Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Monterey Weekend Trip

Watch my video introduction :)

Like I said in the video, I wanted to do a quick budget breakdown to give you all a good idea of what the weekend cost.  It's obviously a great weekend trip from San Francisco, but it's also totally worth a day trip if you're visiting the bay area for longer than a few days and want to venture outside of the city.  Note that we were there on a holiday weekend, so prices for the hotel were a little higher than maybe another weekend.  Also, note that all of the restaurant prices include tip (a cost I frequently forget when adding up menu prices!).

Hotel - Intercontinental Monterey: $300 ($150 per night through Hotwire)
Drinks & Apps Friday - C Bar: $36
Dinner Friday - The Fish Hopper: $78
Brunch Saturday - First Awakenings: $24
Entertainment - Monterey Bay Aquarium: $64
Snack Break - Nestle Toll House Cafe: $5
Entertainment - Walk from Cannery Row to Fisherman's Wharf and back: $0
Drinks & Apps Saturday - Cannery Brewing Company: $32
Dinner Saturday - Sardine Factory: $75
Brunch Sunday - Carmel Belle: $26
Transportation - 1/2 Tank Premium: $30
Parking - 2 nights: $20
Total: $690

We totally could have saved by not doing drinks/apps separately or by doing coffee shops for breakfast, but we wanted to try as many places as we could.  We're also big brunch people and love to relax on the weekends with pancakes/eggs.  Add to that a couple exciting football games to watch on Saturday at the sports bar ... and you've got a weekend full of eating and drinking out!  We had a great getaway and after our anniversary trip to Yosemite, it's really setting in that we live in California.  Gorgeous country out here!

Mr. Palindrome took this cool panoramic shot with his shiny new Galaxy Nexus

Have you been to Monterey? Do you take advantage of local trips near you?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Retro Redesign Bernal Heights

"Wanna have a brunch date?"

"Yeah, sure.  Are we gonna see open houses before or after?"

Might be weird, but ever since our foray into house buying, renovating and selling, we've been real estate junkies.  I routinely check my Realtor.com app to price point neighborhoods, find nearby open houses and keep tabs on the inventory.  

Since our apartment isn't exactly the stuff that home renovators dreams are made of, I've been particularly interested in any fixer uppers that come across the listings.  I even started a Pinterest board about some of my day dreams for a little mid-century TLC job.  I had so much fun gathering ideas, I decided to make it a regular feature.  I'll choose a house on the market that needs a little love and share some renovation and design ideas.

Here's my take on a retro facelift for the exterior of this little charmer in Bernal Heights:

Big blue might be some people's cup of tea, but the monochromatic thing doesn't showcase some of the great architectural details.  Some people would take one look at this house and walk on by.  But I took another look because in the grand scheme of buying a house, a paint job isn't the part that will break the bank.  I think a quick exterior paint job would take this from "Interesting ..." to "Wow."  So I did a little research and found some awesome vintage inspiration from Retro Renovation.  These colors are straight from the 40s/50s which is perfect for this house built in 1948:

Personally, I'm loving the Wheatgrass.  It's a bit more than bland but not so much boom as Construction Boom.  I would also use that gorgeous teal accent so that the curly cue detail across the top of the house and the front door really pop.

I still felt that it needed a little something else.  When I ran across these vintage garage ideas, I knew it was the kind of touch that would pull everything together.

There are some pretty retrolicious color combos , but what really caught my eye was the chevron pattern looking door in the middle of the top row.

Add a few potted plants on the stairs and maybe a potted citrus tree between the stairs and the garage - primo!  And if I was any kind of Photoshop whiz, I'd show you my artistic rendition with the changes.

Which color combo would pick?  What do you think of patterned garage doors?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Finds - Colorful Stitches

I come from a long line of counted cross stitchers.  Samplers hung on our walls in my childhood home and Christmas always involved some sort of angel ornament with a full skirt of tiny crosses.  The kitschy stitch brings me home, even if only for a moment.

