Friday, April 30, 2010

The Hillside House in Mill Valley. One word: Wow.

We got our May issue of California Home & Design magazine a few weeks ago. There was an amazing house on the cover that immediately caught my eye. Then I read that it's in Mill Valley. AND, that the interior designer is Erin Martin, someone I've been dieing to meet and someone I really want Don and Pollin's to work with.

I have to get in this house!

I was seriously willing it to happen. Then what do you know, I got an invitation from my friends at California Home & Design to attend a housewarming party. WOO HOO!  I'm in. I'm so in. I'm moving in.

The party was Wednesday night. You have to park two streets away and walk up a very steep path to get there. I seriously had to stop at one point to catch my breath. I didn't want to walk in panting and have a heart attack in their kitchen. This was not the first impression I was going for. Luckily I wasn't alone. Heather Hebert, with the architectural firm, was walking in with me. She was in much better shape than me, but kindly took the little "catch our breath" break too.

We finally get to the house - - and it's just unbelievable. Something you only see in magazines. I met the homeowners and chatted with a bunch of other really nice people that actually worked on the house. They were all super excited to see their hard work finished. Everyone was in awe of the final result.

My dream is to have a house like this someday. A place that is so amazing that I never want to leave. Ever.

I bet you're dieing to take a peek, right? Here's a slideshow SB Architects put together. This is the same firm that designed Calistoga Ranch Resort. Another place that I want to move in to. (And have blogged about before.)

Here's a different slideshow of the home getting built. Look at this crazy lot. Who would ever see this lot and think, "I want to build a home here!" Only in Mill Valley. You can view the construction gallery here.

I'm slightly obsessed. I need to chill. But I think I'm in love with The Hillside House.

big sigh............

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thursday's Funny. As in joke. Not the day is funny. Ha

It's been quite a week. So I thought I would lighten things up with a little joke. My brother sent this to me and it made me laugh. Hopefully you will laugh too. It reminds me of one of those jokes my dad's friends would tell. I've always admired those guys who can tell a good joke.

Don is not one of those guys. Sorry honey. It's ok, he knows it. Anyway, if you don't think this is funny than there is something seriously wrong with you, definitely nuthin' wrong with me. 'Cuz this joke is funny. Ha!

And to my sister Kathy, whose birthday is today, "Happy Birthday!" You always make me smile. So this joke's for you. And yes, this is your present. Sooooooooorrrrry.  : )

Here's the joke:

A Minneapolis couple decided to go to Florida to thaw out during a particularly icy winter. They planned to stay at the same hotel where they spent their honeymoon 20 years earlier.

Because of hectic schedules, it was difficult to coordinate their travel schedules. So, the husband left Minnesota and flew to Florida on Thursday, with his wife flying down the following day.

The husband checked into the hotel. There was a computer in his room, so he decided to send an email to his wife.  However, he accidentally left out one letter in her email address, and without realizing his error, sent the email.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Houston, a widow had just returned home from her husband's funeral. He was a minister who was called home to glory following a massive heart attack.

The widow decided to check her email expecting messages from relatives and friends. After reading the first message, she screamed and fainted.

The widow's son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor,and saw the computer screen which read:


To: My Loving Wife
Subject: I've Arrived
Date: February 16, 2010

I know you're surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now and you are allowed to send emails to your loved ones. I've just arrived and have checked in.

I've seen that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow.Looking forward to seeing you then!!!! Hope your journey is as unev
entful as mine was.

P.S. Sure is freaking hot down here!!!!


LOL! That's it. It made me laugh again. 

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Oooey Gooey Cheerios Treats. Yum.

Here's a little something that will cheer up everyone - young and old. 
This recipe, Cranberry-Oat Cereal Bars, came straight from watching Everyday Food on TV last Saturday morning.

The three of us were watching the show when Elli said "Let's make those! We have Cheerio's. We have marshmallows and let's use our dried strawberries instead of the dried cherries."

Well, ok, little missy. Let's do it! And so we did. Right then and there. And here they are. And I must say they are tasty.

Instant satisfaction. That's how we roll around here.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Life without your dog is not the same.

