Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson dies

Before there was Dan, there was Michael. Michael Jackson was the first man I wanted to marry. During the Thriller era, I used to wear a pin bearing his face pinned close to my heart.

Years went on, and I moved on to other men who could possibly be my marrying type....Bret Michaels, Vince Neil, Chris O'Donnell, Brad Pitt (Legends of the Fall era--yum). Eventually I decided on Dan. But Michael was my first.

RIP to my first love.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The High Line

This week, on the one nice sunny day of this entire month, I checked out The High Line, the newest attraction in New York City. Running through the Meatpacking District, the High Line is an elevated park that has been created using an old train line. At this point, only a small section is open from Gansevoort St to W20th, but it will eventually go up all the way to W34th St. If you go, remember to take your fancy camera. Nearly every person walking on it has one. I just had my point and shoot with me, so I was dealing with some major camera envy.

The park consists of a long walkway surrounded by natural flowers. The railroad tracks have become part of the garden design.

There is a bunch of modern-style benches and patio furniture so you can lay out midst the flowers and buildings.

The whole place has a very zen, Japanese garden, modern feel and yet there are towering city buildings all around you. My favorite part were these wooden stadium stairs where you can sit and relax--to a point. The kids in the park trampled up and down the stairs like it was a big jungle gym. What is everyone watching?

Why the traffic, of course. A giant window overlooks the street, so watching a man hail a cab feels like watching reality "art."

I really enjoyed the juxtaposition of beauty and gritty.

The panes of the glass are inspired by the colors of the Hudson River.

You got such an interesting perspective of the city below. Here I caught a glimpse of what looks like a fashion shoot.

The end of the path (for now).

Old yellow

I wish I were a fashionista. But I'm really not. On a day to day basis, I have got my uniform. However, on special occasions, I really like to go all out. I admire the qualities of the little black dress, but when it comes to evening wear I like to stick out.

My most memorable dress was a little yellow number made by Laundry by Shelli Segal I wore to Chris and Cyndi's wedding a few years ago. This was my first time meeting the bride and groom and a few of Dan's college friends from LA. I can super shy and awkward when I first meet people, especially in big groups and parties, so I don't think I said very much that weekend. But I wore that yellow dress and so everyone had something nice to say to me. Years later, I still hear about old yellow.

The problem with a dress like that is that it's so distinctive, you can never wear it again. Since then, I have been to a bunch of weddings with these LA friends (and at each wedding, someone inevitably brings up yellow). Finally, three years later, I was finally able to pull the dress out of the closet for Nien and Kim's wedding, where no one from the other wedding would be in attendance.

Here's me in yellow at Cyndi and Chris' wedding.

First of all, I can't believe I let my hair dresser do that to my hair. She wanted to do something different, and as always, I was like sure! I wasn't a fan then, I really hate it in retrospect. I complemented the dress with gold and brown accents--gold shoes, gold and brown earrings and brown scarf. I found a purse that matched the dress exactly. My red lips and nails, and quite frankly, the whole look, was inspired by Michelle Williams at the Oscars.

Here's me at Nien and Kim's wedding. Even though the dress is stunning on its own, I REALLY wanted to wear a feather hairpiece. I have been obsessed with these things, especially after seeing these models wearing them with bridesmaid dresses. (Sadly, I don't think I could ever convince my sister, my only bridesmaid, to wear one at my wedding).

It took me three purchases to find the look I was going for. I finally found the one for $7 at this random jewelry store in the garment district. I matched it with black shoes and black earrings. I toned down my make-up because I thought the feathers and red lips would be too much. I have to say, this time I got more compliments about the feathers than the dress.

Which style do you like better?

P.S. Apologies to my male readers who probably thought this entry was boring and shallow. I know my female readers will get it. Though if you are female and thought it was boring and shallow, too--well, that's too bad.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Kim and Nien's Wedding

This weekend, our friends Kim and Nien got married. Dan originally knows Nien from his California days, and he plays poker with these two every Tuesday night.

The weekend started on Friday, with a bachelor party, a night of debauchery that Dan participated in.

