Tuesday, September 25, 2012

San Francisco Get-Away

DH and I took a fabulous little vacation to San Francisco and Napa Valley a couple of weeks ago and had wonderful time.  I've been longing to explore both SF and NV upon hearing friends' raving reviews.  After a somewhat stressful year, DH and I both needed to get out of town and preferably to a destination with some romance and cool weather! 

We are so lucky to have friends that live all over the country who invite us to come visit and vacay.  This year, we visited my friend Jenny and her wonderful family who live in the Napa Valley area.  Don't worry, Jill and Angela, we plan to visit you very soon as well!  I know you can't wait! ;)

Deciding we couldn't waste the chance to see San Francisco while out west, I booked us a room at the Hotel Monaco - a Kimpton hotel.  It's a boutique hotel with lots of style, fantastic service and great amenities, even if it is a bit small.

Although we had a short time in the city, we were able to see most of the high points via a hop-on-hop-off bus tour.  A couple of people had recommended this to me before we left and it was definitely the way to go! 

DH in Chinatown, looking uphill!  In San Fran, there's only uphill and downhill.  Not much level ground!  You may think that there would only be cheapie stores in Chinatown - not so!  I browsed stores with very expensive items from all over the world.  Let's just say that some of the retailers were a little agressive...

View from my seat in the open-top bus!  It was quite a foggy day - we couldn't even see the top of the Golden Gate bridge.  By the way, it was VERY cold on the top of this bus.  I made the mistake of forgetting my sweater that afternoon - DH and I snuggled together for some warmth, but I was still freezing!

The beautiful Victorian homes in San Francisco.  It's my dream to live in a historic home and these are just gorgeous!  Each time I saw another 'painted lady' (as they are called), I snapped yet another photo.

Isn't DH cute when I force him to pose on a cable car?

We didn't have time to tour Alcatraz, but could see it from Fisherman's Wharf.

I did end up purchasing a pashmina - it seems you can buy one off of every street corner - to warm up.  I couldn't bring myself to buy one of the $20 SF jackets the retailers sell to freezing tourists.

Since we had a car, we couldn't resist driving down Lombard Street - the "crookedest street in the world."  It is a famous, stuper-steep and winding road.  Let's put it this way - there were tourists photographing us navigating the narrow street!  A photo from the bottom...

Um, yes, I drove that!

After a scrumptious dinner at Michael Mina's Bourbon Steak of duck-fat fries (delish), truffled mac and cheese (unforgettable), scallops and steak, we headed on over to the Starlight Room at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel.  Fantastic views and strong cocktails were a fabulous end to our night in San Francisco.

Napa Valley To Be Continued....

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tips from the 'guide to life as it should be'

One of my favorite books is Colin Cowie Chic, 'the guide to life as it should be'.  It's a modern-day Emily Post meets David Hicks mixed with some Dorothy Draper and a healthy dose of Valentino.  This particular recipe just curls my toes.

In this masterful 'how to' book, Cowie tells us exactly how to live a chic life.  He includes advice on entertaining, decorating and travelling with a flair.  I have read the book a few times and often reference it for life's little quandries. 

With a particular houseguest question in mind, I picked it up today after returning from my vacation in San Franciso and Napa Valley with DH.  While on vacay, we stayed with my friend of seven years, Jenny F.  Her family just moved to that area and it was so wonderful to see her, her husband, Michael, and their adorable boys, Jack, Luke and baby Ryan.  More on the trip later!

Just before leaving Jenny's house, I debated on whether or not it was proper to make the bed or strip it and take the sheets downstairs to the laundry room...  Not knowing which was the proper thing to do, I decided to make the bed.  What if she didn't want to deal with washing those sheets today?  We're close enough friends that either would have been fine, but I wanted to know which was considered proper ettiquette.

Upon referencing Colin Cowie Chic, I discovered that I had made the right choice.  Phew!  I really hate to make a social faux-pas and will kick myself over it for quite a while. 

But Cowie has not only guided me on social ettiquette, he has provided lots of fantastic tips that I love to incorporate in my very own chic life. 

A particular favorite tip from Cowie is a thoughtful and chic way to enjoy a gifted bottle of wine.  Write the giver's name on the bottle and the occasion.  When you open it, you'll remember the gesture and can toast the giver!  This particular bottle was given to us by my dear friend, Nick, for DH's birthday.

If you are geeky about hosting, decorating and entertaining fabulously, you will love Colin Cowie Chic!