Tag Archives: san francisco

Up the Alley

Clarion Alley is a Mission gem. I do not walk through there enough. I was there today and took some pictures of the murals. These pictures are only a small sample of the beautiful and intricate murals that decorate the alley.

The alley is in between two very busy streets, but when you start walking through it feels as though you are walking into a cathedral. There is a serene atmosphere as people who are in the alley tend to keep their voices low. Some people walk slowly through, some stand in front of one mural and gaze in reverence.

Alongside, and often on top, of the murals are random tags. I don’t understand people who spend their time tagging over murals when they could take that time and instead learn to draw and paint and make their own art. Rebellion is good fuel for creative energy.

The details of some of the murals are museum quality. Obviously someone took a lot of time on these. I have no idea if these artists get paid. Regardless, I admire their desire to share their work with anyone who chooses to pass by. Walking through this alley is inspiring, and because murals are all over the city, I am lucky to have a constant source of inspiration wherever I decide to walk.

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Sirron Norris Mission Mural

These are a few pictures of the new mural in the Mission done by the local artist Sirron Norris. It is located on two sides of the Calumet Photo building. These pictures only give you a small glimpse of the scale and beauty of this mural. It’s one of the biggest murals I’ve ever seen, and the colors and details of it make you want to stand in front of it and take it all in. The first day it was finished I walked by and saw quite a few people doing just this. A big thank you to Calumet and Sirron Norris and Precita Eyes for working to make this beautiful mural. It is a lovely addition to the neighborhood! For more pictures check out Sirron Norris’s Instagram page.

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Summertime

Ah, the dog days of a San Francisco summer. This picture was taken this past weekend, while on a walk with a dear old friend. We decided to meet up at her place in Russian Hill and then walk by the water in the Marina. It was lovely to walk along the water, although the wind and cold made us turn back sooner than we had planned. We passed by the Fort Mason Farmers’ Market, and also the place where they were setting up for the America’s Cup. The bright white tents in a row along the water, with bursts of color on the side displaying each competing country’s flag. There were people riding jet skis near the shore, which amazed me – although they wore wetsuits, it took some grit to be out there that day. The Golden Gate Bridge is completely covered in fog in this picture, which according to my dear old friend, is creepy to drive through while on the bridge. It was beautiful in a mysterious Old World way, and with the sound of the waves lapping on the shore, it made for a perfect day of nostalgia and catching up with an dear old friend.

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Coffee Talk

I surprised myself today by drinking only one cup of coffee. I usually have three or more, so this was a big change. I was so busy today I didn’t even notice.

My coffee habit began like all habits do, while working at a Starbucks. It was my last year of college and I often worked the opening shifts. The shift started at 4am, so I had to wake up at 3:30am to get there on time. Because I was in college, and worked with other college-age people, we would all roll into work, having only slept for a couple of hours. The first thing we would do when we got to work would be to turn on the espresso machines and make ourselves a coffee drink. I would make myself a second coffee drink a couple of hours later, and this repeated until the end of my shift at 1pm and I would go home sleep deprived and amped up on caffeine.

When I first began working there I would have the sweet drinks with all the caramel and vanilla flavoring. After a year of working there, I was on straight espresso shots. I’d gone through every drink there, and realized when it has to count, espresso is the way to go. At one point, early in my barista career, I was drinking breve lattes, which are made with half-and-half. Heavenly, if you’re into that sort of thing, but I started to feel like I was starting down the road of diabetes and clogged arteries with every sublime sip I took, so I went off them.

There was a regular customer, a lady with frazzled red hair and crooked lipstick, who would come in and order a venti breve cappuccino, all foam, and sprinkled with a crap load of toffee chips. A venti is 20 ounces, so essentially she wanted 20 ounces of thick milk foam and toffee. If you were new, she would return the drink until you made it exactly like she wanted. Needless to say, I became a master at turning regular, everyday half-and-half into the thickest, creamiest foam known to man. And I also went through a phase of super thick cappuccinos.

