Category Archives: san francisco

this just in: portland & san francisco, meet boutiika

Portland and San Francisco friends (well, Austin and Seattle too), brace yourselves: you are about to love me. (Wait. You didn’t already?) Not that the rest of you should tune out…this brainstorm is sure to sweep the nation.

Am I right that the most annoying, let-down quality of online shopping is delayed gratification? You spend two hours a few minutes scrolling through Shopbop, buy a couple of things, and then you have to wait three whole days (first-world problems, I know) for that beautiful brown box to grace your doorstep. And if you went with Nordstrom or one of my other standbys, it’ll be even longer. (Don’t even get me started on how long it takes Banana Republic to deliver a box. Are they using carrier pigeons?)

Plus, in your heart, online shopping wasn’t even what you wanted. What you wanted was to pop out to a few boutiques in town – shopping local is always nice, of course, and you get to take your goodies home right then. But…ugh. Parking, conspicuously leaving work (and returning with shopping bags), all that driving around…and, of course, there’s the let-down when you’re on a spending spree and you walk out of a store empty-handed. (Damn it, I cam here to spend!)

But, can you see the clouds parting? Can you see that sunbeam shooting down? It’s Boutiika – a new site that just launched in Portland, and is already a hit in San Francisco. Read on

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eye candy: épice scarves and blanca monros gomez

That’s right, I have a pair of eye candy goodies this week. Because two is almost always better than one. Also, how could I possibly choose between these lovelies? It’s like a Twix bar of retail delights – and you get both pieces, my friends. Dig in!

A gauzy pile of new Épice scarves for spring has appeared at Una, one of my all-time favorite Portland haunts. If you’re not local, you can call the shop and they’ll happily ship one (sales tax-free, I might add) right to your door. There’s no need to tell you how much temptation is going on in my head right now.

And then, there’s the matter of these beautiful, impossibly delicate new baubles from jewelry designer Blanca Monros Gomez, which just arrived at Steven Alan. Consider my pennies being counted, friends.


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adventures in cardio: london sole

Friends, my love for a great ballet flat is well-documented in these pages. And I think you all know by now that my love for London Sole ballets in particular is right up there near “adoring fan” status. So when their San Francisco store invited me over to browse the shop and learn a little more about the brand, there was basically no chance I was going to turn them down.  Read on

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travel in style: huntington hotel

So, I promised yesterday that I’d fill you in on all of the details about one of my Top Ten San Francisco items: the Huntington Hotel & Nob Hill Spa (part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group, so you know it’s going to be amazing). Friends…oh, I almost hate to tell you how wonderful this experience was, because you’ll be so tempted to get up from your desk, ditch work and hop the next plane to San Francisco. Truly, it’s that good.

I’d always wanted to stay at the Huntington when I lived in the Bay Area, but – well, it’s hard to justify a serious hotel splurge when you live in the same city. But now, we’re tourists! So splurge away, right?

The Huntington is located on the very tip top of all those hills for which San Francisco is so famous, with a picture-perfect view of the city below. But don’t worry about the hills – they’ve thought of that. The hotel has a courtesy sedan with the kindest driver, ready to whisk you nearly anywhere nearby without breaking a sweat (or a stiletto). It’s all very Pretty Woman.

Walking into their bright, beautiful lobby, I knew I had something special on my hands. The feel of the entire property is so warm and cozy, but ultra-luxe…like you’re staying at an incredibly rich relative’s mansion. And it makes sense – the property is one of the few family-owned luxury hotels left in San Francisco, so that intimate/decadent feel is entirely intentional. When I walked in, my first sight was a guest chatting with the concierge, and the guest was wearing sky-high Prada heels and carrying a Birkin. I’m home!

Once I stopped drooling and made it to the front desk, the hubs and I were greeted with hot towels to wipe away our travel grime – such a nice touch after our long day of travel.

Then, it was off to our room:

In case you missed that, here’s another look:

How much do you love that artwork? I couldn’t stop staring at it for our entire trip. That is, when I wasn’t looking out the window. With a view like this, can you blame me?

{Just to clarify – that really is a photo of our view. I just got a little carried away with some of the filters in Camera+.}

Yep, our actual view. It was just as fabulous as it looks. I’m now utterly ruined for other accommodations. Beyond the hotel itself being absolutely beautiful, every single member of the staff made our stay amazing, and I am one picky customer when it comes to these matters. Plus, they have turn-down service, and I’m always a sucker for that.

Also, did I mention the spa?

As wonderful as the Huntington was, I have to admit, it’s the spa that blew me away. I’m a spa girl at heart, and the Nob Hill Spa has become such a favorite of mine, it really belongs on my Top Ten of All Time list, not just for San Francisco. To wit:

Yeah, that’s just the waiting area. And this photo leaves out the cozy fireplace off to the left, the hot tub, and the 270-degree view of the city from the balcony on the right. Are you getting the picture? The spa even has a nap room (okay, it’s called a Zen Room), in case your massage was just so relaxing that you can’t muster the strength to leave the premises. And it would be understandable. My therapist was a genius, and my massage was definitely one of the best I’ve had. I was more blissed out after that fifty minutes than I’ve been in a long, long time, and that nagging ache in my shoulder has entirely vanished.