Our 16 1/2 year old dog passed away on Sunday. We knew it was coming. We'd already had two false alarms over the past 18 months where we said our good bye's and my husband took her to the vet only to bring her home alive and well.

This time was different. She started fading away about a week before she actually died. She stopped eating. She didn't want to go outside. Then she could barely stand. We knew it was serious when we pet her and there was no reaction. No ears twitching or tail wagging. It was almost as if she was gone already.

We were really hoping she would go peacefully in her sleep. Because making the decision to have her put down is excruciating. We'd done it before with our cat Beaner and kept second guessing our decision.

Kahlua still had a twinkle in her eye and the will "to be" for such a long time, but now it was different. The twinkle was gone, and she just seemed ready to go.

Mid-weekend we decided we would take her to our vet first thing Monday morning. We didn't want her to suffer. She was part of our family. We didn't want her to be in pain. We loved her too much.

On Sunday night we all kissed her goodnight and told her we loved her  - and she died that night. On her own terms, in her own way.

I knew when I woke up Monday morning that she was gone. She wasn't upstairs as usual. And the jingle of her collar wasn't there when I walked downstairs. All I heard was silence. I stared at her for a long time to see if she was breathing. And then I knew. She was gone.

The house is weird without her. We've moved her bed from the hall and it seems so empty. I know we'll get used to life without her. But it's not the same. Now don't get me wrong. She made me crazy the first 7 years of her life. She and her brother Bailey were so wild and carefree. And she barked at everyone. She wasn't perfect. But in the last 6 or so years she was so sweet and gentle.

And I'm not even the big dog lover in the house. Don really loved the dogs. He picked out Kahlua and her brother Bailey on a trip to the pet store to buy CAT FOOD. He really wanted a dog, and these two just spoke to him. He was devastated when Bailey died suddenly in 2006. They were buds.

In 2009 we got Sam, a chocolate lab from the Golden Gate Lab Rescue here in SF.  He and Sam have a special bond. Sam is like Don's shadow. Don is a lot like Dr. Doolittle. Animals just gravitate to him. He has that sense about him. Like the animals, he's sweet, gentle and kind.

So it is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to Kahlua. We'll miss you terribly. And we hope that wherever you are you are having a grand time with Bailey herding all the other pups just like you did when you were a youngster. Or maybe your second life is on a farm herding sheep. Wouldn't that be grand?

I think I just invented Asian Sloppy Joe Lettuce Wraps

What's for dinner? How about Sloppy Joe's in a lettuce wrap - with an Asian twist. Invented by yours truly.

Here is why I will probably never have a future in recipe creation. I think I have a good idea. And I probably do. But it's all in the execution. But I'm sure stuff like this happens with people that create recipes all the time. In fact, it's probably how a lot of things get discovered.

Here's what happened. I had some ground turkey to use for dinner. There are three things I typically make with ground turkey, 1) spaghetti sauce 2) turkey meatballs and 3) turkey tacos. I thought I would branch out and make lettuce wraps with ground turkey. Sounds like a good idea, right? And to make it even easier and FASTER, I decided to use a sauce I have from Trader Joe's called General Tsao's sauce.

Well, I've never used this sauce before, cuz if I had, I wouldn't have used it in the lettuce wraps. The sauce is sweet and spicy with flavors of sesame oil and rice vinegar - - and tastes just like sloppy joe if someone from China had invented it!

They tasted good, but were way too sweet for my tastes. Elli loved it - she said it was like dessert for dinner. She even had one in her lunchbox the next day!

The next time I have ground turkey meat, which is often, I'm going to try again - using a real recipe this time. Cuz lettuce wraps are tasty and healthy for you.

My recipe inventions didn't stop there on this particular Sunday evening. I was reading the current issue of Food and Wine magazine, while the meat was simmering on the stove, when I came across a dumpling recipe that looked awesome. I didn't have the stuff to make dumplings, but I did have wonton wrappers and turkey meatballs in the freezer. So I sprang into action and made turkey wontons served with the dipping sauce from the magazine. These actually tasted good!