I eventually left Starbucks after I graduated from school, but I took my coffee habit with me. I worked in a few other independently owned coffee establishments, and became pretty skilled in making espresso drinks. At one point I was that barista who could do latte art. I could make a heart or a fern leaf. Nothing fancy like you see on Pinterest, but it still impressed the customers. I knew my way around an espresso machine, and this opened up new possibilities for my coffee habit. I made lattes that tasted like roasted marshmallows. The subtle sweetness of the milk mixed with a perfectly roasted bean. This isn’t magic, it just takes good milk foam and outstanding coffee. You have to have perfect timing when pulling the espresso shot, so as not to strip the grinds and cause it to be bitter. I’ve never experienced this marshmallow flavor in any other coffee besides Blue Bottle, regardless of the milk or skill in pulling it. I’ve tried coffee shops all over San Francisco and beyond, and Blue Bottle is the only coffee that seems to have the capacity to create this lovely taste. I am open to any arguments to the contrary, as one of my favorite things to do is try new types of coffee – another thing I picked up from working at Starbucks. We had regular coffee tastings, and were encouraged to discuss and describe our experience tasting it. It was book-club in feeling, and was a nice moment in the day between customers ordering Frappuccinos for their children.

So when I saw this new Blue Bottle kiosk, I had to take a picture because it made me happy that I won’t have to go all the way to Hayes Valley to get their famous espresso. They also sell whole beans, so I can also have Blue Bottle at home. Score.

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Un Chat

This is a picture of my cat. He is a yellow tabby Manx. Manxes are the cats without tails, and this guy has a little pouf of fur in place of one.

After college I moved to Denver for work.  I lived alone and thought I needed a pet to keep me company. The apartment I lived in at the time did not allow dogs, which was what I preferred. I had considered myself a “dog person” up until that point, but my apartment situation made me consider other possibilities.

I did my research. I looked into different breeds of cats, and found the Manx breed is good for people who like dogs. They are playful and enjoy being around their people. As luck would have it, looking at the website of the Dumb Friends League of Denver, I saw a picture of a Manx kitten. The pictures they posted of the cats on the website were all of seemingly passive cats, sitting in the center of the picture very calm. The picture of this Manx kitten was blurry, and the only part of the kitten that was visible were its big eyes and ears in the bottom corner of the picture. The name they had given him: Chomper.

I drove to the Dumb Friends League animal shelter and was able to spend some time with the little Manx in one of the “interview rooms.” As soon as the shelter volunteer set him down on the floor, he was all over the place exploring the corners and nooks. I watched him for a few minutes before picking him up. He was a tiny thing, very light, with soft yellow fur and his lack of tail made him look like a skinny bear cub. I started scratching under his neck and he completely melted into my hands, savoring the attention. His affection was disarming, and I got choked up as the volunteer came back into the room.

“Well, what do you think?” She asked.

“He’s mine,” I answered. “He belongs to me.”

I paid the adoption fee and signed some papers, and carried the kennel that contained my new pet. As I was leaving, another volunteer waved goodbye, smiled and said, “Good luck with that one!”

He meowed in his kennel the entire was back to my apartment, and when I brought him inside he immediately began roaming around. I let him do so while I took care of some chores around my apartment. I forgot about him for a bit and realized I hadn’t seen or heard him for about half an hour. I looked all around for him and found him asleep on my pillow on my bed, with what seemed like a very pleased smile on his face, much like in the picture below:

Soon after I first brought him home I understood what the volunteer meant when she wished me luck. This is a cat who plays like a dog, chasing balls and shaking them in his mouth. He bit my friend on the head when she tried nuzzling his stomach. Even now, he will come up behind my husband and bite him on the ankles, just to try to get him to play. When he is feeling cuddly he wants me to carry him around. As a kitten he was easy to carry around while I did things around the house, loading the dishwasher or cooking. Now he’s quite a bit heavier, so needless to say I get a good arm workout.

