This time, we left our hearts in Mexico.
Mike @ San Pancho Beach. May 2012

sayulita, mexico
Happy hour Sayulita style.

Feeling right at home with the hills of San Pancho (old San Francisco).

Being in Mexico forces you to change your perspective. Use a different ‘lens’. I like it.


Path to Los Muertos Beach. If I had a themed blog, it would be pictures of signs. I love them.

Sundown in Sayu.

We are the proud owners of a compost bin. I try to use it–and to recycle –at least when my husband is around. . .

I find that San Franciscans are quick to jump on the sustainability bandwagon and make you feel like you aren’t doing enough –I feel the dirty looks when I walk into my office with a disposable plastic water bottle or use the printer to *gasp* make copies. The greenest city in the US  is a place where take-out comes in biodegradable potato containers and careers are made on promoting the practices of reuse and re-purposing …this is the land of the Sustainability Consultant, after all.

In this environment, it is easy to end up feeling like others are doing so much when you are doing nothing at all, but although I don’t always fit the expected pro-environment facade of a good San Francisco citizen I  actually do promote sustainability in my own little ways…

A few of my favorites (they all happen to be easy, fun, and frugal):

1. Saving a few cents at the grocery store by bringing my own bags (I love this –they have been doing something similar in Ireland for years, but their version is a little different; you have to pay EXTRA if you’d like a disposable bag). I also won $25.00 in the Trader Joes bring-your-own bag raffle! Why don’t all stores start doing this?!

2. Consignment shops and boutiques abound in San Francisco. I find that purchases here and here are usually more adventurous than something I’d buy at Nordstrom or Macy’s, and (usually) much kinder to my start-up salary budget. I don’t mind spending a little time hunting for a great piece and love feeling like I’m getting a bargain PLUS reusing clothing that may have been thrown away or sitting in someone’s closet.

3. I just love this idea and couldn’t remember if I’ve shared it with my E. coast friends, yet. A ‘clothing swap’ is even better than shopping in a consignment boutique because -HELLO, it is a PARTY! Make a cute evite (the one we used is below) and round up your girlfriends for the most chic way to reuse, re-purpose, and recycle!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’d love more ideas –what are your favorite ways to ‘go green’ {without going granola} ?

No city invites the heart to come to life as San Francisco does. . .

As our interns are preparing to leave our little city by the bay, I realized that this summer marks 4 years in SF; and also that I’d happily spend another 4! My blog celebration = a re-post from April 2010:

Girl!

Girl!!  SO excited to be an Aunt, and this is also the best part of being a younger sister –usually my older sister goes through things first and I benefit from all of her lessons learned…

It is so funny that last month I’d been on a vacation in Ireland, on the beaches and mountains of Mallorca, and discovered what was to be my favorite city in Europe (Barcelona)… I’d experienced my first Irish wedding -complete with 4am singing session and 6am walk to watch the sunrise…I tasted my first *authentic* Catalan tapas and paella…revisited the place where I met my husband and where we were engaged…I got to be with my best friend for her fabulous wedding in North Carolina …and had the chance to relax over a meal with my parents for the first time in a long time…

…all in one fantastic month…

But the BEST thing about May was when my sister called me to let me know they found out that their little baby is a GIRL! I cannot wait to meet my niece —Charlotte Elizabeth –and spoil her silly!

Two weeks of  summer in the middle of January?! I’m capitalizing on the heat wave with my first Bikram Yoga class tonight! AND revisiting my sunny days list to cross off some of those things I wanted to do back in March of 2010!

I came into the office on the Monday after NYE feeling over-sugared and under-exercised. I didn’t think I could eat one more thing when a coworker offered me some ‘healthy’ soup –I’ve had her cooking many times before and it is always yummy, so of course I accepted. This soup was SO healthful and delicious – just what I needed! I begged her to spill the beans on what made it taste so rich and still so healthful at the same time. Turns out it is the little bit of parmesan, the roasted flavor of the chicken and potatoes, and a little zest of lemon added to the broth. Here is the recipe – adapted from one she found online, but with her usual twists that put her in the category of naturally fabulous cooks!

