Sunday, April 29, 2012

week 15, day 100, and some exploration

Week 15 began with Easter. We didn't do a whole lot that day, but Steve made a panchetta-wrapped pork tenderloin that night for dinner. I had made a cheesecake the day before, with a little help from Steve, so that became my photo subject for Sunday. We used the recipe for NY cheesecake from Ruhlman's Twenty and topped it with strawberries and strawberry sauce that Steve put together. (No strawberries at the farmer's market that week, as you may recall from the last post, but the ones at the corner store near home were fine.) The cheesecake itself came out okay. The main problem was that the recipe didn't say to line or grease the bottom of the pan, so the crust stuck. I really should have known better, but I figured that if it didn't say so in the recipe, it shouldn't matter. Well, it mattered, but since the crust wasn't terribly special anyway, it wasn't so much tragic as it was annoying. In the end, I was pretty happy with the picture I got, and the cheesecake was good with the strawberry topping; however, I think we'll try a different recipe next time. Last year's lime vanilla cheesecake was better.

99/366 easter cheesecake

Day 100 fell on Monday, and I went downtown that afternoon to search for something worthy of the milestone picture. I wasn't feeling overly creative, so I ended up settling for a shot of one of the Union Square hearts rather than something that directly related to the number 100. Nevertheless, the picture somehow found its way into Flickr's Explore. I guess it was more interesting than I thought it was! I later realized from people's comments that they assumed the design in the heart was a reflection... Nope, it was just painted that way. A reflection from that spot on the edge of Union Square would only show the intersection of Powell and Geary—not nearly that picturesque. As Carmen pointed out, the painted part looks more like the view from Bernal Heights.


I thought we were done with the rain before, but it came back during week 15. The important difference this time was that it didn't last all day for several days in a row. There were a few rainy—and even thunderstormy—nights in a row, but there were actually dry periods in the afternoons every day. I took advantage of those, especially on Tuesday, and got my pictures when I could. A walk through the park and around the block was a good enough to spot some interesting flowers and berries, still dripping a little from the rain earlier.

101/366 magic berries

Wednesday afternoon, I decided that a walk to Ritual for a small mocha would be a good idea. On the way, I spotted some Pac-Man figures lovingly plastered on a graffiti wall. I think it's my favorite of the layers I've seen there. There were a few pieces of fruit, some "enemies" or ghosts, and of course this Pac-Man.

102/366 urban pac-man

When snack time came around on Thursday, I decided to head down to Dynamo Donuts again. Twitter told me that they had both lemon thyme and strawberry earl grey donuts that day, and I had been missing them on other recent visits. This way, I got one for a snack that day, and I saved the other for breakfast the next morning. Of course, I had just been to Dynamo and used it as a picture of the day a couple weeks before, so I tried to find opportunities for pictures elsewhere during the walk. It seemed like a good time to finally take a picture of the cake rolls that always catch my eye when I pass the Mexican bakeries on 24th St. I've never actually gotten one; I'm a little afraid they won't taste as good as they look.

103/366 mission cake rolls

I was lazier on Friday. After spending some time in the morning reading a friend's blog about her recent trip to Italy, I decided it was finally time to take a picture of my most recent Blurb books. I ordered them in mid-January and ended up wrapping the Spain & Italy one for Steve's birthday. Meanwhile, I hid the other in plain sight on the living room side table, in the stack with the books from 2009 and 2010. (As I predicted, Steve didn't notice that the stack had gotten a little bigger.) These books certainly aren't cheap at the lengths I make them, but it's pretty much the only way I print photos now.

104/366 blurb books

Last: a Saturday outing to Hayes Valley in hopes of some pictures and some ice cream at Smitten. I got some rhubarb crisp ice cream, frozen with liquid nitrogen, while Steve opted for some iced coffee from Blue Bottle. I was a bit less successful with the pictures than I might have hoped, but at least I got a shot of the wagon and sign over the cash register at Smitten. I was happy enough with that for the day.

105/366 the smitten wagon

That wraps up another week. I'm hoping to catch up—and keep up—with the blogging soon. It's gotten a little out of hand lately, and I'm pretty sure I can do better.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

spring, nearly sprung

Phew. March blogging is finally done, so I can move on to April. For some reason, I just wasn't feeling it for most of March. ("It" being the pictures I was taking.) A lot of that probably had to do with the weather, which was pretty much the winter that we hadn't gotten during the actual winter months. But April brought more springy weather and a renewed motivation to try harder with my daily pictures. During week 14, in short, things were looking up.

