Baker & Banker = Heaven

I am so lucky that I married a romantic guy.  I didn’t really know I would like to be romanced so much but when you’re with someone, umm, permanently, it’s kind of nice.  On our 1 1/2 year anniversary (I know, major milestone that everyone celebrates, right?), Michael handed me a card before he walked out the door.  It was the sweetest note I have ever received and at the end he invited me out for a Friday night dinner-date.  Now, our anniversary was actually while my grandparents were in town, so we delayed the date a couple of weeks.

Aside from being romantic, Michael just generally loves surprises (for himself and for others), so he kept the restaurant a secret.  I am terrible with surprises (for myself and for others), so I started guessing incessantly.  Why can’t I just sit back and enjoy it?  I have no idea.  But I can’t.  So Michael made it into a guessing game.  I received hints throughout the day on Friday including: 1) I had never been before, 2) It is on SF Eater’s “Top 38 Restaurants,” 3) It is run by a husband & wife duo and 4) The name includes a past profession of mine (I was once a baker for a summer YoungLife camp — shout out Timberwolf Lake summer ’05!).  Now, I should have been able to easily guess after clue #3, but I jumped to a guess without doing much homework and blew it.  Oh yeah, did I mention I was only allowed 1 guess per clue?  Anyway, I was at the office as my clues were being delivered so I enlisted the help of coworkers (what else is there to do on Friday anyway?), and we came up with it.  Baker & Banker.

San Francisco is FULL of amazing restaurants — the entire city is like one giant culinary experience — so I am always excited to try new ones, but by this point I’m pretty used to amazing food.  Baker & Banker literally blew me away and even after just one night, it’s easily in my top 3 favorite restaurants in the city.  The ambiance was a perfect blend of cozy and sophisticated, the service was amazing (our waitress had been there since they opened and she knew the menu inside & out and gave fabulous recommendations), and the food was Out. Of. This. World.  Seriously.

We started with a champagne to toast ourselves (naturally).  Then we each had an appetizer an entree, and shared a bottle of wine and dessert.  Every moment was heavenly.

Starting off the evening with a toast - to 1 1/2 years of marriage and many more to come 🙂


Dessert! Apple Crisp TO DIE FOR!!!!! Maybe the best thing all night.


10 Years Later

Growing up in an Army family that moved constantly was wonderful in some ways, but quite difficult in others.  I think that it established in me a sense of adventure, a love of travel, a sort of fearlessness with regards to the unfamiliar, and of course, an outgoing personality.  It was kind of a survival mechanism.  Thankfully, my brother and I usually went to schools on/near base that were full of other military kids who were in the same boat we were, and that made it much easier.  At the time, none of us really knew any different.

And then we moved to Atlanta.  I was 11 years old going into 7th grade and we ended up going to, for the first (and only) time, a private school.  A small private school that was K-12 with about 30 kids in each grade, most of whom had gone there their entire lives.  And they weren’t all that excited about new kids.  Talk about intimidating.

In my grade of 28 kids there were 4 girls named Ashley, 3 named Ashley S and 2 named Ashley Smith who then had to go by their middle initials.  (And to think that when my parents named me Ashley my dad swears that he had never met one before in his life!)  Anyway, I was very fortunate to strike up a friendship with one of these fellow Ashley’s and became attached at the hip to Ashley L Smith.  We had similar interests and just did everything together.

After 8th grade my family moved to South Carolina and I was so sad to leave Ashley.  We vowed to remain friends and did manage to see each other the summer after 9th grade and then again sometime during our 10th grade year.

Fast forward 10 years and we haven’t seen each other since.  Until Friday!  🙂  A couple of weeks ago I got a Facebook message from my long-lost best friend letting me know that she would be in SF for a law school event and offered to meet up for lunch.  It was so much fun seeing her again and catching up on all that we had missed.  We are now both married and living in new places.  She looked exactly the same (just beautiful like she has always been) and in some ways it felt like no time had passed.  But 10 years have passed.  So it’s a little surreal but all in all it was great.

I almost forgot to take a photo but rushed her back in the restaurant after we had just left insisting that we “document the moment” (and yes, I’m sure I said something awkward like that).  Here is the photo.  While I’m home over Thanksgiving I am determined to dig up old photos of us and will update this post with a “then/now” comparison.

It was great to see you Ashley!!  All the best to you & Cody.  Hope to see you again — sooner this time!  🙂

Farewell Christie (for a bit)!

Our dear friend Christie is about to enter into a fun, crazy season of life that is full of traveling.  She is helping set up & establish call-centers for Facebook all over the world, and therefore is about to be gone from SF until the end of December!  We are so sad that we won’t be seeing her for the next few months, so before she headed out, Christie and her fabulous husband Troy had a little send-off dinner party at their apartment.  It was so wonderful getting to spend a little more time with them and our friends Mike & Moira, enjoy amazing food, great wine, and watch an exciting Game 6 of the World series.  Onto the photos!