Dumpling Dipping Sauce

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 T. Chinese chili garlic sauce
1 t. toasted sesame oil

Whisk ingredients together. Or, if you're like me. Combine all ingredients in a small jar and shake it up. You can make your own dumplings. Or buy the frozen dumplings at Trader Joe's. They rock.

Now back to the story.........

Does anyone else do this? Is it just me?

Don always looks at me like I'm from another planet. Although I must say he ate most of the wontons. AND this was a good invention. The turkey meatball was perfect for a dumpling filling. They tasted just like the filling you get in a Chinese restaurant! Well, ok, maybe not EXACTLY, but pretty darn close and mighty tasty for something I literally threw together on a whim.

My energy in the kitchen didn't stop there. I know. There's seriously something wrong with me. After dinner I made the banana chocolate chip muffins which were in the magazine too. Only I think I may have had one too many glasses of wine at this point in the evening 'cuz I poured in 3/4 of the bag of mini chips when I was only supposed to pour in 1 cup. Needless to say, the muffins are VERY chocolatey.

I stopped there. All of a sudden I was really tired! I had absolutely exhausted myself and still had to watch The Apprentice - my current Sunday night "must see tv."  (Can you believe what happened to Bret Michaels. Yowzer.)

As I sit here typing this I realize maybe I shouldn't have eaten one of those banana muffins right before typing. My brain is flying from all the sugar!! And they say sugar doesn't affect people. HA. They've never been with kids at the Giants game after eating cotton candy.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Party in Napa tonight.

We're going to a party in Napa tonight and I am so excited. (I'm doin' the happy dance...!!)

We never go to parties. We never get invited to any. Actually, I'm not sure we're not getting invited, I'm not sure people have parties anymore. Doesn't matter. We're going to one tonight and it's going to be fun.

It's up in Napa at one of Don's clients, Steve and Chris. They recently bought and decorated their new place and are excited to show it off. It should be an awesome time. I can't wait to put on a dress, heels and have some cocktails with the boys.

Elli has a sleepover. And we're spending the night in Napa. Too far to drive home. So woo hoo!  I gotta go get ready.

Have a good evening everyone!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Whale watching in Bodega Bay.

First off, let me just say how incredibly helpful the woman was at the Visitors Center in Bodega Bay. We told her we had one afternoon to tour around and she highlighted a map for us showing us the "must see" destinations. PERFECT! This is exactly what we needed. Someone to show us exactly where to go. No guessing. No getting lost. She led us right to the one of coolest Whale Watching spots on the coast.

Before we went to the overlook we hiked down to the beach. You can climb all over the rocks and easily spend all afternoon here with a blanket, good book, binoculars and a picnic. Elli was completely entertained exploring the rocks and sand.

After collecting shells and teasing Sam with dead crabs, we headed up to the scenic whale watching overlook.

It was our lucky day. We were looking out for about 1 minute when I saw a spout and a whale! UNBELIEVABLE!! You could stand there all day and not see anything. How lucky were we! We hung around a little longer trying to see where it went but didn't see anything else. My eyes started playing tricks on me. Every little ripple in the ocean seemed like a whale. We may have had more luck if we had our BINOCULARS with us. But of course we did not have them. Ooops.

There are all kinds of super cute places to stay in Bodega Bay from simple motels to beautiful homes on the the water. There is a golf course, sailing, fishing, kayaking, dining - pretty much everything a quaint coastal town should have. And the best part? It's only about an hour from where we live!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day! Or should I say "Happy Reupholster Day!"

I bet you're thinking to yourself "what should I do today that will help the earth?" Well, you have come to the right place - I have just the thing to make you feel better.

Redo all your furniture!!! The earth is practically begging you do to it. Check it out.

EARTH = Easy + Affordable to Reupholster The House

The earth will feel better without your trashy furniture in a heap at the dump. And your tooshie will feel better on a new couch.

It's a sign. And we have operators standing by, waiting for your call. We make house calls too.  Just ask. 707-224-1905

It's time to Relax + Recover.

Really. It is.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The best Clam Chowder is at Nick's Cove in Tomales Bay.

