Thursday, October 29, 2009

We Love Bears!

We love bears in all forms.... wooden ones...


Wooden carved bear at Muir woods


Manly bearded ones...

2 Bears together at Muir Woods

I'm even trying to be one!!!

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Inspired by our trip to Muir Woods, just outside of San Francisco.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Bit of a Hike!

Mark and I decided to go for a bit of a hike from our hotel to go through China Town heading up to North Beach and Little Italy in San Francisco. We always laugh as we walk excessively while we are away! It was a great day and you always get to see parts of town that you normally wouldn't get to see.

China Town was insane on a Sunday, everyone was out doing their food shopping and I always get a little freaked out by the smell of the food. It's like a smell overload! I also think that all China Town's smell the same.

North Beach walk day


Little Italy and North Beach were beautiful. We stopped at a place called Calzone's as we saw someone having an awesome looking Bloody Mary! It was spicy and refreshing. I shyed away from eating the olives however. Mark braved it and I thought trying 3 olives stuffed with jalepenos a little too much after such a walk.

Bloody marys at calzones



We also found some pretty cute shops. There was a pet supply store that had cute Halloween costumes for animals. I would of loved a glow in the dark skeleton costume for Nina but I'm sure she wouldn't be too impressed. They didn't have any cat dancers (Miss Nina's favourite toy) but we did find something similar which hopefully she will like just as much.

The Ghiradelli building

After many hills and checking out lots of gorgeous houses, including one with two pretty kittys in the window, we finally made it to the water and indulged in a Ghiardelli hot chocolate fudge sundae. Thank god we have cast iron stomachs when you think about Bloody Marys, icecream, chocolate... urgh, it's enough to make you sick! By the way, Calzone's was so good, we even walked back there for dinner and our plates were clean!!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Getting crafty

I should mention that a couple of places that we have loved are:

Cask - 17 Third Street at Market in San Francisco. It is a premium whiskey store but also had other spirits and beautiful vintage cocktail books. We drooled alot in there!

We ate great and reasonably priced Mexican food at Tropisueno Mexican Kitchen - 75 Yerba Buena Lane, San Francisco (it's near the galleries and museums). The nachos and the meat taco was excellent, the fish taco was great except I didn't like the battered fish, prefer it just grilled.

We shopped it up at G-Star San Francisco at 76 Geary Street, well actually Mark did. Great service, store not as big as the New York one but still pretty great.

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We hit two galleries today, the Museum of Craft and Folk Art and checked out the Open Source Embroidery exhibition which was very hands on. It looks at the space between hand made craft and traditional crafts and the use of new technologies. I even did some weaving on a project where by people can learn how to weave and the strips woven will be sewn together to make blankets for the homeless. The girls at the museum were lovely, very helpful and we had chats about how the museum works, the changes from when the museum moved venues and where else to go! We had a great time there.

We also went to the Design Museum on Sutter Street. This is opposite from where we normally stay in San Francisco. There was an exhibition of wood pieces there. It was interesting but also a little repetitive in the construction of the exhibition. I would be interested to see what other exhibitions they have there during the year.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A bit of San Francisco Culture & a Killer Burger!

Mark and I decided that what we needed was a bit of culture to entertain us and generally make us feel more at home in San Francisco. We decided to visit the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Some of the exhibitions we viewed were:
  • Selection of works from the collection, including Mondrian, Max Beckmann works, Duchamp and Matisse.
  • The fantastic multimedia works by Candice Breitz - always very powerful, a little uncomfortable also.
  • Postwar photography from Japan.
  • Contemporary photography from China, Japan and Korea.
  • Sensate: Bodies and Design - the bone lamp was pretty cool!
  • Between Art and Life: contemporary paintings and sculpture from the collection.
I took loads of photos at the Museum, which can be viewed on my flickr site for more info. Here are some key works that I just loved!