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Special Day

These are photos from the day I got married. My husband and I had twenty guests and held it at the Presidio Cafe at The Presidio Golf Course. I planned it myself, which wasn’t so bad due to the small number. The most difficult for me in planning my wedding was managing all the ideas I had for it and distilling them down to fit the affair and the budget. Also, I wanted everything to be simple enough so that I wouldn’t get bogged down in DIY projects.

Like I have mentioned before, we had a brunch reception, and I really think this was a highlight of the event. We got married in the midmorning, and soon after the ceremony, no one was without a mimosa in hand.

I collect blue glass compotes and dishes, and so I relished searching for all that I could for centerpieces. The roses are made from paper and watercolored. Thanks these centerpieces, I am now a master paper flower maker.

I thought a traditional guestbook would be impractical for only 20 guests. Instead, I framed a favorite engagement photo under matting wide enough for guest signatures. I used our engagement photos for decor as well. I live above a framing store, and they graciously loaned us wooden picture stands for the day.

All guests received a bag of my husband’s and my favorite cookies, double chocolate chip, made with Ghirardelli chocolate, naturally.

We had two young children as guests, our niece and nephew, and placed small toys as favors to entertain them. Aren’t these fairy dolls completely enchanting? They are only a few inches tall. I want some for myself.

I shied away from most wedding chotzkes, but I wanted wedding napkins. Even the most simple of simple weddings should have wedding napkins. They are silly and special at once, and guests like them for keepsakes.

My husband does not like cake, and I adore cream puffs, so we enlisted the services of Sybil at Heartbaker to make these incredible, delectable cream puffs. Before the wedding day I mailed her the little paper flags that I made as toppers. I think I had about 5 of these sweet gems, and in hindsight I should have eaten more.

There was French toast on this plate, but it did not last long.

My bouquet and the boutonnieres were created by my coworker, who has impeccable taste in floral design.

Photography by Sheila Garvey
To purchase blue glass centerpieces and flowers for your own event, visit my Etsy shop.

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Input/Output

There is a yarn store in my neighborhood that has shelves and shelves of yarn, all colors and sizes and textures. When I go in, even though I have no projects planned, I know I am going to end up buying something. The last time I was there, I found this parrot-green yarn that is extremely soft. I impulsively bought it without having an idea of what to do with it. I wound it up into a ball and set it next to other balls of yarn I have, just to look at the colors. I do this sometimes, because I like coming up with color combinations I haven’t seen, or have seen and want to recreate.

Lately I haven’t felt like creating anything, which bothers me. I am not good at being idle, just sitting and not doing anything. My hands always have to be in something, knitting or drawing or making pretty things. One of my favorite books is called How to Be Idle: A Loafer’s Manifesto. It is about how the greatest creative minds in history spent much of their days doing nothing, just being, and it was in those idle times that their greatest works were started. I do have moments like these, where I just lay and listen to music or stare at the ceiling, but as I’ve gotten older it takes more effort to make these moments happen. I am learning to be comfortable with these periods of non-creation, because it’s good for my creative juices to take a break. I call this cycle Input/Output. There are times when I do a lot of input, looking and observing and getting inspired. It’s necessary for my output, which inevitably comes after a lot of input. I’ve been in an Input phase for a few weeks, and now it’s time for Output. A couple of days ago, as I was walking home, I went into a yarn store that I hadn’t been in before. I didn’t even know it existed for the longest time, I think I heard about it on Daily Candy. Anyway, I went in and bought a stitch counter (never used one, but I need one – I lose count of my knitting all the time.) I also got some #8 double pointed needles (formerly my limiting reagent for not using up all my impulsively purchased worsted weight yarn.) My little shopping experience did the trick, as I knitted a hat with some yarn I’ve been saving for a very special hat for myself. My next project is making another very special hat with the parrot-green yarn, just in time for this foggy San Francisco weekend.

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