She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not

She Loves Me:

Old Navy black dress

1. This sweet summer dress from Old Navy. Of course, the ONE dress that fits me well from Old Navy only comes in one color. Sheesh.

2. My sweet friend Kat. We have been friends for 23 years and her grace and courage never cease to amaze me. She is a treasure I will cherish forever.

3. My hibiscus. They are going wild in my front yard – bright yellow and red, they make me smile whenever I drive up.

She Loves Me Not:

1. The heat.  ’nuff said.

2. My fat. I swear I was doing so well and in the last 6 weeks everything went to hell, I’ve gained everything I lost and I feel like a nasty, dumpy blob most of the time. I am working out almost every day and am being mindful of portion size, which is my downfall, so hopefully, things will kick off again!1. The heat. I am NOT a summer person. At least I live in a dry area, because I’ve been to places where it’s hot AND humid and I nearly passed out because I couldn’t breathe. And happily enough, the rest of the week should be much cooler.

3. Allergies. Bleargh. I leaned in to trim some plants the other day and my leg brushed up against a plant. 20 minutes later, it is red, swollen and itchy. I ended up scratching it bloody during the night. Seriously, I’m so over allergies.

Linking to Michaela Noelle’s party!

Michaela Noelle

Is your bar ready for summer?

So, first of all, we are wine drinkers. No beer for us, occasionally a mixed drink, hardly ever Champagne. We served a Moscato at our wedding so people could toast and enjoy their cake with it.

Our little bar was a wedding gift from dear Peruvian friends and it fits perfectly in the corner of our dining room. Recently I decided to go through it and restock it with some essentials for summery drinks.

Rose’s Grenadine Syrup for a Tequila Sunrise, lovely Myers’s Rum for mojitos and mai tais, although we get the Trader Vic’s mix which you can spot behind the red hibiscus. We served mai tais at my younger son’s Tiki party a couple of years ago and it’s everyone’s favorite party to day. I am sure it was because of the coconut shrimp, not the booze, ahem.

Behind the rum is a bottle of tequila, which I usually avoid except in mixed drinks where I cannot taste it. It does not like me and the feeling is mutual. Behind the tequila is a bottle of Castañeda sangria from World Market. I initially got the sangria because it happens to be my mom’s maiden name, so I brought it over and she and my dad loved it, then the rest of my Castañeda family here in the area liked it as well, so now it’s a staple in our house.

The leeeeetle bottle in front is Peruvian pisco. I have bigger bottles but our little bar top couldn’t handle it 😀 You can make a Pisco Sour, or a locally (SF) invented drink, the Pisco Punch. My brother happens to be a bartender at the Hyatt on Union Square and gave me a pisco recipe I will share with you next month. July is Peruvian Independence month and I will be sharing some recipes and tidbits about my homeland. If you’re REEEEEALLY curious, here are the pics that went along with the article on my brother.

On the right is a sweet mini chest of drawers given to me by another dear friend, on top are my favorite yellow napkins, wine bottle opener, and foil top cutter, along with some cocktail stirrers below.

We have tons of red and yellow hibiscus in our front yard, they are so festive!! The glasses are fleur-de-lis double old-fashioneds from World Market. I LOVE how they look, I HATE how fragile they are. I bought 6 and have three left, and while I can be pretty clumsy, the many reviews on the WM site will tell you that it’s not me, it’s the glasses. So once these three are gone I’m getting sturdier glasses.

There you have it, my summer bar — I look forward to good times with good friends, some mai tais, some Pisco drinks, and awesome food and company.

What are your favorite summer drinks?

Weekend Bloggy Reading

Embellished kitchen towels

Recently I saw a fabulous idea for a craft – embellishing plain kitchen towels with Sharpies! Heather at Setting for Four came up with this super easy, super awesome craft. All you need is some Flour Sack towels, a Sharpie, and whatever image or text you want to copy onto the towel. I printed a few from the Graphics Fairy, but if you’re better than me at Photoshop you can always create your own graphic.

I decided to make two of the towels using a metallic bronze Sharpie. This color is great, and gave my towel a very vintage look.

As Heather explains in her tutorial, you can see through the towel fairly well so it’s easy to follow along.

Here are the two towels I made with the bronze color:

As much as I loved the look, I could only find the bronze color in the regular fine tip marker, not the super fine size, so I was not able to add some of the more detailed elements of the graphic. I did, however have a super fine tipped-Sharpie in black, so I went to town on this towel.

And forty-five minutes later I decided perhaps I’d been overambitious. It took longer than I had planned for, with all the detail and shading, but I do love the finished product.

Here are my three towels:

Now, I must admit, I have about 25 different ideas in mind for these towels. I LOVE how generous they are in size, how soft the cotton is, and truly, the possibilities are endless — pillowcases? cafe curtains? kids’ artwork-embellished towels?