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We also visited the San Francisco Contemporary Jewish Museum which is an amazing building, very reminiscent of Melbourne's own Fed Square, with lots of jagged shapes jutting out. The exhibitions visited:
  • There's a Mystery There: Sendak on Sendak - great to see in conjunction with the release of the film "Where the Wild Things Are".
  • Jews on Vinyl - one of my personal favourites, beautiful installation and a great take on simple yet valuable participation.
  • As it is Written: Project 304,805 - this beautiful exhibition showed a woman who is continually in the gallery, going through the process of writing a torah.
The Contemporary Jewish Museum was fascinating and fun. It was a great example of clever curation of works that were interesting to both people of the Jewish faith but also non-Jewish people. They had mixed modern works with traditional and hisorical artefacts to give viewers a understanding of various aspects of Jewish life and faith. A must see for anyone in San Francisco.

For lunch we found a little Italian café and supply store and stocked up on yummy cheese, salami, bread and salads before walking down near the water to chill out and eat. The seagulls appeared to be very large and domineering. They kind of freaked me out a little, the way they just sauntered along coming closer and closer to us!

After chilling out in the lovely San Francisco sun with some $2 pint beers, we headed to our hotel home to rest up before taking on the Burger Bar which had just opened at Macy’s in Union Square, for what we had heard was some pretty special burgers!

My friend Jess had alerted me to this new Burger Bar by Hurbert Keller who is a bit of a superstar when it comes to meat an sundaes. There is a $60 burger on the menu and trust me alot of people were ordering it! We stuck with some smaller and lower priced burgers but they were DELICIOUS! Both Mark and I said that we would have to go again before leaving San Francisco. We ordered a make your own sundae which unfortunately took forever to get to us, but then they gave us a HUGE icecream sundae, involving 6 scoops of icecream, on the house! Yay! I even got to see the man, Hurbert Keller- I would of liked to have gotten a photo for Jess but it will just have to wait till next time.

Mmmmm.... burgers...... drool....

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A couple of good buys...

great $8 sandles!


I picked up a great pair of super soft white leather sandals that actually fit my giant Polish feet for $8 today!!! They were reduced from $160 to $30 then when I got to the check out they turned out to be $8, super bargain. They are really cute, comfy and will be given a work out when we get back to the Australian summer.


new Moschino glasses with heart


I also was persuaded by these cute Moschino sunglasses for $30. Standard black, though I did try them on in red as well, they have a cute little cut out heart in the bridge of the glasses. I think that they will get a bit of a summer work out as well… I’m a sucker for sunglasses.

Observations:
  1. I’m becoming a confident public transport person… weird.
  2. I love George Lopez, he is funny and I totally agree with him that black tacos are just bizarre and maybe a little offensive.
  3. American sizings are just not made for me any more. Maybe I’ve been making my own clothes for too long but tight and restrictive clothes aren’t my gig.
  4. I actually enjoyed watching Hannah Montana on tv in my hotel room. What is wrong with me?
  5. My skin is looking terrible with the water change and humid climate of late. Or maybe I’m not eating well? Soup and salads and lots of veggies please.
  6. I’m totally addicted to my iphone, it is now an extension of my body and life.
  7. After many years, I can finally remember the usa coins!
  8. I was disturbed by the amount of usa teens who had committed suicide by jumping in front of the Caltrains. I think there’s been 6 in the last 4 months? Terrible.
  9. Diner food is only good in New York… I truly believe this.
  10. SF tourist brochures are boring and are not catering for things that I would want to do… come on, mark where the major galleries are on the map, not just major chain stores you idiots!

Out in Haight Ashbury

mark at magnolia breweryAlign Center

The MaMa's left the Beresford yesterday and made the journey to the other hotel that we are staying at for a week in San Francisco. Thankfully the walk to the other hotel was downhill, though that was slightly challenging with a heavy bag on wheels. I was afraid that it was going to become out of control and take someone out!

We had to walk past some interesting and dodgy characters to get to this huge, historical and fancy hotel. There were lots of people yelling at one another and staggering around... always great, early in the morning.

After settling in to the new hotel which definitely has a Shining factor to it, we went for a walk to Haight Ashbury to take in the sights and get some snacks. Last time we were in San Francisco we visited Magnolia Brewery and the beers and snacks were lovely. We went back and had meatloaf sandwiches, sausages, chips and beers. The above photo shows Mark with a very dainty glass of Kalifornia Kulsch (if I got that right?!)

