Oscar de la Renta Exhibition in San Francisco

Earlier this morning, I had the pleasure of attending the press event for Oscar de la Renta: The Retrospective exhibition at the de Young museum in San Francisco. When I got there, let’s just say I channeled my inner Carrie Bradshaw when she was rummaging through her closet in the first Sex and the City movie (or in the wedding dress scene of the same movie) and appreciated every de la Renta piece that I saw there.

If you are able to recognize de la Renta on the red carpet, but don’t know a lot about the late designer and how and why certain things influenced his work, do make your way to the de Young museum to check it out (exhibit opens March 12).

Walking through this world premiere exhibition of de la Renta’s work is truly an experience one should partake in. It includes more than 130 pieces produced over five decades and is divided into sections: his early work, including Spanish, Eastern and Russian influences; day-wear and evening-wear influenced by gardens; and ball gowns and red carpet gowns.

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During this press event, I listened to a Q&A with former American Vogue editor at large, André Leon Talley, who was a close friend of de la Renta’s over the years.

Here are a few things I learned about Oscar de la Renta while walking through the exhibition:

  • De la Renta was born in the Dominican Reublic in 1932 and after training in Spain at Balenciaga and working for Lanvin-Castillo in Paris, he moved to the United States to work for Elizabeth Arden.
  • De la Renta took part in a fashion show that pitted American designers against their French counterparts and his show, different than what most had seen until that time, granted de la Renta a standing ovation. Side note: he played Barry White’s “Love’s Theme” as the runway song.
  • De la Renta’s designs reflect his dedication to making every woman “feel wonderful about herself” at any shape and size.
  • He drew influence from European history (18th century France), the Golden Age of Spain, Chinese embroideries, Indian textiles, Japanese woodblock prints, traditional Russian fabrics and more.
  • De la Renta was an avid gardener in both his Dominican Republic and Conneticut homes leading to him to have botanical themes in his work, including: floral-printed silk taffetas, appliquéd flowers and soft ruffles.

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Who knows when this exhibition will make its way back around to San Francisco again, so if you have the time to see it, do.

If You Go:

When: March 12 – May 30, Tuesday through Friday, times vary

Where: de Young Museum, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr in San Francisco

Cost: Prices vary (click here) $30–$50

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Do let me know if you end up attending the show and tell me how you like it!

xoxo,

Leigh

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Book Lovers, Get Amazon Prime

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I turn to Amazon for a lot of things: home decor, accessories, technology and – of course – books. Speaking of books, I received an email from Amazon this morning about my Kindle Book March First. What is that? Well, as an Amazon Prime member, I can choose one book out of six to download for free, even before it’s officially published!

This has been really beneficial for me in terms of book club. It gives me great ideas about what new books to read (that haven’t necessarily made the New York Times Bestseller List) and, let’s be real for a second, who doesn’t like free books?

Now, if you’re not an Amazon Prime member, you can still purchase a Kindle Book First for $1.99. But still, why pay when you can get it for free with Prime? Side note: if you’re married or live with other people, you can share one Amazon Prime account and only get charged once per year, instead of separately. I discovered this last month when my husband and I were trying to figure out how to avoid paying for Prime twice. 

The reason why I really dig the Kindle First picks is because there’s always a variety in genres. This month it’s: thriller, fantasy, historical fiction, suspense, children’s picture book and literary suspense. Sometimes it can be a gamble with these books, however. They aren’t thoroughly reviewed, in some cases not reviewed at all, so if you like the synopsis, take a chance. I picked The Queen’s Poisoner (The Kingfountain Series Book 1), which is the fantasy book pick for March and also one of my favorite genres. I am really excited to read it once I’m done with All The Light We Cannot See for book club.

Let me know if you participate in Kindle Book Firsts – or if you’re planning on it!

xoxo,

Leigh

Girlfriend Getaway to the Madonna Inn

Madonna Inn arrival

My best girlfriend currently lives in Los Angeles, so we decided we needed a girls getaway to catch up. One of our favorite bloggers had stayed at the Madonna Inn last year, and ever since then, it’s been on our radar as a must-visit destination. Seeing as it’s almost an even halfway point between SF and LA, we decided it was the perfect opportunity to meet in the middle and stay at this landmark hotel.

