Sunday, December 16, 2007

Napa Valley Crazies Tour

This year Jeremy and I going down south for the holidays and pulling the whole "xmas eve with one set of parents, xmas day with the other." So we decided to do a little xmas getaway just the two of us, taste some wines, and finally use the gift certificate that Eddo got me for my bday to Ad Hoc, Thomas Keller's lower-rent version of The French Laundry.

We decided to do our tastings up in Calistoga in an attempt to avoid the annoying crowds on Saturdays in the wine country. We made it up to Napa late Saturday afternoon, which was actually quite nice because all the bumblies had already had their fill and gone back to their hotels to sober up before dinner. We chose a few wineries off the main drag for our tastings, and boy were we happy we did!

Our first stop was Frank Family Vineyards, which has two tasting rooms: one for sparkling wine and one for regular wine. We liked the sparkling wine alright there, but the other stuff just wasn't our cup of tea. Our wine jockey at Frank Family was totally crazy.

Me to Jeremy: "Do you think he's drunk?"
Jeremy: "I certainly hope so."

Our next stop was Dutch Henry Winery, which we absolutely loved! Their tastings are in an actual functional barrel room and there are photos of all the winemakers dressed up like they are in the old west.


Everything we tried their was ultra interesting and different. Their tasting notes said stuff like "Hide the women and children and grab some t-bones!" Anniko, our WJ, was totally crazy (are you sensing a theme here?). After she poured us a taste of the Cabernet Franc, she kept saying, "Franc is my good friend. He is always welcome at my house. Do you like Franc? Franc likes you." Yeah, certifiable! We loved her!

Our final destination was Cuvaison, which was located on an absolutely beautiful plot of land:


The wines here were a little more commercial, but still we found a bottle that we liked. Our WJ here was also completely insane, but in a way that we didn't like. They had these ultra tall wine glasses that were kind of ridiculous:


And now, for the main event: our dinner at Ad Hoc. YUM!!! Our first course was a BLT: Butter Lettuce salad with pork belly (it was supposed to have Tomato vinaigrette to put the T in BLT, but instead it came with a buttermilk dressing which was fantabulous).


We had our meal with a 2005 bottle of The OG Grenache by Betts and Scholl. Our waiter, Nessim, who was also completely insane, described it to us as "kind of unusual." Not sure what happened this weekend, but we seemed to be attracting both people and wines by that description. But yo, we absolutely loved that wine.


Our main course consisted of braised short ribs with roasted winter vegetables and mashed potatoes (described by our waiter as being made of "cream, cream, butter, cream, butter, butter, cream, cream, cream, butter, butter, and then some more cream", while he was making karate chops with his hands). Look at how excited I am!


This was followed up by a cheese course and apple pound cake, neither of which we could finish because we were too stuffed. I have to say, the cynical me thought they were taking the "low rent" thing a little too far, but when it comes down to it, they were giving us a 4 course menu with absolutely ginormous proportions for $45. Can't really fault that.

After dinner we went back to the hotel, where I gave Jeremy his new Wii. WHEEEEEE!!! He is sooo excited about it. In fact, he's playing right now as I type these words.

Jeremy: I can't believe you gave me a video game console! I've never had one before because I don't trust myself enough to have one.
Hope: Well, don't make me regret it. ;)

It was a quick, wonderful weekend getaway...check out all our photos here:


Monday, December 10, 2007

Eye Candy

Leah, one of the gals I work with at Noon, went to the EG conference and she loved it! Apparently it's kind of like the TED conference, where the greatest minds in the world come together and, uh, confer. Actually, after hearing about all the cool people and awesome stuff she did at the conference, I was kinda jeal that I didn't get to go!

One of the speakers that she told us about was the guy who put together this website: Basically, this website searches the entire Interweb for the phrases "I feel" and "I am feeling" and records the sentence that this phrase is found in. It them compiles data on the writer of the phrase and organizes that info in a number of ways, all of which look effin' cool!

This is a truly excellent example of gorgeous and well-communicated information design.

Click here to open up the site. I promise you won't be sorry. It's gorgeous!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

I heart Erika

Our favorite Miss Erika is moving back down to LA, so two Melissas and a Hope, heavily aided by the planning talents of Tickled Pink Events, threw her a party she wouldn't soon forget. First of all, the party was a wine tasting event, complete with ballots, dresses (and corsets and tube tops) to mask the wine bottles, and a winning prize for the best bottle:



It also happened to be a wig party, 'cuz you know we like to get our costume on:






For the record, Jeremy's wig was a purple and black punk rock mullet WITH FIBER OPTICS (his hair flashed red at the tips).


