Tuesday, October 18, 2011

January - May 2011

So it's been a year and it turns out that we're not really bloggers... The whole point of this blog was initially to chronicle our exciting adventures and mishaps as a (sort-of) young couple living in San Francisco. Clearly, we haven't really done that. We've done kind of a lot of awesome things this year and in an attempt to remember that 2011 was not just the year that we got married, here's a highlight reel of sorts:

We celebrated our first New Years Eve in San Francisco with mostly girls. Sorry, Jeff.

Or perhaps not-so-sorry, Jeff.

I turned 25! To celebrate I ate lots of Austrian food at Leopold's and danced my butt off.

In April, Jeffrey turned the big 3-0! I had planned for a few weeks to throw Jeff a big surprise birthday dinner with our friends at a German restaurant called Suppenkuche that he had been dying to try. I told him that all of our friends were busy that weekend so we would have a low key, romantic celebration. We took the train into work and planned to take a cab from the train station to dinner for our fancy dinner date. Unfortunately, the train was shut down all evening due to an accident and we were stranded in Palo Alto. Jeff was adamant that we stay in Palo Alto and skip dinner as a taxi to the city would be too expensive, but somehow I managed to convince him (and procure a pretty much free town car with a friend!). We made it into the city just in time for dinner and Jeff was actually still really surprised when he saw all our friends waiting for him (or at least kindly acted like it)!

May turned out to be a crazy month - respective Bachelor/Bachelorette parties, Oyster Fest, and the San Francisco classic, Bay to Breakers!

Oyster Fest - too many oysters in the sun. Let's just leave it at that. Although we did get to meet Alli from the Bachelorette which is just about as exciting/unexciting as it sounds.

We were Charlie Sheen quotes for B2B this year. I think it slightly edges our the World Cup theme of 2010 plus the accessory options were about 15 times better (tigers blood, anyone?).

I am proud that our hair was equally awesome on this day.

I celebrated my last weekend as a single woman in Sonoma with a few of my favorite people. I don't have pictures of Jeff's bachelor party, but I think that's probably for the best.

Then we got married (I think that's been appropriately chronicled elsewhere). Before that, the Ostlers were kind enough to host our rehearsal dinner at Bridges in Danville. With friends and relatives scattered all over the country, we felt so lucky to have all of the most special people in our lives in one place.

OK that's enough for now. After over a year of silence I don't want to over do it on my first post back. :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Welcome to the Danger Zone!

It's been awhile since we last posted and a lot has happened (which is why we've been unable to write). I haven't traveled much at all, which has enabled us to do a lot of exploring of the city. Our go to place and top recommendation for anyone visiting is Frascati. It's a quaint little neighborhood restaurant on tree-lined Hyde that has one of the best roasted chicken dishes we've ever had. I'm forced to specify the roasted variety instead of overall chicken, as the fried chicken at Wayfare Tavern is absolutely divine as well. The restaurant was recently opened by Tyler Florence, and Jess got us a table right next to the kitchen. He has a few shows on the Food Network and we always thought his food looked good.

Chicken isn't typically what you get when dining at a restaurant in a big city, but if you have a craving, try one of these places.

Early October is probably the best time of year to visit San Francisco, and nobody knows it better than Uncle Sam. Fleet Week is a fun time when Blue Angels can be seen in the sky, navy ships in the sea, and sailors at the strip clubs. It makes you proud to be an American. Our apartment is located near the water and we have a pretty good view of the Golden Gate bridge all the way to Alcatraz. The air show is on Saturday and Sunday, so we went to some friends' roof for a party on Saturday (dressed up in our best Top Gun gear), and had a little get together with the Obers on Sunday on our own roof. Krissy brought a nice camera and took shots like this one:

The rest of her portfolio can be found here: http://krissyober.smugmug.com/Airplanes/Fleet-Week/14169729_8ZzfD#1045814214_VRXE4

One article I read said that they'll get as close as 18 inches from each other, which is pretty amazing considering their speed. We had a great time as they would pass right over our heads, using a nearby building as a reference point. We're hoping to start an annual party for fleet week on our roof. Aviators required.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Parking Spot #18

