Saturday, September 14, 2013


As I mentioned, I am a lucky girl. I spent the morning at the Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival with my dear friend Katherine, and my old friend Heather, whom I hadn't seen in oh, probably 10 years? Crazy. We ate chocolate sundaes for breakfast, wandered the festival, and ended up with a huge bag of chocolate to take home. Let me tell you: Ghirardelli knows what they're doing.

Just the beginning...
Learning about the chocolate-making process in a
private class with Steve Genzoli
I wish I'd had the foresight to take more photos during the festival itself, but to be honest, I was a little bit on sugar rush chocolate overload! I am a chocolaholic, always have been. But the amount of chocolate and chocolate-based products was a bit overwhelming, even for me. There was a lot of "I'll take this home for later" and "oh good lord, I cannot possibly eat a brownie right now!" Note to anyone attending tomorrow: pace yourself, and perhaps bring some water or salty treats in your purse :)

We had a lot of fun though, and I was impressed with Ghirardelli Square itself. I hadn't been there in a long while, and it's really quite lovely. The Marketplace is a dream come true for a chocolate lover, and the square itself is just a nice place to hang out. I'll have to return to redeem my coupons for free sundaes! Craving a bit of salt, the ladies and I headed over to Lucky Dogs for some hot dogs and cheese fries. Delish. PS The Marina is cuter than I give it credit for. 

And then I headed back to the East Bay. I'm getting my wedding dress shortened and dyed, and I'm on a super tight deadline (I want to wear it to a wedding at the end of the month, and I have to ship it to New Hampshire for the dyeing), so I had a rush hopefully-last-but-ended-up-needing-one-more-alteration-on-the-straps fitting. I don't know what was going on with San Francisco traffic, but what should have been a quick 30 min hop across the bay took me almost an hour and a half. I finally got there, and omg the dress is so cute, I'll show off pictures when I have them, and then it was off to the errands portion of the day.

Yes, I was so stuck I took a picture.
Will and I purchased the meat for tomorrow's Mega BBQ (5 lbs of chicken thighs, wings and drumettes and 16 lbs of ribs - we already have a 6 lb pork loin brining in the fridge) this morning, and it was my job to buy vegetables and the spices for our "Magic Dust" chicken. Only took three stores, but I found everything I needed and headed home to get these babies coated and fridged!

Nom nom nom, it's like homemade
shake n bake.
Tomorrow's party is an all-day epic affair, beginning with the aforementioned chicken, continuing on with smoked ribs, and finishing off with a grilled pork loin. I am both excited and wiped out thinking about what the day will hold. But mostly excited. Myriad Meat! :)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

This Weekend: Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival in San Francisco!

Hi folks - just wanted to take a minute to let you know that this is happening this weekend! I've been invited to attend through a special media event on Saturday (hoodeehoo so fancy!), and will be reporting back on how awesome and chocolate-filled the event is. Or how terrifyingly crowded it is. But still. Chocolate. Festival. Obviously I'm there. Full press release below.



Projected to be the biggest Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival to date, this year’s event will feature the all-new Chocolate & Wine Pavilion, Ghirardelli Earthquake Ice Cream Eating contests and over 35 chocolate vendors.

Tim Nugent, BRAVO’s “Top Chef Just Desserts” contestant and Pastry Chef at Kimpton’s Scala’s Bistro, will serve as Festival Culinary Host

SAN FRANCISCO (July 29, 2013)- Ghirardelli Chocolate Company, San Francisco’s premier chocolate manufacturer, invites chocolate lovers near and far to experience the 18th Annual Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival, Saturday, September 14 and Sunday, September 15 at San Francisco’s historic Ghirardelli Square. Projected to be the biggest Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival to date, this two-day celebration -perfect for chocolate lovers, foodies and festival-goers- will feature unique samples by some of the finest local dessert companies, chef demonstrations from chocolatiers, cupcake bakers and mixologists, ice-cream sundae eating contests and of course, Ghirardelli Chocolate! Profits from the festival benefit Project Open Hand and their efforts to serve “meals with love” to people with HIV/AIDS, the homebound critically ill and seniors. For more information, visit

“Every year, we receive more than 30,000 visitors from all over the United States who come to experience the Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival and we are happy to see the event grow each year,” says Martin Thompson, Ghirardelli president and CEO. “The festival is not only a fun-filled event for chocolate lovers and foodies, but an important event that raises funds for Project Open Hand. We are very proud to host this every year.”

Tasting tickets are $20 for 15 tastes when purchased before the festival or $25 at the door. Tasting tickets include samples of delicacies ranging from chocolate vodka, chocolate cupcakes, to Ghirardelli’s World Famous Hot Fudge Sundaes. Several general events will be available at no charge.  A variety of other ticket packages range from $20-$125, and include Festival T-Shirts, tickets to the Chocolate & Wine Pavilion, and the exclusive VIP Experience. To purchase tasting tickets to the Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival online, please visit

Ghirardelli Chocolate, the Bay Area's first chocolate manufacturer, has a rich and vibrant history,beginning with the fascinating story of Domingo Ghirardelli, an Italian confectioner. After spending several years in South America operating Domingo's Chocolates, Ghirardelli landed in San Francisco and started the world-famous Ghirardelli Chocolate Company. With Ghirardelli’s vision in mind, Ghirardelli Chocolate Company pioneered innovations in bean roasting and became the first company to introduce bittersweet chocolate chips.