And it was a karaoke party...the inflatable instruments that Erika bought for our wedding made a comeback. Apparently I thought it would be really funny to have the giant inflatable microphone in the foreground of every photo, cuz about 2/3 of the 200 photos I took feature this composition:




Good thing I took so many photos, cuz now we'll definitely remember it. ;) Catch the entire Flickr set here:

We really love you Erika! Though I'm pretty sad to see her move away, I also kinda like that Karl guy, so I guess it's for the best. :)



Karlika, come visit often, please! That goes for all of yous that moved away (ahem, Katrick and the Lichis), and some of you who never lived here (I'm looking at you, Jenny and Dan). :)

XOX, Hope

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Gobble Gobble

Jeremy hates traveling on Thanksgiving weekend and will do anything to avoid it. Thank goodness I married him! I LOVE the city Thanksgiving weekend. It is dead quiet, there is tons of parking, and no one is working so you don't feel guilty neglecting your to-do list.

This Thanksgiving was all about catching up on our housekeeping and dealing with the wreckage of Burning Man and the wedding. It has been a crazy few months! But we also had some time to make some good food, drink some good wine, and do a few social activities.

We started off Wednesday night on the right foot...with a couple glasses of Selim, a sparkling wine from Italy that MR and I tried at A16 (and then, like a good binder girl, she immediately found the following day on the Interweb). And yes, that's the flower arrangement that I made in class with the Melissas! Still standing!


For eatings, we made roasted squash stuffed with lentils, sausage, and kale. YUM!!!


On Thanksgiving day, in lieu of a turkey, we made horseradish and salt encrusted prime rib. Again, YUM!!! We cut up a bunch of veggies (sunchokes, cauliflower, parsnips, celery, carrot, and onion) and placed the meat directly on top of the veggies so they could soak up all the meaty goodness:


We also made some brussels sprouts with bacon, and some brown rice stuffing with pecans and dried cranberries. Here's my plate after it was all said and done:


And here are our happy faces as we prepare for the feast!


But wait, there's more! On Friday night, we went out to dinner with Eddo and Chris. Afterwards we ended up at The Mint, Eddo's favorite dive + karaoke bar. Oh my gaw, it was SO. MUCH. FUN! And actually, everyone there was really good! I kept telling Eddo that I thought we accidentally crashed the annual LGBT Choral Ensemble's Thanksgiving outing. Here's Eddo working "Chop Suey" by System of a Down:


Afterwards, Eddo and Chris and I sang "Waterfalls" by TLC, and then Eddo and I tried to karaoke "The Final Countdown." Turns out there's a lot more words in that song than just "It's the final coutdown! doo doo doo doo". Who knew?!?

Saturday we finally went with tradition and roasted a whole turkey. After our bellies were filled, we went and saw Beowulf in digital 3D. Not the most substantive film making, but it sure was fun to see on the big screen!

What a nice way to spend Thanksgiving...if only there were more 4 day weekends in our lives. :)

Friday, November 23, 2007


I absolutely love my job as a graphic designer...sometimes as I'm sketching ideas for a new logo or poster, I pinch myself because my job is just. so. COOL! I truly feel like one of the lucky and privileged because my work doesn't feel like work.

But just because I love my job doesn't mean I don't have bad days...sometimes I just don't feel creative, or I am feeling drained, or I don't want to work on a particular project...any number of things can happen which cause me to feel like the inspiration well has dried up. In moments like these, I've learned that it's a good idea to turn to books, magazines, websites...any sort of visual stimulation that will get the ideas flowing. In the past few weeks, I've run across two designers, both women, both extraordinary. Check it won't be sorry.

First off, Tauba Auerbach. I have to warn you that her website is kinda...harsh on the eyes. But click through to her work: Maybe it's because I am a type nerd, but her work is just so lovely to me. Most of it is ink or pencil on paper, and in some way relates to type. I mean, how can you not love this, her study of the letter K:

Or this, which is the entire alphabet, broken down into strokes:

Or this piece, which is composed of 10,000 pieces of cut letters on paper:

I mean, WOW.

Courtney Skott is a furniture designer; she actually went to my school and I first encountered her work when she won the annual Ronald & Anita Wornick award (a scholarship that is awarded to two student furniture designers every year). The following piece is one of those things you just never forget once you see it:

Yeah, that's right...they are little tree stools with zip-up bark jackets. Brilliant!!!

I also really love this piece, her thesis project. It is an alcove bed and the pattern is a pixelated image of clouds.

It is absolutely insane how she made can see a step-by-step of her process on her Flickr set.

Check out some more of her work here:

Thanks for the inspiration, ladies!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

K + P

I realize that I am massively late on this, but I didn't want to neglect posting about Kara and Patrick's wedding. It happened a few short weeks after we returned from Huatulco, and its proximity to our wedding brought up so many surprising and unexpected feelings. I felt so honored to be by Kara's side during this truly special and meaningful day in her life, especially after meeting all the people who love and care about these two wonderful people. I kept thinking, "Why me? Why am I so special that I get to stand next to these two as they make this incredible commitment to each other?" Seriously, I hear people all the time b*tch and moan about being bridesmaids...being forced to wear ugly dresses with dyed-to-match shoes. These people clearly don't know what it's all about...I would have worn a burlap sack with some potatoes (???) on my feet for these two. I really can't explain the feeling other than to say that I felt so HONORED. I think that really says something about the couple when the "Best Babe" is eternally grateful just for being included!


