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

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

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