Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Electric Smart Car

Yup, I saw it up close and personal, one of the first (I guess it was a U.S. prototype) Electric Smart Cars that was out for a drive and ended up in the Apple Inc. parking lot as I was leaving after having lunch with my hubby a few weeks ago. So cute! It looks like a Smart For Two, only different. The first thing I noticed was that the hubcaps were colored green. Huh? All of a sudden it hit me that this was a special Smart Car and I guessed it was an electric one.

It only took a glance to confirm my suspicion once it parked.

The Electric Cars of America website describes the car this way:
The electric car is a zenn car—zero emissions no noise. An electric vehicle—or EV—is a car that utilizes electricity as its primary source of power. We think that’s smart—which stands for Superbly Manufactured and Reliable Transportation.
There is a great review with LOTS of pictures on The Green Auto Blog if you want all of the details.

So cute! The man driving the car said that 250 would be released this fall and 50 would be sold in the Bay Area. I would LOVE to have an Electric Smart Car but the ticket price is considerably higher than the original gas version. I've read online that prices for the electric will start at $35,000. Not sure if that's accurate or not but that's over my budget for now.

I've read online the car can go 70 miles on a full charge. That would be enough to get me up to the city but not all the way back home so I guess I'd have to recharge while I'm there if I drove up to San Francisco. It's be worth the extra effort though to drive a zero emissions car.

And of course the car had a built in iPhone holder. You can see the phone's little colored onscreen squares on the right side of the console. Ah, a girl can dream. If you've been reading this blog since last June you're already aware that I've been wanting a Smart Car for quite a while now. Maybe I won't get a Smart Car this fall but I really want to get one someday!

CLICK HERE to visit the Smart Car of America website.

Hyegraph Wedding Invitations & Calligraphy

Exciting things have been happening over at Hyegraph Invitations & Calligraphy located at 888 Brannen (formerly known as the Gift Center). Recently owner Jacques Oskanian was interviewed by Biz Tech Day about his company, the products they carry and the customer service they offer.

Just a month earlier Hyegraph was named one of Google's Favorite Places. Says the Google Favorite Places Website:
We've identified over 100,000 businesses in the U.S. as "Favorite Places on Google" based on Google users' interaction with local business listings. Each business is receiving a window decal with a unique QR code that you scan with your phone to read reviews, star the business as your own favorite and more.
Congratulations Jacque! That's wonderful recognition (but no surprise) that engaged couples and party planners are interested in coming to visit Hyegraph. With over 200 catalogues in their showroom it would be the first place I would shop for invitations!

Hyegraph specializes in wedding and corporate invitations, digital calligraphy, accessories and favors Their invitation lines include international and local designs, eco friendly, modern and contemporary with prices ranging from moderate to high end. Customer service is paramount to Jacques and his staff. Hyegraph has been serving San Francisco brides and event planners for over 20 years. Their longevity is a wonderful testimonial to the great service they offer.

CLICK HERE to visit the Hyegraph Invitations & Calligraphy website.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Pantene Beautiful Lengths Hair Donation

Yesterday my awesome hair stylist and good friend Armando Sarabia (of Get Your Do Up) chopped off my hair!

I had decided at the beginning of the month that it was time to donate the hair I'd been growing the past several years to either Wigs for Kids or Pantene Beautiful Lengths. I chose Pantene (thanks to my friend Loretta for sending me a New York Times news article about them) because they make the wigs for women cancer patients and give them to them for free. My cousin Tami lost all of her hair after receiving some heavy duty chemotherapy last year so this time around I wanted to support women (like her) by sending my hair to help one of them.

As Armando was CUTTING MY HAIR OFF I couldn't help but notice, peeking between my fingers in the mirror, that he was looking at the camera and not my hair! *Gulp* I pointed out that looking at my hair might be a better course of action but he just laughed and assured me he is a professional and didn't need to look. Well, he was right. He cut my hair beautifully!

This is a close up of my reflection in the mirror from the picture above. All I could think was "EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK!"

Mission accomplished! I had been growing my hair out for about the past 5 years just for this reason. In truth I could have donated 2 years ago but was enjoying having long hair so I kept it longer than I had originally intended. The first time I did this in 2003 I sent Locks of Love 17" of hair. This time I'm sending an 18" ponytail to Pantene Beautiful Lengths.