One of the amusing things about our current hotel room is that it has 2 double beds, that is all they had available when I booked! So Mark and myself are like a couple of oldies sleeping in seperate beds! He, He!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Hello San Francisco

After about a week in San Jose, I have arrived in San Francisco. I was here two years ago but only for a few days so I am hoping to see more of what SF has to offer. I caught the Caltrain from San Jose to San Francisco, it’s great, cheap and pretty comfortable. However I had to go in the “luggage car” due to my mega suitcase and had to sit near a group of English tourists which were pretty annoying and really rude to other train riders, constantly getting in the way and talking very loudly… hhmmmm….

I am staying at the Beresford Hotel for the next two nights. We stayed here last time and enjoyed it. The hotel kind of reminds me of The Shinning but in a good way. It has beautiful red carpets, old furniture and does a great breakfast. I have to say when I arrived this afternoon it didn’t quite live up to the memory that I had of it. The room that I’m staying in is really small compared to the mansion of the Hotel Montgomery in San Jose. The pillows are squishy and I was getting used to having a king size bed. It also has a weird smell which I don’t remember being there before. The lack of internet is driving me crazy too! ARGH!!! Luckily Mark arrives tomorrow and we only have one more night here before we move to a hotel with wifi.

I must be missing my other half (and kitten) as I’m not really feeling the San Fran love today. It seems really touristy after the cruisey feel of SJ. People aren’t quite as friendly but happy to take your money. I’m hoping that this feeling with go away in the next few days. Maybe I just need to see some good art and have a good meal and it should all be ok!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bringing out my inner GEEK!

The tech museum has a star trek exhibit... geeky me going to see!

Yesterday I took a lazy Sunday visit to the Tech Museum, I was going to hold off so I could visit the Star Trek exhibit as well but there didn't seem to be too much to do other than eat and shop on a Sunday in San Jose, so I went for the geek option.

I have been to the museum before, although a little reluctantly with my partner. I have to admit that my love for the Tech Museum has grown. It has lots of fantastic, hands on exhibits, the building is beautiful and you also get to view an Imax film included in your ticket - great way to spend a Sunday. The museum is also pretty nifty at using social media. I went to a conference a year ago with some Museum staff in Australia and they were doing some cool stuff.

I'm not that into the Imax movie experience but that was before I had been and seen a film in the Imax Dome!!! I saw the Mummies documentary and totally felt like I was immersed in ancient Egypt. It was an amazing wrap around experience. I will never bag out Imax ever again!

Two of the exhibits in the main part of the musuem that I really enjoyed were:
  1. The exhibits on the internet, how it works, social media and search engines. There's a few people I work with that could learn a lot from this 'dumbed down' teaching of the internetty world!
  2. The Tech Awards Gallery: Technology benefiting humanity was fascinating and thought provoking. It looked at technology in third world countries and environmental technology such as fog harvesting. The displays with the short films were very informative.
So this little geek learnt some stuff but thinks I will go back to see the Star Trek exhibit as well! I'm dying to see the costumes! Yep, still a fashion girl at heart!

Monday, October 19, 2009

San Jose Museum of Art 40th anniversary

Ok after some hiccups with outfits... i was told that it was 'black tie' not formal... I had a panic attack... anyway I went how I would normally go, I attended the Museum's 40th anniversary.

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It was a big night! I love here at these events that they have a full bar and there was lots of people drinking martinis. I even tried a champagne with pomegranate syrup. A little sweet but nice for one drink. It started off with drinks and canapes in the gallery, allowing me to get another look at the Chuck Close exhibition. We were all then led outside by drummers who performed in the courtyard before taking us to our dinner venue, the Fairmont.

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I was very lucky to have been seated at one of the tables near the dance floor and where all the formalities occurred. There was loads of entertainment including an opera singer, fundraising auction, this amazing woman who did acrobatics from a suspended cloth and a the night ended with a crazy group who were a cross between burlesque and a marching band who tore up the centre pieces, simulated sex antics and a boy in a bedazzled g-string weather a mask... yeah it was odd and loud!

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The theme was all paisley as you can see from the goodies bag above and the program. I was seated next to a lovely couple who were art collectors and sound like they had some great works! I love meeting collectors who are prepared to take a chance on art and purchase challenging pieces. Hopefully I can catch up with them again and see some of these works.