Mini Maxi

Stay: Well of course, the Madonna Inn. But more specifically, we chose to spend our 2 nights there in the Mini Maxi room (#146). It is touted on the website as being “ideal for an anniversary, honeymoon or any special occasion,” so the whole weekend we joked we were on a romantic getaway. Romance factor aside, we couldn’t resist the plethora of pink decor and the gigantic rock fireplace that sits directly at the end of the king bed. It also features a rock shower and rock sinks, and a fully equipped Toto toilet that introduced us to the wonderful world of heated toilet seats.

Mini Maxi bathroom

Some honorable mention rooms that also topped our list were: Carin, Love Nest, and of course the Madonna Suite (but it was too pricey for us that weekend).

Pool

Play: Even though I’m sure there are a ton of fun things to do and see in San Luis Obispo, living in San Francisco doesn’t provide many opportunities to hang out at a pool, so I was really excited to get some quality fun in the sun time at the Madonna Inn pool. They have a large pool area with two hot tubs (one adjacent to the pool, and one tucked away near the SPA). When the sun went down, the SPA hot tub was a nice respite from the cool breeze.

Hot tub

We also decided to treat ourselves to a mini spa treatment when we got in on Friday. The Madonna Inn SPA runs specials every month, so we went with one of the February specials called the “Madonna Kiss” – a 45 minute treatment focused on the back, neck, and feet.

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Eat/Drink: We both love eating and drinking, but wanted to be smart (cheap) about our choices since we were spending so much money on the room itself. We brought some of our favorite drinks to enjoy in the room: fruity beers (Stiegl Radler and Avery Brew Co. Liliko’i Kepolo), white wine (Sauvignon Republic sauvignon blanc), and of course, champagne (Veuve Clicquot and Sophia Blanc de Blancs). We didn’t end up even getting through half of it, but it was nice to have a selection of our favorite drinks on hand. And we both brought some snacks to share in the room so we didn’t have to go out to every meal (protein bars, chips and salsa, hard boiled eggs, pretzels, etc).

Novo restaurant

We basically ended up eating out one meal per day of our 3-day stay which I think was a good balance. Friday night we kept it lo-key and grabbed burritos to go and brought them back to the room, Saturday night we got dinner out in downtown SLO at Novo Restaurant, and Sunday morning we ate at Copper Cafe at the Madonna Inn. Here’s a little summary of the places we ate at:
• Taco de Mexico – Taqueria atmosphere, good for getting burritos to go. Not the best I’ve ever had, but a solid choice if you’re on a budget.
• Central Coast Wines – Go to the back tasting area and try a flight. A downtown tasting room and store convenient to restaurants and shopping (and right near Novo Restaurant).
• Novo Restaurant – The cutest backyard patio (definitely eat outside, they have heat lamps!). We shared the fresh avocado shrimp spring rolls appetizer, and I got the Thai green chicken for dinner (get it with the Forbidden black rice!). Reservations recommended, but you can always grab a drink at the bar while you wait.
• Copper Cafe – We had to try a least one meal at the Madonna Inn, so we opted for breakfast which was cheaper. I went with the Eggs Benedict (with a huge thick-cut piece of ham) and it was legit – I’m very picky about benedicts, and this was a good one. Reservations also recommended here – it was packed, and we opted to eat our breakfast in the bar rather than waiting an hour for a table in the restaurant.

Overall the weekend was so fun, and I’d really love to go back sometime and try a different room (though ours was awesome). And if I had another day there, I’d also like to explore the wine country around SLO a bit more, or even try out one of the many hiking trails in the area.

Have you ever been to the Madonna Inn? What room would you choose?

xoxo,
Veronica

Oscar Party Ideas

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This Sunday, February 28th, is the 88th Academy Awards. I have to say that it is one of my favorite award season nights (that and The Tony’s) because of all the glitz and glam and, of course, the films. Over the years I have experienced a number of different types of Oscar parties, now just sticking to my own rendition (although, not sure if I’m throwing one this year). Here are a few ideas to get you pumped up for The Oscars – and maybe throwing your own party this year.