Clockwise from Top L:
Pistachio Press - Yellow Stripe Letterpress Card Set
Ginger Root Vintage - Vintage 60s Folk Sweater
Georgica Designs - Biology Inspired Cross Stitch
Gamma Folk - Serapes Cross Stitched Necklace

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ollie's Wash & Fold

When I bought a little sign at TJMaxx smacking of kittens and vintage goodness heralding "Three Kittens Laundry,"  Mr. Palindrome thought I'd completed my transformation into a crazy cat lady.  The sign was attached to a miniature hanger (of course) and I hung it on the closet door housing our apartment sized washer/dryer combo.  It was like a self-fulfilling prophesy for Oliver.  Once the sign went up, he took it upon himself to oversee the Palindrome house laundry.
It came about organically as his natural curiosity led him to investigate the clothes basket.
In the next few moments, it all dawned on him.  This was his calling.
He expertly and deftly sorted by color, though he needed a little boost to load.
All was going well.  Both momma and kitty delirious with their new roles.  Momma relieved that she had a little helper and Oliver beside himself with fulfillment in being useful.
That is until all the clean laundry was heaped about the room and they realized at the same time how lack of opposable thumbs would be the undoing of the mutually beneficial arrangement.  Alas.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

From Treasure Island

I'm a rule follower.  Put a sign up and I'll be the first to read it, point it out to others and follow it to a T.  Mr. Palindrome is an ... adventurer.  "Let's see what's behind this No Trespassing sign!"  Guess which personality won out so that we could grab this shot of the Bay Bridge from Treasure Island?
I took this photo on manual and bumped up the saturation a teensy bit in picnik later.  It was a challenging shot because I was standing in the shade, the sun was bouncing off the bay, and I still struggle quite a bit with adjusting my aperture at the same time adjusting my zoom lens.  I'd love to take this same picture in a year and claim victory over those challenges!

Have you been to Treasure Island?  Did you wander around or stay behind the posted signs?

Monday, January 23, 2012

I Met Meg!

Meg is all that and a bag of sourpatch kids (i.e. she's sweet, but she packs a punch!).  If you've been following along at one of my favorite wedding/reclaiming wife sites, A Practical Wedding, you may have fallen for Meg too.  She's smart, sassy and she just released a book.  I've admired her from afar and was psyched to be in San Francisco when she announced her book tour launch party here in the city.
I worried about my hair, my outfit, the impending rain and what I would say if I met her.  I shouldn't have worried so much.  Meg is chatty and will fill in the gaps.  We laughed, told stories, and made faces.  After the 45 second interaction (when she also signed my book), I left feeling like it'd be really nice to chat about life, being a woman and politics over coffee with her.  She makes you feel like a friend.

Besides meeting Meg and hearing her give a little book launch talk, I also met several other wonderful Bay Area ladies, all hot off the wedding aisle and ready to take on the city.  It was one of those moments where I could really kick myself for not having business cards on me.  Perhaps my new book shop friends will find me on the interwebs.

Have you been to a book signing? Or met some internet hero in real life?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Finds - Lavender and Orange Floral

Of course, a kitty sneaked into this week's collection.  It's my siren call.  Just. Can't. Resist.


Clockwise from Top L:
vadjutka - Granny at Fall
Dancing in the Rains - Cat Pencil Case
Blasts from the Past - 1928 Botanical Print
Grace and Favour - Crochet Heart with Lavender Sachet

Monday, January 16, 2012

Surprise Anniversary Trip

"Hello? Magical Mystery Tours?  Yes, I need a four day anniversary getaway within driving distance of San Francisco."

I filled out a short preference form and let the travel agent take it from there.  Done.  Wham-bam-Thank-you-Ma'am.    The day before we left, we opened the reveal documentation and packed.  It was a fun, little luxury to kick back and wait for the awesome vacation to plan itself.  If you're intrigued by the idea of a mystery vacation, I say give it a whirl.  It's helps that I know the gals over at Magical Mystery Tours personally.  They're smart, savvy small business owners who do this because travel is their passion.  And they're not paying me to say it.

Soooooooo ... Where'd we go?  Yosemite!

