The Best Salads in the Bay Area

My Doctor told me to cut back on the carbs and increase my greens at my last appointment (yeahhhh…) so I’ve been on the hunt for delicious salads because there’s nothing worse than a bland/ I’d rather be eating mac n’ cheese salad experience.

Ragazza: The Kale Salad (Lacinato Kale w/ carrots, farro, avocado, radish & green goddess dressing). SO good you almost don’t even need to order pizza. Almost.

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Insalata’s: Syrian Chicken Fattoush Salad. A Marin favorite that I finally made the trek over the bridge to try. The fresh mint herbs and lemon dressing made for an incredibly flavorful and delicious salad.

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Blue Barn: The Tostada Salad (romaine, chicory chop, toasted corn, black beans, cherry tomatoes, jicama, scallions, herbs, pumpkin seeds, tortilla strips, white cheddar & chipotle-agave vinaigrette. Add avocado.)

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Marengo on Union: A whiskey bar with good salads? YES. The Spinach Salad (Laura Chenel Goat Cheese, Strawberries, Candied Pecans, Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette) or the Jerk Chicken Salad (Jerk Marinated Chicken Breast, Tortilla Strips, Feta Cheese, Tomatoes, Feta & Sesame Ginger Dressing). Good luck trying not to order the Fricles (fried pickles) or queso.

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Comforts: Another Marin favorite. Order the Comforts’ Signature Chinese Chicken Salad (shredded romaine & iceberg, roasted & chilled Mary’s chicken breast, toasted almonds, sesame seeds, green onions, flash-fried rice noodles, sweet sesame rice vinaigrette).

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The Plant: The Dino Kale Salad (dino kale, arugula, red quinoa, cherry tomatoes, avocado, carrots, cucumbers, toasted almonds, lemon cumin vinaigrette). One of the few restaurants that gets a kale salad right. The kale isn’t bitter and is dressed well in advance.

dino kale salad

ROAM: Farmer’s Market Salad (add the trio of mini veggie patties on a skewer).

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Evolution: Lisa’s Lentils, Brown Rice & Kale (roasted red peppers, grilled zucchini, julienned carrots, feta, fresh herbs, lemon tahini sauce). Be sure to also try the all day scrambles and apple berry chia smoothie.

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Rustic Bakery: You can’t go wrong with any of these salads. Asian Chicken Salad (sliced romaine and savoy cabbage with mint, cilantro, scallions, roasted chicken, sesame seeds and ground peanuts, with lime and peanut dressing) OR the Spring Salad (mixed baby lettuces, toasted walnuts, sliced apples, chives and Point Reyes blue cheese served with champagne vinaigrette).

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And…some delicious salads to make at home.

Sir and Star

Ever since this article was published, dining at Sir and Star has been at the top of my list. And it did not disappoint. John and I both agreed that it was the best meal we’ve ever had in the Bay Area. I was basically in tears over how good everything tasted. Truly.

SIR AND STAR
AT THE OLEMA

JUST FAR ENOUGH AWAY 
SINCE 1876

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The makings of our feast:

Dinner Rolls and Butter
Sweetened a Bit with Wild West Marin Honey

A Soup of Local Charred Leeks
Encircling Potato Salsa

Tempura of Squash Blossoms
Over a Salad of Jesse’s Toybox Tomatoes
Dappled with Baked Local Goat’s Milk Cheese

King Salmon Plucked From the Pacific
And Clams Culled From the Estero
Opened with Red Wine
Alongside Our Bacon and Annabelle’s Shelling Beans

Flat Iron Steak of Beef
Last Seen Grazing on Local Grasses
Now in the Embrace of Warren’s Onions and Young Carrots
Served with Bearnaise of Wild Stinging Nettles

Soft Serve Ice Cream Milked from the Cow That Day
Drizzled with Olive Oil and Sea Salt

Whale Watching in Point Reyes

I’ve asked for a pair of binoculars for the past three Christmases and no one seems to take me seriously. Call me whale obsessed. It’s prime whale watching season out here and while another trip to the Farallon Islands may be a little too aggressive in my current pregnant state, watching from Point Reyes this past weekend seemed like a good backup plan.

Jutting 16 kilometers (10 miles) into the Pacific Ocean, the headlands of the Point Reyes Peninsula offer one of the finest spots to view the gray whale. The areas around Chimney Rock and the Lighthouse offer some of the best whale watching spots in the park.

Saturday was beautiful so we drove out to North Beach at Point Reyes Beach to test our luck. While we didn’t spot any whales (if only I had my binoculars!), my husband looked on the bright side: “who needs whales when we got you here, babe?”
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Nursery Planning: gender neutral

Nursery
We’re taking our friend’s advice and trying to get the nursery in shape before my 3rd trimester begins. Since we aren’t finding out the sex of the baby, we have to keep the room neutral (twist my arm!). Some nurseries and accents currently inspiring me:
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The Animal Print Shop
9bbc4dd709cde2c920e646384590d593f6b30fd3f12ee781018f0fd69f99383bPS: In other very important news, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their 2nd child (way to take the spotlight, Kate). Time to throw another royal tea party!

A golden time

Leave it to our good friends Sally & Bryce to find the perfect little spot in the woods (Dracena Park in Piedmont to be exact) to celebrate their son’s golden birthday. He turned one on Sept. 1. On the menu: sangria, watermelon slices, a cheese + charcuterie plate and best of all, homemade banana bread cake with cream cheese frosting. It’s a toss up between who devoured their piece the quickest: the pregnant woman or birthday boy.