A quick shampoo and Armando styled my hair cutting it all one length. I can put a single curl in all the way around. It's so easy to care for!

Triumphant. Both Armando and my hubby had been bugging me to cut my hair for the past two years. Hubby didn't want me to go quite this short but I figured it's only hair and will grow back.

And to top if off I had already ordered new business cards that reflected my new hair do! LOL It was so much fun to pass them out last night!

I call my new do the "Boing." After the cut I attended two events: A wedding networking event called the 411 hosted by my friend Nicole Lisanne and a group dinner with more friends... And my hubby. Nobody knew I was cutting my hair, especially not my hubby. LOL it was hilarious to walk into the restaurant with my new look. He was shocked. I thought he would be super happy since he'd wanted me to cut my hair for so long, instead he was super shocked. By the end of the night he was loving the new do, but it took a while for him to decide if he liked it or not.

Taaa Daaa! My friend Kathleen Kirkpatrick took this photo of the front of me at the networking event with her iPhone.

And here's another pic with my friend Carl Mindling.

If you want to grow your hair out to donate, CLICK HERE to view a past post about how I grew my hair so long in the first place. To be honest you might start to feel a bit like a sheep, growing its wool out to be shorn, but when you send in that ponytail knowing you're helping a person in need, it's so worth it.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Recipe Tribute • Memorial Service Idea

When I was a child, funerals were occasions solely dedicated to mourn the loss of a loved one. They were sad, everyone dressed in black there was a casket (opened or closed) and there were lots of handkerchiefs, tissues and tears.

Now, families are just as likely to choose a "memorial service." The most significant difference between a funeral and memorial is that at a memorial there is no casket or final disposition. Often a large photograph or montage of smaller photos are used as a display in place of a casket.

CLICK HERE to read how a recipe can become a sentimental, unique and unexpected living legacy.

I've noticed over the years that the tone of funerals and memorials has changed. Quite often both now incorporate the theme of "celebrating" the life of the person who just passed away. The last funeral I attended had plenty of tears but also a surprising amount of laughter.

In the spirit of celebrating a person's life I had an idea to do something unique and meaningful at the service of anyone who was a great cook or was well known for a particular recipe by sharing their recipes with the people who attend their funeral or memorial. CLICK HERE to view the details.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Wine Country Connections at B.R. Cohn Winery

Wine Country. It's just a hop, skip and a jump north of San Jose. Well that's if a hop is 93 miles, a skip is over 2 hours of driving time and a jump is traveling on 6 highways. I rarely head up to Napa or Sonoma. Maybe because I don't drink wine or because 2 hours is just really far to drive. But each of the four times I've driven through Sonoma I've thought to myself "Ah, I'd really love to live up here." So when I decided to attend the Wine Country Connections wedding industry networking event, I knew I would be glad I drove up once I was there :)

The event was hosted at B.R. Cohn Winery. The funny thing about B.R. Cohn is that for the past 15 years or so I thought they were a gourmet food company. I had no idea they sold wine.

I knew they sold bottles of olive oil and vinegar. Their Pear Chardonnay Vinegar was memorable from the moment I first saw it because of the color and design of the label and logo. I also loved the "frosted" glass bottles.

As I arrived at the winery (which is located in Glen Ellen, north of Sonoma and west of Yountville) I was thinking I would only know one person there that evening. Which is good and bad. Bad because it's always nice to see friendly faces you know, but good because it meant I would meet new people. Turned out it was a bit of both! I knew about 6 of the dozens of guests who attended that evening so I was able to revisit with friends and past acquaintances and met a LOT of new, really nice and interesting event professionals by the end of the night.

The evening began with a poolside reception and cocktails (will have to confirm who provided the cocktails) and an espresso bar by Traveling Joe Espresso and Catering. Guests mingled in the late afternoon sun and listened to great live vocals and music by the Donna Spitzer Band.

Those who were interested were invited to hop onto a sleek shuttle bus by Pure Luxury Transportation and take a short ride into the vineyard to view Fox Hill, the ceremony site available for weddings and other gatherings.

