The Capitol City

As our move to Brazil is quickly approaching, Michael and I are realizing that there are many friends (and family members) who we will likely not be able to see for a few years.  To prepare for this, we are soaking up all the time we can get with those whom we love.

I happen to still have many dear friends in Washington, DC, so before the move I wanted to make a trip to see a few people.  It just so happened that Michael also needed to come out to DC for a few days for work, so we were able to make the trip together.  DC is where Michael and I first met and fell in love, so it always feels special to return together.  In a sense it feels a little like coming home for both of us.

It was a quick trip but I was blessed to see former roommates, friends from church, and I even got to stop by my old office to say hello to some former coworkers!

Friday night dinner at Cava with my two former roommates & their awesome boyfriends:

Me & Michael

Emily & Kern

Laine & Jake

Saturday brunch at Eastern Market with some friends from church.

Me, Michael, Paige, Jessica, TJ, Allison, Nathan & Alex!

Michael stayed an extra night to see some of his law school classmates but I headed straight to South Carolina for an extended Thanksgiving visit with my family & Michael will meet us here Thursday morning.  More on the SC visit soon!


Congratulations Erin & Pat!

Two of Michael’s great friends who he grew up with in Phoenix got married last weekend (Nov 12) in San Francisco (very convenient for us!).  Erin and Pat are an absolutely beautiful couple and they had a sweet ceremony at Old St. Mary’s Cathedral followed by a FUN reception at the Westin St. Francis complete with 360 degree views of San Francisco, stick-on mustaches for everyone and a “Which Table is the Best” competition that sprung up organically after our table, The Amazing Table 2, performed an unforgettable, impromptu, magical act in the middle of the dance floor during dinner.  It’s difficult to put Table 2’s performance into words, but I will say it included a very cute baby wearing a sweater-vest and a stick-on mustache being raised up (think “The Lion King”) from the center of a circle of Table 2’ers to cheers from the crowd who couldn’t believe their eyes.  After our ground-breaking act, other tables quickly tried to pull something together.  There turned out to be quite the variety of “performances” but the only one that really fell flat was the group of guys who chose to sit Erin in the middle of the room and, while on bended knee, serenade her with the tune, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling.”  They really underestimated how slow and drawn out that song is…

All that’s to say, we had an awesome weekend celebrating Erin & Pat.  Here’s to a long and happy marriage and lots of fun times ahead!

Table 2, what up?


All the boys and the beautiful bride


Trigger Pullers

There are many great adjectives and descriptors that come to mind when I think of my in-laws (warm, loving, kind, ambitious, fabulous!), but at the top of the list is “trigger-pullers.”  They are amazing when it comes to making game-time decisions and showing up!

I have mentioned it before, but Jardiniere is a very special restaurant to Michael and me.  It’s situated in his old neighborhood, Hayes Valley, and it is where he took me the night we got engaged (which actually happens to be 2 years ago today!).  One year later we returned to celebrate our “1 year engagement-versary,” slash, a good excuse to get dressed up and have fun.  When my parents were visiting we knew that we wanted to take them there, and same for my grandparents’ visit.  Then suddenly it dawned on Michael and me that although his parents have been able to visit San Francisco more frequently, we had never taken them there.  With our move to Brazil now set for the end of the year, time was running out.  So.  Michael and I invited his parents to visit us again…for dinner.  🙂  They were so awesome about it and quickly picked a date and bought flights.  They were in San Francisco for less than 24 hours but we had an amazing time and a very memorable night celebrating at Jardiniere.

11/06/11 - Notice the Michael & Ashley "campaign buttons" Ollie & Sharon are wearing -- swag from one of our Engagement parties!

And here are some of our other favorite memories from Jardiniere…

11/14/09 - Just hours after getting engaged : )

04/26/11 - Momma & Daddy Zais visiting SF

10/14/11 - Nanny & Papa Fincher's recent SF visit

Did I Mention We’re Moving? To Brazil?

Well, we are.  To São Paulo.  In January (fingers crossed, pending any Visa issues).  “Why?” you may ask.  Well, the story starts long ago…

Michael grew up taking family trips to Mexico learning Spanish (what a great idea for family vacay’s!).  He also lived in Arizona which has a strong Hispanic community so Spanish was a part of his life from the beginning.  He continued studying Spanish in school and in college he spent a semester studying abroad in Madrid, Spain.  Between undergrad and law school, Michael decided to spend a year abroad and really focus on his Spanish fluency.  He considered Spain but his big brother Joe had passed through Argentina and suggested he look there.  And so he spent the next year falling in love with Latin America and mastering the Spanish language.  He returned to DC for law school but managed to spend his first summer working for a law firm in Costa Rica.  After graduation he moved out to San Francisco, yet his heart for South America only grew and he came to the realization that ultimately he wants his career to be about this region of the world, one way or another.  His work provided him with opportunities to work on matters in Spanish and travel a bit, but when he heard that his law firm, Jones Day, was opening an office in São Paulo…there was no stopping him.  It was actually an amazing thing to watch.  It was like Michael put on blinders and with a laser focus, started teaching himself Portuguese, familiarizing himself with the region, and even published an article on Brazil’s Antitrust Legal system.  And then, the hard work paid off when his office granted him the opportunity to transfer.

