Monday, December 31, 2012

a look back

truly, twentytwelve was the best year yet. 

it was a year of new adventures and new opportunities. of unrivaled highs and minimal lows. the year dave and i celebrated our five-year dating anniversary and our one-year wedding anniversary. a year of huge promotions, a fresh start and so much love and laughter. the year we saw conan, attended sxsw, and participated in an all songs considered listening party (notable because i met my hero, mr. bob boilen). saw wilco, sufjan, and japandroids, finally went to pitchfork, and rocked out at lollapalooza for the sixth consecutive summer (what can i say, we love live music). 

oh yeah, and it was the year we moved all the way to san francisco to begin a whole new life... with only five weeks notice :)

twentytwelve, you were mighty good to us. 

my favorite moments/foods/images/people of 2012 via instragram:

i cannot wait to see what twentythirteen brings. 

happy new year!!!

(also, go badgers!)

Friday, December 28, 2012

soundtrack 2012

When I was but a wee sophomore in high school, I enrolled in a theatre class for fun (for those who don't know me, this is remarkable simply because I am, and always have been, painfully shy -- for a time, I couldn't even order my own Taco Bell in the mall food court). On the first day of class, as an ice-breaker activity, we were randomly called upon to share our favorite thing in the world.

I purposefully sat in the back, slumped down in my desk, and avoided eye contact with the teacher, hoping my presence would be overlooked. But alas, after every other kid had spoken (do you know how many high schoolers love the smell of freshly cut grass? a lot), she indeed found me. 

"Um, that feeling you get when you hear an old song and it takes you back to the first time you ever heard it. Like a time warp or something."

*crickets chirping*

Okay, I realize my answer was not exactly profound but judging by the looks I got, you would think I confessed to torturing puppies. 

To this day, I still don't understand why that was such a bizarre answer. But whatever, it remains true.

Music has always been one of my greatest pleasures in life and since that year of high school, I have made a point to create a 'best of' playlist at each year's end. Not because I claim to be a music critic or anything of the sort, but as a means to catalog and someday revisit the events of the last twelve months.

In no particular order, the songs that will always make me think of 2012:

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

merry and bright

This year I made my own wrapping paper and - I'm not going to lie - it was a huge mistake. It all started with the discovery of a cute little San Francisco company called Yellow Owl Workshop and their super adorable stamps. It then evolved into an obsession: If I didn't get the right inks, twine, labels, paint pens, tape, and paper, then the whole project would be a failure (in my mind, anyway). It took two days of shopping to find the perfect wrapping tools and I sincerely thought Dave was going to kill me (why I needed 'grape' instead of 'blackberry' purple ink, I don't even know). We then had to lug said stamps and half a suitcase of wrapping crap from California to Chicago to Wisconsin and back again. Oops.

Oh well. I still love those stamps, and if we hadn't been travelling so much over the holidays, the paper would have been a complete success, I'm sure of it. But I admit, perhaps this wasn't my most brilliant of ideas...

So other than the Great Stamp Debacle of 2012, we had a wonderful Christmas (and to be fair, the gifts looked nice, they were just a pain to make). We got to see both of our families on Christmas day and it doesn't get much better than that. 

A very Merry Christmas to you and yours. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

sweet home chicago

Yay! We made it to Chicago!!!

Remember how I was pining for the midwestern winter? Well, I wished for snow and boy, I got it. As I write this, Wisconsin is well on it's way to being buried under ten inches of snow and a huge thundersnowrainsleetstorm is due to hit Chicago any minute. Remind me why I was missing this weather, again...?

In any case, it's wonderful to be home again, to be surrounded by friends and family and all things familiar. I haven't gotten lost in two whole days - it's awesome!

Monday, December 17, 2012

ferry building

Dave and I spent our Saturday shopping and eating our way through the Ferry Building Marketplace in the Embarcadero. Without a doubt, it is my new favorite place in San Francisco.

pumpkin cheddar tamales - the BEST

* flag lowered to half mast in the wake of the senseless tragedy in connecticut. my heart aches for those poor families.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


This time next week, Dave and I will be flying home for the holidays. Yay! A few days in Chicago, a few in Madison, and then a few more in Chicago. It's bound to be a whirlwind couple of weeks and I cannot wait. 

Truth be told, I am a feeling a little homesick these days. Christmas in California is weird; all of the telltale signs of the holidays are strikingly absent. You know, like winter. I mean, December without snow is just strange. And the big Christmas tree in Union Square is flanked by palm trees, people. That is just not right.

Plus, our usual Christmas shopping traditions (including a leisurely jaunt down Michigan Avenue) have been crushed by practicality. To avoid hauling packages on the plane, we have (reluctantly) decided to ship all of our Christmas presents instead. Turns out, placing an online order is not nearly as joyous and satisfying as walking out of a store with your purchase in hand. Without presents to wrap or a Christmas tree to decorate, and without nights cold enough for hot chocolate and ice skating, Christmas here is feeling a little empty thus far.

