So says Sarah…

Francis Drake Eyewear

Posted in About Life, About Me, The Bay Area by Sarah Lipoff on 07/08/2014

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I have been squinting through super-scratched sunglasses for way too long so was on the hunt for some new shades that would stand the test of time. I happened upon Francis Drake Eyewear and was offered the opportunity to test out their one-stop website to order sunglasses and prescription glasses. The selection is filled with stylish and trending frames — and the price is so right. For $95 you get your prescription fit in any frame and delivered to your door in just about a week. But are they really such a good deal?

The Italian-made sunglasses have a unique five-barrel hinge design that creates a really comfortable feel. Based in the Bay Area, all prescription glasses are hand cut in house and finished with sturdy stainless steel spring hinges, ensuring a great fit. I really liked the weight of the both frames and everything came packaged with cases, cleaning cloths, and a nice little thank you note. And they don’t look or feel cheap in any way — the quality is really high-end.

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If you’re looking for distinctive frames at a great price, Francis Drake Eyewear is the right online store for you. They even have smart tips for fitting the perfect frames with your face shape and a virtual try on feature, which is so helpful.

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I love my new sunglasses and frames!

*I was not paid or asked to write this review in any way. I wrote this post because I’m so happy with my new frames and was nicely compensated with free sunglasses and prescription glasses.

 

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Tinkerlab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors

Posted in Art Activities for Kids, Life with Child, The Bay Area, Uncategorized by Sarah Lipoff on 06/29/2014

Tinkerlab

My child loves to invent, explore, and create and we’ve been doing fun activities together since she was just a wee tot. Now that she’s a little older, she is starting to experiment on her own. I love watching her make connections and try new things — and then taking pride in the results. But we sometimes get a bit stuck, searching for new adventures and activities to explore together.

If you’re not sure where to start or how to get the creative juices flowing (because it can totally be a challenge!), I have the book for you. Rachelle Doorley, the smart and super-talented mama over at Tinkerlab, shares everything you need in her new book, Tinkerlab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors. And what I love about Doorley’s book is it’s so easy to read, motivating you to start creating right away.

Along with sharing ideas for exciting activities you can do with your child, Rachelle shares tips for starting the process, creating the right space for your child’s tinkering, and ideas for getting kids involved — even with the clean-up process. Doorley also includes interviews with experts, such as education professors and nursery school directors, sharing personal stories and experiences that add just the right touch of guidance and coaching throughout the book.

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This book? It’s awesome. It’s motivating. It’s encouraging, smart, exciting, fun, silly, and also simple. Make your own paste and mix with paint for creating textured designs? Yes. Construct structures with gumdrops and toothpicks? Of course. Take apart an old computer? Sure! You don’t have to be an expert to do these activities with your child — just a willing participant in the journey of discovery. You might find yourself learning something new too.

Buy your copy here.

Just so you know, I wasn’t asked by anyone or compensated in any way to write this post. I purchased the book all on my own because I knew it would be beneficial — and read from cover to cover. OH and I knew I would USE the information in the book with my child. (And I have.)

Celebrate Thanksgivikkah with a gingerbread menorah

Posted in About Food, Art Activities for Kids, The Bay Area by Sarah Lipoff on 10/17/2013

Sweet Thrills Bakeshop Gingerbread Menorah

Well, if you haven’t heard, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah have melded together into Thanksgivikkah. And there’s no better way to celebrate than with a gingerbread menorah. I discovered this wonderful melding of deliciousness through Sweet Thrills Bakeshop, a collaboration of two Bay Area moms who believe the kitchen is the heart of the home and that sweet treats make everyone smile.

These smart ladies are packaging chocolate gingerbread menorah kits that are perfect for families to build and decorate together. The unique idea sparked from spinning the dreidel with a traditional gingerbread house in the background. The result? A sweet twist on celebrating Hanukkah — and a great way to create special memories with your kids.

I was so excited to get my hands on a box and make one with my tot. Yes, probably even more than she was. Included in the kit was everything needed to assemble the menorah, including a wonderfully detailed set of directions, helpful tips, and educational information about Hannukkah, making this kit fitting for any family.

Sweet Thrills Bakeshop

My daughter jumped right in and loved assembling the menorah. In fact, she was pretty much able to follow the drawn directions on her own (while I snuck a few candies that were included in the kit). What’s great about the kit is that along with being creative, your child is learning about construction and design.

Sweet Thrills Bakeshop gingerbread

As it states in the directions, it’s important to let the the frosting set between steps, but we found ways to entertain ourselves while waiting. We enjoyed reading the included information about Hanukkah, counted the candy candles, and, of course, had to sample the frosting.

My daughter really took her time working on her special menorah and we have it proudly displayed on our mantel. She loves telling us how she made it all by herself.

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Which she really did.

Sweet Thrills Bakeshop has two different sized unassembled menorahs as well as a mini pre-assembled menorah available this season. Order now to ensure your kit arrives on time. We’re looking forward to enjoying our menorah during our Thanksgivikkah celebration!

And, did I mention? They’re delicious.

*Just so you know, I am actually friends with one of the co-owners of Sweet Thrills Bakeshop and volunteered to do this review simply because I think this chocolate gingerbread menorah kit is seriously awesome. And delicious. And a fantastic idea.