Kara was such an amazing Mistress of Honor for me that I wanted nothing more than to do the same for her. I wanted to be there to take care of all the loose ends the day of; I wanted to take photos during all the non-photo ops so she would have a memento of the times when the pro photog wasn't there; I wanted to make sure my toast was incredible and memorable. Kara did all these things for me and I felt like I couldn't express my gratitude in words so I tried to do it through my actions.

Anyway, here are some of my favorite images from their wedding:

Kara's wedding gift to Patty was a set of Scrabble tiles...the letters "K" and "P". I took this photo on the bus to HollyHedge:


It's hard for me to pick which of the next 2 photos Kara looks prettier in:



Once I gave my toast, I was free to catch up with the other Party Poodles and shake my ass on the dance floor with my man:


The bride, having said her vows, also felt free to work the dance floor like she owned it (and she did):


The next day, our flight left late so we had the time to take a nice, leisurely walk along the towpath, where we took this photo:


See my entire Flickr set of photos from that weekend here:

I love you, Kara and Patty. May you always rock on with your cocks out.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Luna de Miel (Moon of Honey)

When I was in Oaxaca, Mariana (our TA), mentioned that she and her family stayed at the Quinta Real in Huatulco, Mexico, and she recommended that we go there on our honeymoon. At that point, Jeremy and I were thinking about going to the Galapagos or Greece, but we cut the Galapagos once we heard that it's not very fact, we would have to stay on a boat (in bunk beds, no less) for several days with a bunch of strangers in order to see what the islands had to offer. It sounds great, but maybe not so much for a honeymoon. And, I talked Jeremy out of Greece...actually I am DYING to go to Greece, but not for a short trip like 1.5 weeks...some of you will recall that when we went to France for Brad and Jacqueline's wedding, I cried the whole 6 hour flight home from NYC. We had been traveling for 30 hours by that point and my seat was broken and didn't recline. I just couldn't sleep all hunched over like that, even though I was exhausted and was desperate for some relief. I think that was the trip we decided that we were never again going to go for the cheaper ticket that had layovers and connections. It took us 36 hours to get to the south of France (where Brad and Jacqueline were getting married), and just about the same to get home, and again, I CRIED the whole way home...just miserable.

Anyway, on to happier thoughts. HUATULCO! I posted our entire Flickr set here:

We have been thinking about getting a new camera, and we settled on the Nikon D40X. J was trying to decide between the Nikon and the Canon Rebel EOS series but ultimately decided on the Nikon for its interface. Whatever, I was just happy to have a nice camera! I am still trying to figure out how to manipulate it...I finally figured out how to take nice photos on the Powershot, but I still need some more time with the new duds. Anyway, here's what we were able to manage...

We had a really ugly flight in...we left SFO at 11:30PM, flew to Mexico City (a 4 hour flight) and had a 5 hour layover until our flight to Huatulco). But one we got there, this is what we saw from the plane:


When you get to the hotel, the "doorman" (I put this in quotes because there are no doors) greets you with two towels soaked in ice water so you can wipe your face, and two little teacups full of some house-made ice cream (made from local fruit). Now that's what I call service!!!

This is what our (first) hotel room looked like:


And here's what the pool looked like:


When you're standing on the pool deck, you can see the beach...


J wasn't sleeping well in the first room because the mattress was kinda saggy and soft, so he complained at the front desk. Since they couldn't get us a new mattress before we left, they decided to upgrade us to a nicer room. Eff yeah!!!

This is our second room:


And here is the view from our deck:


Yeah, it was really too much. So pretty there!!! We spent most of our days reading (2.5 books for Jeremy and 1 for me, plus every single New Yorker we had, cover to cover), relaxing by the beach or pool (J said he now knows he can lay on the beach for 10 days with nothing to do--I could have told him that!), and eating (though getting here was pretty cheap, eating in Huatulco can rival SF prices). We also went diving one day (our first dive was preceded dramatically by me having an asthma attack) and snorkeling for 2 days. Our favorite beach was San Augustin, which had an abosultely AMAZING coral reef system) much of it was in bad condition, but WOW! the fish were in great abundance. Here are some photos from that beach...some taken from under Charly's palapa:



There were soooo many fish under the water at San well as eagle rays. These creatures were truly beautiful and very curious about us weird humans. Here is a photo I took of them from shore. They were huge!!! In the background of this photo is this crazy guy we met from Slovakia named Jan.


It was a really wonderful trip, and perfect for our honeymoon, as we had to work our A's off both before and after the 'moon. In closing, I leave you with two more photos on things we got really comfortable with in Huatulco...

J really loved the whole fried fish they served up there...


And I really got to know the in-pool chaise lounges...