I will admit that parking is not my strong suit. However, the parking situation (depicted above) is ridiculous and stressful and stupid. Please imagine a white, strangely pristine 80's Toyota on the left side of that picture for the full effect. Also note that you cannot open any door more than 30% of full capacity with both cars present and you must snake yourself inside each morning like some sort of circus contortionist. One might say that you have yourself an issue when you have to call someone in to assist you in parking ("assist" = park the car for you in my case). Needless to say, as a result of this parking situation, I have lost almost all confidence in my parking abilities and taken off the top of a side mirror (SIDE NOTE: this apparently costs a BILLION dollars more than I thought it would to repair because it involves removing the door. This seems totally unnecessary. Can't you just pop it back on and call it a day? I also asked if it could be glued back on, but apparently everyone besides me thinks this is a bad idea for some reason).

I am pleased to announce that my epic battle with parking spot #18 is officially over. When we got a new building manager last week my lovely fiance, being as thoughtful and sweet as he is, requested a new spot for me. And let me say, I can now both enter and exit my assigned spot without phoning a friend. My confidence in my parking skills is up like 6 or 7% this week and I hope that this means that I can repair my side mirror with the confidence that it will not be ripped off again (at least during parking).

Friday, July 9, 2010

Flat Ainsleigh Project: San Francisco!

Dear Ainsleigh,

We were very excited to have you with us these past couple weeks. Here's our historical view of the City by the Bay:

San Francisco was a quiet town of about 1,000 people in 1848 when gold was discovered in the hills to the east. Two years later, the population jumped to 50,000, with almost everyone arriving by boat at this port:

Of course, at the time those buildings did not exist, certainly not the tall one above the words "Francisco", which is where your uncle Jeff now "works" (quotations as I'm currently writing this from there). During the gold rush, people were so anxious to get to the hills and mine that they would often just abandon their boats. Boats were the main form of transportation to San Francisco until the 1930s when the Bay Bridge was built:

We spent the morning at the farmer's market here, one of the biggest in the country:

San Francisco is home to people from all over the world. A large part of the city is called Chinatown, and is the oldest one in the country, with immigrants arriving around the time of the Gold Rush:

The city boomed after the gold rush. In the late 1800s, a large resort called the Cliff House was built on the Pacific Coast side of San Francisco. Due to the distance from the main part of the city and the expensive toll roads, only rich families were able to visit it at first. Here's a picture of the Cliff House in about 1903 (notice the clothing of the kids):

In 1906, there was an enormous earthquake (more on that later...), but the Cliff House was unharmed. Unfortunately, the next year it burned to the ground. Later, a smaller, more modest Cliff House was rebuilt on the site, which we visited:

We ate lunch there, which had great views of the beach and ocean.

In the early morning of April 17, 1906, there was a huge earthquake that hit San Francisco. Many buildings collapsed, but the bigger problem was that fires started, and burned almost the entire city to the ground. San Franciscans loved their city and were determined to rebuild it. Thousands of buildings were built in the next few years, including the one where you stayed with us. In 1915, San Francisco had an Exposition, a sort of party where everyone in the world is invited. It was to show how San Francisco had risen from the ashes. One of the main sites was the Palace of Fine Arts, that we also visited:

This one is actually a replica of the original. The architect of the original believed that each great city should have ruins (like Rome/Athens) and so he built the Palace with material that would purposefully crumble. Since he was a little crazy, the Palace was rebuilt with good materials as you see it today.

At night you slept with our cats, hope you're not allergic:

We live on Lombard Street. One stretch, just a few blocks from where we live, is very steep, so they had to make it a windy street in order for cars to go down:

San Francisco is a very hilly city. In the 1870s, a man felt bad for the horses that had to carry wagons and supplies up the steep hills, so he invented the cable car. If you come in person, we'll ride one, but they're usually filled with tourists and we're too cool for that. We did hike up Telegraph Hill for a great view of the city:

When your mom was about your age, Grandpa Ostler worked in the building just to the left of the pyramid looking one, it has two spires if you look closely.

