Monday, August 26, 2013

Underneath the smoke...

...was a love story.  two of the finest people on this planet married each other this past weekend.  surrounded by the mountains and lake tahoe, the smoke from the yosemite forest fires couldn't smolder the flames of love those two have for each other (yes, i went there).  congratulations, aric and michelle! 

i never ended up pulling out my fancy camera, but according to my iphone, 
there's proof of the fun we had at this family affair:

thanks, mom and dad, for the drive...and the hotel...and the meals...and the memories.  
i guess i owe you both a drink!

p.s.: yesterday was my dad's birthday.  happy birthday, dad!  i love you.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

On a trip to get my sanity back...

Do you think it will all fit?


I have to be prepared.  I mean, this trip is three days, after all.  No one can survive three days in Lake Tahoe without a hair dryer.  NO ONE.

For a three day Lake Tahoe wedding trip in middle of the summer, you will need:

  • Travel dress that doesn't wrinkle and is comfortable enough for a long drive
  • Platform sandals to go with said dress
  • Flats in case you get sick of said sandals
  • Scarf to pull the entire outfit together
  • Comfortable bra
  • Aviators and Blues Brothers sunglasses.  Both are necessary.  Best not to ask why.
  • Cute, casual hat to cover frizzy hair during pit-stops on the road
  • Large purse that's capable of holding wallet, cell phone, sunglasses, breath mints, water bottle, and the 30,000 receipts you keep promising yourself you'll throw out one day
  • Jeans and ratty t-shirt for the drive back home, when you're too hungover to care about cute dresses and frizzy hair
  • Ibuprofen and Gatorade (again, for the hangover-induced drive back home)
  • Fancy dress #1 for wedding
  • Fancy dress #2 for wedding in case, on the day of the wedding, you decide you look bloated in dress choice #1
  • Fancy dress #3 for wedding in case you accidentally spill something on dress #1 and dress #2
  • Strapless, uncomfortable bra
  • Stockings.  Because you never know.
  • Fascinator #1
  • Fascinator #2.  Again - fascinator #1 might make you look bloated on the day of the wedding
  • Two pairs of high heels, since you can't decide which pair will look better with your fancy dress and you know you'll regret leaving either pair back at home if you don't bring both pairs to begin with
  • Evening bag which will only fit cell phone and debit card
  • Cute cover-up for fancy dress that doesn't actually keep you warm but looks amazing
  • Less cute cover-up for fancy dress that you wear when it inevitably gets freezing but you're too drunk to care about what you look like and your makeup is already running down your face from too much sweat produced while dancing anyway
  • 20 pairs of underwear ranging from granny panties to the more unmentionable variety - because you can never be too careful and prepared when it comes to knickers
  • Makeup (which, in its entirety, may take up its own suitcase.  Don't worry.  This is normal.)
  • Hairdryer
  • Hairspray
  • Hair straightener
  • Hair curling iron
  • 58 bobby pins for the inspired up-do that you saw a picture of in a magazine that one time
  • Comb and hair tie for when you give up on the up-do after an hour and a half of failure and settle for a casual ponytail
  • Actually, make it two hair ties.  You'll end up losing one.
  • Sports bra and other hiking clothes to fool everyone into thinking you're going to make this trip into a sporty outing.  These can be kept at the bottom of your suitcase, as you'll never get around to using them anyway.  But you'll feel self-righteous knowing that they're there, so bring them.
  • Hiking shoes
  • 1 pair of socks for hiking shoes (it doesn't matter if they're matching, you won't end up wearing them anyway)
  • Thick sweater, down jacket, and snow boots in case, for some reason, it starts snowing.  This is the wilderness, after all.  These things happen.
  • Swimsuit, in case there's a hot tub
  • Swimsuit cover-up, because San Franciscan bodies are never swimsuit-ready.  That nonsense only exists in L.A. and the south of France
  • Sunless tanner in case you actually have to put on the swimsuit.
  • Nice dslr camera
  • Light, cheap, plastic Holga camera because you still have film left on it you want to use up
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Carry-on sized suitcase to shove everything into

You can leave the following items at home, because you'll end up forgetting to pack them anyway:

  • Toothbrush
  • Deodorant
  • Dslr camera battery charger

Have a great weekend, everyone!  Don't miss me too much!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A Happy List

{}  dolores park.  i'm embarrassed to say i lived in san francisco for two years without once visiting dolores park (always such a debacle to get there on the muni).  but today, all that changed.  the views of downtown from there - you need to see them for yourself.  just drop whatever you're doing and go there.  right now.