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Fall Bucket List

Before the baby arrives, John and I have decided to make the most of our weekends and explore new places close to home. My I’m totally dreaming Fall CA bucket list if I win the lottery:

1. Big Sur

Stay: The Ventana Inn & Spa
Eat: Post Ranch Inn

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2. Montecito 

Stay: San Ysidro Ranch
Eat: The Stonehouse

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3. Napa

Stay: Meadowood
Eat: The Restaurant at Meadowood

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4. Sonoma

Stay: The Farmhouse Inn (excited to check out the new renovation)
Eat: The Farmhouse Inn Restaurant

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5. Los Angeles

Stay: Palihouse
Eat: Gracias Madre

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6. Del Mar 

Stay: L’Auberge Del Mar
Eat: Kitchen 1540

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7. Carmel

Stay: Mission Ranch
Eat: Aubergine

Carmel mission ranch sheep

8. Ojai

Stay: Ojai Valley Inn & Spa
Eat: Suzanne’s Cuisine

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9. West Marin

Stay: Manka’s Inverness Lodge
Eat: Sir & Star

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10. Newport Beach 

Stay: The Resort at Pelican Hill
Eat: Juliette

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Tennessee Valley

One of my favorite weekend activities is hiking in Marin, particularly Tennessee Valley. Although, someone once rudely corrected me saying, “that’s not a hike it’s more of a walk with pretty views” (#whatever). It gets me outside and feeling good so call it whatever you want.

The Tennessee Valley Trail is mostly level; it begins at the parking area and travels 1.7 miles to Tennessee Beach. For the more adventurous hiker, there are a number of other trails leading into the hills above Tennessee Valley (ahem, rude person above). In the spring time the vegetation of the valley is lush and green and/or blooming and you will find lupine, checker-bloom, blue-eyed grass, California buttercup, and California poppy. In summer, the grasses turn golden, and by late summer you can find fennel, lizardtail, sagebrush, sticky monkey flower, and blackberry bushes. In winter and early spring, rains turn the golden grasses back into green fields. At any time of the year Tennessee Valley is worth the visit.

For a less strenuous hike, take Tennessee Valley Beach (1.7 miles).
For a more ‘adventurous hike’ take: Miwok Trail > Bobcat Trail > Old Springs Trail (approx. 4-5 miles). Photos below:

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Happy Labor Day Weekend

TGIF

TGIF

Some links from around the web:

Pack It Up: travel essentials

As Fall nears and we sneak in our last minute getaways, here are my
travel beauty essentials I can’t go without:
Travel Essentials
10. A fun dopp kit (see below)

Fall Maternity

Fall has always been my favorite season. Even though I’ve been out of school for years there’s still a tinge of excitement I get post-Labor Day. I’m excited for chunky knit sweaters, flat booties, and slouchy coats (a pregnant woman’s dream, really). My top picks for Fall maternity clothes:

Skinny Jeans

1. Paige Denim ‘Verdugo’ Maternity Jeans

2. AG Jeans Stella Secret Fit Belly – I love these rolled up too.

3. James Jeans in black.

Tops

1. Gap three-quarter solid Henley

3. T by Alexander Wang Slub Muscle Tee – these run big and are great with a bump.

3. Zara Oversize Checked Shirt OR Oversize Poplin Shirt 

Sweaters (I prefer long/ open sweaters)

1. Vince cardigan with leather trim drape.

2. I love this camel/ sandstorm color Theory Cardigan

3. $50 off full price cashmere sweaters through 9/1 at Calypso with the code: cashmere50. I’m eyeing this sweater.

Dresses

1. HATCH The Afternoon Dress

2. Zara Printed Tunic 

3. STORQ black dress. And some more style inspiration from the designer herself.

4. Jade Bateau Dress

Loungewear: 

1. Lululemon Wunder Under Pant in heathered bordeaux.

2. J.Crew Oversize sweatshirt

3. Eberyjay stretch-jersey robe.

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Skin Remedy

On a friend’s recommendation, I booked a facial at Skin Remedy on Sacramento Street. Tucked away in the cute neighborhood in Presidio Heights, I immediately felt relaxed in the chic and clearly organic environment. The space is light, bright, and airy–and felt worlds away from city life (see treatment room below).

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My facialist named Katie, a fellow East Coaster, was so wonderful to chat with and educated me on the products she was using throughout the treatment. After incredibly thorough extractions, she used a made in-house oatmeal, goat milk yogurt, rosehip, and kale mask to reduce any redness and inflammation. I can’t remember the last time I left a treatment where my face felt this squeaky clean. At the end of my facial, Katie gave me her business card and told me to email her a list of the products I’m using so she could make sure they’re all pregnancy safe. Talk about full service. I can’t recommend this spot enough.

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Skin Remedy
3638 Sacramento Street
http://www.skinremedysf.com

 

Happy birthday, Dad!

My old man turned fifty-something yesterday and has always said, “it’s better to receive than to give” (that’s the spirit!). Insert: eye roll from my mother. So, for the past few birthdays we’ve gifted him a Pinhole Press photo album from that summer’s trip to Nantucket.

He counts how many photos he’s in and I’m pretty sure if we didn’t put him on the cover, he’d have the worst birthday ever ;) Below are a few cover shots of the world’s best Dad. Love ya!!

nantucket bookIMG_1627 IMG_5321 And thanks for making sure us Cali kids were a part of the big celebration:

Bday selfie

B-day selfie

 

J.Crew September Style Guide

Loved the forward by Jenna Lyons:

GREAT STYLE isn’t universal: it’s the opposite: It’s local. It’s personal. It’s a reflection of a person’s time and place. Doesn’t matter whether they’re from London, Kenya, NYC or Newport Beach; they’ve landed on a distinctive look that always includes a little something that makes it theirs, a marker of style DNA.

ffe17c4a2ac3d953333d8d582bc5ecf0{Varsity striped cashmere sweater}

a5139ee532fa8102f17d5970293fa24f{Dannie pant}

8dbc2e025c9f82055665b1efb4456023{Sterling jacket}

2f8cfca89c5e42beb8ff2b96c7d9f73c{Camo shirt}

c13e86a055166df9486bdff0bea71a55{Cashmere Swing Sweater}

630666d76009efa1a7809cb112095853{Rib-stich Dolman sweater and Collection calf hair double zip loafers}

7e63d639f33a4940d923843bd2ec8ffa{Turner Pant}

 Psst: 25% off with the code SHOPNOW. Have a great weekend!