Of course, we can easily overcome the minor oddities associated with spending the holidays in a warm climate (there are worse things in life than palm trees, I know). But we are missing our hometowns and our homepeople terribly, and it's hard to get past. Really hard. Don't get me wrong, we know San Francisco is the right place for us and we look forward to spending many more years here. It does, however, lack a few things that are distinctly Chicago and uniquely Wisconsin, things that we are really looking forward to experiencing again:
cheese curds
spotted cow/312
deep fried everything
ice skating in grant park
frozen custard from culver's
christmas lights on michigan avenue
the chicago skyline (the prettiest in the world)
midwest accents (californians make me feel like this)
ian's macaroni and cheese pizza (don't be afraid, it's so good!)
eleven city diner (i have yet to find decent matzo ball soup out here)


And of course, we cannot wait to hug our families and friends. We have missed them most of all...

P.S. Please note that I did not add Chicago style pizza to the list. No, no, no. We haven't been away for that long. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

christmas in the room

Oh, just another post about Sufjan Stevens. Are you shocked? Well you shouldn't be. (As I've mentioned before, I utterly adore him.)

Last week we attended the Surfjohn Stevens Christmas Sing-a-Long at the Great American Music Hall and, let me tell you, it was an absolute blast. Even Scrooge McDave was smiling, swaying, and singing. It was fantastic.

I mean, this show had all the elements of a classic Christmas concert: Christmas carols, snowmen, elves, standup comedy, a trombone player dressed as a giant hot dog, a bassist in a chicken costume, a Mexican skeleton drummer, a singing glitter nun, bubble machines, paper snow, inflatable unicorns, an encore with 'Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland Illinois,' and of course, Surfjams Stephanopoulos himself as a neon Christmas Unicorn. Naturally.

But it wasn't the elaborate costumes, silly jokes, or even Sufjan Stevens' abounding talent that made this a night to remember. No, it was the crowd. For one night in San Francisco, a bunch of twenty-something hipsters gathered together and sang along to cheesy Christmas songs without a hint of irony or self-consciousness. It was heartfelt and yes, magical. Now 
that is a Christmas miracle.

As my Christmas gift to you, my favorite song of the night. Perhaps my favorite Christmas love song ever (if that's even a thing):

Is that not the sweetest song you've ever heard?

When we come together and just sing in harmony, in unison - it's a powerful thing.... That's why they call the voice the sacred heart; it's within all of us. Everything else is just white noise. - Sufjan Stevens

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

books, books, books

When we moved, I had to donate a substantial chunk of my book collection to St. Vinny's. It was hard. So, so hard. But it had to be this way. We reserved only one (teeny tiny) moving pod and thus, we were forced to downsize... significantly.

On the plus side, my remaining books actually fit into one single bookcase and I have been able to achieve a major life goal: arranging my books on the shelf by color (see above).

Yes, exciting times over here. Seriously, I could arrange and rearrange them for hours. I'm completely obsessed with my books. Is that a weird thing to say? Maybe. But the smell, the weight, the texture, the everything. I love them. There is something so rewarding about placing a newly finished book on the shelf, nestled in with all of your other favorite stories.

This being said, it's probably no surprise that all I want for Christmas this year is books. Books, books, books. Here's my VERY LONG wishlist:

Oh yes, and I love cookbooks too :)

Perhaps you're thinking it's time I invest in a Kindle? Nah, I'll stick to the real thing. I'm just old-fashioned that way.

Monday, December 3, 2012


On Sunday, we had plans to get lunch with one of my oldest and dearest friends who just happens to be living in the Bay Area this year. Unfortunately, she and her husband couldn't make it up to the city due to flash flooding. (I told you we were getting a lot of rain!) Apparently, Saturday night's downpour left thousands in the area without power, and shut down the entire BART (public transit) system for the weekend.

Then miraculously, the rain finally ceased and a beautiful sunny day emerged. Since Dave and I were already in pajama mode, we decided to stay home and enjoy the weather by opening all the windows and letting the sun pour in.

Inspired by the warm afternoon light, I spent the latter half of the day photographing a few stems of peonies that were in perfect bloom (except for the stubborn one). By they way, since when are peonies available in December? I don't know, but considering they are one of my favorite flowers, I'll take it.

Once the sun set (so early these days!), Dave and I settled in, cooked dinner, and then Margot joined us on the couch for a mini Freaks and Geeks marathon.

It was the loveliest kind of Sunday, if you ask me.

p.s. A huge thank you to my talented husband for making my blog look pretty. How do you know me so well? :)