Monday, December 22, 2014

cheese cheese and more cheese

A weekend or two ago (this insanely busy month has already completely blended together), we embarked on our 4th annual cheese party.  For those of you unfamiliar, a few years ago Stefan and I had the GENIUS idea to host a dinner party consisting only of cheese.  While Year One was four courses of cheesy goodness (cheese plate, raclette, fondue, cheesecake), we learned that even the most serious of dairy lovers can fatigue.  Since then, we've opted for three courses, alternating between a main course of raclette and fondue.  This year was fondue.

Per usual, the day-of was jam-packed with errand-running.  
But first up was having a good, solid breakfast to power us through the day:

Donuts while pumping gas

When you've got a baby in tow, things such as proper nutrition become secondary to optimal baby schedule time management. :)

Next up (and most importantly!) was a trip to Cheese Plus for our most essential goods.

Fondue anyone?

My favorite part of the evening is always the first course, a.k.a. the Cheese Competition.  We ask each guest to bring their absolute favorite cheese to participate.  We then all sample and vote on the winner of the evening.  People go balls to the walls in bringing the most ridiculously delicious cheese they ever did taste.  In addition to being insanely fun (who doesn't love some good dairy-laden competition?), the result is that everyone gets to have the best cheese plate of. their. entire. life.

Because of that, I did not waste a precious second of mindblowing-cheese-consumption-time to snap any photos, but rather can share with you the stage being set for the evening's event... 

everyone labels with cheese name, animal and origin
cheese bringer is concealed

soon-to-be-filled cheese boards eagerly awaiting competition entries
prize bottle of Veuve for the "Best in Cheese"

Halfway through Course Two, however, I hit a plateau where I was able to take a break from cheese-eating to snap a shot of the crew in action:

People were pleased.
Stefan especially.

As people finished their fondue and we prepped for Course Three (a cheesecake of course!), we had our guests vote on our "Best in Cheese".  The cheese that won, however, was not the Truffle Triple Cream or the Cave-Aged Alpine Varietal, but rather the Queso. :)

After the night was through we were sure we had seen enough cheese until next year, but amazingly by 12pm the next day, we were ready for some leftovers.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

race to the altar!

Of course Gretchen and Al couldn't just relax and spend time getting ready on the morning of their nuptials, they needed to schedule some more (friendly?) competition.  

Guests rose bright and early to take part in a Race-to-the-Altar run down the island.

the bride and fab friend Tara writing up the signs Saturday AM

the 2 mile turnaround for the 4-mile loop

 Pardon the blurry pic - running and snapping is tough work!

The race finished at the Pass Club's beach house for a picnic lunch of sandwiches, salads and sweet little treats - all catered by the delicious Morsels Bakery - a fav breakfast and coffee spot for the bride and groom.

In keeping with the games-and-competition theme of the weekend, cornhole was also featured beach-side:

While Samantha and I opted out of the run, we were excited to get all dolled up to meet more friends and family for the picnic.

with cousin Wyler
(who was a total natural!)

with middle namesake Charlotte, the bride,
and my brother's lovely girlfriend Julia

the groom's fam, the bride and the MOB

the bride and grandma Judith

The event wouldn't have been complete without some wedding-logo koozies. :)

Before long, it was time to shower up and get ready!  


Monday, December 8, 2014

introducing mr. & mrs. mathews!

Just about one month and a week ago today, my little sister Gretchen tied the knot!

Gretch with her fabulous groom Al

The entire wedding weekend was so jam-packed with non-stop action and super thoughtful details that there is NO way for me to pack it all into just one post.  You'll be getting lots of updates on the happenings of the weekend.

Because this activity-and-game-loving couple can't stand sitting around, they scheduled a full itinerary of plans for their guests.  Along with their gorgeous invites (done by the lovely Holly Hollon), guests got a beautiful accordion outlining the schedule. 

First up on the wedding week countdown: Friday!

They kicked off with a golf tournament for serious golfers only in the AM.

the gorgeous Gasparilla Inn course

This obviously excluded Stefan and I but from what we heard, the course and competition was sensational.  While the winners were not announced publicly to avoid hurt feelings in this just-for-fun (but who-isn't-competitive-in-this-family) match, I congratulate them both - they know who they are. :)

Then it was onto a friendly tennis tournament Friday afternoon:

the bride crushing it

After some quick showers to clean up, we moved onto a gorgeous rehearsal dinner hosted by the groom's lovely parents.  We enjoyed yummy apps, classic Caesar, melt-in-your-mouth fish and a plethora of top-notch toasts.

the soon-to-be-married with the fashionable 
and oh-so-sweet mother of the groom

Complete with the Pass Club's famous "baked potatoes" - 
decadent vanilla ice cream rolled in cocoa 
topped with "sour cream" (whipped cream) 
and "gravy" (divine hot fudge)

After that, we joined the full crew for Welcome Drinks at the island's gorgeous outdoor public library.

Since it was Halloween, the groom's parents outfitted the crew with classy fun fare to spice up the night:

The bride with her besties:

Before we knew it, it was time to call it a night and rest up for another sensational day of action-packed fun on Saturday.  More details to come!



Friday, December 5, 2014


Did you have a nice long Thanksgiving weekend?

