a random list of cool links

People, places, things I love (in no particular order)…

Emily Joubert Home & Garden in Woodside, California. Walking around the garden area, hearing the crunch of the gravel, gazing at the colorful tables and chairs (Fermob!), plants, pots, table settings, and flowers just takes me to a happy place. It is my favorite store in California! It’s also where you may now find my book!

Zlarris is a new clothing business by my very good friend, Kathi Berman. Kathi designs the most incredible, wearable cashmere and cotton pieces that go directly from school pickup to dinner out. I am SO excited to see these clothes hit the stores. I believe they are going to be instant classics!

Seaglow Candles in Sebastopol, California. 100% handmade with polished, recycled glass. Our boys keep collecting sea glass (with a grand plan to send it to Sue one day so she can make a candle with it); I keep collecting these candles! The coconut and grapefruit scents are my favorites. Be sure to check out the sangria party ideas page to see how these candles made beautiful table centerpieces at our 2008 event.

Wow! Calvina is the most amazing talent… graphic designer turned family/lifestyle photographer! We had a family photo shoot in November 2009 and the results were simply stunning. If you live in Northern California, hire this woman quickly!! She will capture you and your loved ones at their very best.

Stumptown Coffee – Hair Bender blend. We’re so addicted, we’re mail ordering it.


Tara Whitney’s blog is another of my happy places. I visit all the time, just to see the beautiful family photos and videos (serious eye candy). If you live in Sourthern California and have local access to this amazing artist, you are SO lucky! Tara is having a special contest until the beginning of December – donate to her family’s Whitney Wells (via charity:water) and be eligible for a FREE family photo session in March 2010! For details, visit http://tarawhitney.com/justbeblogged/

John & Kira’s Chocolates in Pennsylvania. Our family’s favorite chocolate (especially the Glenn’s Raspberry, Glenn’s Strawberry, Starry Night and Pistachi-Oh!). The boys don’t even call it chocolate; they say, “May I have a John & Kira’s?”

BeckyM on Etsy. The most gorgeous playthings for the kid in all of us! I order felt sandwiches, cake slices, fruits and vegetables when I need a gift for a little girl or boy (I even keep a felt sandwich on my desk… just for me to play with!). They are 100% handmade from wool felt and the attention to detail is simply astounding.

Miette Patisserie & Confiserie in San Francisco is my ultimate candy store experience. There are several locations (including Chestnut Street and the Ferry Building Marketplace) but my favorite is the Hayes Valley store (449 Octavia Street). Entering Miette is like stepping into another time and place. The shelves are lined with glass candy jars filled with old-fashioned candies, a glass case in front of you contains the most delectable cupcakes and the tables are filled with interesting and exotic confections. The Poco Dolce bittersweet chocolate tiles topped with grey sea salt (http://www.pocodolce.com/) are outrageously good. You can even host a child’s birthday party at Miette! http://miette.com/

Luna Needs a Miracle is the first children’s book by Il Fornaio San Jose’s acclaimed Executive Chef, Paul Luna. This lovely story is about a boy, also named Luna, who fears his first day at school because he does not speak or understand English. A joyful surprise is that the book is written in English and Spanish (side by side) offering English and non-English speaking students the opportunity to enjoy reading it together. http://chefluna.com/

I may be a little biased but Brian and Ed are the best innkeepers in America! Boothbay Harbor, Maine is a lovely vacation spot and Topside Inn an amazing place. A 16th century sea captain’s home that has been lovingly restored and decorated by Brian (I LOVE his taste in everything). Ed prepares the most delicious breakfasts (I LOVE anything he cooks) and we are thrilled to still have some of their homemade granola in our freezer. We probably should eat it though…

I am a huge fan of Mathew Lodge’s work. Our house is filled with beautiful prints from his many collections, including the image to the left (one of my all-time favorites). We were lucky enough to meet Mathew and Francesca in a restaurant, Albergaccio di Castellina, in 2001 – our food, wine, and travel adventures with them have been absolutely incredible!

Dalhousie Castle – Bonnyrigg, Edinburgh, Scotland (about 5 miles outside the city). My dream vacation spot (we’ve been there twice). The castle has a falconry so your kids can fulfill all their Harry Potter/owl flying dreams. It’s amazing and we hope to get back there someday (if my brother and I ever finish our movie script and manage to sell it, we’re hosting a week-long house party there!!)

Metohi Kindelis – Chania, Crete. I think the Kyriakos guesthouse is the most beautiful home we’ve ever rented. The walls are two feet thick and the entire place is just minimalist gorgeous. The guesthouses have private pools and when I say the owner stocks the fridge every day, I mean he STOCKS the fridge. We ate out only once the entire three days we were here!

Aiolina (Tuscany). Just outside Siena, Aiolina is owned by Pierro and Rosalba Giadrossi. We stayed here in 2007 with a group of 15 and it was AWESOME (especially hiring Christina to cook!). There is a 3-bedroom house+apartments that sleep from 2-4. The pool is available to all; the gardens and sculptures are impressive. We’re going back next year!  http://www.aiolina.it/

Al Carli is a property we rented during our 5-week stay in 2001 (3 families including 5 children under 5!). The house is perched in the hills overlooking the city of Lucca. Monica, the proprietor, bought the property from the estate of director David Lean (who owned the house but never lived there) and lovingly restored it by hand. The hand-painted decorations and quotes throughout the house are charming. You may view photos of the property at: http://www.italianvillas.com/villa.aspx?villa=105996

Biba Restaurant in Sacramento, California is, hands down, my favorite Italian restaurant in the U.S. Biba, a native of Bologna, Italy, makes the most incredible pastas (for example, potato ravioli with bacon and sage), salads, main dishes and desserts. Her Bolognese meat sauce (from the Trattoria cookbook shown at the left) is a staple in our house. My son, Tate, and I make it together; Tate narrates the cooking action as if a major battle is brewing between the cows (ground veal) and pigs (pancetta) – hilarious! If you are anywhere in the vicinity of this marvelous restaurant, I highly encourage you to visit! http://www.biba-restaurant.com/

Help a Mother Out is a non-profit that seeks to improve the lives of mothers, children, and families in need one diaper at a time. The organization coordinates a network of diaper donation drives throughout California and maintains a regularly updated blog that addresses issues of poverty, economics, children, families, and mothers.

I read John Wood’s book, “Leaving Microsoft to Change the World” and was immediately inspired to volunteer for his amazing non-profit, Room to Read. Headquartered in San Francisco, Room to Read offers many ways to get involved. From making a donation to adopting a project, there is a way for everyone to contribute. If you are passionate about reading and literacy (as I am), I urge you to investigate this worthwhile organization. http://www.roomtoread.org/