restaurant that uses puns in its decor…

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Rachel and I got some yucca fries while we waited for the main event, and if you know me at all, you know I love buying and trying strange drinks so I had to indulge myself in one of their homemade fruit drinks. The Coconut Lime fresca did not disappoint!

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I only wish it had been larger.

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Finally, my grilled chicken arepa (a hand-held food pocket made of ground corn and cooked to be crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, like a warm Venezuelan sandwich bread) arrived! And there was rejoicing!

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Rachel got the Vegetariano, with avocado, plantains, and cilantro-marinated tofu.

I’m not even vegetarian, and it still looked amazing.

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Who could know that on this little corner of 15th and Valencia, steps from Four Barrel coffee and across the street from Little Star Pizza, lies an establishment that packs such a flavorful punch?

Next time, I’m getting the crispy chicken arepa. Or maybe the pulled pork. And the tres empanadas! And a yuca beignet – I can’t believe I didn’t get a yuca beignet.

Alright, it is written. Pica Pica is a place that I entered with no expectations, and when I left, I couldn’t imagine knowing San Franciscan life without it.

Who wants to go with me next time?

 

Pica Pica
401 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
11am – 10pm daily

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