10 Year Anniversary of “US”

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A week ago Max and I celebrated 1o years together.  We’ve been married for just about 2 years, but still like to acknowledge our dating anniversary because its is honestly just a better representation of where we are in our relationship.

Those 8 years preceding our marriage are extremely important to our understanding of ourselves as a couple and represent almost a decade of building a life together before we decided on a date to formalize things.

I think the fact that we started dating at 20 when I was in college and continue to be super into each other today and make such an epic team is due to equal parts luck and our efforts to make it so.  Two people went into this relationship and two very different people are in it today because, well, it all began 10 years ago.  We have different interests and different needs now than we did then.  We have been through some terribly difficult things that have changed us.  The circumstances of our lives are entirely changed from what they were when we started dating multiple times over. And “we” have existed in all of those realities as a sort of constant.

So cheers to a decade together.  It is just a random notch in time in a very long continuum together when we can stop and kind of appreciate our good fortune and pat ourselves on the back for what we’ve enjoyed to date.  The next day we start work on 11 years together and so on.

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Max and team were super kind to me and invited me in for dinner at the restaurant to celebrate.

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Introducing Roulot

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aka Roo.

Look at his sweet face! He is the newest member of our family and joins his sister Smudge, our Maincoon.  We could not be happier with our little adoptee, as he has been nothing but super sweet and docile since we took him home over the weekend.  Personally, I think the best word to describe our little Roo is Unflappable. Nothing fazes this guy!

I had been looking for weeks on Petfinder.com for a pooch to add to our brood.  I’d had a few near hits that ended up being misses for one reason or another, but came across Roo and sent his picture to Max who decided he had a “good face”. I arranged to FaceTime with the fosters of our little buddy because he was living pretty far away in Oakdale, and Max and I wanted more information about him and his personality before we committed to the road trip.  After the FaceTime session, Max and I both agreed that we would drive out there, and if everything that they conveyed to us during the call was true, we would be taking him home with us.

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Our adoption photo.  S/O to The ASTRO Foundation.

Roo is my new partner is San Francisco adventures.  My plan is to be one of those annoying people who can’t seem to go anywhere without their dog.  It will be nice to finally have a friend along for the ride!

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First visit to the P-A-R-K

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First visit to the P-A-R-K

P.S. A quick note about pet adoption.  Do it! Let me tell you, puppies are overrated.  Granted, they are absurdly cute for about 6 months, and then, guess what? they’re dogs.  And even though you get a lot of input into their upbringing, you still never know what you’re getting.  Taking on a puppy is a lot of responsibility and is basically a full-time job.

I do plan to get a puppy for my young children some day because I am only human and cannot resist the thought of baby humans and baby animals hanging out and forming a lifelong bond.  I had that in my childhood with our family dog.  Max had the same.

But truly I’ve had the best experiences adopting our animals.  I’ve had two wonderful, sweet doggies and 1 beautiful, majestic cat and they’ve all been rescues.  And Smudge is a purebred Maincoon, so breed rescues are a thing, and you should check them out if you’re into that sorta thing.

Plus, there is something amazing that happens to your heart when you adopt a pet.  You have this feeling that you have saved a life or at least helped better a life, and in addition, you have a new bff.  All upsides.  They give back tenfold all the love you give to them.  Just sayin’

 

Hosting Holidays: A Right of Passage

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Christmastime this year was extra special, as it saw the triumphant return of Uncle Wen’s Christmas party.

When I was very young, I remember being at his house that he bought with his partner in West Hollywood looking up at the giant tree decked in only purple and turquoise.  I remember ascending the walkway lined with luminarias, just like in Santa Fe. Uncle Wen would be in the kitchen cooking and coming out with trays of food over and over again.

I was so young that all these memories come to me from a child’s height with all the people, seemingly all in black, towering above me.  I remember watching Funny Girl for the first time at one of these parties in the back room when I had gotten too tired for the adult cocktail festivities.

As you can tell, it has been quite some time since Uncle Wen has thrown a Christmas Party, not because he hasn’t wanted to, but because he lost the ability.