Saturday evening, the couple hosted a pre-wedding party at 1920s speakeasy for all the guests. Apparently, speakeasies are all the rage in
NYC right now. I like a trend that supports classy looking bars that serves old-fashioned cocktails. If it wasn't for Dan, I would have never found the place. There is no sign outside and to get into the bar, you have to walk down a stairwell that looks like you are walking into a garbage dump. Usually, you give a secret code at the door at these places. Our code: "Um, we're here for Kim and Nien's party." We were escorted right in and indulged ourselves with lots of (perhaps too many) cocktails, hors d'oeurves and good company (the rest of Dan's poker buddies). Dan lost half of his voice by the end of the night, which ended late at a diner nearby.

Dan sticks out his tongue at my guns.

Dan tries to lick bride-to-be Kim's ear. (Not sure why all the tongue).

Dan attempts to take a group shot. Takes a good picture of mirror instead.

Dan, me, Tom, Kayleen and Julien.

Dan and Julien, silly by the end of the night.

Nien and Kim booked their Sunday wedding over a year and half ago at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (yeah, there is an insane waiting list). While I had been to the gardens before, this was my first time attending a wedding there and I could see why it was so popular. Even though the event had to take place indoors because of the rain, it was a stunning location. The ballroom, where both the ceremony and later the dinner and dancing took place, felt like we were in a giant glasshouse. To go to the cocktail hour, we walked through a room full of bonsai trees. It was one of the most fancy weddings I have ever been to; many men were wearing tuxedos. The most memorable parts of the evening for me was the pulled pork sandwich appetizer (yum), the best man and fellow poker buddy Justin breaking out into song during his speech, and THREE different desserts (cookies, poached pears and cake)--now, that's my kind of wedding. And of course, the bride and groom were lovely to watch.

Me, sitting with Matthew, waiting for the ceremony to begin. Note Kayleen's awesome shoes. Only in my dreams can I wear high heels like that.

Kayleen and Julien during cocktail hour. At this point, we're dying to get some of the jumbo shrimp being passed around.

Dan, Julien, the groom Nien, Matthew, Kayleen and Jason.

Dan, me and my hair thing.

The only picture of the bride and groom together I took before my camera died. Lame, right? And it's the worst picture!

I kind of love this one Justin took that was posted on his Facebook page.

Friday, June 19, 2009

I love Bo Obama

...and his official White House portrait, which can be downloaded to a baseball card. Cute!

[Image from The White House]

Thursday, June 18, 2009

June Blues (and some pink!)

This has got to be the worst June ever in New York City. It has been cold and it rains every single day.

We had very similar weather six years ago right before Dan moved to New York City. I went to California to visit him in May only to come back to dreary, gray rainy weather. I remember that summer started getting warm in July and it only lasted two months. Shucks.

In sunnier news, Dan's brother David and his wife Monica had their baby girl yesterday. Michela Danielle was born June 17th 11:45 am at 9 lbs. 12 oz. and 21 inches long. We can't wait to meet her!

Here's grandma with little Michela, and Mom resting in the back.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Old and new

I am sorry that I have been a terrible blogger as of late. My news is same old. There's just really nothing new to report about job searching except that it absolutely sucks to not have a job (or be "in between assignments" as I like to say) and I don't really want to write about my feelings of inadequacy at the moment.

Some things in New York never change. Like these random white statues in Port Authority of an albino traveling family walking through a door. It is probably the ugliest piece of public art ever, but it is the perfect meeting place for people taking a bus into the city. I met my sister Annette there on Sunday for a belated birthday lunch and theater performance of 9 to 5.

And then some things do change. The city of New York recently created a pedestrian walkway in the middle of Times Square. Basically they just shut down a few blocks of Broadway and plopped a bunch of lawn chairs in the middle of the road. Most pedestrian walkways have nice cobble stones or flowers or something. This is the ugliest walkway ever. To me, there's nothing relaxing about laying out in the middle of Times Square in a lounge chair on the concrete floor, but maybe that is part of the charm.

Also, this weekend, Dan and I also had a really terrific meal with our (old) friends Stacy and Mike at this (new to us) tapas place called ALTA. One of of our best NYC dining experiences ever. Seriously.

That's all I have to report.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Michele, ma belle

Thanks to Facebook, in the last year, I have reconnected with one of my favorite people from high school, my friend Michele. When we were 14 years old and freshmen in high school, Michele and I sat next to each other in art class and we would amuse ourselves by drawing pictures of snails and french fries and aliens, which would make us erupt into giggles for reasons only we could comprehend. Michele is still a great artist and will be helping Dan and me with our save-the-dates for our wedding. They are going to be SO GREAT.