Post-massage, the hubs and I spent some time lounging poolside. (Those chairs you see right up front, with the wine glasses? Yeah, that was us.) We dawdled for two hours in our picture-perfect, climate-controlled paradise. We took a dip in the hot tub, read books, and indulged in a delectable lunch that the staff delivered to our lounge chairs. No clock, no crazy dogs, no deadlines…it was a dream, friends. And I’m not the only one who thought so: just before we headed to the sauna, my darling hubs looked over at me and said, with the happiest look I’ve seen on his face in ages, “This is the best spa in the world.” Endorsements don’t get much better than that.

A huge thanks to the Huntington Hotel for making my stay so utterly unbelievable…though I get the feeling that’s all in a day’s work for their incredible staff. Tearing ourselves away from that beautiful room when it was time to come home was more of a challenge than I care to admit. Fortunately, there are a bevy of other SLH properties still to check off my list in the meantime. But something tells me we’ll be back!

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travel in style: san francisco

As you might have noticed from all of my nostalgic exclamations on Twitter and Facebook recently, I packed up my most stylish duds, a slew of accessories, and spent last week in the city where I really did leave my heart: San Francisco! Five glorious days eating absolutely everything I wanted to eat, seeing (nearly) everyone I wanted to see, and buying (not even close to) everything I wanted to buy. I am full, I am happy, and I am exhausted!

{The view from my room at the Huntington Hotel. I couldn’t stop staring!}

While I was thinking about what to share with you about the trip, it occurred to me I’ve never even given you a list of my must-see destinations in San Francisco. Shame on me! And so, forthwith, a completely incomplete Top Ten list of some of my favorite things in what is quite possibly my favorite city in the States (there’s no competing with Paris).

{Clockwise, from top: Old Fashioned cupcakes at Miette, a much-enjoyed cappucino
at Emporio Rulli, and a peek at Dish, my new favorite SF boutique.}

1. Shop in Union Square. I know, there’s nothing exactly novel about Neiman Marcus, Saks, Barneys(!), Zara or Madewell, but when you live in a city without access to any of them, I can assure you that the site of that particular square block of real estate is intensely satisfying. While you’re there…

2. Treat yourself to a crab louie salad at the Rotunda restaurant in Neiman Marcus (really just an excuse to have them serve you piping hot popovers with strawberry butter). And, though it’s tempting to splurge on an order of their famous chocolate-chip cookies, skip it and instead…

3. Have a cappuccino and a sfogliatella at Emporio Rulli, right in the heart of Union Square, for the best people-watching ever.

4. Gorge at the Ferry Building. Or, more specifically, have an Old Fashioned cupcake and a pistachio macaron at Miette, brave the line (or try the secret window around the corner) for a(nother) cappuccino at Blue Bottle, then grab a pack of S’mores Bites from Recchiuti, and a pot of olive oil lip balm from McEvoy Ranch to take home. Sit on a bench outside, watch the ferries go by, and take in a postcard-perfect view of the oft-overlooked Bay Bridge. Speaking of gorging…

5. Gary Danko. Lobster risotto and a cheese cart…what else do you need to hear?

6. Fillmore Street. Any time you see Marc by Marc Jacobs, Jonathan Adler and a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf on the same block, go there. Follow up with some great window-shopping (or thrifting, if that’s your thing), a stop at Heidi Says Shoes, and a leisurely browse at Browser Books.

7. Hayes Valley. This ‘hood has grown by leaps and bounds since I last visited, and it might just be my new favorite shopping spot. Besides Miette’s Confiserie (best candy shop ever!), there’s serious fashion to be had. The vintage selection at Ver Unica and Reliquary is unprecedented – even I couldn’t resist (as evidenced by that fly leopard coat that followed me home). Then there’s Dish, which is so much my perfect boutique that I could have closed my eyes, pointed to literally anything, and bought it without looking, knowing I’d love it forever. Nida (why don’t these stores have e-commerce?!) is pretty wonderful too, if only for their selection of Isabel Marant and Athe by Vanessa Bruno.

8. Eat in North Beach (aka “Little Italy”). Preferably at Sodini’s, my personal favorite for old-school Italian charm. But wherever you dine, finish at Mara’s for a cannoli.

9. Palace of the Legion of Honor. Nothing whatsoever to do with food or shopping (are you shocked?), but still one of my favorite places ever. It’s all peace, calm and beauty, as far as the eye can see…with a stunning clifftop view of the bay and that big red bridge.

10. Stay at the Huntington Hotel, and spend a day at the Nob Hill Spa. But more on that awesomeness tomorrow…

I’d love to know what you’d add to the list!

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how i spent my christmas vacation

am i the only one that remembers writing those “how i spent my vacation” essays in grade school?  i thought not.

welcome back, all!  i hope you had a fabulous holiday…i know i did.  i thought i’d share a few little highlights with you from my week(s) away.

i had a wonderful christmas, full of cozy time with my hubs and the rest of my family, and packed with treats and goodies i didn’t even know i couldn’t live without.  my sweet hubs hooked me up with a gargantuan tub of my favorite cadbury heroes (a british mix of bite-sized cadbury delights), and also made me – from scratch, dear readers – chocolate and graham-covered marshmallows.  i have asked him never to make them again, as they disappeared at a frightening rate.  fortunately, i think he knows i didn’t mean a word of it.