Leslie’s Kale and Chicken Stew

Serves 6-8 which to me means I can make it on Monday night and eat it for the rest of the week – it is THAT good!

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
5 medium mixed potatoes; diced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
4 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt
freshly cracked black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

One big (peeled and seeded) tomato

2 big garlic cloves minced
1 medium onion; chopped
1 large shallot; minced
2 carrots; peeled and diced
6 cups chicken stock
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2-3  tablespoons Parmesan cheese; finely grated
5 cups chopped fresh kale – or collard greens (chopped into 1-1.5” strips)
15-ounce can cannellini beans; drained
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan. Rub with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. In a separate sheet pan, toss the potatoes with olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the potatoes are tender. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred the meat. Set aside.

Warm 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, shallot, garlic and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the carrots and cook 15 minutes until softened. Add in chicken stock, chicken, potatoes, Parmesan, salt and pepper, (and herb bundle) bring to a simmer. Peel and dice tomato – add to broth. Add the kale and beans and simmer for another 20 minutes, until the kale is tender and the beans are hot.

Kate’s Notes: At Leslie’s suggestion, I also made a herb bundle to float in the broth: ¼ lemon peel, 2 bay leaves and 1 more thyme sprig –bound with kitchen string so I could scoop it out later. You can also put that in one of those loose leaf tea strainers and float it in the soup- I just couldn’t find mine. I used more stock (~ 10 cups) because I wanted it to be more like a soup. To make my stock, I used two chicken bouillon cubes and added a couple tablespoons of reduced beef stock as well to give it an extra boost. I ended up using 3tbsp parm (Kraft-superfine) in the broth because it gives it the most yummy, intense flavor.

Leslie’s notes: I didn’t have chicken stock so used 1 beef bouillon cube and some soybean paste (what you use for miso soup) and more water than each called for.

A photo from the kitchn, where the orginal recipe can be found —

my fans. are clammoring for more.

read: my sister has been nagging me to update my blog.

Thanks sis – this one is for you . . .

Two fabulous things happened this week – Thursday was  M’s (311st!) birthday, and on Saturday, Fall decided to make a visit to the city. In celebration of both occasions I made an apple tart, and the general consensus was that I’ve come a long way with my cooking skills since the breadmaking experiment.  The recipe, pulled from a new blog obsession of mine, (and in true Alice Waters fashion) is deliciously simple and rustic.

You start by making a simple galette dough – and it really IS simple.

Flour, sugar, salt and butter slices go in the food processor – pulse for a few seconds at a time, dump out in a bowl and slowly add chilled water bit by bit until the dough comes together…

Pop the dough in the fridge while you slice and core the apples. Sounded like a daunting task -but really didn’t take that long. Once the apples are halved, a melon baller works perfectly to scrape out the core and I used a small knife to remove the skins.

‘Stacked’ apple slices made for easy arranging later. . .

All snuggled into the dough . . .

and then sprinkled with sugar and brushed with butter – as all good things in life should be.

Perfect golden crust after 45 min at 400 degrees . . .

This is where the recipe gets extra special – instead of being discarded immediately, the apple cores and peels are simmered in sugar and a bit of water to make a glaze to brush on the warm crust.

 

AND…

 

sliced and served:

Get the recipe (and beautiful photos) here. A couple of notes if you are going to make this yourself (which I highly recommend) – I added about a teaspoon of cinnamon, but made another tart on Sunday sans, and it was equally as delicious – maybe better. The vanilla ice cream sidecar was M’s bday request; we also discussed the merits of  whipped cream or irish cheddar as other possible pairings – both of which we plan to try in the near future. Meanwhile, Mike is away this week which means I still have over half of yesterday’s tart to finish on my own. It’s a tough job, but… ;)

 

 

I’ve heard a lot of people ask, “Why the hell would you want to run a marathon?”