{}  sid.  while losing sid tore my heart into a million different pieces, just having the chance to get to know her and share part of my life with her makes me happy.  very, very happy indeed.

{}  charlotte was born.  need i say more?

{}  my maxi dress.  there's something about being able to wear a dress without needing to shave that's strangely liberating.

{}  vacation.  in.  three.  days.

{}  sweat.  i sweat today just walking around downtown.  which means the sun was out.  and it was glorious.

{}  friends.  i sure did pick the best of the bunch.  i have impeccable taste, what can i say.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Meeting Charlotte Hope

last sunday i made the pilgrimage to santa cruz to meet my newborn niece, charlotte hope.  she is pretty close to perfect, and i'm not just saying that because i'm her auntie.  see for yourself:
charlotte's beautiful, i can already tell she's sharp as a tack, and she's family.  how lucky is that?!  i can't wait to spoil her rotten.

for some crazy reason my brother decided he trusted me enough to let me hold this tiny, fragile bundle of brand new life.  and these are the pictures to prove it:
i love her so much already.  and i am mystified by the force and courage it takes to give birth.  i don't think i have that much strength in me - i mean, just getting up to plug in my laptop charger tires me out these days.  you rock, erin!
congratulations, brother and sister-in-law!  sedona couldn't have asked for a better baby sister.  you have such a beautiful, inspiring little family.  i love you all!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Sidney Forever

Sidney on her favorite pillow.

It is with an incredibly heavy heart I must write that at 5:30 this morning, it was discovered our perfect-in-every-way Sidney Lou Ponson Hyatt passed away after a rapidly developing, but unidentified, illness.  She died in Andrew's arms at nearly 16 years old.
Cuddle time with her favorite human.
Sid on her favorite pillow cuddling with her favorite human.
It doesn't get any better than that...unless fish is involved.

Sidney adopted Andrew from the Humane Society back in 2001.  Andrew was in search of a friend and so was Sid, apparently.  She was two years old at the time - one of the oldest cats in the shelter - and therefore very wise.  She reached her white paw out of the cage to get Andrew's attention as he walked by.  She knew a pushover when she saw one.  True to form, Andrew couldn't resist her charms.  The two have been inseparable ever since, save for a stint when Andrew left for college and Sidney and he sent love letters back and forth.
I was lucky enough to be invited into Sid's life in 2009.  That first day we met, I picked Sid up to give her a kiss on the lips and she promptly bit my lips in return.  At that moment, I knew I would love her forever.
Sid's favorite activities included people watching from the front stoop, drinking bathroom faucet water, being brushed, hunting mice, cuddling, napping on her favorite pillow, and mealtime.
You've never seen a cuter face.  Trust me.
I will forever cherish the gentle taps of her paw against my skull as she tried waking me for breakfast every morning, or how she'd always lay on top of my jackets and coats and make them into her own personal bed for weeks at a time, or how she would run up to greet Andrew and me at the front door each time we got home, or the feeling of her claws kneading my skin as she cuddled and purred on my lap after dinner without a care in the world.

Everyone who met Sid knew how wonderful and full of spunk and character she was.  We shared some really great times together, and she helped me through some really tough times as well.  Every memory I have by her side is a blissfully happy one, simply because she was capable of making everything blissfully happy.  She was the perfect cat, companion and friend.  She will be sorely missed and remembered with love and fondness always.
 Sidney, you were a blessing to us in every possible way.  I will love you always.
Thank you for the memories.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Welcome to the world, baby girl!

i'd like to introduce you to charlotte hope
sister to sedona sky
daughter of erin marie and dylan zifr

born on saturday, august 10th
12:47 am
 6 lbs., 13 oz.
20.5 inches
10 fingers
10 toes
the world never did see a more beautiful baby

charlotte, i hope you know how much you are already loved.  welcome to life.  it's a great adventure!  and the only piece of knowledge you need for success is this: i'm the cool aunt.