I have a feeling I am going to be buying a ton of Sharpies in the near future. Thank you Heather, for this awesome craft!

Paris, of course!

Whenever someone asks what my favorite city in the world is, my answer is always, Paris. Of course, I love the city I live in because it’s where my family is, and I love the city where I was born and miss it a lot, but I must admit to a decades-long attachment to Paris.

My first Parisian experience was in the Marais district, fresh out of university, I decided to park my bags at a youth hostel on a sweet little cobblestone street.

I loved this quiet little street, the gorgeous church, and the doggie that hung out at the restaurant on the corner.

I soon discovered that Paris was everything I had expected, and more.


My closest Metro stop was Pont Marie, the name of which became part of my first ever email address.


I loved how the simplest buildings could be so gorgeous, the beautiful architectural details not reserved for museums or city halls, but instead part and parcel of the style of the city.




In Paris, you can start your day – every day! – with a pastry, you know why? Because then you walk everywhere for the rest of the day!

And how adorable are those window boxes above?

You can indulge your addiction to freshly baked bread, too!


And enjoy a bit of wine with dinner every evening:


A Highlander: The Series fan, I ran to the spot where Duncan’s barge was usually parked,

only to discover that they were filming in Canada at the time. After I returned to the States, they moved back to film in Paris again – MERDE!!!

I walked down the famous Champs Elysees

there were posters for Four Weddings and a Funeral, or rather, Quatre mariages et un enterrement, which was the hit movie of that year.
The Eiffel Tower also beckoned

but I have to say that it was not the tourist sites that made me love this city.
It wasn’t the expensive boutiques or the fancy couture I saw.
It was the history, written on every street, every window and door that have witnessed so much

It was the food, made to be truly enjoyed and not agonized over

It was the women, ever so chic and confident, buying clothes that will last instead of clothes to fit this season’s trends

It was the beauty, everywhere, to be enjoyed even during lunch hour

because seriously, if you could go to a place like that to eat your PB&J, wouldn’t you?

And that is why I love Paris. Because of what it is, and because of what it is not. But you know, I decided a few years ago to bring that feeling to my home. I try to cook as much as I can so that I know I am giving my family healthy, nourishing food they can enjoy. I grow my own veggies so that we can eat corn that spent the morning still attached to its stalk. I try to buy things that will last – obviously that doesn’t work for my boys, because they outgrow everything within 3 months – but it means enjoying what we have, instead of always looking around to see what else we can get. It means enjoying life.

A welcome change

This project has been in the back burner for a long time. I got an awesome Welcome sign from Leen the Graphics Queen and with holidays and birthdays and life, it’s just this past weekend that we finally put up the sign on our front door.

The door had a brass plaque on it that was put there two owners ago:

It is not our style to tell our guests to take their shoes off, considering we have two young kids and two cats so our carpets are hardly immaculate 😀

No project around here is complete without a drawing by my better half:

However, when we removed the plaque a couple of years ago we realized the wood behind it was a very different color from the rest of the door:

I knew I wouldn’t be able to match the color of the door — not only is the door over 20 years old, but it has obviously been weathered a lot, so my dear husband cut down a piece of spare wood for me:

I painted it black to match the door trim, sealed it, and added the decal:

The sign looks much better than the old brass plaque and has a much nicer message:

Our front door, looking so much nicer!

I am super happy with this little change, it’s something that every single person that comes to our door notices and although we would always tell them to ignore the previous sign, it still made people feel guilty and they’d take their shoes off. Now, it’s not an issue and our friends and family get a nice message instead – go check out Leen’s shop for this Welcome sign and many other goodies!

How can this be?

In one week, my oldest will be all done with first grade. I don’t understand how this happened, not only because CLEARLY I am much too young to be the mother of a 7-year-old, but also because, um, wasn’t it just last week that he had his first day of first grade?

He picked out the outfit, as he does every day. He prefers polo shirts to t-shirts, even when he’s done with school and changes into “play clothes”.

Wasn’t it just a few days ago that he had his Halloween parade?

Surely, just a couple of days ago he and his classmates were getting Principal’s Awards

I am, however astonished I am at how quickly time goes by, so happy he has made good friends at school

Daddy helped him with his Leprechaun trap — such a rite of passage, isn’t it?

Yesterday was his last field trip of the school year – the kids went to Happy Hollow, a local park and zoo, and they had a blast!

Thanks to my dear friend M for the field trip photo!

My darling Aidan, I am so proud of you. You are such a sweet boy and always eager for more and more learning, I can only hope I can live up to your hunger for knowledge. Oh, and daddy will have to teach you math and science because I suck at both. History and language arts? That’s mama’s turf. Love you always!