All in all a great night, lovely food and quite the experience.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Cute scarfs, great customer service

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I actually purchased something today. I love the fact that I purchased something small, light and compact... a scarf! This stussy scarf is gorgeous I love the graphics and it has that Hermes feel to it by using a border then a main design in the middle. After the heat today, it will be great as a head scarf as my black hair was cooking in this warm weather!!

I got this little gem at a store called Purist Boutique. Marco there was lovely and we had lots of big chats about fashion and San Jose (he's a born and breed, local). I was a little disappointed that the jeans I loved were sold out in my size... oh well. Cute tees, great sneakers, fabulous customer service!

Taking in some art!

Today I went and checked out San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art. It's a really beautiful gallery, great staff and excellent program... it is also free!


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Currently they have their fundraising exhibition on which had loads of beautiful contemporary art pieces by some quite established artists. The prices were also very reasonable and there were lots of works I would of liked to have bought... if I had the cash! I have added some of my favourite works to flickr as well.

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I also ventured to the San Jose Museum of Art. There were several exhibitions on, including a great exhibition of works by Chuck Close. I'm not usually a huge fan of his work, I find it interesting but I don't think about it too much. This exhibition was fantastic. They had included lots of works in progress, showing the way Close builds up the final prints, sometimes using 100 plates or screenprints. There was also the actual wood blocks showing how he had cut them and built up the images as well as the guides for creating the amazing paper pulp works. A well laid out and designed exhibition... a big yay to the curators, amazing job! I also enjoyed the little work stations that allowed people to try their hand at a variety of techniqes relating to nearly all of the exhibitions. It was very interactive without these stations being ugly. It was definitely worth the $8 entry fee.

I finished the morning by having a cheeseburger and fries at Peggy Sue's diner. Delicious and cheap!

Oh and for those back in Australia... it's pretty warm here, 26 degrees celcius. I actually have air conditioning on as it's pretty humid.
Ok, more art to go see more art.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

long trips and big beers

I bought a pint of Stella at the supermarket for like $2.50!

After a long flight and 3 train trips later... I arrived in San Jose today. I went for a bit of a walk this afternoon, thankfully the rain had stopped, to try and get my bearings a bit more. It's been nearly 2 years since I've been in San Jose and I'm thankful that I booked an excellent hotel in the middle of town. The staff have been great, super helpful and the room is huge! I've been in smaller New York appartments! It has the whole dressing gowns, special shampoos and a bath!

My main mission today was to go and get toothpaste, I managed to forget it! After much walking around, I went to my favourite skate store... was disappointed that my favourite dress store is closing, drooled at all the 'hand stirred martini' signs and visited the Safeway market. Oh my goodness, so much space, so much food! I bought large and lovely raspberries for $3! I also couldn't help but get a pint of Stella (which I'm drinking now) for $2.50 (see above) and my favourite ruffle chips.

Tomorrow, I have to do boring stuff like get my phone working and get a step up transformer thing... glad to be here though, feels like home.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Serious Suitcase

Serious suitcase

I leave for my 3 month adventure in the USA on Wednesday and with working right up to my departure date, this weekend was my last chance to get anything done, such as washing and packing. I had been putting my packing off. The thought of packing and living out of a suitcase for three months, slightly terrifies me. What should I take? How will I deal with West Coast vs East Coast weather? How much is it all going to weigh?!

I did pack everything into my old red suitcase with the thought of buying a newer and more sturdy case overseas. The red case had got me through several domestic trips as well as Germany, USA, Jamaica and Cuba. However, my kitty had also taken quite a liking to it and had been using it as a scratching post. After packing it all, I inspected where she had been scratching, only to find that she had managed to scratch all the way through! There was a very well established hole! Thankfully I found this now on the Sunday before leaving. It meant having to dash out and purchase a new case (above) which makes me look like a serious traveller and hopefully will live up to its 10 year warranty promise. The silver industrial case will be my friend for the next 3 months. Unlike my 2 year old ipod which decided to die yesterday and hopefully will be replaced before I leave on its warranty!

So far I've broken my foot, my case and an ipod. They say things come in three's so my trip will be safe, fun and easy!
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