Michele and I like to hang out exclusively on Sundays (our day) where we do things like eat brunch or go to the movies or visit bake shops or giggle about things like snails and french fries and aliens.

This Sunday, we spent the day in Brooklyn. Her friend David came along for the ride.

We first stopped at the Renegade Craft Fair in Williamsburg. We bought matching snail pins (see above) and I got Dan an awesome t-shirt.

Michele is, and always has been, the type of person to pose with a painted Ronald Reagan "notorious" suitcase.

Then we took the bus all the way to Red Hook to visit baked, a very hip bakery that I have been dying to go to for about a year now. What took me so long? It's in the middle of freakin' nowhere. I asked Michele to go on a Sunday in February and she advised me that the winds were much too strong and cold that time of year, that summer was really the only time to go to Red Hook. The time is NOW people.

Here's Michele and David with the red velvet and oreo cupcakes. HEAVENLY. Michele and I also split a strawberry whoopie pie. There's no way that I will come here very often, so I think I really need to purchase the cookbook.

After wards, we walked over to this overcrowded, family-filled park in Red Hook that is lined with taco trucks. For $4 you can get a can of soda and the most delicious taco al pastor (or chicken or vegetarian or GOAT, whatever you fancy). But you must wait a gazillion years in line. As usual, anything cool in NYC is overrun with people.

It doesn't look like there are many people ahead of us, but each person ordered about twenty different taco combinations. On a beautiful, sunny warm day with good company, it was worth the wait.

$3 never tasted so good.

Then we walked to Cobble Hill to Michele's apartment. I especially loved that she lived right next to a stinky cheese store.

"My hallways sometimes smell like cheese," Michele said.

I didn't notice. Her place is adorable. The saddest part of the day was having to go home.

Friday, June 5, 2009

California Fruit

Dan and I have the same conversations over and over (does this happen to other couples?) and one of our old standbys is how the fruit on the East Coast sucks. I have only lived on the East Coast, so I don't know any different, but Dan tells me that the fruit here has no flavor, is never ripe enough and comes nowhere close to the juicy glory of California fruit.

I love fruit and buy a ton of it each week for us to eat, but I consume most of it. The only time Dan will eat it is if I prepare a fruit salad or cut up some pineapple or buy some overpriced grapes. Apples and pears, the staples of East Coast fruit, always remain untouched, and if he's feeling really motivated, he might peel an orange but undoubtedly he will express his disappointment about it which makes us have this conversation all over again.

I actually agree with him that the fruit in New York City isn't as fresh and is more expensive than the ones I ate in New Jersey, but I still think it's important for my diet to eat fruit so I suck it up and eat it anyway.

When we planned this trip to California, I was curious to see what the fuss was about so I suggested to Dan that we should try some California fruit during our trip.

"Oh, I can't vouch for San Francisco fruit," he said, "it's probably totally different."

To solve this problem, Dan asked his parents to bring up fruit from V-town when they came to visit us in the city. We got a nice helping of farmer fresh apricots, peaches, cherries, oranges and grapefruit from his grandparents' tree.
It was worth trekking the huge box of goodies home. Of course it tastes better! How could it not? But when we're done with it, I will still eat my East Coast fruit without complaining. I have got to eat fruit right?

Box of goodies with cherries on top.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Verdict?

So are Dan and I packing our bags and moving to San Francisco?

We both agree that we really like the city. I loved the food scene there. A lot of the food we ate was amazingly good and creatively put together, you could be inspired and well fed every day. The fact when we went to the grocery store, you could actually smell the fresh produce was amazing (on the east coast, you don't really smell anything since everything gets shipped there from afar).

I liked when Heidi and Wayne talked about the entrepreneur attitude of the city, how the people here feel like they can create their own business and their own lives, their way. I could help but smirk when Heidi called New York corporate America "dinosaurs." Yes I know!

The people here are so cool and it would be great to see them all the time. And you get so much so close...the ocean, the mountains, Napa, Tahoe and of course, V-town.

And yet, and yet...

It's not like we would be saving any money moving here. Apparently it is more expensive to live here than New York.