An interesting thing to know about Fox Hill is that the shuttle drops you off on a main road and then you (and your guests) walk through the vineyard, down this smaller gravel road, to reach the ceremony site nestled amongst the trees ahead to the left of the road.

When you arrive at Fox Hill it's like a little island in a sea of grape vines. It's a small clearing, planted with lichen covered trees. It is peaceful, beautiful and serene. For nature and wine lovers or people who simply want a unique ceremony experience it might be the perfect place to say "I do."

Most brides and grooms choose to take their vows beneath the boughs of the large oak tree in the center of this photo. Chairs can be brought in and guests sit in rows to the left and right with an aisle runner, often flower petals, dotting the path.

Fox Hill is best for short ceremonies because there are no "facilities." Furnishings (as well as port-a-potties) can be brought in and set up for all day events but most couples stick with a 15 minute ceremony then head back to the winery for their cocktail hour, reception and other amenities.

When we returned we spent more time at the poolside reception before dinner began... The flowers at dinner were by Karen Brown and they were really gorgeous!

It was a beautiful summer day and the outdoor dining area was set up perfectly. There were lit chandeliers and plenty of heat lamps by Patio Heaters R-Us to keep us warm and cozy as the sun set.

And there was plenty of wine! Everyone at my table enjoyed the wine thoroughly.

Dinner was by Alex's Catering. The first course was a mushroom quiche on a bed of arugula. EVERYONE said it was good and ate every bite. Well, everyone but me. But it was me, not the quiche... It looked good, but as it happens, two of my least favorite foods in the entire world are mushrooms and arugula. The only thing missing to make this my least favorite food trifecta was eggplant :)

The entree I loved! A nice piece of mahi mahi with mixed summer vegetables and olives. It was delicious!

An unusual twist was a mystery ingredient mixed in with the vegetables. That's a photo of it at left. Slightly larger than an olive and filled with tiny seeds we were at a loss as to what the unidentifiable ingredient was. Everyone who tried it, liked it but even after eating it it remained a mystery. I finally asked our server, he asked the chef and came back to report that they were in fact "caperberries" which are not to be confused with the smaller and more well known capers often found in Italian cooking.

What is a caperberry? Caperberries are the third stage of a caper's life span. First it is the smaller caper often seen in Italian cooking. If the caper isn't harvested at that stage it will blossom. After the blossom fades the caper berry (seed pod) is formed, so I guess it's kind of like a rose hip, but a caper one. Anyways it makes a nice addition to sauteed veggies, an antipasto tray or I'd imagine, sliced into a pasta dish.

Dessert! The cake by Judy Chadwick at True Confections was also delicious! Toasted Almond Sponge cake filled with Dark Chocolate Truffle filling and Caramel Buttercream. The raspberry sauce was provided by Alex's Catering. The chocolate truffle filling was so perfect. It was just enough richness to contrast with the light flavor of the cake. This was not an overly sweet and sugary cake. The flavors were clean and bright and I ate every last crumb on my plate.

I had never been to a Wine Country Connections event in the past but recently my friend Michael Peterson, a Professional Wedding DJ, became the new co-owner of the organization along with Robin Hawkey, so I went to support him and to meet a lot of new, really nice wedding professionals!

Michael introduced us to several of the evening's sponsors and we listened to a presentation about how to effectively connect with others by Non Denominational Minister Diana Morgan of Whole Heart Path. It was an extremely pleasurable evening and I really had fun chatting with the other women at my table.

At the end of the evening my friend Jonathan Metcalf, from Met Media Video, introduced me to a wedding professional who wants to learn more about social media. When I handed her my business card she exclaimed that we had met in the past, years earlier at another industry event. Even though she didn't remember me, she remembered the "look" of my business card and said she had been hoping to "meet" me again.

We discussed how I could help her as the tables were cleared and I've agreed to come up to Napa to teach one of my 4 hour seminars for Newbie Bloggers who want to blog but don't really understand what blogs are, how they work or how to begin. The class size is limited to ten people so you'll be able to ask plenty of questions.

And a special treat. I arrived just a tiny bit early so was able to go to the gift shop at the winery and purchase these two jars of olive tapenade. Yum right? I haven't opened either yet. I plan to use them on bread and pasta. Ooooh just looking at the pictures makes my mouth water.