Lovemade Workshop

My stylish friend Sally recently told me about this workshop for mamas-to-be. Unfortunately, I’ll be back East during this event but if you’re expecting and live in the Bay Area, be sure to check it out. Sounds so fab! Side note: I’ve added a ‘Pregnancy’ category to the blog where I’ll be sharing little bits and tips I learn along the way.

MOMS-TO-BE WORKSHOP

A one-day lifestyle workshop to help women define a sense of intention about their home & nursery design, style & beauty, and support networks as they prepare for life with a little one.

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SAN FRANCISCO • SEPTEMBER 27

  • For each attendee, a specially curated New Moms Care Package, stocked with Jeanne & Janette’s favorite beautiful baby essentials.
  • Breakfast, lunch and snack menus that are healthy, delicious and perfectly pregnancy-friendly.
  • Need-to-know lessons on baby-friendly home design and nursery design from Janette. Includes a coveted list of baby essentials and stylish brands.
  • Discussion on flattering fashion for maternity, breastfeeding and beyond, plus style for babies 0–2, from Jeanne.
  • “Ask Us Anything” guest panel with Katie Hintz-Zambrano, Erica Chan Coffman and Liz Stanley, covering work/life balance, emotional well-being, relationships and more.
  • Opportunities to build lasting connections with like-minded attendees at the same stage.
  • “Easy beauty” makeup lessons and professional applications from a team of bareMinerals makeup artists.
  • Bump photos photographed by Sarah Hebenstreit of Modern Kids. (Put your new makeup look to good use!)
  • Mocktail hour…cheers to a fabulous day!

Time: 10 a.m–5 p.m.
Date: Saturday, September 27
Place: Catherine Kwong Design, 295 Kansas Street, Potrero Hill, San Francisco

Hosted by: Janette Crawford & Jeanne Chan

Spaces limited: 15 expecting women

$325 Early Bird Pricing   
$375 after 8/29

Sign up here.

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Tahoe Bound

We’re off to celebrate our friends Lizzie & Keith’s wedding this weekend in Tahoe and couldn’t be more excited. Congrats to the happy couple! Have a great weekend:)

3e2e9c607b6f25cb6ada25e04cff8577{photo :: PlumpJack Squaw Valley Inn}

Whole Foods Beauty

Whole Body finds

Whole Foods has become an even more dangerous place for me these days. And scooping up organic finds has never been easier. I love their beauty products and have made some amazing (and affordable) discoveries over the years. When I get that look from my husband in the checkout line, I recite: remember what you put on your body is just as important as what you put in your body….;)

1. Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay. My friend recently introduced me to this and it’s the best.mask.ever (and only $7).

2. John Masters Organics lavender hydrating mist for skin and hair. I’m a huge fan of this brand and packaging.

3. Weleda Skin Food. An amazing moisturizer for those who need hydration but struggle with breakouts. A friend also recommended Weleda Stretch Mark Massage Oil for pregnancy so I’ll be trying that product out for sure. 

4. Almond Aura Glow Oil. I haven’t used this product in a while but it’s great for nourishing your skin after a shower.

5. Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel. See this post.

6. Whole Foods 365 Lavender and John Masters Organics Lavender & Avocado are both great conditioners. Still working on finding a shampoo. Any recs?

7. Dr. Bronner soap. There’s a reason this soap has a cult following in the beauty world.

8. Acure facial scrub. Use a small amount because it’s not watered down. Great for your T-zone.

9. Andalou Naturals Probiotic + C Renewal Cream. An incredible product that’s great for when you’re battling super dry skin.

10. Alba sugar cane body polish. It does the trick and is affordable.

11. Avalon Organics Vitamin C Renewal is a great toner. My mother-in-law has always told me to exfoliate with Emergen-C packets and this Vitamin C concoction also works wonders.

12. Egyptian Magic Cream. When the Huffington Post named this as one of the “Best Beauty Products You’ve Probably Never Heard Of” I had to try it out. A mix of olive oil and honey, this moisturizing cream also heals scars, as well as burns and stretch marks.

13. Earth Science Clarifying Facial Wash. I purchased this after reading on Into The Gloss that it gets rid of everything (aka your hard-to-remove mascara).

 

 

Shelter Co.

Shelter Co. has never made me want to go camping more in my life. What a fun idea for a big celebration (ahem, my 30th in Feb?) or a romantic getaway. Glamping at its finest…

Shelter Co. is a pop up lodging service catering to groups looking for an overnight outdoor experience.

The idea was born out of a love for California’s diverse landscape combined with nostalgia for the days of summer camp. Shelter Co. provides fully furnished canvas tents and all necessary amenities for group camping trips, weddings, family reunions, corporate retreats, and music festivals. Our events provide the simple joys of stargazing, roasting marshmallows, and playing games without the hassles of a typical camping weekend. Depending on your unique needs, we can provide everything from furnished tents and restrooms to full service catering and activities. Your guests are able to enjoy a unique experience in even the most far flung locations with all the comforts of home.

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Pregnancy Essentials

While I’m still learning about baby gear and coming to terms with all the toys and kids items that will soon fill my apartment, I’m a pro when it comes to making myself comfortable during pregnancy. Here’s a list of my current essentials:

1. bkr bottles- Impending motherhood has been driving me to drink…WATER. And lots of it. Bkr bottles have been a savior while at work.