I'm a National Park Passport stamp maniac after being introduced by the lovely Marissa from Marissa Makes when we were in New Orleans.  Since then, if we're within an hour of a stamp, I have standard marching orders to collect said stamp.  Our very first stop in Yosemite was the visitor's center for my stamp.  The rest of the vacation could have been a bust, but I would have been happy with my burgeoning passport.

Of course, the rest of the trip wasn't a bust.  It was an unseasonably warm (read, a good thing) reminder that nature is so much bigger than us mere beings.  I think I may have said this when we were in Rocky Mountain National Park too - but seriously, the feeling of smallness is overwhelming.  The beauty and power of the creation takes me completely outside of myself.  I'm still not a camper convert, but the views (all of the hard fought after views!) were well worth the week of limping I suffered from overextended muscles and an overconfidence in my hiking skills.  Hahaha, I thought I had hiking skills to begin with. Silly, naive nature girl.

Since La Nina has stolen the snow season, all of the roads and hiking trails were still open in the park.  Several of the water falls were still running as well. I brought my 18-200mm zoom lens and UV filter to play around with and did some quick research on photography tips.  As the muse of Ansel Adams, Yosemite is the subject of a lot of photography instruction.  Instead of trying to focus on it all, I decided to specifically shoot with a series in mind.  Specifically, I wanted trios of pictures reflecting a big picture shot, mid range shot and a close up.  These are some of the more interesting series:
We took our first full day easy since we had an anniversary celebration meal at the Awhanee Hotel our first evening.  We were recovering from rich food (delicious - get the chocolate pecan pie!) and were looking for a little bit of a warm-up to the nature.  We hiked around Mirror Lake which was mostly empty until we reached the closure point of the trail where there had been a rock slide in 2009.
 As we finished that hike, the moon rose over Half Dome, one of the more famous peaks in Yosemite.  I'm happy with the wide angle shot of the whole formation, but I didn't adjust the UV filter for the others and they seem a bit hazy.  Overall, I'm happy with the composition though.

On our drive back to the Tenaya Lodge, we spotted the setting sun.  I attempted shots in two different locations on the side of the windy road, but I really could have used a tripod.  In fact, I wished I had a tripod on several occasions.  That's a lesson learned that I'm going to remind myself of for the next trip I expect to be photography heavy.
The sunset in person was AH-mazing, but it wasn't until zooming in that the colors really started to translate.

The funny thing about the park is that it's soooooo big it starts to warp your perspective.  The first day, I was all, "Whoa! The mountains are huge! The water falls are ridiculous!" By the third day, when we were hiking up one of the mountains and seeing the falls close up, you start to think, "Well it can't be that big because I just hiked up it."  So it was with Mr. Palindrome.  We saw the Giant Sequoias in Mariaposa Grove on our last day and he wasn't impressed with the "wimpy" giants.  Until he saw a fallen one and the perspective was regained.
Outside of the trios, we got some great shots.  Mr. Palindrome also loves the camera and took over for quite a few shots the day we did our big hike of misery.  The view was incredible, but my fear of heights really kicked in by the time we were descending. I previously mentioned that I was limping for nearly a week afterwards too.  Mr. Palindrome joked that we got more exercise on the first day of 2012 than we had in all of 2011 combined.  Sad, but true!

 Yosemite boasts 2 of the top 10 highest water falls in the world.  We had no idea until we were reading the brochure information.  This isn't one of them, but I climbed over 600 granite stairs to get this shot and I was pretty proud of myself.  We did the Vernal/Nevada falls full day hike and they weren't kidding when they labelled it "strenuous."
 Mr. P nailed the UV filter on this one.  Hello sky.

Would you consider a mystery trip? Have you been to Yosemite?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Finds - Dappled Equestrian

No long story, no real reason - I just felt like horsey this week.


20 Twenty Vintage - Equestrian Tall Boots

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Ollie Ollie Oxen Free

Fool me once, shame on you Fool me twice, shame on me
Fool me thrice, and I quit.

We're sick, sick people.  People sick in love with their clever kitty.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

White Washed

*Shiver* I cringe.  The lady explains to the Hoarder's psychologist that she doesn't smell a thing amidst the piles of cat feces.