But it came back this year in a beautiful way.  There were 9 of us, a respectable, but not out-of-control number of guests. Since we are all a close group, it was 100% comfortable.  The big tree was back up in full glory (though with a less formal color scheme), and we sat back, stood around, and ate and drank our faces off.  Uncle Wen cooked so much food! Salmon croquettes, two kinds of holiday bruschetta, baked brie and fig tarts, and desserts, desserts, desserts!

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Hosting a holiday or a holiday party is a right of passage.  It is “adulting” at the absolute highest level.  It requires resources, organization, and the desire to invite those closest to you into your intimate environment.  Not everyone is able or willing to do this.  I  have never hosted a holiday or thrown a formal dinner party or cocktail soiree, but it seems like things may be changing.

Traditionally, my mom and Max’s mother each host separate Christmases in LA, which makes it hard on us (though it does give us the perfect excuse to take the gorgeous winter drive down PCH and through Topanga Canyon every Christmas, which is almost a tradition of its own).  This year, the splitting of time coupled with my mom’s waning luster for hosting a large group, caused me to considered hosting the Christmas holiday at our house next season.

Maybe it is my youth or maybe I’ll just always be a silly fool for Christmas, but, while there is so much to do around the holidays to get ready, I adore almost every minute of it.  I enjoy making food for the people I love to eat (and honestly, who are we kidding? You know Max will be helming the kitchen.  But I bake.  I bake.) I enjoy putting on a Christmas movie and wrapping presents.  I enjoy decorating our house for Christmas even thought I know we are just going to take it down a few weeks later.  There’s definitely also a part of me that knows how much my dad loved Christmas and I feel obligated to bring that Christmas spirit, so we can have a piece of him with us.

This is the first time when I’ve even considered it possible that Max and I might host our families for the holidays.  Our apartment, though small in size, is an adult apartment.  I’ve hosted our families and friends when they have come to stay.  I have learned to buy fancy hand soap for the bathrooms and to have sturdy, luxe towels.  We have a housekeeper (life saving!) We have made a home that I’m finally willing to share, so I guess the next step is simply to offer it up to our families and share it.

One tradition I know we would keep is serving latkes and caviar.  It is everyone’s favorite part of Christmas Eve.

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We set up a little caviar bar with all the usual accouterment.

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But when the latkes ran out, Max taught everyone how to do caviar “bumps”.  Moms doing bumps! 

Stay tuned for some mature changes in the Coane household in 2016, maybe I’ll even host Christmas next year!

A few pictures of the AMAZING giant gingerbread men that my Uncle Brian personalized for each couple this year.

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The Holiday Spirit 2015

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I love the holidays and the holiday season.  Underscore, bold, italicize “love” because my feelings go deep.

Let’s start at the very beginning, shall we? My mom and dad shared their first kiss in a Christmas tree lot.  Ever since, this special time of year has meant more to me than presents and food and pretty lights. (Don’t get me wrong.  I adore those things!) But it has always been more than that; more about family and reasons to be together celebrating.

Next came me. I was born December 17, 1985.  I was my mother’s Christmas Baby.  It may have been a sunny, 80 degree day in LA that year, but I was in my baby Santa suit and barraged with love from my Guncles and parents as the first baby in the family.

I loved getting out of school for a few weeks during winter break from school.  Miss those days.  I loved my Christmas-themed birthday parties almost every year.  I loved all the celebrating, and I still do.

My heart goes pitter-patter when I see Christmas lights going up signaling the season has begun.  White lights only, please.  I start the Christmas music and the decorating the day after Thanksgiving.  I am that girl.

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Panoramic of Christmas lights on our balcony overlooking SF.