*also, congrats parents on another perfect baby.  i hope you don't mind that i stole this picture from you...

Friday, August 9, 2013

This is what happens when the lights are off...

i can't get to sleep.  which is especially frustrating, considering i didn't get much sleep last night, either.

instead, i've spent hours (or maybe it was just 45 minutes?) clutching my pillow and staring wide-eyed at my closet.  for no reason whatsoever.  other than a classic blue and white satin polka-dot pencil skirt, my closet isn't even that interesting.

so, i tried tricking my body into becoming tired by getting sucked into a marathon run of archives from my favorite blogs.

true to form, i became emotionally invested in the adventure-ness and talented DIY birthday party-ness, and especially the happily-ever-after couple-ness of it all.  which got me to thinking about how these couples sounded so much like andrew and me and why did those cute things he did get on my nerves?  the blog couples i read about never seem to get annoyed with each other.  why did we? 

and then, at 1:37 in the morning i put down my laptop and sobbed heavily for a good five minutes.  which was slightly unexpected.  i mean, i hadn't cried about the breakup in at least five days.  *progress*.

now, i know what you're probably thinking: dang girl, pull yourself together.  just move on, already.  you're making a fool of yourself.  and you'd be right.

but, may i please just remind you that it was 1:37 in the morning and i was was running on five hours of sleep in the past 48 hours?  doesn't that count for anything??

anyway, i don't know why i'm writing all of this.  it's certainly not to inform my incredibly vast internet audience of two (highly intelligent) readers of what they already know: that i'm a basket case when i'm tired.

no, i'm writing this for me i suppose.

sometimes i need to remind myself that, for anyone who has a happy story to tell, they're also leaving out the bad bits, like when they sobbed in bed for five minutes at 1:37 in the morning. because really, who wants to read that pitiful story?  eh-hem...

no, instead blogs are, in my experience, sun hats with floppy rims and chalk painted nightstands and a decadent cafe au lait in tuscany with a heart-shaped foam design and impeccable instagram photos.  because that's what's fun and people love it.  when someone's limited to 500-1,000 words, the tears are the first to get cut.  besides, that's what memoirs are for.

but, it helps when i get into this blog-overload mindset of kicking myself for not being more patient, kind, and handy with a paint brush... it helps, when reading about a nature photographer's perfectly decorated apartment while she poses for pictures with her two ny times style section-worthy swedish toddlers on her pristine white helps...just to remind myself that i'm not reading about the part where that same nature photographer had an all-out screaming match with her husband the night before about whose turn it was to scrub the dog's vomit out of said white couch.

that part was never written.  never photographed.  but it's there, somewhere, in between all the spaces and commas and paragraph breaks.  and it's ok that it's not there.  it doesn't need to be.  that's not what the story is about.

and yes, you could definitely say i've always been a bit pre-occupied by what goes on behind the scenes.  probably because it's something i'll never know, and i like a mystery.

anyway, i hold on to the belief that this less-than-glorious reality exists for everyone.  not to be sinister, but to be honest.  and i have a good feeling i'm not too far off from the truth.  because it certainly exists for me.

and you know what?  yesterday morning, before the tears, before the insomnia, i drank a cafe au lait.  and there was a heart on it.  so i instagrammed it. 

i suppose my imperfect reality and the more put-together, glossy internet reality aren't so far removed from each other after all.

ok, i'm going to try and take a much needed nap now.  and then i'll write less about the tears, and more about my super sweet hat collection.

also: good morning!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Happy Accidents

today i spilled salad all over my beige pants.  the salad dressing left a blotchy stain all over my left pant leg for the rest of the day.  nothing good ever seems to come from trying to eat healthy food.

i was too embarrassed to get up from my desk at the office, and of course i was meeting up with the girls for drinks after work.  how could i possibly enjoy a drink in stained trousers?  the answer, clearly, was that i could not.

so, after work, it was off to downtown i went for an entirely new outfit.

downtown san francisco is always a bit of a zoo.  if you ever feel like entertaining yourself for free for an hour, just sit on the windowsill of the gap and watch hoards of tourists in khaki shorts (a clear sign you're not from around here; san franciscans know it's never warm enough here for shorts of the khaki or any other variety) screech in delight and pat each other on the back and grin into their camera with as many teeth as their lips will allow as they clamor over each other for a seat on a $5 cable car ride to fisherman's warf.