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2. Arnicare Arnica Cream: Great for sore muscles. I rub this on my upper back and neck after yoga or before bed.

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3. VitaMedMD prenatal vitamins: I never thought I had a weak stomach until I started taking prenatal vitamins. I tried every brand out there and this is the only one I can tolerate (also comes highly recommended by my OBGYN and acupuncturist).

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4. Elizabeth W hot/cold flaxseed pack: See this post. Life changing but beware your partner/ husband will try to steal it on the reg.

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5. Everyday Shea lotion: I love the lavendar + lemon scent (I buy this at my local Real Foods market). Great for when the baby arrives too!

EDS-00585-26. Basq Advanced Stretch Mark Butter- there’s no telling if this works until post-baby but it’s worth a shot!

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7. Soapwalla Pregnant Belly Oil: Use it at night before bed otherwise, it’s too greasy. Works to relieve tight, itchy skin (oh the joys!).

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8. Bumpnest pillow: I’m holding off on using this for as long as possible (my husband and I share a queen bed and this thing looks human in size).

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9. Ingrid & Isabel Maternity Leggings: My preggo companion, Ana, gifted me these leggings which I swear by (and have lived in since I received them). Super high quality and not see-through like so many others I’ve tried.

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10. Acupuncture & Yoga: I’m a firm believer in the importance of mind/ body when going through a major transition period (ie- growing a human) and these have kept me sane. My friend Meg has been a savior and my go-to girl for all things pregnancy. She introduced me to Camille at Stillpoint Wellness for acupuncture and Kari Marble at The Mindful Body for prenatal yoga (highly recommend both if you live in San Francisco).

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{happy baby drawing by Julie}

 

 

Bey, Jay & Ray

Gangs all here! Between Jay Z and Beyonce’s On the Run tour, Rayland Baxtar playing at the Independent and Outside Lands festival, it’s been quite the week for seeing live music in the Bay Area.

photo 1{Inspired by the Drunk in Love lyrics #beybump}

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{Deep convos post concert: Are they divorcing? Did you see their body language on stage? THEY CAN’T GET DIVORCED. Can they adopt me?}

photo 2{Our friend Ray opening for Phosphorescent}

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{If you are Outside Lands bound today, be sure to check him out at noon!}

And on a non-musical note, there’s more amazing news for San Francisco. Check it.

A local’s guide to Nantucket

Every summer we look forward to seeing one of our best family friends who grew up across the street from my mom in DC. Dave definitely has more dirt on my mom and her six siblings as a teenagers than anyone but sadly remains tight-lipped. He’s lived on Nantucket for as long as I’ve been around. 29 years to be exact (although he doesn’t look or act a day above 29- must be that salty Island air!). And you can’t walk three steps down the street without Dave running into at least five people he knows. If you’re ever in Nantucket be sure to check out his surf shop, Indian Summer, where my family stocks up on boogie boards, Patagonia, Indian Summer hoodies, watches, and bathing suits.

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Below Dave shares his favorite local spots:

1. Best month to visit Nantucket: September

2. Best beach: The one no one’s on

3. Best surf: The big Madaket

4. Best drink: The Goddess (spicy tequila, cucumber & lime) from Corazon del Mar [drank a few too many of these with Dave the night John & I got engaged)

5. Best native beer: Cisco Grey Lady

6. Best lobster roll: Walters

7. Best burger: The Lola Burger on Sparks Avenue

8. Best pizza: Pi Pizzeria

9. Best spot for live music: The box [I was blacklisted from The Chicken Box one summer for passing back my ID to my then 16-year-old sister #lowpoint]

10. Best ice cream: The Juice Bar

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there and bACK

And we’re back to the grind today. Time really is a thief. Every summer I’m reminded of what a special place Nantucket is. There’s so much to do on the little island (3.5 miles wide by 14 miles long). Here’s a recap in photos from our amazing trip if you’d like to see:

DSC_0365 DSC_0379ack3 DSC_0377downy flakessunhatDSC_0384 DSC_0397photo DSC_0398 DSC_0410 DSC_0412 DSC_0416 DSC_0419 DSC_0422 DSC_0434 DSC_0445DSC_0496ack2DSC_0515DSC_0518DSC_0519DSC_0530DSC_0526steps2steps3home ackDSC_0533DSC_0535DSC_0537DSC_0541DSC_0548golf ackack from above

 

Some news…

photoI’m excited to share the news that we’re expecting a baby in January! I’m notoriously terrible when it comes to surprises but we’ve decided to keep it old school and not find out the sex. My four-year-old niece recently put her ear to my belly and exclaimed wide-eyed that “the baby’s name is Victor and he’s crying like crazy.” Hmm? Let’s see if we have a little psychic on our hands…minus the crying bit, please.

So far I’m feeling great and have had an incredibly smooth pregnancy. People always ask about cravings. Honestly, I’m craving the same things as the day I began eating solid foods: mac n cheese, bagels, Haribo gummy bears…nothing new here! Except tighter pants errr, tighter everything. We are so beyond excited, a little terrified, and can’t wait to meet our little one come early 2015.

Now we’re off to Nantucket for some R&R with my family. It’s crazy to think that at this time next year we’ll be jetting off with a six-month-old in tow! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves…

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 [Many thanks to my sweet co-worker, Alyssa, for the drawing
and to my sis, Jenny J, for the pics!]

My Nantucket To- Do List

Vacation anticipation: I have it BAD. I’m headed East tomorrow for Nantucket and I’ve compiled my ultimate (and a tad aggressive) to-do list:

DO

EAT

SHOP

BEACH

  • Nobadeer Beach (for the airplane enthusiasts- DAD!- in your life)
  • Ladies Beach
  • Steps Beach
  • Cisco Beach (for the big waves)

* See my guide to Nantucket beaches here.