I present you with a quick list of things I love about this time of year:

  1. Tree decorating day: Arguably my favorite day of the year.  Usually I spend it with my mom, brother, and Guncles decorating our 10+ foot tree with hundreds and hundreds of ornaments.  This year, I decorated our 6 foot tree with my husband, but kept the tradition of talking about each ornament and the memories it represents as we went to hang each one.  It does not get more sentimental (i.e. Christmas-y) than that!IMG_2760.JPG
  2. Watching Christmas movies: I have made a whole list of movies and prioritized them.  I watch them when I’m wrapping presents or cooking or just hanging out.  This year I’m easing into by starting with the fall cross-over “classic”, The Nightmare Before Christmas.  Of course, family tradition says I must cap it off with a line by line recitation of It’s a Wonderful Life. Hotdog!IMG_2749
  3. Christmas cards: I’m not sure if Max and I will do one this year, but I love sending them out just as much as receiving them. I love thinking about the year gone by and how much has transpired and how we’ve all grown and changed.  I love hearing from people I’m not in general close contact with and watching kids grow into adults year by year.
  4. Watching family and friends open their gifts.  It does not matter whether the gift was from me.
  5. My dad’s lasagna.  My brother makes it now.
  6. It’s all just an excuse to be together and be happy, right?

I find that my family spends SO much time together this time of year.  We are celebrating my birthday.  We are going on a drive to see Christmas lights.  We are decorating the tree.  We are holiday shopping.  We are watching movies. We are cooking and baking.  We are gathered together on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and now, with the addition of The Coanes to my family, Boxing Day on the 26th.

And during all of these many times stuffed into this tiny window of the year, we are all afforded time to be together, and we are all smiling and happy. And that feeling is real.

There are other excuses we all make to be together.  Whether it is getting stuff done during the year or sometimes even mourning, but there really isn’t another designated “just be happy together” time.  As a total non-religious person, this time of year does not have any meaning other than what I choose to impute to it, but that does not mean it is artificial or somehow less meaningful.  We should all endeavor to celebrate with those we love as often as we can.  I’m happy to have an “excuse” to be thankful and happy with my family and loved ones that is recognized by my workplace and my country, giving me the time I really crave to do just that.

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I sent this picture to my mom and she texted back “What’s with the elf in the salad?”.  It is Christmas potpourri, Mom! 🙂

Stay tuned for all the holiday excitement!

Thanksgiving in LA

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So yesterday I had a bit of a meltdown.  Basically, I threw a tantrum and locked myself out on the balcony to cry.

Sometimes being up in San Francisco can feel just incredibly lonely.  Max is gone A LOT.  I don’t have the friends up here that I have in LA and every member of both Max and my family is down there, too!  In any event, my breakdown put Max through quite a tough morning, which is the last thing he needs, and as he rightly pointed out, my pouting was not helping me either.

I guess we all have those tunnel vision moments where the grass is looking mighty green on the other side and all you are able to see about where you’re standing is how it lacks in comparison.  I was missing my family and the connections I have with the people and places in LA that I simply do not have here; probably never will.  I think the feeling was especially poignant for me because I’d spent the entire week prior in LA with my family and lifelong, once-in-a-lifetime friends.

I flew down about 5 days before Thanksgiving because I wanted to spend some holiday time with my mom, brother and guncles before I spent the tail-end of the little break and the holiday with my Coane family.  This is the first year I won’t be with my family to celebrate my birthday, decorate the Christmas tree, or go to Candy Cane Lane. I can’t say I’m handling it super well.  A lot of spirits need lifting these days, and while I’m so so happy I can be there to lift them, the pressure does sometimes weigh on me.

We all know adulting is just stupid fucking hard.  “It is hard to be a human”, as Max would say.  This week in LA was wonderful in that I was allowed to pretend I’m not a real adult and be taken care of by my mommy. haha!  My family’s itinerary is always jam-packed, and this week was no exception. We saw great theater, shopped at malls with Christmas lights already up and Christmas music playing, watched old musicals with Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra, talked a lot, ate a ton, and I spent every night sleeping next to my mom and her dog, which is just so comforting for this 30 year old. I guess you never grow out of wanting to cuddle with Mom.  I didn’t have to pay bills, or do (too much) work, or tidy up or even make the plans for the day.  It was a vacation from real, adult life.

We even cleaned out my dad’s closet, which I REALLY did not want to do. But we all came together and did it as a group.  We ended up telling a lot of great old stories about my dad and doing a lot of laughing.  Just a small demonstration of how we have managed to get through all of this mess-do it together, enjoy the memories, share laughter and lots of love. Seriously, it really helps.

