around town…japanese tea gardens

A favorite destination of ours is the Japanese Tea Gardens in Golden Gate Park. Doc and I visited the gardens frequently during our brief courtship, and now the three of us continue the tradition. D loves imaginary play, so this spot provides endless scenarios. The usual, though, is ninja vs. samurai, inspired by Jack and Annie from the Magic Tree House series.

I have so many pictures  from the Tea Gardens, but I thought I'd share these that were taken with my iPhone and the Hipstamatic application.  



While the tea service isn't traditional or authentic in the least, it's nice to relax and chat and take in the view over a pot of tea and fortune cookies. 

TIP: SF residents receive a discount if you show your I.D. Of course weekends are busiest, especially if the weather is nice. If possible try to sneak in during the week when school is out of session and make a day of it by visiting the DeYoung and the Academy of Sciences.


object love…Apolis Activisim

So, a friend and colleague turned me on to Apolis Activism. I'm sure I'm a late comer, but nevertheless, I'm glad I've discovered it. It's for men, but the accessories can be rocked by ladies, too. At least I think so! Read more about the company and the brother trio who created Apolis.

All images from Apolis Activism. A few of my favorites.

around town…moss beach

It seems like summer weather has arrived in SF. This year was particularly cold and foggy. I attributed our gloomy summer to our new geographic location, but it truly was a colder than usual summer. 

So when the sunny, warm weather arrived, we headed down Highway 1 to Moss Beach, or the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. As a teenager we use to come here to play and explore the tidepools looking for the biggest sea anemone, various starfish and batfish, sea urchins and hermit crabs. Even now, I still love the excitement and anticipation of what the tide pools hold. 

This trip we took a new gadget. I'm told it's a snipe. It's made of 4" pvc tubing with a 1/4" acrylic bottom that serves as a window. It was given to D by a colleague of mine. You simply dip the tube in the water and explore the bottom. I'm also convinced that it acted as a microscope, enlarging whatever was in the viewing window.

I'll never leave home without this when headed to the beach! Super fun. More pictures of our discoveries below.

That's a sea anemone! It's a medium sized green anemone. It's fun to touch the tentacles and see the anemone close around your hand. You can even feel the resistance of their sticky, stinging tentacles. Don't worry, these guys won't harm humans.

D spotted the only urchin of the day. Urchins are my favorite. Their color and shape mesmerize me. These guys are hard and pointy, but still fun to gently touch.

Sea urchin shells. These were all over the place, in the water and on the beach. I find these even more beautiful than the creature itself. Nice variety of color and textures.

Interesting find. It looks like a little clam was growing on old, empty clam shell?

The faceted thing in the middle of the picture is a chiton. I thought it was a fossil because it looked like stone, but Doc quickly corrected me. It was pretty big, about 4 inches long. Chitons are really cool and there is a large variety. More research on these guys is in order.

Just a poetic moment.


TIPS: If you go, make sure to check the tide tables or tidelogs to ensure you'll be able to see the pools while the tide is low. Also, go the website, for more information. Make sure to wear shoes you can walk and climb around in and you don't mind getting wet. Rain boots, rubber boots, water shoes I highly recommend. Also, while you can bring chairs and towels, there is very little beach and the sand is very coarse. I think this is more of an exploring beach than lounging. Either way, it's still beautiful and inspiring.

Happy Exploring,



around town…hyde street pier


Since summer break is fast approaching, I'd like to share some of our favorite activities and destinations around town. This city has a lot to offer resident and visiting families.

First up is Hyde St. Pier, located next to Aquatic Park and Ghiradelli Square. It was the main automobile ferry pier before the Golden Gate and Bay Bridge were built. Now it's home to the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. This is a great place to explore and step back in time as you board a historical cargo ship, ferry, tug boats and more. 

Numerous snapshots of our last adventure…

These were all taken on the Balcutha, a cargo ship born in Glasgow in 1886. It has a great multi-media exhibit below deck which includes recreated cargo she once shipped. I'd love to have a party on this boat! Apparently, school groups do sleepovers and simulate running the ship. Sounds like fun.


The steam powered tug boat, Hercules, is super fun to climb through. You can see down to the steam engine over an open grate which is a bit unnerving for some. 


This ferry, the Eureka, is my favorite. The exhibit of the old cars is fantastic, and the restoration is inspiring. 


TIPS: If you go, pack a picnic and extra clothes. You can have lunch on the beach and play in the sand, weather permitting. Even if it's blustery out, you'll still see children running and splashing in the water.  

And you can wrap up your field trip with a walk over to Ghiradelli Square and treat yourselves to something sweet and chocolatey.

Have fun,



designerly tidbits…shelving

Shelving is such a necessary evil. I couldn't live without it. Let's face it, who can? But honestly, most off-the-shelf shelving systems, I find, are over designed, self-aware, and poorly fabricated. I'm also not a fan of built-ins as they tend to look heavy and over scale for the contents that they house. So what's a designer gal to do? Look to the industrial…or at least to her industrial designer husband.

About 15 years ago Doc discovered a shelving system intended for industrial freezers, E-Z Shelving Systems. He used it in his Manhattan loft during his bachelor days. Once he moved to San Francisco, he began using it for some of his clients' projects, and now, the love affair continues. It's fantastic! It's robust, strong, minimal and infinitely adjustable. You can mix different depth shelves to create cantilevered worksurfaces with shelving above or even a baby changing station like we did when D was a baby.