Normally we head back to Wisconsin, but given that we had just seen the fam a few weeks ago for my sister's wedding (more details next week!), we opted to stay put this year.  While we were very sad to miss out on lots of fun family traditions, I wasn't too disappointed to miss out on traveling around the holidays.  While Samantha is a pretty easy babe to fly with, I do not miss the looks I get from fellow passengers when I come down the aisle as they pray we don't have the seat adjacent. :)

Despite the lack of family and good wintery weather, we tried to make the holiday as festive as possible to show Theresa what this essential American day is all about!  
Thanksgiving morning, we dolled our little princess up in cableknit for a day on the town.

First up was taking Theresa to our fav breakfast spot: La Boulange.
They were featuring free samples of their pumpkin creme fraiche tart and decadent pecan pie.  We took the general "take one" rule very loosely preparing the palate for our eggs.

Since we were headed to a friend's house for dinner, we didn't need to do any cooking and instead needed to pick up a spread of cheese and some good wine.  After brunch, we walked to Cole Valley to get our Thanksgiving contribution.  While Stefan made his selections from Say Cheese!, Theresa and I hung out with the babe in a nearby outdoor cafe.

By the time we got home from our walk, it was nearly 75  degrees (a full 20 degree differential from that AM - completely normal for this bipolar climate of ours), so we needed to do a little outfit change...

...and then take Theresa to tip her toes in the Pacific Ocean for the first time:

After a long walk on the beach, we headed home to get dressed up for Thanksgiving dinner.

In the hustle and bustle of the evening (and wanting to savor every bite), I didn't have a second to snap a shot until dessert.

Arzimendi Pumpkin Cheesecake with freshly whipped cream.  Amazing.

We left all thoroughly full.  All in all, a wonderful day.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

meet theresa!

Our Au Pair is here!

We had a wonderful weekend showing her around San Francisco as well as getting her up to speed on Samantha.

Since Theresa had spent the week at Au Pair Academy (not getting very much sleep as she learned baby CPR and other essential childcare tools), top priority was letting her get some rest and get over her jet lag.

We also had to hit up a San Francisco must-see:

The Golden Gate Bridge!

In addition, we gave her a lay of the land in Golden Gate Park - the gorgeous spread of greenery literally across the street from our place:

She'll be spending many-a-day walking and lounging and playing and picnic-ing with our little one there.

Most important was letting her get lots of time with Samantha so she felt comfortable doing full days with her this week.  But it didn't take long: Samantha immediately fell in love - taking a bottle from her with ease, falling asleep in her arms, and laughing at her hysterically (even in the evenings when she tends to not be her best self :).   

grocery shopping!

We're so excited to have such a wonderful new member to our family!


Monday, November 24, 2014

jackson fillmore

In life pre-baby, dinners out were a pretty regular occurrence.  One of our fav neighborhood spots was the lovely Jackson Fillmore - a no-frills Italian joint two blocks from our old abode.  We'd go there for a romantic dinner out, a casual Sunday evening supper, or even solo to sit at the bar if the other was traveling for work.  The crew there greeted us by name, knew our orders by heart, and always let us sample whatever wines they had open (and sometimes some they didn't).

But now we have this lady in the picture:

And dinners out don't happen quite as often.  That being said, we've tried to venture out whenever we can.

Not too long ago, we decided to head back to our old stomping ground to Jackson Fillmore. 

Unlike before when we gladly took a 9pm reservation or waited at the bar for a half hour while sipping the start of a bottle of wine, we opted for the early bird special: arriving promptly at 5:30pm.  I know, I know: we are so cool.

We were surprised by how many kids were there as well.  The table next to us featured a 1.5 year-old and a 3-year-old that happily banged their forks and knives while they waited for their bruschetta.

Oh how I had missed that on-the-house bruschetta.

We enjoyed our delicious meals (with wine on the house as a congrats on the new addition!) and were all done by 7pm sharp leaving us plenty of time to get some frozen yogurt for dessert.

While we may not be enjoying the splendors of Jackson Fillmore quite as much as we used, the reason is certainly worth the adjustment in plans.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

another family addition...

So I mentioned before that we had some other big plans in the works: we decided to get an Au Pair!  And she arrives today!

Why an Au Pair you ask?

We decided long before Samantha came along that we wanted to try and raise our children bilingually.  In addition to wanting our babies to be able to speak fluently in their father's mother tongue, we thought it would be a shame to not take advantage of those sponge-like baby brains and their ability to absorb a second language uber-easily.  And while you wouldn't think this age is super important (they don't even talk!), it turns out to be one of the most crucial points for language development there is.

While we always imagined having an Au Pair later on (like when we had a bigger house!), finding a German-speaking childcare option in San Francisco proved to be impossible.  There are no German daycares, the German-speaking Nanny options were few and far between, and of those we did find, they just didn't feel right.

So we decided to move our Au Pair plans up a tad bit earlier.  We buckled down and interviewed (over skype!) close to 10 different young women.  We fell in love with our match and cannot wait to meet her.  

So as if having a baby weren't enough of a life change, we have another member of our family joining us as well!
(In our two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment mind you - more details on how we're making this work to come. :)