  1. Chinese take-out, The Oscars ballot and a gift card. This is now what my Oscar party consists of. I send out the invite (usually no more than 7 or 8 people come), print out Oscar ballots and purchase a gift card for the person who gets the most correct on their ballot. About a half hour before the Academy Awards actually starts, I order Chinese food and go pick it up and we eat buffet style in the living room.
  2. Glitz and glam. If you’re looking to get dressed up to enjoy the Oscars, you can always attend or throw your own red carpet extravaganza. Decorations can include: black and gold plates and cups, mini Oscar figures, gold table confetti, red carpet with a Hollywood wall decal for a selfie booth. If you’re looking to find decorations on the cheaper side, check out your local dollar store or Party City. Be sure to let your guest list know to dress in their Hollywood best in the invitation.
  3. Awards Night parties in your neighborhood. It’s a tradition – at least in Marin County – that some local theaters broadcast the Academy Awards and throw a party along with it. The Battery in San Francisco is throwing their Oscar party, the Lark Theater (in Larkspur) and Rafael Theater (in San Rafael), FunCheap SF’s Oscar Viewing Party and here are more Oscar viewing parties in San Francisco.
  4. Family, pjs and popcorn. This is a way more laid back version of an Oscar party. Reminiscent of my Chinese take-out option, who doesn’t love lounging around in their pjs, eating popcorn, laughing with family and watching the star-studded award show? Pop some kernels, throw a blanket over your lap, relax and enjoy the show.

Did I miss your favorite type of Oscar party? Let me know in the comments and stay tuned for Veronica’s worst/best dressed list.

xoxo,

Leigh

Fitness: Pure Barre

 

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(photo credit: pure barre)

It has been four months since my wedding, and let’s just say that I haven’t been working out and eating super healthy since the day after my wedding. With spring approaching and summer right around the corner after that, I figured it’d be a great time to amp up my fitness game and get in shape so I can wear those cute outfits and swimsuits.

I have heard wonderful things about barre classes, but never had the courage to actually sign up for them. To be honest, I truly didn’t know what to expect. Would I get a good workout? Will it help me with my weight loss goals? Will the class target my problem areas? After researching extensively for about a month – and going back and forth in my head about whether or not to sign up for it – I took the plunge and signed up for Pure Barre in San Rafael.

If you’re looking for a new class, definitely give Pure Barre (or a class like it) a try. There are studios all over the country and they offer a great introductory class called Behind the Barre. It’s a 75 minute class where the instructor breaks down the choreography and you can ask questions and learn modifications for each move. In this class, you’ll learn about the small (dime-sized) movements that really make your muscles burn and shake. The instructor will show you how to use certain parts of your body to get the best minute movement and burn. Pure Barre’s motto? “Lift. Tone. Burn.” If you’re out of shape like I am, then you’ll feel those three things at the end of the Behind the Barre class, for sure.

If you enjoy that class, Pure Barre currently has a new client special: unlimited classes for 1 month for $99 (you can pick a studio, create an account and purchase online). That’s the offer I claimed before even signing up for the introductory class.

I had my first real Pure Barre class yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed it. I will be back on Wednesday, then again on Friday and Sunday, giving myself the goal of four days per week of lifting, toning and burning.

Do you have a favorite barre class that you attend? Let me know in the comments!

Survivor: Kaoh Rong

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Last night was the premiere of the 32nd season of Survivor. This time, contestants are on a beautiful island in Cambodia called Koah Rong. Now, I haven’t watched Survivor in about six or seven years. The reason I decided to watch this season? Local ice cream entrepreneur Neal Gottlieb, founder and owner of Three Twins Ice Cream, is competing with other members of the “Brains” team.

I’d like to point out his attire in this first episode: ice cream pants, ice cream bowtie, and later on in the episode, ice cream boxer-briefs.

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Can’t forget to mention Tai, a gardener from San Francisco. He’s fabulous and causes a little bit of trouble in the first episode.

Although this post is short, the reason why it fits so well on Sassy Sweet SF is because of the contestants from Marin and San Francisco. Also, who doesn’t love Three Twins organic ice cream?

Catch the next episode of Survivor: Kaoh Rong on CBS, Wednesdays at 8 p.m.

 

Magic comes to SF

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Last night I had the pleasure of attending the opening night of The Illusionists – Live From Broadway at the SHN Orpheum Theatre. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but came away from the show fully entertained by these masters of illusion.

There are 7 illusionists: The Anti-Conjurer, The Manipulator, The Inventor, The Escapologist, The Trickster, The Weapon Master, and the Deceptionist. Each has their own specialty and performs roughly 2-4 times during the course of the show.