To brides and groom who want a wine country wedding: A visit to B.R. Cohn may be in order. Especially if you love the idea of being married in an actual vineyard, not just on a vineyard property. The short drive to Fox Hill is in a very comfortable shuttle but on (for just a short bit) a kind of bumpy road. There is also the walk down the gravel road to the ceremony site so I think it's best for you to go in person and check out all of the details.

To people who love wine and/or The Doobie Brothers: This wold be a fun stop on a day of wine tasting. The owner of the winery has a history with The Doobie Brothers (as their manager) and I've read online that there is some memorabilia on display in the tasting room. There is also an annual fall charity concert hosted at the winery each year that The Doobie Brothers perform at.

To my friends who are colleagues who live in the South Bay: All I have to say is the next time there's a Wine Country Connection event and you want to go, let me know. Maybe we can carpool. I'm certain the drive up and back will be more fun talking to real people instead of listening to my GPS mispronounce the name of every highway from San Jose to Sonoma. LOL

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sur la Table and Le Creuset

The "want" not "need" voice in my head is fairly subdued. I really don't want for much or very often. But when it does say something it shouts out and really means it. LOL it's been screaming since yesterday when I walked into Sur la Table and saw the new Le Creuset Caribbean Blue cookware.

First things first. If you're not sure what I'm talking about or how to pronounce these names I can help :)

"Sur la Table" is a cooking store that opened in 1972 in Seattle, Washington. Pronounced "Sir-la-tawb" (with the "aw" actually sounding more like "ah") it means "on the table" in French. What I love about it is that it was one of the first stores (that I know of) that brought professional grade culinary tools to the home chef. The way other women love to shop for clothes or shoes or handbags, I love to shop for culinary tools and gourmet ingredients. I literally feel giddy when I walk into Sur la Table or Williams Sonoma.

Le Creuset is a French company. Founded in 1925 the company is revered for their porcelain enamelled cast iron pots and pans. Pronounced "Luh-Crew-Zay" their pots and pans are timeless, heavy and yes, pricey. But not the bad kind of over priced expensive (imho) but the good kind of expensive because these are the kinds of pots and pans you will buy once, and they will last your lifetime.

At the moment I am having a hard time explaining to my geeky hubby (who has no appreciation for aesthetics or luxury products of any type) why I NEED to get the 12" frying pan and the 3.5 quart and 5.5 quart French Ovens (aka as lidded pots) in Caribbean Blue. Especially when I already own the 5.5 quart lidded pot in saffron yellow.

He asked me again today "Now let me get this straight. You want to replace one pot just because it's a different color than the one you have now? That's it, just a different color." I replied "Um, yeah" as I watched the little wheels spinning in his brain as he tried to comprehend how color could matter. Hey, I know it's frivolous and all but I just can't help wanting them :) Plus I don't own a cast iron frying pan and have been needing one for awhile now. Nor do I have a 3.5 quart lidded pot. So this would be perfect, want and need rolled into one! Well, technically rolled into three. Two pots and a pan.

I'll give it some time and see if the voice screaming in my head turns into a whisper or goes mute but I don't think it will. I'll keep you posted to see how this pans out :)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Please Vote to Support Kids Undergoing Marrow Transplants

No registration needed. Just click on the vote button under Jimmie's Johnson picture. That's him to the left.

NASCAR driver Jimmie has a dream to provide financial relief for kids undergoing bone marrow transplants through the Be The Match Foundation. Your vote will decide if his idea is funded by Pepsi Refresh.

Thanks for any help! CLICK HERE to vote online. Voting ends June 23rd at 6:00 PM

As you may know, I became a volunteer advocate for the National Marrow Donor Program last year when my cousin Tami was diagnosed with a blood cancer similar to Leukemia called Myelodysplastic Syndrome. Her only hope for a cure, and future, was to receive an adult stem cell transplant. Thankfully an anonymous donor had joined the marrow registry. When contacted he agreed to go through with the donation and gave his stem cells to my cousin who continues to recover from both the MDS and transplant procedure. This cause is near and dear to my heart as I am now friends with many other patients who also received transplants, know others who are still searching for a match and I mourn the ones that didn't find a match in time and passed away.

