Jul 10 2013

Found(ish) Art & History? Yes, Please.

It was a day Brett got up early around 5. He worked till 8:30is when he spelled me momentarily so I could wrap my head around the day. Monday, yes. So Lo & I  hit up the Marina library story time and the playground. (You can read more about work schedules we’re experimenting with here.)

Post-nap we wanted to do something. We’d had anywhere from 4-9 people staying at the house with us the last few days which made for much fun but not much list checking off (not that we’re doing that, but youknowwhatimean).

Despite the map and the doc and the this and the that, we wanted to do something towards the Presidio without really knowing what that would be. And by we I mean Brett and by Brett I mean he has a tendency to trust the universe; I tend to see that as a long walk to someplace that doesn’t solve what we’re making for dinner. In a huff, I whined that the Presidio near us is businesses and homes and Yoda Fountains.

Unhuffed, I looked it up and saw a path called Lover’s Lane. Walkable to get there and the Googles told me it was less than a mile hike. AND IT WAS HISTORICAL!



Sign. Me. Up.

The Presidio’s history is long and awesome and available here. Just know that Presidio means fortified military settlement and we’re talking many centuries and several countries. Read it, it’s worth it.

For an area full of footpaths, to earn the designation of one of the oldest means something to my old-stuff-seeking heart.

Lover’s Lane: think off-duty soldiers in the ’60s (HEY! I mean 1860s, duh) trying to find the straightest, fastest path to their sweet honeys.

Historically, the longer 3-mile path connected the Spanish garrison to the Mission Dolores but that is not where the sweet nectar of sweet honeys was. The religious and the randy would find their ways along this straight & narrow path. On it now, you cross the homes of the enlisted and the officers alike from the 30s, groves of eucalyptus and cyprus (I think). Sounds lovely!

It’s about a mile. It says it’s an easy walk. I do not know what grades mean so I totally misread this. Slope. y=mx+b? But even better, Lo couldn’t care less if a hill awaits. Girl loves to run.

oh. copy

So, off we went.


On our walk we crossed a very old bridge. This is not it. This is also not part of the hike as it stands today but I thought we all might need some non-totted pictures.



Now, on to the tot! Lo contemplated the bigness of the trees.

photo copy 2We contemplated her littleness in relation to the trees.

photo copy 3At various points along the route, awesome lean-tos were spottable. I had some Blair Witch-y flashbacks, because who doesn’t who was alive and sentient in 1999? Once I breathed my way through believing things were going to get super weird, we went to explore.

(I swear I read something about a tree house you added a stick to in SF but I’ll be damned if I can find it now).


And WHAT DO YOU KNOW. We picked the random tree fort house/lean to/ghost pavilion with a dinosaur living in it.

photo copy 4

Weird or is it weird? It’s weird y’all. Trust me. Loie thought it was awesome and roared for a while.

The first tree fort house/lean to/ghost pavilion we bumped into? I wrote it off. Then up the 2340398% grade we went and, yup, more tree fort house/lean to/ghost pavilions.

I begged a moment to dive into the woods towards a batch of stick stacks. Brett scooped up the tot and I dove, flip flops be damned. And this was waiting for me (as well as two more tree fort house/lean to/ghost pavilions and scary sounding wind).


Convinced I was in the equivalent of a crop circle, I snapped a bunch of pics and then walked out to the path. Four normal, not Scooby-scared people were walking past Brett & Lo so I pretended I hadn’t just found another alien landing strip.

It was only after we got home and I looked into it that I learned this line was Wood Line, a sculpture by Andy Goldsworthy made of eucalyptus. (Lo kept yelling that she saw pandas. Perhaps the art moved her imagination). Now, we’ll need to find Spire, too.

When we were in Iceland and seeking Richard Serra’s sculpture work Áfangar on Viðey, I knew what to seek and was still excited to see art in the wild. This was a total treat. Still, I feel like a right ass for A) not knowing about it and B) not seeing art when I’m climbing over it. But, you know, what can you do? Sometimes art is just in your way.

Our way out of the Presidio and back down to Cow’s Hollow was via Billionaire’s Steps. More like a billion steps. And Loie wanted to walk.

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Oh. My. Quads.

So my huffing at the beginning of the adventure was replaced by legitimate huffing at the end. A fair exchange, I’d say.

And, after Monday’s mention of mundane magic, I’m sure it’ll come as no surprise that stumbling (because, you know, quads) on this while walking home was just the way I needed to end the day. In our vows Brett & I promised to “seek out with joy all the magic around us.” Nice to see the universe playing along.


Mar 15 2013

Design+Copy=True Love

I’m starting a blog collaboration over at Spitfiregirl Design. And I’m so stinkin’ excited. Heidi & I have been working together for almost a year and it’s been heaven. She’s delightful and does such beautiful work. When she shows up in my inbox with a project I say yes. Immediately.

So we’ll be talking about how design & copy work together, how we work together, and exploring some other things important to both of us.

Best part? I write words and Heidi makes totally gorgeous nuggets of awesome like the one below.

Click on it to read the post that’s starting it all. Now, seriously, click on it now.

darlingness by Spitfiregirl

Feb 11 2013

Sweet Mondays 2/11/2013

As part of Sweet Mondays, I try to poll the community to see what thing would make folks happiest. The first week I attempted to embrace the democratic process and, eh, a vote of 3-2 isn’t very inspiring. So I just kind of wander up to someone and ask what they want.

A designer who joined D:CL at around the same time as me suggested spice cake. And better? Spice cake with cream cheese frosting. Is there anything in this world better than cream cheese frosting?