Steve had picked up a huge bag of pea shoots at the farmers market the week before—the perfect garnish for a spring dish. In an attempt to use more than just a couple of the pea shoots, I did a search for recipes and found a Pea Shoot and Shrimp Risotto. That ended up being lunch on Sunday. It was good, but I think my favorite part was the actually the shrimp sauteed with garlic.

92/366 pea shoot & shrimp risotto

While I would have preferred to take my monthly calendar picture on April 1st, Sunday was already covered with the food photo. That meant the calendar shot was pushed to Monday, which gave me more time to think of ideas for backgrounds anyway. I settled on using the green chairs in the dining room—inherited from Carmen & Dan—to bring out the springy green in the calendar's picture.

93/366 april

I wasn't feeling very ambitious on Tuesday, but I made myself at least go for a walk around the block to look for pictures. I figured I would go back to the alley nearby, where I had noticed an interesting mural a couple days before; that would be an easy subject. (I had recently learned from Dan that the neighborhood cat Aroara often lurked on that street, and we had seen her there on Saturday when I first saw the mural.) So there I was, taking pictures of the mice-on-a-plane art, when Aroara automagically appeared. Obviously, I moved on from taking pictures of the mural and took some pictures of the cat.

94/366 aroara's alley

Wednesday's big event was dinner and a show. The show was The Caretaker—a rare straight play in our season of musicals. I must say I'm not a huge fan of the cerebral plays where not much happens. I definitely prefer musicals. As a result, dinner at Zero Zero ended up being the star of the night; it was certainly more picturesque anyway. In fact we got the best table, by the window, which was perfect for photographing our very seasonal dishes: little shell pasta with peas and mushrooms (and black truffle butter!) and a "Stockton" pizza. The pizza was my favorite, so that's what ended up being the picture of the day. (Click through at the caption if you're wondering what the toppings were.) We followed it with some vanilla soft serve topped with cherries, but I didn't bother with pictures of that for some reason.

95/366 the stockton

I went to Glen Park on Thursday afternoon, in search of something I had seen at a gift shop there before. On this trip, I decided to save some time and take BART to the neighborhood. I walked back via Church Street, though, since Glen Park isn't much for pictures. I ended up with a shot of a liederhosen-wearing chocolate bunny in the window of the German specialties store. After all, Easter was coming, and nothing says Easter like a liederhosen-wearing chocolate bunny.

96/366 liederhosen bunny

Good Friday was next, and Steve had the day off, unlike in previous years. In honor of the occasion, we went out for lunch at Mission Cheese. Two grilled cheese sandwiches later, we left happily full and with a few nice pictures on the ol' memory card. I think this was the most pleased I've been with my pictures from there. I got a good shot of the bar, the bussing station with some ranunculus flowers, and the one below of Steve's sandwich.

97/366 good friday

I wasn't quite so lucky on Saturday. Steve and I went to the Ferry Building farmers market, in search of spring produce like peas and strawberries. Unfortunately, those were still a couple weeks away. We also struck out with our plan for Easter dinner. Steve was going to get a rabbit and prepare it porchetta-style, but everyone else had already bought all the rabbits at the Ferry Building and at Drewes Brothers. When that plan fell through, we ended up getting a panchetta-wrapped pork tenderloin from the Fatted Calf stand instead. At least I was able to get a couple pictures of some produce at the market, even if it wasn't the produce we were looking for. (Move along.)

98/366 radishes

Monday, April 16, 2012

the end of march

Let's round out the month of March with week 13, shall we? That Sunday, it was back to food pictures with some garlic scape soup. Steve has made this recipe from Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Cooking a few times before, but I still hadn't gotten a decent picture of it. Since Steve found garlic scapes at the farmers market the day before, we remedied that situation at lunch on Sunday. He also tried to make a pea, ricotta, and mint spread; however, that didn't turn out as well as we'd hoped. It tasted disturbingly like peanut butter—not too appealing for one who is allergic to peanuts. As a result, I stuck with the soup for my pictures, rather than bothering to take any of the spread.

85/366 garlic scape soup

I babysat Elsa for a while again that Monday afternoon. This time, she was awake when I came downstairs, so I shot some pictures of her in her jumperoo. We played for a while, and then it was time to feed her a bottle and put her down for her second nap of the day. Conveniently, she took a decently long nap and woke up not long before Carmen got back. We went to Humphry Slocombe for some ice cream later, but I decided to go with the colorful jumperoo shot over the more monotone ice cream for my official picture of the day.