I was able to arrange to spend alone time with my brother and to enjoy a sushi dinner with my mom and Susan.  They are so similar sometimes in the way they endeavor to take care of those around them that I knew they would hit it off.  I also really wanted sushi since we can’t get it affordably up here in San Francisco.  Killed all the birds with that stone.  Mom and Susan loved each other with Mom adding “Susan is hilarious!” And she is.

On Thanksgiving morning, Max flew in to LA and I met him at his parents’ house in Santa Monica.  Along with my MIL, Amy, I prepared two of Max’s favorite traditional Thanksgiving dishes-leek bread pudding & Thomas Keller’s green bean casserole. Ok, I thought I had linked to these recipes in previous posts, but I can’t find them, so here ya go:

And I’ll just add-be careful not to use any other version of the green bean casserole recipe because they do tend to differ apparently, and if you have a picky loved one (Max, wink-wink), they will know the difference.

The leek bread pudding has become such a hit with my family that my brother just assumed someone would be making it this year, and when they didn’t, he was quite bummed.

Max’s Aunt Lisa and her family hosted a beautiful, bountiful Thanksgiving.  I’m so lucky to be a part of two great families and to get to spend such lovely quality time with all of them.

For that, and many other things, I sure am grateful.  I just have to remind myself of that next time I’m pounding my fists on the floor like a two year old.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Max Goes to Bordeaux

Max has been away in France on business the last week or so.  He comes home tomorrow.  I feel really good about that.  I feel like every time we reunite after being apart, we are so excited to be together, to be married, and to be moving forward together.  Nice feelings.

So while Max has been off visiting Chateaus like this….

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and eating amazing cuisine like this…

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I’ve been having my own fun.  When the cat’s away and whatnot.  And I’ve had plenty of company while he’s been gone.  My mom came to visit me and stayed with me at my apartment.  It was a casual stay, but I must admit, it was kind of comforting to go to sleep with my mom sitting next to me reading in the bed.  I sort of missed that when she left.

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My best friend Arin and her husband were in SF for brunch this morning and we got to meet up.  It was THE BEST.  They are my very favorite people to see in the WORLD.

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Seeing familiar and comforting faces has been nice, especially with Max away, though I’m sure he would have loved to have brunched with us today (but he seems to be getting by just fine).

Family Visits San Francisco, Part II

I returned from my week of depositions last night.  It was a whirlwind couple of days there, I’ll tell ya.  I could not be happier it is the weekend!

A bit ago I drafted a little post on here called Family Visits San Francisco, Part I.   This very, very creatively titled post was about the first evening and first day my two guncles, Uncle Wen & Brian, drove up from Los Angeles with my mom to visit me in San Francisco for the first time.  Collectively, “My Parents”.

This just as suspensefully titled post is the follow-up piece about the rest of My Parents’ stay up here.  In Part I, I left you with our goofy time at Chez Panisse in Berkeley on Saturday night.  So let’s pick up the following morning when I wanted to share the San Francisco coffee culture with everyone, so we went to the Ferry Market to drink Blue Bottle Coffee.  Max was able to join us because his weekend had started.  We had reservations for brunch at one of the very best brunch places in the city, Boulettes Larder, but I just really, really wanted everyone to have some excellent coffee because I’m always going on about my lattes.  Yes, the coffee really is better in San Francisco-although, interestingly my Starbucks experiences up here have been quite poor.  The coffee purists do not like it when you put sugar in your coffee, but I’ve never been one to bend to what’s cool.

Mom's first Blue Bottle.  Love at first sip.

Mom’s first Blue Bottle. Love at first sip.

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Me ruining amazing coffee.

Me ruining amazing coffee.

After brunch and a walk around the Ferry Market, where Max and I spent an inordinate amount of time at the Heath stall, we dropped Max back off at home so he could get in a few extra hours of sleep.  He keeps those crazy late restaurant hours.

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While he was sleeping off the week, the rest of us went to check out this area in the Presidio, one of Uncle Wen’s old finds, with a Eucalyptus grove on one end of the street and a Twin Peaks-esque viewing area/mini park on the other. The smell! So soothing and gentle.  The walk is easy and short, the day was uncharacteristically gorgeous. Still, Max would not have enjoyed the Eucalyptus hike, so we probably timed all of this pretty well.  