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A Sailor’s Delight

Yesterday my company treated us to an afternoon aboard Schooner Eros–a 100+ foot sailboat with some pretty impressive history:

Schooner EROS is a classic beauty built in England 1939 for the daughter and son-in-law of a British Lord. She was very soon commandeered by the Royal Navy to participate in the famous evacuation at Dunkirk. After the war she became the private yacht of the first man internationally known as a billionaire, Stavros Niarchos, and she became well-known in the Mediterranean yachting community.

We all remember Stavros Niarchos (yes?). The sun came out and the wind was blowing; it was a perfect day.

photo (1) photo 2 (1) photo 1 (1) photo 3 (1)And how fitting that The Edit’s Nautical Issue was just released? Shop the magazine here.

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The Perfect NY Strip Steak

Born and raised in Manhattan, Michael brings another yummy post to Come to Coco (see his Bloody Mary recipe here). 

If you’re anything like me, you love steak. Nothing beats a great steak dinner and nothing beats a great steak restaurant. Growing up in New York City, I had two favorites, Peter Luger and the Palm.

Peter Luger is a classic, located in Brooklyn it’s been named New York City’s best steakhouse for 30 years in a row by Zagat Survey. They serve porterhouse cuts for 2 or 4 (people) which are pre-sliced and served on sizzling plates which are placed on an upside down coffee cup coaster so the plate is inclined allowing the fat to run down the plate enabling the servers to “add a little shine” onto the steak. The steaks are so good that they don’t need their famous steak sauce but you can put the sauce on just about everything else from Tomato and Onion (chopped) salad to Bacon Slices to Shrimp Cocktail. It’s truly a great experience.  The bone in the porterhouse steak splits two types of meat, a NY Strip Steak and a tenderloin filet (Filet). At Peter Luger both sides of the steak or terrific, but if I had to choose one over the other I would choose the NY Strip 100% of the time.

Peter LugersMy other favorite was the Palm. The original located on 837 2nd Avenue in Manhattan. Before there was a Palm in every town, this set the standard for Italian themed steak houses that served think New York Strip Steaks. There now seems to be a Palm in every major city and the quality can be hit or miss, but the original Palm located on the west side of 2nd Avenue (Palm Too is located on the east side) consistently delivers.

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Today there are hundreds if not thousands of steak restaurants with new, trendy ones popping up in every major city each week. They’re all good, they all serve quality meat and most of them have a wonderful, lively atmosphere.

The only problem is the price. A steak at a top steak house can exceed $50. Add appetizers, sides, booze, wine and you’re easily looking at a meal that can run well north of $100 per person. I admit, it’s something that I’m ok splurging on from time to time. However, I think I can match the quality of a top NY Strip Steak (my favorite cut) at home and can do it for a fraction of the price.

What You Need

Steak 1

  • Grill
  • NY Strip Steak – Prime is preferred but a good Choice Cut is OK. Costco sells Prime for less than what Whole Foods sells Choice so I generally buy from Costco (my favorite store). I do not encourage buying supermarket pre-packaged steaks. They tend to be tougher, thinner and just not as good. Whole Foods and Costco are both good choices. If you do not have one in your area, see if your supermarket butcher will cut you a nice thick cut of about 1 ¼ inches.
  • Unsalted Butter
  • Corn Oil
  • Thick Salt – If you can find or order Maldon Sea Salt Flakes, it is preferred. If not, Kosher Salt works fine
  • Pepper – Cracked not ground

Direction

  • Remove your steaks from the refrigerator and let them sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours
  • Heat your grill to maximum heat. I don’t care if you’re cooking one steak, turn every burner on high and let it sit for 15-20 minutes. You want it as hot as it can possibly get.
  • Melt 4 oz of non-salted butter for every steak you are going to cook
  • When melted add about 2 oz of Corn Oil to the melted butter for every steak you are going to cook.
  • About 5 minutes before you are going to place the steaks on the grill pour the butter/oil mixture into a deep dish.
  • Place each steak into the butter/oil mixture and let it rest for a few seconds and then flip so both sides are coated
  • Remove steaks and place on a rack. Racks work best, but a cutting board or plate also work
  • Sprinkle the salt all over the steak to make a nice coating. You want salt flakes to cover the entire steak. Next add the cracked pepper, again have it coat the entire steak
  • Flip the steak and repeat the salt/pepper process
  • Add your steak to the scorching hot grill. You may get minor flare ups, this is ok. If it is a major flare up, remove the steak to a cooler part of the grill (upper rack) and then replace
  • If you like your steak rare (like I do) you should cook the steak for about 1 minute and then rotate for another minute (thus creating an even char). After two minutes, flip the steak and repeat. If you grill is hot enough and there is a good fire. You’re steaks will be done after 2 minutes a side. If you like it more cooked, add a minute or two to each side. If you like it well done, you shouldn’t be spending money on quality steaks.
  • After you remove from the grill let the steaks rest on a cutting board or plate untouched for 5-10 minutes
  • After that time, cut in and enjoy!
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Summer BBQ Menu Planning

Strawberry Lychee Punch

RUM_01

  • 3 small strawberries, hulled
  • 1/4 ounce Simple Syrup
  • 1 canned lychee plus 1/4 ounce syrup
  • 2 ounces light rum
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
  • Ice

DIRECTION

  1. In a cocktail shaker, muddle the strawberries, Simple Syrup, lychee and lychee syrup.
  2. Add the rum, lime juice and ice, shake well and pour into a red wine glass.

Full recipe here

Watermelon Caprese Salad

d52d269fa9f10548_Watermelon-Caprese-Salad-LARGE.xxxlarge_2x

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, larger ones halved
  • About 2 cups of watermelon cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 8 ounces bocconcini, halved
  • 8-10 large basil leaves
  • 3/4-1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or to taste

DIRECTION

  1. Add the tomatoes, watermelon, bocconcini, and basil to a large mixing bowl.
  2. Sprinkle with salt, drizzle with oil and vinegar, and gently toss to coat.
  3. Season to taste.