86/366 jumperoo

It was rainy on Tuesday, so I didn't venture out for any photo shoots. Instead, I took a picture of the cover of the Tina Fey book on my iPad. I'm liking this eBook thing... I'm not ready to get rid of my favorite physical books just yet, but this is great for new ones that I just want to read and not store in my house. So far, Bossypants is quite entertaining.

87/366 bossypants

Wednesday's weather was more agreeable, so I finally got downtown to see The Hunger Games. I thought the movie was done well—a relief after the Twilight movie(s). There were parts I thought could have been handled a little better, of course, but it's always hard to communicate all the nuances of a book when translating a first person narrative into a movie without voiceover cheats. Anyway, I took my picture of the day on the way out of the mall, after noticing these different colored bags in the Fossil store window.

88/366 colorful fossils

On Thursday, I decided that it was time to head down Valencia Street again, in hopes of taking more than one picture worthy of posting for the day. In reality, the only thing that matters for Project 365 (or 366) is that I have one shot to post daily. However, I feel much better when I have 2-3 good shots from the day that go well together. It makes for a much better Blurb book at the end of the year too, since page layouts can get pretty boring with a bunch of single shots. So as I often do when I take pictures on Valencia Street, I shot many things in store windows. After much deliberation, I decided that the weird hipster glasses display was the most compelling of them.

89/366 rack 'em

I was going to go out again on Friday to look for pictures, but then I happened to take a few snaps out the window of crows hanging out on the pole near the house. (This was around the time when we were hearing crows squawking several times a day. They've since been replaced by more pleasant sounding birds.) After editing the best shot and sticking it in a Blurb layout with the images from the day before, I decided that that was good enough for the day; it complemented the other shots pretty well. No need to look for more pictures!

90/366 the sound of crows (ick)

To make up for the relative laziness of Friday, Steve and I walked to Dynamo Donuts the next afternoon. Sadly, they had run out of my favorite lemon thyme donuts again, but we got a meyer lemon huckleberry to try, as well as a vanilla bean one. The meyer lemon huckleberry was indeed good, but I had forgotten how tasty the plain vanilla ones could be, especially fresh.

91/366 dynamo to go

That wraps up March, which calls for another monthly mosaic. And now, my mosaics have text again! The Picnik photo editing app has left Flickr, only to be replaced by the rather lame Aviary, but I found that PicMonkey does pretty much the same thing Picnik did for adding text to images. As a result, I've finally added the months and years to my mosaics for the first few months of this year. Hooray!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

marching on

Okay, so... more of March. This is week 12, which marked the end of Bruce and Bonnie's stay in SF. Since that Sunday was their last full day here, Carmen and I took Bonnie out for tea at Crown & Crumpet in Ghirardelli Square. It's where we had Carmen's baby shower last year, so it was nice that Bonnie got to see the place. We had a delightful lunch, and the food was actually better than we remembered. (I still prefer the sandwiches—and the ability to order the kinds you want—at Lovejoy's, but this seemed much improved.) After lunch, we took some pictures of the fancy centerpieces and cake toppers there, looked around a toy store in Ghirardelli Square, got some cupcakes for the boys, and then took a quick field trip to Ft. Point for a view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Much better than the boys' outing to the computer museum.

78/366 crown & crumpet

On Monday morning, I babysat Elsa for a little while so Carmen could go pick up a new rug for her living room. It was quite a nice rug, but she decided not to keep it in the end. Between the busyness of the pattern and the original cost (she was going to pay about 1/10th of that), it wasn't quite what she wanted, especially for their baby- and dog-friendly lifestyle.

79/366 rug for a day

Tuesday was the first day of spring, according to the Google doodle. So in celebration of that, I took a picture of some flowers. These are forget-me-nots. Fun fact: I used to have a My Little Pony named Forget-Me-Not. It was blue with flowers on its butt, and it had clear plastic wings that moved up and down when you pressed a button in between them.

80/366 spring flowers

A walk to Noe Valley on Wednesday resulted in the use of one of my reserve photo ideas. I had passed this display of rings in a store window before, on a day when I already had a few good photo options, so it went on my list for another day. This turned out to be that day.

81/366 rings

Thursday was not a very prolific day for photos either. I drove down to Redwood City for lunch with Alyson at Dreamworks Animation, where she works. A visit there involves signing a nondisclosure form, so clearly, it's not a place where I'd be able to take many pictures. After we ate our food from the cafeteria, Alyson gave me a mini tour of the building. She was allowed to take me anywhere with hardwood floors, not carpet, which eliminates pretty much all the areas where people are actually working. Nevertheless, it was fun. I got to see the viewing rooms where she spends a lot of time reviewing shots, and there were cool models and pictures from the films lining the hallways in the common areas. Before I left, Alyson took a picture of me with the giant Po from Kung Fu Panda in the lobby, and I took a few pictures of it with my camera too.