It was so freakin' cold. Not that New York City is super warm right now (WTF?--it's JUNE and it's 60 degrees!) but it was really chilly there and everyone around us was telling us how nice the weather was. Really? A bone tingling breeze in summer time is nice? At least New Yorkers acknowledge that our current 60-degree weather state is awful. It kind of made me sad to imagine that it would always be too cold to eat al fresco in the evening, one of my favorite things to do anywhere and I would never get to wear my cute summer dresses unless I left the city.

You might think this funny coming from a big city girl, but I feel so much safer in New York City than San Francisco. There are some crazy riff raff over there. At least our riff raff here keep to themselves. The city was pockets of really nice areas and then two blocks later, it's not nice at all. It actually reminded me of Brooklyn.

Lastly, because it's got to be more about weather and safety, I just didn't feel that excited about the city. I liked it. It was fun. I enjoyed everyone's company. But I want the feeling of butterflies in my stomach. I want to be in love. I still feel that way about New York sometimes (even after all these years), but I didn't really feel that connection.

So if the right opportunity came along, then we might change our mind and move to San Francisco. Never say never. But we're still going to look for our next landing spot.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Other things we did in San Francisco.

Rode the street car.

Had undoubtedly the best meal of the trip at Brenda's, a New Orleans style restaurant. Dan and I shared an omelette stuffed andouille sausage and cheese and a plate of one-inch thick pancakes filled with oats and cranberries and topped with fruit. AMAZING.

Record shopping. And then some more record shopping.

Went to the Musee Mecanique and played vintage carnival games.

Saw the Robert Frank "The Americans" photography exhibit at SF MOMA.

Had a really nice dinner at Woodhouse Fish Company. Besides being fairly reasonable (we got an appetizer, two dinners, one dessert and two drinks for like 70 bucks) and yummy, Dan was obsessed with the plasma screen inserted in a large ornate frame that showcased video of fishermen. It was like moving art.

Stopped and smelled the flowers. There were so many beautiful gardens and florists in the city.

Walked around the Marina, Union Square, the Mission.

Stopped into a fascinating store called Paxton Gate. There was a post for adults, but we liked the kids store better. The kids store had really cool games and science projects while the adult store was filled with stuffed mice and insects and other weird things.

Walked up the biggest, steepest hill I have ever walked in my life time. It was like walking up stairs....for a really long time. Dan started running up it but that didn't last long.

Rode the graffiti-covered buses and wondered how New York got so clean (or why SF is still so dirty).

Had a glass of wine at Balboa Cafe in the Marina, a place that has been around forever, where the bartenders wore white smocks.

Admired old cars. They were everywhere!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Scene from Zachary's Restaurant

UPDATE: See Dan's comment.

VALERIE: So your brother is going to have a baby soon.

DAN: Yes, in another month.

VALERIE: That's so crazy!

DAN: I know, I am going to be the godfather.

VALERIE: So are you excited to buy the baby some new gifts and toys?

DAN: (waves his hand) The baby doesn't want presents from me.

VALERIE: But you're the godfather.

DAN: I don't know what to get a baby.

VALERIE: Maybe you could send them a framed picture of yourself. They can hang it up in the nursery.

YVONNE: And it can say "The Godfather" on the frame.

DAN: (thinks it over and slowly nods his head) Yes, that sounds like something the baby will need.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Cali Crew

Well, I must say that if we ever decide to move to San Francisco, we'd definitely have a fun cast of characters to hang out with. This trip was a whirlwind of social activity, a chance to hang out with our friends here and see the city from their perspective.

Wayne and Heidi, by their house.

Ham readers may remember Wayne and Heidi from the wedding I was in last year. Wayne is a gifted photographer, marathon runner, and could win the "nicest guy of the year" award if such things exist. He works as a freelance online guy and also helps Heidi run her enormously successful 101cookbooks food web site. They reside on a quintessential Victorian home-clad San Francisco street and appear to live a life where their passions come first. They are true fans of San Francisco, and to me, represent the kind of life I am seeking: Working for yourself, doing what you love, and being a bigger fish in a smaller pond.

The couple treated us to lunch at Delfina Pizzeria, which unquestionably holds up to the New York pizza we're used to. I love that they ordered a plate of broccoli on the side, something Dan and I would never do, and it turned out to be broccoli fried in batter, topped with pepper and finely grated pecorino cheese. So. good. Afterwards, they took us to Bi-Rite Creamery which I read about in Bon Appetit as being one of the best ice cream shops in America on the plane ride home from this very trip. These people obviously know their food. I could get used living (and eating) like this.