A fair question…

BUT

…the really amazing this about marathons is that they remind you HOW FAR YOU CAN PUSH YOURSELF. Something we all need to be reminded of now and then. 

On that note, I encourage everyone to find YOUR kind of marathon – something that you cannot accomplish by simply going through the motions; something that will force you to stretch yourself, experience a little mental and physical anguish, cause you to make some hard sacrifices and choices – whether it is taking steps to become a linchpin in your organization, doing something – really contributing—to a cause you believe in, making a big move or career switch – find out whatever YOUR 26.2 miles is, and start training for it – today!

friday in pictures. inspiration for the week ahead. 

Today’s quote was inspired by yesterday’s Google doodle, a tribute to designer Josef Frank. His patterns are stunning–forward and edgy, but truly timeless (Frank was designing in the early 1900’s)– and there is no question that for decades his patterns have been the direct inspiration for the most popular collections from home retailers such as Pottery Barn and Anthropologie.

The content of today’s quote resonates with my own design aesthetic, and I love the simplicity and clarity of Frank’s words.

The photo was taken at a favorite brunch spot that is so cozy, it feels like home.

My husband likes to tease me about my blog. I think he’s just jealous of my little slice of the www. When I pulled out my camera last night to to document what was to be my lengthy homemade bread baking adventure, his somewhat sarcastic response was, “This looks like a blog post in the making.”  Then he asked –because I was complaining about how long the process was going to take–if the title of the post was going to be; “Good Things Come to Those Who Wait.” I was annoyed at his mocking, but also satisfied with this comment because if he came up with that theme, then he must, in fact, be a diligent reader of the citysteps blog.

I documented my bread baking last night because it was the first time I’ve ever done it. Elenor Roosevelt said to do one thing every day that scares you. I don’t like to be scared, so my version of her wise words is to try to do one thing every day that I’ve never done before. Similar concept with same end goal; keep pushing yourself towards personal and professional growth. Plus, I heard someone talking about eating a slice of warm just-out-of-the-oven bread about a week ago, and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since.

I bought a mix, but it seemed OK to me to do this because it was Bob’s Red Mill and their stuff = healthful and sustainable.

The first obsticle was discovering that we must have left “bread pan” off the wedding registry because there was not one to be found. Time to improvise:

 

Check out that solid construction!

Now that I had something to bake the bread in, the hardest part was the (prescribed) “8-10 minutes” of kneading the dough. I made it to 7 minutes, which felt like a very long time. Not so sure how effective the directions were at this point – if you give someone a choice to knead dough for 8 minutes or 10 minutes, I can guarantee they will knead for 8. Or less.

My next task was to find a moist, warm place for the bread to rise …

 

My shower was the best place I could think of, and reminded me why you should think twice before eating things at the office that other people have prepared at home.

As I debated whether or not it was OK to place the bowl of bread beside the Pantene ProV , I was also reminded of the time my Dad was in AZ to help my sister remodel her kitchen.  As a thanks for his work, she prepared a crock-pot dinner – which he later came to find out had been simmering for hours on the back of the toilet in the guest bathroom – apparently the closest working plug to the kitchen. Yum.

After the long waiting game of allowing time for the bread to rise, “punching” it down, and letting it rise again, the loaf was finally oven ready at 10:30pm.

And about 30 minutes later… success!

 FINALLY, well past 11pm, I got to enjoy a warm slice of fresh homemade bread with Irish butter and strawberry jam. Delish!

M. gets home tomorrow from a work trip – I thought about taking rest of the bread to my office today and telling him, “Sorry, none left for you, but don’t worry – good things come to those who wait.”  

But I decided to be sweet and save it for him instead — or maybe I just forgot this morning to bring the bread ;)