Full recipe here

Elote Grilled Mexican Corn

SONY DSC

  • 6 ears of corn, shucked and fibers removed
  • 1 tbsp mayonaise
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese (or you can use a Mexican cheese called Cotija)
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lime, cut into 6 wedges

DIRECTION

  1. Heat grill over medium heat and spray rack with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Grill corn, turning frequently (so they don’t burn), until the corn is slightly browned and heated through. (about 8-10 minutes)
  3. Meanwhile combine the mayo and sour cream in a small bowl and whisk until smooth.
  4. In another small bowl combine the chili powder, salt and pepper.
  5. Slater the hot grilled corn with mayo/sour cream mixture (use a pastry brush to brush it on), then sprinkle with the chili powder mixture. Coat in the parmesan cheese, and sprinkle with the chopped cilantro.
  6. Serve with a lime wedge.

Full recipe here

Lipton Classic Onion Dip

Onion-Dip

^ Judge away but who doesn’t love this classic? Talk about a trip down memory lane. Serve it with some ruffle potato chips, obv.

DIRECTION

  1. 1 envelope Lipton® Recipe Secrets® Onion Soup Mix
  2. 1 container (16 oz.) sour cream

Ina Garten Sliders with Gruyere, Arugula, Tomato and Onion

BX0202H_sliders_s4x3.jpg.rend.sni12col.landscape

2 pounds premium ground beef (80 percent lean and 20 percent fat)
1 tablespoon good Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons good olive oil, plus extra for brushing the grill
1 teaspoon chopped thyme leaves
3 teaspoons chopped garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces grated Gruyere
12 small Brioche buns
4 ounces baby arugula
3 medium tomatoes, sliced in 1/8-inch-thick rounds
2 small red onions, sliced in 1/8-inch-thick rounds
Ketchup, for serving

DIRECTION

  1. Build a charcoal fire or heat a gas grill.
  2. Place the ground beef in a large bowl and add the mustard, olive oil, thyme, garlic, salt, and pepper. Mix gently with a fork to combine, taking care not to compress the ingredients. Shape the meat into 12 (2-inch) patties of equal size and thickness.
  3. When the grill is medium-hot, brush the grill grate with oil to keep the sliders from sticking. Place the sliders on the grill and cook for 4 minutes. Turn the sliders over with a spatula and cook for another 4 to 6 minutes, until medium-rare, or cook longer if you prefer the sliders more well done. For the last 2 minutes of cooking time, place 1/2-ounce Gruyere on the top of each burger and close the grill lid. Remove the sliders to a platter and cover with foil.
  4. Slice the buns in half crosswise and toast the halves cut side down on the grill.
  5. Divide the baby arugula among the 12 bottom buns, top each with a slider, and finish with a slice of tomato and red onion. Cover with the top of the bun and serve hot with ketchup.

Full recipe here

Frozen Chocolate-Dipped Bananas

FD_Bananas

  • Up to 6 ripe bananas
  • Popsicle sticks
  • 4 ounces heavy cream
  • 8 ounces dark chocolate

DIRECTION

1. Peel the bananas, slice them in half crosswise, and insert a popsicle stick into the center of each half. Arrange the bananas on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and place them in the freezer to chill.

2. Chop the dark chocolate into a large, shallow bowl. In a small pot, combine the heavy cream with 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon and bring to a simmer. Pour the hot cream mixture over the dark chocolate and let it sit for one minute before whisking vigorously into a ganache.

3. Take your bananas out of the freezer and coat them in the ganache. Cover each banana in peanuts by dipping and pressing. Set the banana back on the wax paper-lined and freeze for two hours.

Full recipe here

Party Pants

Currently on the hunt for slouchy, cool, loose-fitting pants (what I refer to as “party pants”–don’t ask). Throw on a blazer and heels for work or sneaks for weekend wear.

Loft Chambray Slouchy Ankle Pants

img-thing-1J.Crew Drawstring Pant in Cove Floral:

A7730_WD8506_m

J. Crew Drapey Beach Pant:

A7370_WN4490_m

Zara Loose Fit Trousers:

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Zara Printed Pajama Style Trousers:

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Kate Spade Hutton Tropical Lounge Pant:

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Joie Talina B Pant:

m_talinab_silk_pant_1754p1004b_caviar_front Joie Farina Pant:

m_ferina_pants_1804p1105_darknavy_front_2

 THML Printed Soft Pant:

cn7508723Joie Theron B Silk Pants:

cn7717401Rebecca Taylor Indian Floral Print Pants:

8542827_fpxSplendid Athletic Woven Pant:

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Wedding Wednesday Spotlight

I’ve been trying to get my hands on Julie and Will’s wedding photos for months and when I finally got a little preview they took my breath away…

5a0f7f7e7de7c92f1aba74c3c501ed82 6a91f04b3a6e32058feddb658e2e6cff3c. brideandbouquet 9a5658fe9327f3640ed8e2dbc16a01675. groomsmen5d f139a8beb3513c7bdda2ce24b2f0323eeric kelley-3367 escortedfavorseric kelley-3528a11b1c.brideandgroom f7c950c1d701dc2c87ab53b1267d4f1f 21e5dc6533d621cf89f26f6d3cd591d25fdc582c56c4026697b68ab469259b1eeric kelley-3351b.brideandgroom22d2fdesserttableAbout the bride’s Kinsley James dress:

Julia holds a special place in our hearts here at Kinsley James!  We met Julia on our opening day; she was one of our first appointments and became the first Kinsley James bride!  All the stars were aligned for Julia, for us, and for the designer, Tara LaTour, who Julia connected with instantly. Tara’s inspiration for the collection was “Where the Wild Things Are” which Julia loved since she is an aspiring children’s books author!  We were so excited to help Julia find the perfect gown. She decided on a custom ‘Tay’ by Tara Latour wedding gown, and worked closely with us and the designer throughout the process to make sure that every detail fulfilled her vision. Her gown fit perfectly, and she looked absolutely beautiful on her wedding day. She was a pleasure to work with and became a great friend to all of us here at Kinsley James!