Troy and Christie

Mike Saign & me

Harper & Moira

Clean-up crew!

Go Cardinal!

Saturday, Michael and I attended our first Stanford football game which was really fun and exciting, especially given the fact that they have (arguably) the best player in college football right now.  The game itself wasn’t too exciting (65-21, Stanford vs Washington) but the day was gorgeous and we had fun with Michael’s coworkers and friends.  Here are some pics from the train ride to the game, the game, and a little fun afterwards.

on Caltrain headed to Palo Alto




Grammies visit to SF!

What a treat and an honor!  My amazing grandparents flew all the way across the country from Chapin, South Carolina, to spend time with Michael and me and get a glimpse into what our life is like in San Francisco.  We had such a fabulous time, but there were a few bumps along the way.

First of all, Nanny & Papa planned their trip to ensure that they would not miss the birth of their first great-grandchild.  Suzanne was due November 3rd so they definitely wanted to be back in SC by this weekend.   Well, as you can see by my previous post, the beautiful Augusta Clare was born early and they had hardly landed in San Francisco when they got the news.  So, the first photo of the trip is of their Friday morning visit to my office — we put a picture of Augusta Clare on my computer in the background.  🙂

Friday night: Dinner at Jardiniere - this is where Michael and I had dinner the night we got engaged!

Papa checking out the fancy bar at Jardiniere

Saturday: Napa! 1st stop - Domaine Carneros - known for their sparkling wine

Saturday: 2nd stop - Frog's Leap vineyard - the weather was gorgeous!

Saturday: 3rd stop - Lunch at our favorite restaurant in the world - Bottega!

Michael and Papa outside Bottega - always supporting Clemson!

Sunday: After church walking around Filmore St. while Papa got his foot examined at the ER!

Sunday night: Dinner at the Harper household. Papa keeping his injured foot propped up. Self-timer photo!

Monday night: Dinner at local favorite, Zuppa, for delish pizzas

Tuesday afternoon: SF city tour stopping by Palace of Fine Arts

There were so many more photos but this will have to do for now.  We miss you already Nanny & Papa!!!  Thanks for visiting!

Announcing… Augusta Clare Zais!

Beautiful Augusta Clare was born happy and healthy at 10:13am on Friday, October 14th — 5lbs, 10oz and 19.5 inches long.  Augusta was Suzanne’s great grandmother’s name and her great great grandmother’s name.  Clare is my grandmother’s name.  Beautiful, southern, classy and meaningful.  🙂

After a tough couple of weeks for Suzanne, they performed an emergency c-section Friday morning.  The original due date was November 3rd so although it was a little early, the baby was ready and she has been doing just wonderfully.  Suzanne is taking her time recovering but has already been an absolutely fabulous mom and my big brother Brad has just been the most incredible dad and husband, taking care of everyone.

So excited to be an aunt, so proud of Brad and Suzanne, and DYING to meet my adorable niece!!  I’ll be there soon!


A Weekend in the Windy City

What a wonderful wedding weekend in the Windy City of Chicago!  Michael and I traveled to Chicago this past weekend to celebrate Mark & Elise’s wedding and we had the best weekend EVER.

The first main event was the Rehearsal Dinner on Thursday night.  It was held at a cool Chicago restaurant with amazing Italian food – Sapori Trattoria.  I think the best part of any Rehearsal Dinner is spending time with everyone and getting to know “the other side” through the toasts.  Mark was one of Michael’s roommates and best friends from Boston College so we know him well, but it was great getting to know Elise a little better — she is fabulous.  After dinner we went for drinks at Kingston Mines Blues Club which was a blast.

On Friday, the boys were off getting haircuts, manicures (seriously) and straight razor shaves, so I took the opportunity to walk up and down the “Magnificent Mile” on Michigan Avenue appreciating the amazing array of stores.  Later, while Michael took photos around Chicago with the wedding party,

I got a drink at the top of the Hancock building with some of the group.

The wedding Friday night was absolutely beautiful.  It was held at the historic Knickerbocker Hotel (conveniently where we were staying).  The ceremony was so lovely and was followed by a fun cocktail hour leading into dinner.  Table 5 at dinner was simply unforgettable.

After a delicious meal, the party got started and the light-up dance floor was put to great use.

Following the reception the group had drinks in the lobby and made a final stop at Kerryman’s Bar.

Saturday was all about STATE.  State is a sport’s bar that even boys might say has too many flat-screen TVs and too much football, but… it’s pretty awesome.  After spending the day there with a big group, Michael and I took off for dinner and a Second City comedy show.  Seeing Second City was a major highlight for me, and looking through the Playbill at all of the alum who have come through there — Steve Carrell, Steven Colbert, John Belushi, Joan Rivers, Chris Farley, Tina Fey… it was amazing.  The show was hilarious and lasted from 11pm until 2am!!  So much fun!!

Then Sunday we flew back to our little home in San Francisco to get ready for a great new week.  We hope YOU are having a great week too!!