82/366 kung fu action

Friday's big news was the birth of Chrissy's son, Elliott. I took a picture of Elsa's red booties on the table downstairs, since I had to babysit Elsa during her morning nap while Carmen returned the rug. Elsa doesn't have too many gender-neutral things, but these came in handy that day.

83/366 in honor of elliott

And it was back to more rain on Saturday. I was having a hard time thinking of anything to use for my picture of the day, and my only idea was to go to La Boulange in Noe Valley to get a few macarons. But since it was raining steadily all afternoon, I really didn't feel like going anywhere. Steve came to the rescue and volunteered to go get my macarons for me. While they didn't have the lemon ones I wanted, they had a few of the cherry ones I also like. I took a picture of them on the marble slab that we had just acquired from some neighbors who were moving away. The one good thing about a rainy day? At least the light was a little more interesting.

84/366 macarons on marble

Thankfully, the weather has mostly improved since then. Only one more week of March recapping to do, and then it's on to lovely, springy April.

Monday, April 2, 2012

week of rain

This blog entry has been sitting in a Firefox tab, fully written, for at least a week... Clearly, it's time to get it posted and move on already. So here, without too much more editing and tinkering, is the wrap-up for week 11. It was dark and rainy from Tuesday to Friday that week, and it resulted in some of my least favorite shots in a long time. That's probably why I've delayed so long in posting this; I didn't really feel like reliving the dreariness.

Despite knowing that it might be the last sunny day for a while, I didn't feel much motivation to do anything that Sunday. Steve went with his dad and his brother to a computer museum in Mountain View that morning, and I was not at all tempted to join them. Instead, I stayed home and spent some time reading the vampire book that I had bought last May. I hadn't gotten around to reading more than a chapter of it then, so I figured it was time start over and get through it so I could be done with it. This is something like the tenth Sookie/True Blood book, and the series is getting a little old for me. If I decide to read more past this, I'll probably just get the Kindle versions.

71/366 light reading

On Monday afternoon, before the week's rain started, I took a walk down the street in an effort to find something to photograph. I was mostly uninspired, but I kind of liked the colors and textures of the tree branch that was on the ground by the park.

72/366 tree down

The rain started as predicted on Tuesday, and I of course had no desire to go outside that day. I decided to do another iteration of the "water droplets on a window" theme. I did two of these last winter, out each side of the living room windows. This time, I took the shot from the bedroom window and got Bernal Hill in the background.

73/366 rainy tuesday

Wednesday was Pi Day (3/14), which was apparently enough to lure me outside briefly, despite the miserable wind and rain. My plan was to go to nearby Mission Pie for a slice of pie and some pictures, even though I should have known it would be really busy there that day. I didn't get to try the banana cream pie that I wanted, since it was sold out. I also didn't see many places free to sit and eat there. Instead, I settled for one of their apple-huckleberry mini pies to bring home. It would be too big for me to eat by myself anyway, and I knew that Steve would like the huckleberries in it. I ended up taking pictures of it when I got back, and then we shared it with Steve's parents after dinner. It was really good.

74/366 pi(e) day

With no other picture ideas on Thursday afternoon, I asked Steve if he wanted to make us some steak frites (hanger steak with red wine sauce and fries) for dinner. It had been a while since we'd had it, and the picture that I took of the dish several years ago was in dire need of an update. (I won't even link to it; it's that cringe-worthy.) Because I was using the tabletop light, it was a little compositionally limiting, but it meant that I didn't need to rely on daylight for the picture. I was mostly just happy not to have to think of something to photograph on yet another rainy afternoon. 

75/366 steak frites

Still more rain on Friday, but there was a break in the middle of the day. I took the opportunity to go out and bother the neighborhood cat. It's another of those yearly patterns I fall into... I look out all the windows and often spot this cat on its porch across the street. During rainy days when I don't feel like going very far from home, it works out pretty well. Of course, now I can't use that idea again until next year. 

76/366 rainy day kitty

The weather finally turned sunny again on Saturday, although it was still rather chilly and windy. Since it was St. Patrick's Day, it was time again for a picture of clover. It doesn't seem to be too hard to find around the neighborhood, growing in the park and in front of a few houses on the block. I think the below shot was actually from the same house where I took my clover shot three years ago.

77/366 st. patrick's day

Hopefully that's the end of the depressing, mediocre weeks—and weather—for a while. Of course, this wasn't the last of the rain for the winter/spring, but it was definitely the worst of it.