Dan Sperry - The Conjuror and Jeff Hobson - The Trickster

For us (my husband and myself) there were two standouts of the night – the Anti-Conjurer (above left), and the Trickster (above right). Total opposites, the Anti-Conjurer was a dark, gothic character, performing the most shocking of illusions that night. I had to look away at some parts during one of the Anti-Conjurer’s tricks and was literally screaming about what was happening on stage, exchanging looks of shock with my husband. But he was by far one of our favorite acts, so the “eek” factor was worth it. And the Trickster provides levity for the show, acting as the M.C. for the night in an array of flashy costumes and fall-out-of-your-seat-funny tricks and humor. He steals the show with his audience involvement and jokes – I never expected to laugh that much at a magic show!

If you are going to spend the money to see this show, I would recommend trying to book close seats. Even sitting in row R, we wished we could have been closer in to see some of the tricks better. They do have a giant screen on stage that projects the action live for those further away, but it’s always more fun to watch the real action in front of you.

There were only two small letdowns – The Manipulator never made an appearance last night (maybe he was sick?) and the much-touted full view water torture escape by The Escapologist never happened. I would likely chalk it up to opening night technicalities, and would hope both will join the show for the remainder of the SF run. I will note that the Escapologist was there and performed an upside-down straight-jacket escape that was impressive, just not the water escape.

Overall, a night of awe and laughter, recommended to those with a love of magic and illusion – or just for those wanting to try something new.

Illusionists, The: ? Witness the Impossible
Marquis Theatre

If You Go:

When: February 16-21, 2016
Where: Orpheum Theatre, 1192 Market Street in San Francisco
Cost: $45 – $212
Running time: 2 hours, including one 15-minute intermission
Age Recommendation: Appropriate for all ages (no children under 5 allowed)

What do you think, does this show sound like something you’d go to?

xoxo,
Veronica

Moving Tips

  
This past weekend was an eventful one in my household. Sure, it was Valentine’s Day, but it was also the weekend Max and I moved into our new place. Let me tell you, it’s been a stressful last couple weeks, but the stress is gradually being lifted off my shoulders as things are getting organized and placed appropriately in our new place.
We moved from a first-floor apartment to a third-floor apartment about a half mile away from our old place. Moving is a really stressful experience for both people and animals so I want to share some tips and tricks with you to make your next move a little easier.

  1. Make sure you give yourself enough time to actually move. I cannot stress this enough. Luckily, our lease at the old place officially ends this weekend, so we have a whole extra week to move last-minute items.
  2. Pack boxes appropriately. Whether you head to U-Haul to buy boxes or purchase bankers boxes, make sure to not overpack a box. You don’t want them to be too heavy if you’re moving boxes on your own.
  3. Clean out your fridge well in advance. This was one of my main tasks during the packing process. I got rid of things in the fridge and made sure not to buy anything extra – just the essentials.
  4. Can’t move the furniture yourself? Hire movers. This was the best decision we made in regards to our move – and worth the investment. Local company Johnson & Daly Moving & Storage came out weeks prior to our move to estimate total costs and the two gentlemen who actually moved our furniture ended up fitting heavy boxes and more into the moving truck. Once at the new apartment, they unloaded all the furniture and placed it in exact spots for us.
  5. Unpack boxes immediately. There’s nothing worse than living with boxes in hallways and all over the living room. In order to avoid knocking into them, unpack as you go. This was another of my main tasks. As boxes came in, I unpacked them and placed items where they belong.
  6. Canvas bags come in handy. For the odd-shaped items, throwing them into a canvas bag or bag you may use for groceries is wise. It’s easier to carry and you can throw the whole weight of the item on your shoulder if need be.
  7. Have pets? Let them acclimate. Animals are interesting beings, especially cats. Our cat Oliver has been hiding under the couch since the moment we brought him into the new place. At night, he’ll cry for the old apartment. Why? Because it’s all new for him. If animals cry, it’s important to just let them do so without you going over to console them. They need to readjust and acclimate on their own time. With cats, it’s making sure they are putting their scent on everything. With dogs, it’s a little easier. They’ll be slightly confused for a while, but keep the treats coming and they’ll adjust just fine.

Did I miss some of your key moving tips? Let me know in the comments.

Affordable Valentine’s Day Date Ideas

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Valentine’s Day is this weekend! While some of you might be planning a tropical getaway or a stay-cation in a nice hotel in San Francisco, others might be trying to figure out what to do on a tighter budget. Since my husband and I will be moving into a new place this weekend, we need to stick to a budget to celebrate the day of love. I have come up with seven fun and inexpensive date ideas. Did I miss your favorite? Let me know!