honestly endless entertainment.  not that i fault these tourists.  cable cars are awesome.

somehow, though, the zoo disappears when i'm in "the zone" - that is, looking for a new outfit.  there's no use denying it: i really like to shop.  especially for clothes.  i turn from a woman wandering somewhat aimlessly through life into a woman with a purpose, on a mission to become the best-dressed woman in west portal.  ok, well, at least in the top 50.

it felt horribly decadent and unnecessary and lovely to simply buy a new dress (and jacket...and shoes...and scarf...oops.  but they look so cute together!) because my pants were dirty, but clothes shopping is cathartic for me.

while weeding through the clearance rack at zara, i was able to clear all of those charged, overlapping worries out of my head and zen out enough to discover the answers to life's really important, most unanswerable questions, such as: why hasn't leonardo dicaprio won an oscar yet?  i mean, really?  but then i got home and forgot the answer.

clearly, though, my day was an eventual success.  just look at how adorable we all are.  all, obviously, because of my new outfit.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Manual Mode Madness

not knowing anything about photography, including not knowing how to get motion blur out of a point-and-shoot camera with the flash on in auto mode, last year i decided my skills were ready for an expensive semi-pro nikon dslr - the kind with the big lenses you can take on and off and switch around. 

flash-forward a year and i'm still a horrible photographer, even after taking a semester-long photojournalism class.  but, i'm dedicated to learning, and i'm also dedicated to never, ever taking my camera out of manual mode (which, if you've ever gotten your hands on an slr camera before - of the digital or any other variety - you know how terrifying manual is, amiright?).

little by little, my familiarity with my camera has been improving, but dslrs can be heavy and cumbersome to carry around.  and since i almost had a panic attack buying my nikon because those numbers on the register got so darn high, i often worry about scratching the lens or dropping the entire thing and ruining my (destined to become) award-winning career as a jet-setting national geographic photographer because i broke my only good camera and would have to sell some sort of mid-range, non-essential body part in order to afford a replacement.

so lately, i've only been taking pictures on my cracked-in-too-many-places iphone.  which is sad, because now my camera feels abandoned and i think is starting to get a little depressed.

feeling guilty and even a little bit inspired, i've been finding myself with a renewed sense of commitment towards my nikon, and in the process stumbled across these great photography tips for beginning dslr photographers from a cute blog called our fifth house.

in the post, carmel does a fantastic job of explaining things in such a simple way that even i can understand, which is nice because there were many times that my photojournalism teacher tried explaining f-stops to me and i just nodded and got confused by all the shapes and sounds her mouth was making.

if you're a beginning dslr (or even a traditional slr) photographer, or have been thinking of taking the plunge into getting a big, fancy camera, i definitely recommend checking out this blog post.  it is honestly one of the most helpful explanations of manual mode i've found to date.  well, for beginners like me, anyway. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Until Next Time, Weekend

this past weekend started the way most great weekends in this city do: at my friday night home, blackthorn.  this bar always has available seats (so no one else come here, ok?  i don't want to lose my seat), friendly people who all happen to be giants fans, and $5 pints of my personal favorite, cider.  good times are always had.
on saturday, i enjoyed a deliciously lazy breakfast in bed using my newest favorite purchase: an ikea breakfast tray.  most genius item ever.  everyone needs one in their life.  i'm not kidding.  i'm planning on having every meal in bed from here on out.  i don't know why i never thought of this sooner.

after breakfast (which might have accidentally lasted until 1:00 pm), i finally got around to scrubbing the dirty out of my new kitchen (which made me a little bit like a saint, and my roommates agree) and headed out to dna lounge with friends old and new.  i also found out that my awesomely smart and wickedly handsome friend, omid, was accepted into his first choice graduate school in london!  i am thrilled and proud of him, and maybe just a *little* bit bitter that he'll be abandoning me.  you better be prepared for lots of visits from a certain slightly annoying and anglophile brunette friend of yours, omid.  i'll bring vodka, i promise.
on sunday i made ^^this^^ delicious chocolate and peanut butter "magical healthy tasty cream" (my own fancy name),  had some good sister bonding time, went people watching in union square, and in between it all had a couple of good cries alone in my room...but don't tell anyone.  it's kinda embarrassing.  this breakup stuff is tough sometimes, what can i say.

cannot believe there is another five day work week ahead.  but, my vacation days are approved and plans set for tahoe in two weeks.  hoorah for no work and all play!  

the best part about august - the part that is totally making up for the fact that summer is almost over - is that baby charlotte is due this week!  cannot wait to meet that new niece of mine.  if she is even half as adorable as her big sister, the world is in a whole lot of trouble.

happy monday to all of you.  stay strong!  the weekend will be with us again in just five short days.