I have just one cat who uses his litter box religiously, but I'm in a similar boat to the hoarder.  I just don't see the white walls of our apartment anymore.  It's a decorating travesty that I didn't notice until looking through theses shots for this post.
 This is the view from the balcony into the apartment. Notice Olliver's tail end in the lower right corner.
 We bought the couch at Macy's after laying on every sleeper sofa in a 50 mile radius.  It's the most comfortable sleeper, but sadly not the most comfortable couch.  Hmmm.  Mr. Palindrome and I decided that most things in the apartment would have a dual purpose and we're more than pleased with the diversity of bed and sofa when we have guests at the Palindrome B&B.  The rug and coffee table were Criagslist finds from Pottery Barn.  The coffee table's second purpose is storage and the rug's second purpose is red wine spill camouflager.

 This is the view back over the living area.  You'll recognize the wingback chairs, side table and bookshelf from the NC house and the painting from my WEverb11 post.  The TV, stand and floor lamp are from the NC family room.   I mentioned the dining/console table and bench - here you can see them in their condensed console position.
 In the kitchen, the only new items are the coffee rug from Lowe's and the dish towels from Williams & Sonoma.  Then this is the view back towards the balcony from the kitchen.

 The bathroom is accessible through the hallway or the bedroom.  I used the bath accessories from our master bathroom in NC and added a shower curtain and rug from Target.  I also picked up the cute hook from Pier One so that we could keep our towels handy.
 Circling around to the bedroom, you can see the bedroom furniture from the beige room.  Funny story about the comforter.  We brought the white down comforter we received for our wedding.  Then a little kitty (the same one who made all those fresh kitty paw prints on the freshly made bed) jumped on Mr. Palindrome who happened to be walking by with a fresh cup of coffee.  The very same day the apartment was cleaned by the housekeepers, the comforter was sent to the dry cleaners.  There was no winning on picture day.
 We got a few new throw pillows for the bed, matching night stand lamps from Home Goods and one knock off night stand to match the other.
The wall sculpture above the bed from Bed Bath and Beyond can be also be used for dishes in a pinch.

So that's the grand tour of the very white walled apartment.  Gah, what I wouldn't give to throw up a coat of coral or aqua in the bedroom and a nice artichoke in the living room.  Or wishing that we'd leased from the complex that painted accent walls for you! Alas.  Anyone else battling white walls?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Friday Finds - The Twelfth Day

My grandmother used to say that she would keep her holiday decorations up through Russian New Year.  One year, they were up all year long.  My mother takes down all her decorations on New Year's day, the American one.  Since having my own home to decorate, I haven't felt a rush to break down the decorations.  It's my favorite time of the year and putting everything away makes next year seem very far away.  So when I learned of the twelfth day of Christmas, or the Epiphany, I felt that I had found a meaningful and significant time until which to keep out the decorations.

Clockwise from Top L:
Man vs. George - Happy Hump Day Card
Schulman Art - Camel Water Color Print
Quite Lovable - Red Camel Necklace
Loji Craft - Camel Cantik in Orange

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Oliver Gets a Whiff

For the past few evenings, as Mr. Palindrome and I sip wine and talk about our days, wafts of weed have quickly taken over the living area necessitating a swift closing of the balcony door.  That makes us sound like wet rags.  Whatevs, I'm not a fan of the smell.  At first we thought it was a skunk.  But that didn't make any sense in the middle of San Francisco high rises.  You can take the girl out of Carolina, but you can't take the skunk suspicions out of the girl.

Even though it's not my bag, I was totally curious about drugs for the cat.  Cat nip is perfectly legal, readily available and completely intriguing to me.  Mr. Palindrome told me not to drug his cat.  But like a mother with a fussing baby on an airplane, I looked longingly at the drugs wondering if the effects were just like everyone said.

When we were cheapskates on scratching posts and opted for the cardboard version, it came with a bag of the good stuff.  Hehehe.  My opportunity for experimentation had arisen.  When Mr. Palindrome was still at work, I carefully sprinkled the bag into the corrugated weave.  "Here kitty, kitty," I lured Olliver to the forbidden.