At this point, Michael is conversational in Portuguese and feels confident he’ll be fluent within a couple of months on the ground.  I know how to say a few key words like “fish,” “sandwich,” “driving,” …all of the important things you need to get around.  But I am diligently studying with Rosetta Stone.

Pending any Visa issues, we are hoping to fly directly after the New Year and start getting acclimated.  It typically takes about 3 months to ship & receive stuff so we will likely start off in furnished housing or a hotel and will then hunt for our apartment.

So that’s the story and the update on where we are in the process.  I know that it will be an adjustment full of challenges and that I’ll miss my family, friends, and the greatest country on earth, but I am SO excited for the adventure ahead and so grateful that God has prepared this path for us and us for this path.

I hope that this blog will help me capture some final memories in San Francisco and then will serve as a way to document the journey ahead.  Thanks for joining us!  🙂

Cheers! Sonoma Food & Wine Festival

On Friday our friends and newlyweds Mark & Elise Norcini graced the Bay Area with their presence.  A group of us went out Friday for the city’s best tacos at Tacko (Mexican food + Nantucket atmosphere = amazing) followed by drinks and some competitive shuffle board at the Marina’s “most controversial spot” (according to Michael P Saign due to the bar’s “dress code” that seemed neither enforced nor controversial from my experience).  Saturday morning the group rented a Yukon and headed North to the Sonoma Food & Wine Festival.  Our group included Harps & myself, Mark & Elise, Mike & Moira, and Nathan & Shannon.  Aside from the torrential down-pour (that did not dampen our spirits), the day was epic.  Here are few highlights from the group:

1) At the first vineyard we met a real live witch and learned about how they make their wine which includes burying cow horns filled with manure on a full moon, digging them up, stirring the remains in a caldron by moon light and brewing it into a tea that they sprinkle across the land.  The only rationale reason I could garner for why they employ all of these tactics is because it keeps the bugs out…?

2) The “salmon glasses” that we all wore that supposedly made it easier to look into the water searching for salmon that were totally non-existant.

3) Getting cookbooks that eventually doubled as “yearbooks” that we all signed towards the end of the trip which produced some memorable entries

4) My wine glass jumping out of my hands and breaking into a million pieces and the entire room erupting in a collective oooOOOOOO…!

5) The invention of the “cork-bounce” game that I thought was going to get us kicked out of some places but somehow everyone loved it.

At the start of the trip after crossing the GGB




And it feels so good!

One of the (millions of) fun things about living in San Francisco is that it is a destination of sorts such that friends are often coming through for work or other occasions and this creates a somewhat steady stream of visitors.  The past few days have been particularly visitor and fun filled, so this is my first in a series of posts featuring some of our recent visitors!

I recently posted about my old friend Ashley who was my best friend in Atlanta during 7th and 8th grade, but with whom I slowly lost touch after my family moved.  This was the course of most of my friendships throughout my life.  When you move every couple years (or months!) it is quite difficult to foster long-lasting friendships.  Especially as a kid.  However, I do have ONE, single, solitary friend who has lasted through the ages.  This, along with the fact that she is completely fabulous, makes her very dear to me.  Katie Barton.

Katie and I met the summer that I was 6 years old and my family was in between moves from Monterey, CA to Washington, DC.  The summer was ending and for some reason our house in DC wasn’t ready in time for us to move in and start school.  Since my brother & I would typically spend the summers at my grandparents’ house in South Carolina (usually while my mom and dad packed, moved, or just did fun things without us), we ended up starting school there in good ole’ Chapin, SC.  I met Katie that summer before 2nd grade started and over the next 4 months we laid the foundation for a friendship that would last a lifetime by playing in sprinklers, going tubing on the lake, playing dress-up, etc.  Although my family proceeded to move to DC then to Panama to Kansas to Georgia to Newberry, SC, I would always return to Chapin for the summers and we would pick right back up where we left off.

Katie is such a jewel of a friend.  She has a heart of gold, a totally NY fashion sense, quick humor, and above all, she has been a loyal friend to me for almost 20 years now.  Which is pretty amazing.

Katie was in SF for a recent work-trip where we were able to meet up for dinner and my time with her reminded me how lucky I am to have her as a friend.

xoxox – ash