Friday, August 2, 2013

I simply remember a few of my favorite apps...

i am addicted to my phone.  no, really.  i am starting to forget whether this is a gadget i purchased two years ago, or if it is just a natural growth forming off my hand.  i have left my apartment without my keys or debit card loads of times, but somehow i never forget my phone.

sure, i could survive without it, but...why?

since i'm on my phone so often, i thought i'd share some of my most beloved apps with you.  i become embarrassingly obsessed once i've discovered a new app that makes life just that much easier or fun.  i hope the following apps make you just a little bit obsessed, too.


{a beautiful mess}

this app was recently released by elsie and emma, sisters who write one of my favorite blogs, a beautiful mess.  the app lets you grab old pictures off your phone and edit them with different filters, much like instagram.  but this app offers so much more, including backgrounds, cool artsy borders, text over your pictures, doodles, the works.  no photoshop needed.


another one of my go-to apps on a daily basis.  this app lets you take pictures or pull old ones off your phone before editing them with dozens of fun filters.  you can also independently change the contrast, exposure, and clarity of each photo.  but my favorite part about afterlight is the photo timer.  i use this constantly.  you can set the timer at 3, 7, or 10 seconds to take self portraits with your friends with your higher megapixel camera option, without trying to hunt around your iphone screen while posed for the camera button.  this feature, my friends, is beautiful.

{relax melodies}

i am a very light sleeper, unfortunately.  it seems the only thing that doesn't wake me up is my alarm clock.  i really wish this weren't the case, but blinking lights, repetitive ticks, or noisy neighbors keep me up all night, boiling over with frustration.  some quick searching on my phone led me to the (free!) relax melodies app, with numerous white noise tracks to choose from.  the oscillating fan option is the most similar to actual "white noise" to me, though there's everything from stormy nights, to under the sea sounds to lull you to sleep.  just blast this at night to drown out the unpleasantness that is your neighbors watching tv on full blast at 1:00 am.  available for both your phone and computer.


i've really missed keeping in touch with friends overseas on a medium other than facebook.  but overseas texting is expensive, yo.  so i was thrilled when a friend pointed out whatsapp to me, a service that allows you to send unlimited text messages to people with a smartphone anywhere in the world for free (as long as they have the app on their phone too).  just enter their number into the app and you're all set to send as many bear hug emoticons as your friends can handle.

{muni watch}

oh, the joys of the muni.  and if you've ever been to san francisco, you know just how seeped in sarcasm that statement is.  luckily, there's an app for that.  several, actually.  but muni watch is by far my favorite.  it has a real-time map of every muni service in the city.  little arrows show you exactly where the muni you're waiting for is, and a simple click on your stop shows you when the muni will get there.  even when the 511 phone service isn't working, this app is still accurate.  sadly, the app won't make the N line faster than its standard 8 mph.  sorry.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Roof with a View

yesterday, for the first time in a month and a half, 
the sun came out in the sunset district of san francisco.  
i chose this rare opportunity to take a peek from the rooftop of my new home 
(well, at least it should start feeling like home once i've unpacked and cleaned it up a bit).
hello, vast blue pacific ocean (it's there, out in the distance, trust me)!  this city really is stunning when the fog rolls away.  i can definitely see myself lugging a chair up here during san francisco's warm september and october days just to sit, stare, and do nothing at all.  warm weather, i've missed you!  come back!

i do plan on posting pictures of the new place once i've had the chance to settle in a bit.  if anyone feels like being my maid in the meantime, please let me know.  i can't pay you in cash per se, but i can pay you in my undying gratitude and chocolate chip cookies, which is so much better than cash anyway.  just take my word on this.