I leaned the scratching board on the table legs and let him get his first whiff.  Within seconds the board was flipped, the nip was strewn about the carpet and his eyes were wild.

Once the wild eyes glazed over I worried that I had given him too much.  I quickly googled, "Can cats OD on cat nip?"  The returns were less than helpful to a now frantic mother desperately trying to remove her fur baby from the clutches of drugs.  I wielded the vacuum cleaner handle like it was the sword of truth cutting to the core of the evil drug underbelly.

The good news is that we both recovered just fine.  We've adjusted to moderate doses in small toys to avoid the crazy eyes situation. I still close the balcony door when I start to smell skunk, but I think cat nip in moderation is ok.  At least when he's fussy on airplanes.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Missing a Garage

It's a well known phenomena about garages turning into graveyards for good intentions of home improvement projects and evicting the previous car tenants.  The phenomena occurred in North Carolina because the garage was ours and we could easily make it stinky with paint fumes while also having space to park two cars in the driveway yet. 

In San Francisco, we pay a pretty penny to park our lone car in the garage.  Lots of other people park their cars there too.  They don't appreciate people stinking up the garage because they're paying a pretty penny too.  And there's no do overs if you spill a can of stain on the common garage floor.  You just part with more pretty pennies to have it power washed.  So . . . we had to be creative and come up with an alternative space for the mini home improvement projects we tackled.  We needed to widen the legs on our dining room table, paint a small beat up bookshelf to use as a bar and paint a dining bench to match the dining room table.

After buying the bare necessities for the transformations (having to hump them back to the apartment and having zero storage space), I rummaged through the recycling bin.  I'm not a full blown dumpster diver, but we've scored some pretty great items from the bin (most recently a desk chair and plastic shelving).  I was after a moving or appliance box to serve as a work floor and came back victorious.  I rearranged the deck, put down my protective flooring and dusted off my ole home improvement skills.
The caution tape, courtesy of our apartment management company, is apropos here no?
While I took over the balcony for a painting project, Mr. Palindrome was reminded of his DeWalt love inside.  He subbed the canister vac for the shop vac and got to work slightly expanding our new table from Pier 1 to accommodate the new bench we got from Amazon.  All of the adjustments were designed to make a transformer version of a dining room that seamlessly turned into a console table as the need arose.
Meanwhile out on the deck, I started with the bookshelf and got reacquainted with sanding, priming, sanding, painting etc.  Hello old friends.  I've missed you.  Not.
Painting and sanding are the worst home improvement chores. Ever.  But I always read Centsational Girl, Young House Love and Life in the Fun Lane.  They get me thinking evil thoughts.  Thoughts like, "If I just painted this ..."  That kind of thinking never leads anywhere good.  It's so true, you follow the actions of the blog company you keep.  In just a few short months of me starting all over on the west coast and vowing never to pick up a paint brush again, here I am with big dreams of how it'll all turn out differently this time.
Of course, it starts to drizzle.  Sideways.  Into the balcony.
Of course, I forget to sand in between a coat or two.
Of course, it looks streaky and uneven three coats later.
Of course, the curious kitten jumped onto the wet surface then tried to escape via the white carpeted living room.
Of course, I went with the green stripper for the bench.  It smelled like coconut.  That should have been my first clue that it  wasn't a serious stripper.
Of course, the kitten is drinking the emergency eye wash water out of the big gulp.
And yet, I pressed on.  Believing this time would be different.  I'd be happy with a piece I painted.  It would look professional this time.  Please, I prayed, for the love of everything that is good and right in the world, please turn out this time.
I appealed to Sherry and John for a word of encouragement via desperate tweets.  They told me exactly what I wanted to hear - just rough it up a bit then prime.  After two weeks of practicing on the bookshelf and messing with the stripper, I took the dive.
And I nearly took another dive off the balcony after the primer went on.
Primer is super scary.  You get the streaks and the uneven and the neon colors.  You think to yourself, "Oh Lord, what have I done?"  Keep the faith my daughter He replies.  And I do.  And this time it may have worked out.  "After" pictures forthcoming for you to judge yourself.

Does painting furniture work out for you?  Did you acquire the skill or were you born a furniture painter?