We stopped for lunch at Nick's Cove in Tomales Bay. We'd heard about it, but had never been. It has been on the Top 100 Restaurants list in the Bay Area a few times (so I hear.)  So after the whole cow adventure we went inside for lunch.

The restaurant is dark and rustic on the inside. With an amazing round fireplace near the bar. The server led us to an enclosed patio where it was warm, sunny and very relaxing for a lazy afternoon.

First up bread and butter, topped with sea salt. Yum. We all devoured it. Elli stole all the salt.

Next up a cup of chowder. Oh my gosh. It was the most fantastic chowder I've ever had. The clams were so fresh and tender, the veggies just perfect, it had big chunks of bacon and the broth was light and creamy at the same time. (Elli also stole most of my soup.) And I was so enamored with it I forgot to take a picture. Trust me when I say it's a "must order item" at Nick's.

For lunch I ordered Crab Cakes off the Small Plates section of the menu. And the serving size was just perfect. Plus they were just crab - no other weird fillings or funny stuff. Pure, delicious, crab.

Don ordered the Crab Eggs Benedict and said it was the best he'd ever had.

Of course we also had a very nice glass of wine. I drank the Nick's Cove Pinot Grigio. It was light, crisp and very tasty, just as it should be. Plus, it was only six bucks a glass. And Don had something. I'm pretty sure it was a Chardonnay. Not sure what exactly. Frankly I wasn't paying attention. Elli and I couldn't stop talking about the cow or the soup. Yes, this is Don's life. Poor fella.

This is one of those places we'll definitely go back to. It's beautiful. It's relaxing. It has super yummy food. It's not stuffy. You can even rent a cottage and spend the weekend. They have kayaks and fishing boats. And it's only about 45 minutes from where we live.

After lunch we walked down the pier. There is a little Bait Shack at the end of the pier. But it's not really a bait shack. It's another dining room and oyster bar where you can eat. How cool is that?

I don't know if I've told you guys, but we live in the MOST amazing place. It's truly one of the most beautiful places on earth. Our Spring Break "Stay-cation" was amazing. We didn't need to travel far to have fun or see amazing things. How lucky are we?

Want to go to Nick's Cove? You can make a reservation on Open Table. Want to rent a cottage? You'll have to call, 415-663-1033. Want to invite the Mulkey's? Send me an email.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Do cows need vacations? Yes, they do!

A funny thing happened when we were on a day trip to the coast last week. Three cows decided to take a little vacation from their pasture. Two ended up wandering Hwy 1 (in opposite directions) and one ended up on a jetty by Nick's Cove.

The cow was having the time of her life looking out onto the water. The rancher? Not so much. It was a sight to see. I wonder if this has ever happened to the Marlboro Man and the Pioneer Woman? Probably not. Especially since they live in Oklahoma. But you probably have no idea what I'm talking about.

Here she is enjoying the view.

She's checking out the chaos behind her. The rancher and his helpers nearly drove their truck and trailer in the water. I think we saw her laughing. She REALLY didn't want to leave.

 She was really enjoying the view.

They finally got her in the trailer after many attempts. Don was thinking about lending them a hand. (ha) But Elli was starving. So we went in the restaurant instead. Just kidding. He was not as fascinated with the whole cow escaping to go on a little field trip event as Elli and I were. We would have stayed watching until they pulled the trailer away. Far, far away. Something about cows out on an adventure had us mesmerized.

And yes, I believe the STOP sign behind Don's head is definitely a sign - that we needed to stop talking about cows! Ha. Didn't see this until the next day.

Next posts:  Review of our lunch at Nick's Cove and whale watching in Bodega Bay.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Off Beat Eateries in the San Francisco Bay Area

Not every interesting Bay Area restaurant is packed with howling hordes devouring coffee encrusted pork bellies. John Weil's blog The Daily Geezer offers up some intriguing venues, which Michael Bauer is unlikely to ever set foot in.