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Hi!

Always take a picture of the cat.

Always take a picture of the cat.

Blackberries!

Blackberries!

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The other side of the street.

The other side of the street.

Mom looking pensive.

Mom looking pensive.

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For dinner, we took everyone to one of Max’s favorite spots in the whole city, I’ll venture to say, Z & Y. When Max’s restaurant received its third Michelin Star last October while I was still back in Los Angeles, this is the place they all chose to celebrate! We have taken Max’s parents here and will probably take just about everyone we know when they come to visit us.  Max orders it from online delivery services every chance he gets and would like nothing more than for me to keep the fridge continually stocked with Z & Y leftovers.  Luckily, we ate pretty early, so we didn’t have to wait too long.  It won everyone over quickly; a huge hit.  I know this sounds weird, but Creamy Prawns with Walnut Honey.  Trust.

It is as hot as it looks.

It is as hot as it looks.

So Brian has a taste for the kitsch.  One of the things he gets off on is Tiki Bars, so we thought it would be fun to take everyone to the Tonga Room for after dinner Tiki cocktails.  Neither Max or I had ever been, so it was a new experience for everyone. Pretty fun.  A band plays on this boat in the middle of a pool.  There is some thunder-y type noises that happen now and again.  People get up and dance.  Alway fun to watch people dance.  We were pretty sad that our drink would not light on fire, (They used to do that, but there was an “incident”, so no more.), but clearly that did not stop us from enjoying ourselves.  Somehow the night became a Tiki crawl and we took My Parents to Smugglers Cove, right near our house, which everyone actually like even more than the epic Tonga Room. They will light your drink on fire at Smugglers Cove!

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Tonga Room history

Tonga Room history

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I took Monday off work to spend the last day with My Parents.  Uncle Wen had researched this thing called The Wave Organ that sounded cool, so we wanted to go check it out.  You can only go during high tide, so we timed it out.  It was kind of a walk to get there, so give yourself 20 minutes or so to walk there if you parked.  You don’t want to get there and then miss high tide.  That would suck.  So, The Wave Organ-eh, maybe don’t knock yourself out fitting it into your schedule.  Very pretty.  Definitely pretty. And you should read about how it was built! But we thought it would play some sort of tune or something.  It just kind of allows you to hear the sounds of the waves from an underwater vantage point through tubes that come up from the ocean.  It is literally the sounds of waves-sounds kind of like a toilet, we joked.  It is an Exploratorium project, and I’m all about the Exploratorium.  It’s interesting, ok?

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All of our brunch and lunch plans fell through because it was Monday and all restaurant people are off on Mondays, meaning most places close.  Had we been able to, we would have taken them to either Monsieur Benjamin, right down the street from us, or Zuni Cafe, a restaurant industry institution and both are favorites of ours.  We ended up at some horrid places on Hayes, which shall remain nameless because of how bad it was, but then it gave me the opportunity to show My Parents around Hayes Valley, which is the closest thing I have to a neighborhood.

We had coffee at Ritual and I showed them The Temple and The Proxy (See Hayes Valley post here).  I often talk to my mom on the phone on my way to or from there, so it was cool for me to get to show her this stuff.  I was all “and this is where I was when I told you…” “and remember that picture I sent you? That was from here!”.

We also walked around Haight Street and Noe Valley.  My mom fell in love with Noe Valley, which I get.  It is the quintessential “young family” neighborhood.  Tatooed mamas pushing baby carriages and all that jazz.  So she is now pushing hard for us to just move there, buy the baby carriage and get the show on the road already. haha.  She called me recently to tell me she’d been checking housing prices in Noe Valley and that she thinks we can afford it.  Both sets of potential grandparents are ready for this baby.  Now we just have to get the potential parents ready. haha.

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After walking around all day, we went our separate ways, rested changed our clothes and met for dinner in Hayes Valley at Rich Table.  The first time I ever at there I knew it was the one place I just HAD to take My Parents.  It is their type of food.  We’ve never had anything but a spectacular meal there and this night was no exception.  It was the perfect way to say goodbye.