Anyhow, we love this stuff. It's hard to beat. But, when we moved from our loft into our old Victorian, the E-Z shelving in EVERY room just didn't seem to jive. Of course, it's still pratical in our craft room and D's room, but not so much in the more "refined" rooms of the house like the living and dining rooms. 


So, after searching high and low for a comparable system in functionality, we decided upon Vitsoe shelving. I've always loved this system but price and availability have kept it on my wish list until now.

I'm sure all you design aficionados know this wonderful timeless system designed by Dieter Rams has been around since 1960, but I'm betting you're in the minority. For those of you who aren't familiar with Mr. Rams or his 606 shelving, I hope this won't send you into a fit of despair for wanting. 


The wonderful design details that Vitsoe executed for the support material and accessories, including a level, was what impressed me the most. 


The good news about both systems is they are both modular and can be reassembled into many configurations. They also travel well should you move. The down side is cost. Both are pricey, and the Vitsoe has at least six week lead time, at best, but it's a one time investment that you can own and use forever.




family…hello & goodbye, Nemo

Our caterpillar, Nemo, that we found a month ago FINALLY hatched! He was pupating underground for three weeks, and then wiggled his way to the surface where he stayed until he popped out of his chrysalis a week later. We were excited that he completed his transformation from caterpillar to moth. His survival was in doubt as we had very little information on how to rear these guys.

Nemo was beautiful. He was big, fat and furry; you could see his eyes. He felt like a little pet. When we tried to release him, he clung to my arm. I realize now, that his wings were not fully developed. Slowly his two sets of wings opened and spread, and for the next few hours, he clung to his net waiting for night time.  When the lights went out, Nemo came to life! His wings moved so fast you could hear them. Once I released him outside, he was gone in the blink of an eye. 

Nemo in his chrysalis a few hours before he opened. You can see the pattern of his wings. His head is to the right of the picture.

Shortly after emerging. Isn't he cute? His wings hadn't spread yet. 

Nemo clinging to my arm. You can get a sense of how big he was. His legs had  tiny little barbs that allowed him to cling and crawl…very cool.

His big, strong wings spread.

D holding the broken chrysalis.

Watching Nemo change from caterpillar to moth was fun for the whole family. D became quite fond of him during the short time he was with us and cried during our first attempt to release him…so sensitive and sweet.

Anyhow, we moved on, and now we are discussing what insect we should get next. A praying mantis is on the top of the list, perhaps more caterpillars, or maybe a tarantula [if I get my way!].


family…discovery of a caterpillar

This past Sunday we discovered this HUGE caterpillar at my mom's house. It was crawling along the sidewalk in mid-afternoon just waiting to scooped up by some bird or smashed underneath the wheels of D's scooter. D knew right away that it wasn't a butterfly caterpillar, "it's not fuzzy." Curios, Doc did some internet research and learned we had found a white-lined sphinx moth caterpillar. 

When he hatches from a pupae, he will be hummingbird moth! 

D named him Cater Nemo [20,000 Leagues Under the Sea being the current obsession]. We decided to make a little habitat for our new fella and bring him home. I would have never believed that you could see caterpillar poop, or frass as it's called! What's more interesting is Nemo pupates underground. I think it takes about two weeks to complete this cycle. He's "underground" now. I hope he's ok. Will keep you posted on his progress!

Some interesting info and great photos here.

Happy Hatching,


photo of humming bird moth from here.

just like ali…

Can you jump rope? I mean really jump rope, Muhammad Ali style? I can't, but I'm going to try! 

I recently bought a jump rope to get some more cardio into my daily life.  Let me tell you, it's tough! Finding and maintaining your rhythm is challenging. Your child(ren) and husband will laugh as they watch you wrestle the rope. You'll groan in frustration every time your toes catch the line. But once you get into a groove, it's fantastic! I'm starting off slow, 15-20 minutes per day, just long enough to break a sweat, get the heart rate up, and put some color on my cheeks. 

Give it a go! It's cheap can be done anywhere.


ps…you're calves will be REALLY sore.

more kite stuff

Kites have been a hot topic around here since our beach day. Did you know kites were invented in China? Well, that seems to be a popular theory. Based on my reading, the general consensus is the kite has been around for approximately 2,000 years. Did you also know there is a National Kite month?

Coincidentally, D pulled this book from our borrowed library books which are way, way, way, waaaay overdue! I had completely forgotten about it. We love all these books about the Kang boys and how their mischievous adventures result in a famous invention. What I like best are the author's note and project at the end of each book. 

The book reminded me of a great kite shop in Chinatown, and shortly after, we found ourselves here. 

I wished I had done more research as there is quite a variety of kites for various wind conditions. With some assistance, we chose some fine beginner kites! I'm fairly certain there will be a kite project occurring here during the summer. 

Some resources:

20 Kids • 20 Kites • 20 Minutes 

Sun Kite

Happy Flying!



playing for change…play it loud

This amazing site, Playing for Change,  which just launched, will send a chill up your spine and bring happy tears to your eyes. Gather the family, turn up the volume and play the videos. Spend time on the website to learn more about PFC, the musicians and the journey to create the CD and DVD. 

The Inspiration

Playing for Change is a multimedia movement created to inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world through music. The idea for this project arose from a common belief that music has the power to break down boundaries and overcome distances between people. No matter whether people come from different geographic, political, economic, spiritual or ideological backgrounds, music has the universal power to transcend and unite us as one human race. And with this truth firmly fixed in our minds, we set out to share it with the world.

Not only is PFC an amazing movement, but the site was designed by Polychrome Los Angeles, the sister office to our Polychrome San Francisco studio.