(image borrowed from life’s ambrosia, as i sadly forgot to take a photo. but you get the idea.)

i also got a fancy new camera memory card that automatically transfers photos from my camera to flickr, without my having to do a thing.  it’s like magic. what this means for you is that i might actually be posting photos i didn’t borrow elsewhere!  like, say, a photo of the beautiful new earrings i got for christmas:

i also got a second pair of what may have been my favorite purchase all year:  my rachel comey mars boots.  i bought them first in stamped nougat (the very last pair in the universe, i think), and was wearing them so faithfully, i decided i had to nab a second pair in black before they were gone.  it was a major feat of shopping to find them (curse these giant feet of mine!), but thanks to mick margo (and my sweet mom), they’re all mine!

next, we headed to northern california for a few days of rest and relaxation with my family.  but i did manage to make the world’s quickest detour into san francisco…had to make a little stop at my beloved barneys, have lunch at the neiman marcus rotunda, and nab some macarons at miette.  missions accomplished…

…and then some!  i managed to track down a scarf i’ve been wanting for months…and on sale, no less!  it’s like barneys knew i was coming.

those little greyhounds in their cute coats…how could i resist?!

while i was in cali, i also got to debut my new elm cardigan from le train bleu. it was love at first sight with this one – that fair isle/native american pattern is so striking, and the striped lapel just makes me swoon!  apparently i wasn’t alone…my stylish mom literally stole it off my back, and i was forced to order a replacement.  thankfully, the brilliant bria at le train bleu managed to get a few more in stock. i’m counting the minutes until my replacement arrives!

now i’m home, and ever so slowly getting back into the swing of things….though i admit, i’m moving like molasses.  it’s just too cold here in portland to focus on anything, really.  except maybe a piping hot cappuccino.

what about you, dear readers?  how were your holidays?  i’d love to hear all about them!

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my city by the bay

well hello, readers!  i missed you last week. but the whole time i was gone, i was taking furious notes of all the things i had to tell you about when i returned.  yes, i spent nearly all of last week revisiting my old stomping grounds in san francisco.  thank goodness the city is still as amazing as i remember…though i don’t miss that 9% sales tax!

i shopped and shopped, and then i shopped some more.  i got tees at H&M, mugs at jonathan adler, a tour of the new spring collection at michael kors, macarons (and way too much candy) at miette patisserie, made several trips to bloomingdales and barneys, neiman marcus and saks, and drank my weight in cappucinos at my favorite italian cafe.  and i topped it all off with lunch at neiman marcus’ rotunda restaurant, quite possibly my favorite lunch spot ever.  how can you not love a huge stained glass dome, birds-eye view of union square, all the popovers you can eat, and live models trailing couture past your table.

i also got to catch up with several of my dear friends that i left behind in san francisco (hi to A and J!), and spend some much-needed quality time with my sweet mom.  and i finally (finally!) got to meet the lovely connie, who’s been my e-friend for years, and is now a real live in-person friend.  love that!

sigh….i’m exhausted just reading that!  yes, i had missed my city.  and i worked very, very hard to hit all the spots i missed while i was gone.  i picked up so many new tips, brands and ideas that i can’t wait to share…but for now, i have to start with what i brought home, don’t you agree?

my big splurge was this amazing leather blazer by vince – on super markdown at barneys, i might add.  vince calls it their ‘paper leather,’ and it really is amazingly thin, light and matte – plus it has knit panels on the underside of the sleeve and along the sides, which makes it ultra-comfy and perfect for layering.  this is last fall’s style (which i prefer for being infinitely less trendy), but if you want to see the current incarnation with its asymmetrical lapels (also very cute), it’s right here.  i can hardly wait to start pairing it with cropped jeans and frilly spring dresses.  you know, something like…

this ella moss version i picked up (also on the barneys supersale).  it’s not online any longer (the hazard of buying on sale…), but this one is awfully similar.  just imagine it with short sleeves and no black mesh detailing.  i’m already plotting to pair it with black tights and short boots now (and that fabulous new jacket!), and a chunky nude sandal come spring.  i love that there’s a bit of black in this print – it keeps it just shy of being girly overkill, and will make it so easy to layer with darker colors.

and last, i couldn’t resist these gorgeous bronze (really more of a coppery shade) mirrored cutout flats from belle by sigerson morrison – they were a last-minute treat from neiman marcus.  i love these as an alternative to sandals (especially when the pedicure’s looking a little less than perfect), and can’t wait to use them to dress up cutoff shorts or boyfriend jeans this summer.

other than that (ha!), i was pretty restrained.  i passed up oh so many luscious handbags, and managed to avert my eyes from the jewelry department every time i went to barneys.  but even with all that self-control (ha again), it was an ab fab trip, and i can’t wait to do it again.

how was your weekend?

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