Truth be told, I’ve never made a traditional spice cake.  I have made a recipe my mom shared, a spiced applesauces cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting, and know it is a damn fine cake. Also there is cinnamon in it and our friend recently pointed out how fun it is to say “cinnamon in it” over and over.

But as a rule follower, I wanted to be sure that was a reasonable swap-in. Because there’s nothing sadder than being excited about a specific dessert only to find out it’s not quite what you were hoping for. So I asked and also looked up spice cake options. Applesauce was aok.

No photos this time, but I can say if you sprinkle some powdered sugar around the edging of the plate everyone thinks you’re fancy.

Here’s my mom’s recipe. Not sure where it came from. But it’s good.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in middle.  Butter an 8- or 9-inch square cake pan.

Cake ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce

1/2 cups walnuts (optional), toasted, cooled, and chopped


5 ounces cream cheese, softened

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup confectioners sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

For the cake:

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.

Beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy, for 2 to 3 minutes.  Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in applesauce.  At low speed, mix in flour mixture until just combined, then stir in walnuts (if using).

Spread batter evenly in pan and bake until golden-brown, and a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes.  Cool in pan 15 minutes.  Run a knife around the edge of cake to loosen, then invert onto a plate.  Reinvert cake onto a rack to cool completely.

For the frosting:

Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until fluffy.  Sift confectioners sugar and cinnamon over cream cheese mixture, then beat at medium speed until incorporated.

Spread frosting over top of cooled cake.


Feb 4 2013

Sweet Mondays 2/04/13

When you have a community of freelancers working together, it can be hard to convince everyone that Mondays are worth doing. Like, at all.

But because I can only be at Design Cloud on Mondays and Wednesdays, I want people to be there. I work best when they make noise. Not a ton of noise, but enough that I don’t feel like I’m working in a crypt.

So I decided to make Mondays a bit sweeter. I get to bake, B doesn’t get frustrated that there are snacks everywhere, and maybe a few people having to work on a Monday are a bit happier.

For week 1, I opted for (shock) 101Cookbooks’ Rosemary Olive Oil Cake. It’s been a hit at book clubs and in bellies.

I like to use Giarhdeliia chocolate.


Some chocolate and sugar get sprinkled on top for a nice shiny crust.




Jul 25 2012

Some Things We’ve Seen, pt. 2

Mont Saint-Michel

Refectory at Mont Saint-Michel

La Poste de Mont Saint-Michel


On the Road

Calvados Pierre Huet

Domaine Dupont

Jul 17 2012

Some Things We’ve Seen

Falaise Church


Normandy American Cemetery

Parc Municipal, Rânes

La Balayrie

Saint-Jean-Baptiste, Bagnoles-de-l’Orne


Jul 14 2012

Potato Sacks & Mustard Jars: Bastille Day 2012

Today is Bastille Day, which the French call La Fête Nationale or the super-accurate Le quatorze juillet. Lots of fireworks (feu d’artifice) happened last night, but not until 11pm or later. Apparently, we only go to places that like to put nighttime in “air quotes”. Today is the largest military parade in Europe right on down les Champs-Élysées. I do love me some cadencing. The garden party at the Palais de l’Elysée is also happening, which sounds delightful.

Ah well. Paris is far and thus we needed an appropriately patriotic activity that would be more welcoming to our hyper-scheduled little one. I asked the English caretakers of our gîte, Anne, if she had any recommendations. She mentioned that Domfront, a town about 40 minutes from here, was hosting un vide-grenier. YES PLEASE. Turns out Bastille Day is also a common day for French towns to host vide-greniers.

I first read about vide-greniers on Design Mom’s “Love The Place You Live” post about them. She’s an American living with her many cute children in Normandy with far more grace and aplomb than I am with my one cute child.

What is it? Well, all the sites in English talk about car-boot sales. Not helpful unless you know that those sites are primarily written by British folk who are discussing a rummage sale, flea market, what have you. Car boots are trunks and what is being sold is primarily no longer wanted personal possessions. While some professional sellers and buyers lurk, it’s a national pastime in France to rummage like hell. For being, in my head, such a refined culture I love that there is this rummage-y mentality too.

There are many sites like Brocabrac! that helpfully list the daily offerings. And there are MANY. There are braderie, more traditional flea markets, and their little brothers brocantes. Then there are vide-grenier, the slightly awkward cousin of a braderie who just might say something awesome and embarrassing at the family dinner.

We opted to drive to a town called La Chapelle-d’Andaine, a town about 30 minutes southwest of us, for their vide-grenier.

I was hoping for an antiqued looking, perhaps hand-painted sign announcing the sale.

I got fluorescent. Ah well.

We entered with some small bills and some big dreams.

And you know, it’s just like our old crap. But it’s FRENCH.

It rained (of course) and sellers covered their wares with tarps. Considering the hodge podge of stuff they had, it made it fairly difficult to shop since under one tarp might be an old camera, a military helmet, some fairly new kids toys, and a couple coffee mugs OR a box of playing cards, some old gardening tools, a hair dryer, and some records. We were undaunted.

Vide-grenier translates to something like “attic clearance” and is considered a chance for kids to make money off their grandparents’ leftovers. A young boy sold us this fabulous mustard jar for 1€, which I hope he made after nicking it from his crochety grand-mère.

And from a former young boy, now a very old man, these fabulous potato sacks for 6€.

What will we do with them? I dunno. Something great.

Here’s to revolution, independence, democracy, and old stuff.