On another day, Wayne took me on an informal walking tour of Hayes Valley, up a hill to an enormous church, and knowing my love of sweets, brought me to two bakeries: Miette which is really more of a Euro-style candy shop which sells average-tasting cupcakes and Tartine which has amazing jumbo-sized flaky croissants and what looked like an amazing whole lot more. I hope to go back there one day.


I was thrilled that I had the chance to catch up with my friend Megan on this trip. Before Megan moved to San Francisco, she and I worked at a magazine together and ours was an unlikely friendship. My first impression of the girl was a female frat boy (her nickname at work was Meg-a-phone because of her boisterous voice), but over time I came to fall in love the girl with her thunderous laugh, wicked sense of humor and thoughtful perspective on life. I was sad when she left NYC. Megan met us in the Mission at Velvet Cantina and seems to be doing well here with her career and boyfriend situation. She's all grown up now. Though the three of us downed two pitchers of margaritas during our time together which made for a pretty non-grown up next day. I swear, I am allergic to margaritas. Don't let me drink one ever again! They make me feel terrible!

The V-towners: Jim, Brad, Dan and Valerie

The non-V-towners: me, Ryan and Holly.

Most of Dan's high school friends reside in San Francisco, so we all got together for dinner, drinks and cannolli in North Beach. I have heard so much about Jim (aka Hurley), Brad, and Valerie, but I have only met each of them briefly so it was great to spend some time getting to know them. I felt an instant connection with Brad's fiance, Holly, who, just like me, works as a marketing freelancer also has a love of writing and books. She does some of the writing for Brad's online business, Weekend Sherpa, an e-newsletter that highlights the best of San Francisco's outdoor activities. Of course, the night was filled with stories about high school, Visalia and old times which made Dan really, really happy.

Have you ever seen Dan so excited??? This is how he looked all night.

Ryan, Dan and Valerie.

V-towner Valerie, her husband Ryan and their dog Luther live in San Mateo, a suburb of San Francisco, and they graciously let us stay with them the last two nights of our trip. We spent a much-needed lazy Saturday together where we went out for deep dish pizza at Zachary's, and then walked around Berkeley, which I found to be too hippie weird for me. Lucky for Dan, there were a few record stores to keep us busy. In the evening we had a lovely barbecue at their house where they cooked tri tip. Before meeting Dan, I have never heard of tri tip, but it is a cut of steak that's very popular in California and it seems that every time we come here, we have some of it. I'm not complaining, it's very tasty.

Dan with his parents.

Our last day was not spent with San Franciscans at all--but with Dan's parents who drove over three hours from Visalia just to have breakfast with us early Sunday morning. Dan shrugged his shoulders at their efforts, saying, "Well, I had to wake up at 8 am." They replied, saying that they were happy to make the drive. "We'd do anything to see Yvonne." Awww, shucks. We ate at their favorite restaurant, the Buena Vista, and then shopped at the food stands at the Ferry Building before it was time to say good-bye.

California Dreamin'

Perhaps it is not the most productive way to live your life, but Dan and I are always looking for the next best place to live. As I have previously mentioned, Dan and I pretty happy in New York City, but we're always on the hunt for our apres-New York living situation that will feature things like a bigger living space, an outdoor patio and vegetable garden, a dog, good food, city culture if we want it, viable jobs around, and bikes.

Dan has been feeling a little homesick for California and suggested we spend a few days in San Francisco to feel it out. I am not one to ever turn down a vacation.

Since I was a little girl, I always loved California. My childhood trips visiting my aunt and uncle in San Jose, and later Gilroy, left me with wonderful memories of blue skies, swimming pools, mountains, boat rides and horses. The idea of moving to this state always seemed like a possibility. I almost had my chance when I got accepted to USC, but it was too expensive and (to my mom) too far to go. Now, being with Dan, I am happy that my life will always be tied to this place since his family and many of his friends are still here.

Since Dan and I have both been to San Francisco a few times already, this trip wasn't about seeing the sights. It was seeing if we could fit in here. Judging from these pictures, the answer could be "YES."