There's an island in the middle of the bay called Alcatraz. It was originally a fort during the civil war, but was converted into a federal prison in the 1920s. Many famous criminals were housed there, as well as you:

The island has some great views of the city. The prisoners could sometimes even hear people talking from the shore, which made it even harder to be locked up.

It was great having you. We felt bad that Donovan wasn't here too, so we bought him a book about San Francisco that we'll be sending in the mail, perhaps you could read it to him.

We look forward to having the real Ainsleigh come visit and we'll do all of this again!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Flowers in Our Hair

So we're finally settled. Now I can sit here at our desk and type while enjoying this view:

For anyone that knows me, I love a good view, and we certainly have that here. It cost a little more, but to me it's worth it since I find myself just staring outside for long periods of time. In fact, this entry til now has taken me 45 minutes because I'm watching some boats go by.

Finding the place was pretty easy too. We used Craiglist to find some options in the Russian Hill area, but I wasn't loving anything in particular. One place had a nice view of the big house (alcatraz!), as well as a huge dining room and living room, but the kitchen was tiny. Interestingly, the kitchen also had it's own service elevator as it turns out it was originally for maids to come up and cook for the wealthy family who lived there. It was built in the 1910s, so it was cool to imagine what it would've been like to live there at the time. The kitchen was too small though; if you went in and ate a huge meal, you'd probably get stuck there. So I continued my search by just walking around the neighborhood.

I happened upon this place:

I really liked that it had old world charm, but they were updating the kitchens. The apartment itself is still pretty old, with squeaky floors and very dated fixtures and stuff, but we really liked it. The kitchen is also small, but with good storage space and granite counter tops (and still bigger than the other place, believe it or not).

The neighborhood is called Russian Hill. It's named as such because of graves found at the top of the hill with Cyrillic writing, thus presumed to be Russian. We actually live just 3 blocks from the windy part of Lombard, which can be annoying because the line to drive down it backs up to our apartments. It's kind of ridiculous because it's ALWAYS in the afternoon/evening, no one seems to go in the morning. I feel like there's a business opportunity here, but I'm not sure what yet. There's just so many tourists, I feel like I should be profiting somehow. Maybe Jess could make some Rice-a-Roni or something and sell it.

The apartment itself is quite nice, with huge closets and crown moldings. We have radiators but turned them off because they make very loud banging noises at 5 in the morning. We tried it the first couple days, but it was like being awakened to the Anvil Chorus, without Verdi's violin virtuosos. I much prefer starting my day to Katy Perry's California Gurls.

The water pressure here is unreal though. You barely turn on the faucets for the shower and it feels like you ran over a fire hydrant. I feel like Kramer lived here before us and installed those shower heads used to clean elephants. I like it though, I don't even have to shave, I just put my face into the oncoming water.

So those pictures above were taken about a week ago. The last week it has been a bit foggy, but today it's semi-clear. I was just thinking Joel would have a field day here with his nice camera (and skills), here's the GG bridge right now with my crappy camera:

Anyway, we're loving it here so far and look forward to many adventures in the city.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

An Intro

I haven't shaved in 3 days, I had burger king for lunch, and I'm unemployed. I also spent the afternoon playing video games and talking to a cat that can't even meow. And yet, life couldn't be better. In reality, I'm just between jobs, starting another one on Monday that will require frequent travel. I'm just taking a week off to recuperate from the last 4.5 years of audit work I've done.

Jess and I enjoy making the most of our weekends, and living in the Bay Area provides countless opportunities for fun adventures. I hope to capture them here both to update the family and be a journal for us.

With my new job, I'll be traveling a lot, dining and staying in cities around the country and perhaps world. Also, Jess and I are moving to SF next month and we enjoy food, both cooking and going to restaurants. So, I was thinking that this blog would be an opportunity for me, someone with no gastronomical or hospitality background, to critique the restaurants and hotels that I pass through over the next year. Why not?

In a world of yelp and tripadvisor, this may seems somewhat useless, but I hope to incorporate some jeff-type perspectives. Also, Jess will be featured as a ghost writer, someone more qualified to comment on culinary matters.