And that's what I have for you today! My first guest blog by the fabulous John Weil, from Berkeley, California. Check out his recommendations on "intriguing venus" or "hidden gems" as I would say, for seniors, kids, families - anyone in the Bay Area. My mouth is watering looking at the grilled cheese sandwich at Outerlands Cafe. And it's only 4 bucks. Fan-tastic! So read on my friends and prepare yourself for some Bay Area adventures.

Submarine Cuisine

Forbes Island is eccentrically romantic, a hunk of sand, palm trees, a lighthouse and a restaurant. You ride a pontoon boat for 5 minutes from Pier 39 to the former houseboat which has been converted into an expensive, no-star dining establishment.

This is not Gary Danko though entrees can hit $39. What you get for your money is a very average meal served in a dining room under San Francisco Bay. The decor is nautical overload but who cares? Portholes let you watch marine life that you never realized thrived in the murky Bay. Wonderfully weird.

Far Out Breakfast

Judah and 24th might as well be on the far side of moon unless you're taking your grandkids to the zoo or berserk enough to surf Ocean Beach. Outerlands Cafe, however, is well worth the trek. When the Outer Sunset is half-erased by fog you can't find a homier breakfast brunch. (Dinner also served) Their menu gives comfort food a huge upgrade. Moroccan French Toast uses airy levain (buy a few loaves to take home) and bathes it in almonds, orange and cinnamon ($7). The buttery, garlicky grilled cheese sandwich is just $4. Outerlands is tiny (7 not very large tables). No reservations. Waits may be long on weekends. It looks like a small barn in Bolinas. Old timber and driftwood craftily slapped together. The food, however, is worth filling up the tank and heading west.

Restaurants in the Redwoods

Down the Peninsula there are some unique restaurants that have survived trends, tastes and decades. Remember Shadowbrook in Capitola? It's still there hanging above Soquel Creek right before it spills into the Pacific. Shamelessly retro it's planted on a lush garden hillside. Paths wind up to it, or if you're with grandkids, take the funicular. The menu is short and pricey (NY Steak $34, Lobster $30). The place is still spectacularly romantic.

And if you can wait til summer, the proprietors of Brookdale, the legendary lodge in a dense Santa Cruz redwood forest, are promising their Brook Room which has a creek spilling right through it, will be open for business. I'd check first.

So there you have it! I think the Mulkey's may need to take a little road trip to Santa Cruz this weekend!

*Restaurant photos from Outerlands Cafe and Shadowbrook.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Serena and Lily. It's a good thing.

That's what Martha always says, and I think she would totally agree that Serena and Lily is a really good thing.

The catalog and retail company sells super cute linens for adults, kids, and babies, and custom furniture. They are based right here in Sausalito, and one of the co-founders lives here in Mill Valley.

I've always admired their fresh, chic designs, but I had no idea the story behind the company, or their philanthropic mission until yesterday.

There was an article in the SF Chronicle on Sunday about Lily Kanter, one of the founders. She started the company with partner Serena Dugan six years ago after retiring from Microsoft (as a multi-millionaire) in 2000 at the ripe old age of 35. (pictured here on the right.)

Her mission is to "empower employees" and "have the means to be philanthropic." She hires former executives who are striving to achieve a more balanced work/family life. And here's the biggie: her goal is to donate all their company profits to charities. Her big wish is to donate $1 million each year.


It's left me speechless and wondering if she needs an ad exec that owns an upholstery company as a new partner?


Ha. Not really. I seriously need to figure out how we can work together. Maybe they need a new "made in Napa, CA line?" We should talk.

I have the same dreams they do, only we don't have millions of dollars from Microsoft to cushion our growth. waaaaah. We'll have to do it the old fashioned way. One sectional at a time. We'll get there. It will just take a little longer that's all.

*Photos from

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Orange buggy no punch backs!

"Orange buggy no punch backs!" I say, to Elli.

"Where's the buggy mom? I don't see it," says Elli.

"What do you mean you don't see it. It's right there," I reply.

"Where?" she says.

"There!!!" I reply.

"I don't see it," she says.

"Uh, it's right there. Do you need your eyes checked?" I kindly say.

"That's not a buggy," she says.

"Yes, it is. It's the original VW buggy," I say.