Healthy. Wholesome. Sound.

Follain– my favorite beauty shop in Boston (and Nantucket as of this summer) celebrated their first birthday by launching an e-commerce site, making this West Coast resident VERY happy. Tara, my friend and founder of Follain, was the first person to really get me thinking about the importance of an all-natural, organic skin regimen.

Follain

Follain–Gaelic for ‘healthy, wholesome, and sound’–features a thoughtfully curated portfolio of skincare, hair care, and cosmetic products from over 30 U.S. brands. Follain carries the highest-performing healthy beauty products available. No one should have to sacrifice their health and values for beauty.

What’s in my basket:

1. Shamanuti Activated Charcoal Cleaner

2. Baudelaire Dry Brush

3. Ilia Balmy Nights Exfoliator

4. RMS Living Moisturizer

5. Captain Blankenship Mermaid Sea Salt Hair Spray

And lastly, some Thursday food for thought:

follain-credo

Socks that don’t stink

Confession: I like to sleep in socks. Before you knock this not-so-sexy sleeping habit, apparently Sofia Vergara does too. To quote her, “I sleep in pretty socks, not like dirty socks”. Amen, sister! Luckily, my husband’s sock drawer is within arms distance of my side of the bed and much to his displeasure, I always go for the softest, prettiest pair.

And there’s more good news. My friend is launching his new sock line, Heath Paine which “weaves intelligent materials with boldness that stands out from the boardroom to the bar” [and bed?]The socks are all natural, American made, and fashionable just like the two founders.

Check out their Kickstarter page and video to back the project and learn more. Trust me, the world needs more socks (as evidenced by my neighborhood laundromat, “The Missing Sock”).

features6c0973e20e593c5ecba1adb876fc6ea2_largeHP1HP2HP3

 

Check out my friend Alexandra’s hilarious interview with the dynamic duo behind Heath Paine here.

 

Honeymooning in Italy

A big thanks to Charlotte and Steve for sharing their amazing Italian honeymoon! They ate and drank their way through Florence, Tuscany & the Amalfi Coast (my kind of trip). Their pictures are nothing short of spectacular and if you’re like me, you’ll be indulging in a big old plate of pasta after reading this.

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Florence

Stay:

  • Grand Hotel Villa Cora:  it’s perched up on the hill right behind the Boboli gardens. We really liked it. Beautiful property (it is an old villa that has been converted into a hotel) with a nice pool area and great rooms with a lot of character.  A lot of the rooms have nice balconies with excellent views of the city. It is about a 5 minute cab ride to downtown or a 15-20 minute walk so the location is pretty convenient. 

Eat:

  • Cantinetta Antinori
  • La Giostra
  • Lunch at Harry’s- where the Bellini was created.
  • Il Parione- This was our favorite restaurant. A local spot with amazing food. Try the truffle pasta. They are also known for their steak.

Do:

  • Galleria Accademia and Uffizi
  • Roofdeck bar in the Continentale hotel near the Ponte Vecchio – This is the best rooftop bar in Florence I’ve been too but it’s not well marked.  LUCKILY, it’s about 15 feet from the Ponte Vechhio bridge so it is totally findable. When you arrive, you’re going to think ‘this is an all-white apartment building, not a hotel/bar’ as there are no bar signs and no one downstairs. Just trust me… get on the elevator and hit the top floor bottom. The perfect place for pre-dinner drinks with gorgeous views to watch the sunset over the river. 

Tuscany

Stay:

  • Castiglion del Boscothis was one of our favorite hotels and we’ll definitely go back! It was perched in the hills of Montalcino – remote but only a 20 minute drive from the little town of Montalcino. They have a few great restaurants on the property itself. We spent 4 nights at this hotel and just explored the little Tuscan towns by day – we went to Montalcino, Montepulciano, Pienza and Siena. These are all beautiful quaint towns with lovely streets and cute local shops. 

Do:

  • Wine tasting. Tuscany produces some great ones (all from the Sangiovese grape) that are actually pretty affordable when you get them over there. I would suggest trying Brunello di Montalcinos, Chiantis (Classico or Rufina), and Montepulcianos. We also found their version of Pinot Noir, which they call Pinot Nero, to be pretty good. The younger and less pricey version of Brunellos are called Rossi di Montalcino, very good as well and a bit lighter/brighter than the Brunellos.

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The Amalfi Coast

Positano

Stay:

Eat:

  • Le Sirenuse: A standout restaurant- very expensive, but worth it. Go early for a drink to enjoy the views. 
  • La Tagliata: This one, unlike the Sirenuse, is really casual but a really fun experience. It’s a great family run place way up on the mountain.  They have live music one night a week so check with your hotel (they have a shuttle that picks guests up at their hotels) and try and book that night.
  • Note: The restaurants down by the beach are all fun but not outstanding food-wise. You are paying more for the ambiance and the view. Probably best of the bunch is Chez Black * fun fact – owned by an Italian movie star.

Do:

  • Cruise the coast by sea: Steve and I rented a private power boat for about 300 euros and cruised down the coast. You can stop and go swimming in some of the coves that are inaccessible except by boat, eat lunch and enjoy the views. You can also just hop on the ferry which is approx. 15 euro per person and see the coast that way – a much better option than a bus or a car service which is super expensive and also takes much longer on the small roads.