Fun & Cheap Valentine’s Day Date Ideas

1. Make dinner together: For those who cook, and even those that don’t regularly, this is a great Valentine’s Day go-to. It’s ample opportunity to crank up the romance factor in your relationship, or, if it’s a newly formed relationship, a great chance to get to know each other better without anyone else being around and distracting you. Cooking together can be a lot of fun. I’m a fan of a stir-fry since it’s super simple to make and can be done quickly, but if you wanna go all out, try homemade lasagna or something a little more complex. Don’t forget the wine and dessert of your choice. Can’t be a traditional Valentine’s Day date without a great dessert!

2. Takeout and board games: This brings out the kid in everyone. Grab takeout from your favorite restaurant, head over to Bev-Mo! or your local Safeway to grab some beer and wine, then head on home, or to your significant other’s house and choose a few board games to play while you get your grub and drink on. It’s always fun to sit picnic style in the living room by candlelight and play games like the good ol’ days.

3. Valentine’s Day hiking trip: Valentine’s Day dates don’t necessarily have to take place at night. Day dates are just as fun! Living in Marin County, there are tons of beautiful hiking trails. I’m sure wherever you live, there are trails equally as beautiful. Plan the hike so you end up overlooking a beach or something beautiful. To make it extra special, bring a backpack with yummy little (healthy!) snacks and two drinks to celebrate your Valentine’s Day hiking adventure.

4. Dinner and a movie: This is the standard, go-to, every day kind of date. But on Valentine’s Day, try to amp it up and make it a little more romantic. Venture out to a restaurant you both haven’t been to before and see a movie in a genre you both like. Don’t forget your trip to the local frozen yogurt place! Can’t forget about froyo…

5. Video game fun: Even if you both don’t play video games religiously, it’s still nice to sit down together and learn how to play a new game. It can be on any console and head over to your local GameStop and pick a game out together and have fun learning the ins and outs of a new game. Laughter will surely be had.

6. Cards Against Humanity game night: This is a game that requires a lot of people, so be sure to plan it in advance. You will spend your entire night laughing your buns off and having a great time. They don’t call Cards Against Humanity “a horrible game for horrible people” for nothin’! Be sure to have snacks and beverages on hand for this gathering. Keep in mind that the best and easiest place to buy the game is through Amazon, but you can always ask friends if they own it. I personally have the game and all the expansion packs. Totally worth the investment.

7. Road trip it!: This road trip can be a day road trip or a lengthy one. I’m sure that beauty surrounds where you live, so why not venture out to a place like that? Or, to fulfill that kid-at-heart urge, drive down to Disneyland (if you live in California, or Disney World (if you’re in Florida), and have yourself a grand ole time! Disneyland is fun at every and any age, so why not make Valentine’s Day fun? Don’t forget your Disney character gear — I’m a fan of the sparkly Mini Mouse ears headband.

I hope you and your love enjoy the holiday and long weekend!

xoxo,

Leigh

 

Netflix Binge-Watch: Making a Murderer

When it comes to watching shows I usually stick to my usuals: Vanderpump Rules, Real Housewives franchise, Law and Order Special Victims Unit, Married At First Sight and a few others. Lately, people have been talking about the the Netflix documentary called Making a Murderer. Just by the title I was pretty hesitant to watch the show, but then a close friend of mine said it was a similar topic to the first season of the hit podcast Serial. If you’re not familiar with the first season of Serial, it’s about a teenager named Adnan Syed who was arrested and charged with the murder of his ex girlfriend. There is no 100% conclusive evidence pointing the blame on him and it’s still a mystery as to why he was arrested and charged (for some people).  

Debating on whether to watch the new season of The X-Files or Making a Murderer I decided to put on Netflix and watch the first episode of Making a Murder.  All I can say is holy smokes… The first episode draws you in and you just end up having to binge-watch it. It’s only 10 episodes (about an hour or so each) and each one dives deeper and deeper into the situation of this man who was imprisoned for 18 years on a crime he didn’t commit, then gets released due to DNA evidence, only to get arrested about two years later for a crime he believes he was framed for (still claims he’s innocent to this day) by the cops in Wisconsin.

While I don’t want to give away spoilers for those who haven’t seen the show, I will say this – at the end of the 10 episodes you will be questioning a lot of things about society, law enforcement and our judicial system.

Have you seen Making a Murderer yet?

xx,

Leigh