"Oh. Are you sure?" says Elli.

"YES!!!!!" I say, now more than slightly annoyed by this ridiculous conversation.

"It doesn't look like a buggy," she says.

"What are you talking about? Of course it's a buggy. It's the original buggy," I say.

"Ok. Then we have to call it the original. So if you see an original you have to say 'orange original buggy no punch backs." ok. sighhhhhhhhhh

Sheesh.  They look so similar to me. How could she not notice???

So here they are, side-by-side.  I guess they are kind of different. We (adults) have seen them evolve so they look more similar to me - than they obviously do to Elli.

Old Herbie vs. New Herbie

The whole car conversation brought up the topic of "Things we didn't have when I was little." which Elli is fascinated with.

"Did you have Spongebob?" No. Neither did you!
"iCarly" No. ditto.
"Survivor" No.

"Oh yeah, you only had 3 channels on your tv and no microwave or computer." She says, with a puzzled look on her face, thinking about how HORRIBLE her life would be if this were true today.

I wonder what invention she'll use as an adult - that she doesn't have now. I honestly can't think of anything - other than flying vehicles like the Jetson's. Or being able to teleport one self by just thinking about where you want to go.  Like right now. I wish I were at home. Blink. It didn't work. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Moving in my Chevy with my floral sheets.

I think it has the makings of a great Country song.

....Rolling down the highway in my Chevy truck
Got my tools and my mattress in the back......

hee hee

The other day we were driving down the road from SF to Napa and this pickup truck pulled out in front of us. Something about the truck caught my eye. Like the big HONKIN mattress in the back!!!

It had a bunch of junk in the bed of the truck and a mattress. A huge mattress. With the sheets still in tact, blowing in the wind!

WHAT?  The mattress still had the mattress pad and the floral fitted sheet and the pink top sheet on it. Holy schnikes, They ripped this bed right out of the room just as it was. The sheets were blowing in the wind!! I bet the poor person that was laying in it is still shaking their head wondering what the heck happened. They seriously drew the short straw on this one. 'Cuz not only did they get the bed ripped right out from under them, the next time they climb in bed there will be dead bugs all over the sheets.

I guess it will have that nice, fresh, air-blown scent when it gets to its final destination. So that's positive I suppose.

Moving day in the Chevy.
Tools?  Check.
Mattress. Check.
Floral Sheets. Check.

Now, I don't like putting sheets on the bed either. But this is taking it a little far, don't you think?

Sorry. This is just funny to me. The more I look at it, the more I laugh.

Last weekend was the first weekend of the month. Hope those of you that moved had a good weekend. And that there aren't too many bugs in your bed. Do me one favor though, please, next time pack the sheets before you load the mattress in the Chevy. 'Cuz it's making me itch just thinking about it.

PS. Don was driving. I was the bored passenger taking pictures of Chevy's and cows while Elli was drooling (I mean sleeping) in the back.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Rain, rain go away. You made Easter soggy today.

So after we let Elli get all sugared up this morning, we took her to Miwok stables in Mill Valley for a tour of the stables and an Easter egg hunt - - -  in the rain.

It was just sprinkling a teeny tiny bit at our house when we left. So I had high hopes that it wouldn't be raining at the stables a few miles away.

Well, it was raining there. A lot. We did get to see the horses and hunt for eggs in the horse pasture, with a few other crazy egg hunters. It's too bad it was raining. The volunteers at the stables went to a lot of trouble getting 1,500 hard boiled eggs hidden for the munchins!

First we got to meet all the horses.

The horses were really pretty and very friendly with the kids.

Finally the Easter bunny gathered everyone by the gate. 


It was a bit soggy in the field.

She kept smiling the whole time. Even when she was soaked!
Elli was smiling, not me. Of course I was smiling. I had on bunny ears!! She was too cool. I've never been cool. So hippity hop I wore the ears.

A little hot chocolate and a hot shower and she'll be as good as new. Plus, we promised to take her to see "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" this afternoon. So all is good!

Except that we now have 8 + 16 = 24 hard boiled eggs. Ay caramba. That's a lot of egg salad.