Ravello

Do: 

  • Visit the town: Beautiful town perched up on the mountain above the town of Amalfi. You can take a bus or taxi up from Amalfi. It’s a pretty scary drive but really cool. The town is just stunning, and quieter than the other Amalfi towns.

Capri

Stay: 

  • Hotel Punta Tragara: Is just heaven. If we had to do it all over again we would spend more time here and probably one less night in Positano. The hotel had a great pool and views. We  really enjoyed strolling around the town, window shopping, eating gelato and drinking lots of wine.

Do:

  • Head over to AnaCapri and take the chair lift up, the views from the top are great.

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b-spired

We’re off to Cape Cod today to celebrate Charlotte and Scott’s wedding!

CalmWatersDowsesBeach

Charlotte is the co-founder of the San Francisco-based wooden card company, b-spired, offering a fresh take on greeting cards (and we all know by obsession with greeting cards). Her taste is impeccable and I can’t wait to see her on her big day. Stay tuned for more on Cape Cod and their nuptials. A big congrats to the happy couple!

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Move over Hanky Pankys

Bear with me, boys…

I’ve never really been a fan of Hanky Panky thongs. I still own a ton but am always on the hunt for something better. Enter: ThirdLove’s Lace Thong (one size fits all and way cheaper). They are incredibly comfortable, stretchy, and available in a variety of cute colors.

 

10448960_1531733400388201_1328398442_aI’ll be ordering some customize-sized bras from ThirdLove as well. Friends have raved about the fit. The company also offers half sizes–perfect for women who have always been between cup sizes. Genius, right? Here’s more on how the app and sizing technology works:

Simply download the app, take two photos wearing a tight-fitting tank, and we’ll determine your perfect bra size.

How does it work? The ThirdLove app transforms your smartphone into a virtual measuring tape. Our computer vision and image recognition algorithms determine the size of your body in relation to your smartphone to calculate your measurements.

Third-Love-Collage

Space.NK Summer Sale

One of my favorite beauty destinations, London-based Space.NK.apothecary is officially launching their big summer sale tomorrow. However, guests can gain early access online today and find products up to 50% off. I was recently introduced to the line, African Botanics, and it’s quickly become a favorite.

 

US300023512_AFRICANMarula Stretchmark Botanical Body Balm- great for pregnant and post-baby mamas!
{From $55 to $27}

US300023504_AFRICANMarula Firming Body Balm- this non-greasy formula improves skin elasticity.
{From $55 to $27}

US300023508_AFRICANMarula Botanical Body Hydrator- too much sun? Slather this on.
{From $55 to $27}

US300024246_AFRICANThe Marula Ritual- just the starter kit you need for dry summer skin.
{From $75 to $37}

Stay tuned for more great brands going on sale tomorrow!

 

East Coast bound

Packing list: cape cod
Since moving to San Francisco, I’ve become a pro at taking cross-country flights to visit family and friends. No matter if I’m traveling for a week or a quick weekend, I’ll only take a carry-on bag (a perk of having three sisters & their closets at my disposal). We’ve been looking forward to celebrating our friends’ wedding in the Cape for months and it’s finally here! Yes, I am already packed:

Happy Summer

Tomorrow marks the first day of summer. I’ve lived in San Francisco for four years and I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the “summers” here. I’m not being a baby…do you follow @karlthefog on Instagram? I have a few trips planned back East but until then I’ll be dreaming of summer cookouts, (warm) beaches, lobster rolls, (good) bagels, (warm) boat rides, Dunkin Donuts iced coff…I think seasonal depression has already kicked in? [For the record, it's an incredibly beautiful day today.] Have a great weekend everyone! Hammock-on-beach-Oberto-Gili-Courtesy-of-Ralph-Lauren-Corporation-810x1024one-pot-clambake-2-646a8be39d89850d4d45ae438f59ad2ed4ebeb4ecc11de7abda5f6a1ba4e38213b869b1001717fcd74cc6326305b1451c91 5a1e2c1ea154f3f4b04faf0ae06013dadae39a4ec0a5ab4fdf5323b4c0e53d45687aef4087a89a9aa92334c028d3eea75f3a1da0d1ad5af519d4e2a6806c6c1ef62ff6bedb07a7eac5afe055d1176e3a559a7debce76431434f825d73d4b1c9fa3e22b01485c2c94efd1871712e6e6e24dcf5d914c3a23f635943e7029dc2091d8bb5a35057473b612c9f088633752000d7b7c8be544a9721b86b594d5087850

All in the details

Wedding season is officially here! We’re looking forward to celebrating with friends this summer on both coasts and in the meantime, here’s a few images from the talented Glen Allsop who shot our wedding almost two years ago. And some helpful links for wedding attendees: a wedding gift guide and ideas for going off-registry here and here.

Courtney Jermain & John Halip Courtney Jermain & John Halip Courtney Jermain & John Halip Courtney Jermain & John Halip Courtney Jermain & John HalipCourtney Jermain & John HalipCourtney Jermain & John Halipfddaf90396400479efce6dc828dbcf71

Courtney Jermain & John HalipCourtney Jermain & John HalipCourtney Jermain & John Halip

Courtney Jermain & John Halip Courtney Jermain & John Halip Courtney Jermain & John Halip Courtney Jermain & John HalipCourtney Jermain & John HalipCourtney Jermain & John Halip

Courtney Jermain & John Halip

Courtney Jermain & John HalipCourtney Jermain & John Halip

Courtney Jermain & John HalipCourtney Jermain & John HalipCourtney Jermain & John HalipCourtney Jermain & John HalipCourtney Jermain & John Halip

Courtney Jermain & John Halip Courtney Jermain & John Halip

Courtney Jermain & John Halip Courtney Jermain & John HalipPlanning a wedding? Follow my Pinterest wedding boards here and here.

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