You can make a difference by joining the registry and saving a life. If you have any questions please let me know. I'd be happy to answer them or find out the answers for you.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Flirty Idea: DIY How to Hand Bead a Crystal Bridal Veil

Back in the day, when I was a full time couture bridal accessory designer, I invented ways of doing things that weren't typical of how things are usually done mostly because I didn't know any better. One of those things was how to hand bead a bridal veil with Swarovski Austrian Crystals or small pearl beads. As it turns out my motto became "ignorance is bliss." Because I didn't know the right way, I found what many in the industry considered to be better methods to achieve my desired results.

Almost all brides want to sparkle, and of those that did Swarovski was the only crystal bead I was ever asked to use by name. People would look at the beads on the tulle and oooh and ahhh unable to figure out how I had suspended the beads in place with no visible thread or knots and not using any glue.

Bicone crystals in 3 sizes: 4mm, 5mm and 6mm

The reason I think I "invented" this method is because everyone who saw my beading, including some very experienced seamstresses and tailors, could not figure out my method by simply looking at the beads on fabric. They were ultimately convinced that I had somehow glued the beads to the tulle. That is something I would never do. Glue is a huge no-no when you're creating heirloom fashion items as the glue will oxidize over time, dry out, crack, turn yellow and then brown... It's fine for a one time use garment but not for an item you want to save, cherish and hand down to future generations.

So today, I'm sharing my secret with the world. This method also works for sewing beads onto fabric. It is tedious and time consuming but the reason I did it this way is that normally beads are sewn, multiple beads at a time, using a single strand of thread. It's faster but if a thread breaks while you are wearing the garment, you can lose many beads all at once. Individually hand knotting each bead means if one falls off, only one falls off.

Be sure to buy some tulle at your local fabric store and practice a lot before you attempt to bead a finished veil. Tulle is a very delicate and unforgiving medium to work on. It both stretches and tears easily but this is a project I think most people can master with enough practice. If you have plenty of time to learn, I say go for it!

CLICK HERE to view the full tutorial now republished on this blog as I've since removed the original website I had shared it on.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

HTML Head Tag Earrings for Geeky Girls

So last week a thought popped into my head. I'm not even sure why but I recalled that months ago I'd seen a cute pair of earrings for geeky girls on Kaboodle or Delight, one of those cute and quirky shopping websites. At the time the vendor was sold out so I bookmarked and forgot all about them.... Until two weeks ago. I went online and found them on Etsy and ordered a pair...

LOL then I forgot I'd ordered them because I'm always crazy busy. So when I went to my PO Box yesterday and found the package I was like "Hey! My earrings are here!"

I couldn't wait to open them but I did because I wanted to take pictures for all of you of the actual unboxing ceremony :)

Here they are! Sterling silver HTML head tag earrings!

This is totally geeky humor so if you're not a web developer you may not think it's all that funny. For those of you who don't know HTML here's a little laymen's tutorial for you if you're interested:

Everything you read online is created with letters, numbers and symbols in a language called HTML.

Some of the information used to build a web page is placed between the start and end "head" tags.

One part of the HTML code looks like the earrings.

1. The opening tag is the word "head" between two brackets like these < >
2. There is more code between the start (opening) and end (closing) tags
3. At the end you'll see the end head tag with the brackets < > and the forward slash in front of the word head like this "/head"

So the earrings are HILARIOUS because you put the start tag earring in your right ear and the end tag earring in your left ear and in between the head tags is.... YOUR HEAD! LMAO

The web page on Nicholas and Felice's web page says:
"Make sure you don't walk around without a properly formatted Head. While we cannot ensure that Google will properly index the contents of your brain, these earrings could help. Be W3C verified. Now xhtml compliant! Always close your tags!"
My girlfriend Katherine reminded me not to put them on facing a mirror or I might put them in the wrong ears. How embarrassing would that be? Web developers and programmers alike would mock me. I'd be an absolute joke. I'd be labeled as a geek wannabe who failed at creating a properly formatted head tag. Good thing I have friends like Katherine to watch my back, or my head so to speak :D

If you want to order a pair of HTML Head Tag earrings you can find them here at Nicholas and Felice on Etsy.com. They also have a super cute Body Tag necklace for you geeky girls without holes in your ears :)