  • NEW in 2013! Chocolate & Wine Pavilion: Sip and savor premium samples from local wineries and gourmet dessert vendors in the heart of the Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival. This new and exclusive area of the event will require an additional “Pavilion” ticket good for 20 gourmet tastings. The chocolate & wine pavilion is the ideal oasis to unwind, relax, and try something decadent! Only open for Festival guests 21 years and older.
  • Chef Demonstrations: Tim Nugent, BRAVO’s “Top Chef Just Desserts” contestant andExecutive Pastry Chef at Kimpton's Scala's Bistro, will host one of two culinary stages featuring a variety of local culinary professional’s chocolate demonstrations on both Saturday & Sunday.
  • “Earthquake” Ice Cream Eating contest: A Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival Tradition! Festival attendees can compete or cheer on the lucky contestants to see who can eat the famous Ghirardelli "Earthquake" Sundae the fastest. The Earthquake Sundae is a massive 8 scoops of ice cream! There are three competitions on both Saturday and Sunday and include a kid’s round which features a smaller version of this sundae.
  • Chocolate School- "From Cocoa Bean to Chocolate Bar":  Ghirardelli's own "Chocolate Professor", Steve Genzoli, will teach "Chocolate School," a journey that takes audience members through a tour of the delicious chocolate making process. Learn every step a bean takes to become that mouth watering chocolate bar from Ghirardelli's VP of Research & Development and Quality Assurance.
  • Silent Auction: Premium offerings from restaurants, hotels, the travel industry and vendors all raising money for Project Open Hand. First developed in 2012, the auction proved to be a success with festival guests and raised additional funds for Project Open Hand.
  • Samples from over 35 vendors: Decadent chocolate tastings from Ghirardelli Hot Fudge Sundaes to Chocolate Vodka and everything in between!
  • Signature Cocktail bars sponsored by Vodka 360: Enjoy a variety of signature Ghirardelli cocktails at two Festival bars, all featuring flavored spirits from Vodka 360. Then, learn how to make your new favorite drink at two Vodka 360 mixology seminars at the culinary stage.

The 18th Annual Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival would not be possible without the support from many generous sponsors: Ghirardelli Chocolate Company, Red & White Fleet, UPS, Macy’s, SFMTA, Numi Tea, McCormick Distilling, and SF Weekly.
To participate in this annual community event, visit Giving back has never been so sweet!
Ghirardelli Square recently launched their FREE roundtrip shuttle that will bring visitors from the Pier 39 area to Ghirardelli Square for the Chocolate Festival. Each rider receives a complimentary sample of the signature Ghirardelli SQUARES® chocolate to enjoy on their ride! The shuttle service is available Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The shuttle can be caught just west of Pier 39 at the entrance of Little Embarcadero. The shuttle runs approximately every 20 minutes. 

The Ghirardelli Chocolate Company is a manufacturer and marketer of premium chocolate products.  Incorporated in 1852, Ghirardelli has an incredibly rich American history.  As the country’s longest continuously operating chocolate manufacturer, Ghirardelli has established its position as America’s Premium Chocolate Company. 

Ghirardelli’s product line includes its signature SQUARES™ chocolate, Intense Dark™ chocolate, Gourmet Milk™ chocolate, Ghirardelli Chocolate Bars, other chocolate confections, baking chocolate and beverages.  These items are sold through select specialty stores, grocery stores, drug stores, mass merchandisers and department stores.  In addition, Ghirardelli sells a line of premium chocolate, syrups and drinks for the Food Service channel.  Ghirardelli currently owns and operates 18 retail stores in seven states, including the original Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop located in San Francisco’s historic Ghirardelli Square. 

For more information about Ghirardelli, visit

Every day, Project Open hand prepares 2,500 nutritious meals and provides 400 bags of healthy groceries to help sustain those in the community battling serious illnesses, isolation, or the health challenges of old age. For more information on the services Project Open Hand provides, visit

Earthquake_1920x1080 (2)
Ghirardelli’s famous “Earthquake” sundae- eight scoops of ice cream, eight toppings finished with fresh bananas, whip cream, chopped almonds, decadent chocolate chips and cherries!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Camping Essentials – building your basic gear stash, and then some!

As you may remember, I've started guest-blogging over at the Extra Space Storage blog. For each post, I'll be posting a teaser here, and you can click through for the full post over on their site.

Camping Essentials – building your basic gear stash, and then some!

A few weeks ago, I gave y’all a detailed list (with photos) of the contents of my super awesome camping box. That post will help you maximize your efficiency when it comes to packing for camping trips, and hey, since it’s so easy, maybe you’ll find yourself camping more often!
But there are a few areas I didn’t cover with that post…clothing, food, hiking gear, bug spray…oh yeah. Things you need. Or maybe, not always things you need, but things that you might want. Or things that if you’re buying gear for your first ever camping trip, you might want to consider. Instead of, you know, buying everything at REI. For the purpose of these posts, I’m talking about car camping: where you drive to a campsite, park your car, and set up shop for a while. Backpacking is a whole different beast! Since I do the majority of my camping with my husband I’ll share tips we’ve learned across our many summer camping trips.
Let’s just jump right in, shall we?
Me at a relatively hidden and totally beautiful river
bend near Pothole Dome at Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park.

Ha ha, fooled you! Read the rest here!