The Italian Street Painting Festival

Posted in The Bay Area by Sarah Lipoff on 07/07/2013

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Last weekend one of the hottest (in more ways than one) events in the Bay Area made its way back to the streets of San Rafael after a two year hiatus. We’ve been connected with the Italian Street Painting Festival for awhile and it’s an event that really draws people from all over the globe. Downtown San Rafael is taken over with artists transforming busy streets into sections of fine art that are eventually washed away  — which seems so sad (but traffic accidents would ensue if they weren’t).

We joke every time the Italian Street Painting Festival rolls around it is the real beginning of summer in Marin because the temps are usually the hottest after the change of  season. And this Street Painting Festival delivered in all ways. The temps were way up there (we’re talking upper 90s and over 100) and the street paintings were some of the best we’ve seen. Here’s a collection of favorites (thanks to Dean Lipoff) of the wonderful event.

Want more information? Please learn more about how to get involved.

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Italian Street Painting Festival

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L’Appart Resto

Posted in About Food, The Bay Area by Sarah Lipoff on 06/22/2013

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I decided to treat the husband last weekend to a tasty Sunday brunch (it was Father’s Day) so booked a reservation at a restaurant right in our downtown that we’d walked by many times but hadn’t tried. For some reason we thought it was too fancy or too expensive or too this or that.

We were wrong.

L’Appart Resto is welcoming, reasonably priced, and seriously kid-friendly. From the team that opened Le Garage in Sausalito, L’Appart Resto is a comfortable bistro-style restaurant that offers small plates, fresh salads, and substantial entrées that focus on showcasing simple French classics, big flavors, and seasonal and local ingredients. And the service is amazing. We enjoyed our brunch so much we decided to head there for dinner later in the week.

Along with having a well-rounded menu for brunch/lunch and dinner, L’Appart Resto also has a tasty kid’s menu that had our mouths drooling. Our daughter enjoyed her flaky ham and cheese pastry (we did too)…

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The husband and I split the fresh melon soup studded with mint and other bright and fresh flavors…

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My husband ordered the seasonal omelette, which was filled with goat cheese and savory fresh tomato basil concassé.

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And I had soft-boiled eggs with toast points coated with decadent truffle cream.

It was amazing.

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Later in the week there was a fun function downtown that I insisted the entire family attend, so we figured we’d head to L’Appart Resto for an early dinner. And once again we had an awesome dinning experience. We ordered the child-sized Kobe burger for our daughter, which was topped with ooey-gooey French cheese.

l-appart-restoInstead of ordering entrées, the hubs and I decided to taste test with a few small plates, including a bowl of luscious asparagus cream soup, along with a delicious beet salad that was studded with pistachios and French feta cheese.

l-appart-resto-beetsaladWe followed that with soft shell crab over a melon salad with smokey dressing…

l-appart-resto-softshellcrabAnd THE BEST Kobe beef tartar topped with a fresh quail egg.

l-appart-resto-kobetartarHere’s the deal — this is a kid-friendly restaurant that has phenomenal service, but that doesn’t mean the place is running with babes if you’re considering eating there for a romantic or kid-free meal. With indoor and outdoor seating, the restaurant is comfortable and welcoming. We didn’t feel rushed or pushed to try the specials or concerned our child was bothering others around us. The menu isn’t huge, but there are options for all tastes. From burgers to lobster, the prices run from $7 to $25 brunch/lunch and dinner.

Check out the menus before heading to L’Appart Resto, but both days we ate there, the specials sounded amazing — and were different (even in the same week). The most important thing? MAKE A RESERVATION.

Bon appétit!

*By the way, I wasn’t paid or bribed or enticed in any way to write this post by L’Appart Resto. I simply wanted to share my wonderful dining experience(s) at this restaurant with you. 

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The Steakhouse Grill & Bar at Deer Park Villa

Posted in The Bay Area by Sarah Lipoff on 03/10/2013

It was my husband’s birthday over a month ago and we just never really got around to doing anything about it. We were down south, and while enjoying some time with family, had hopes of going out for dinner on our own one night, but it just didn’t happen. So when we received a generous coupon from the Steakhouse Grill & Bar at Deer Park Villa in Fairfax, California (buy one entree, get one free!) in recognition of his special day, we wanted to make sure to take advantage of it. But, you know, life happens and, before we knew it, the expiration date was the next day. We called to make reservations, checked if they were kid-friendly, and decided to give it a try.

I’ve driven by this place several times and always thought it was a private club or hoity-toity steak house. But, upon arrival, we were drawn into the restaurant by the beautiful grove of redwoods and lovely landscaping.

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Steakhouse Grill and Bar at Deer Park Villa2

We chose to sit out on the deck and were walked through the brightly-lit and jovial bar to the outdoor patio area, which was covered for the season. We sat under a wonderfully warm heat lamp and were then left to peruse the menu.

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Since the place is a steak house we obviously opted for steak and then sat sipping adult drinks while the tot enjoyed some fresh bread and listened to a guy quietly playing acoustic guitar in the corner. Our waiter was attentive and friendly, even as the dinning area began to fill. We ordered macaroni and cheese for our daughter as soon as we sat down and it was delivered to the table within 10 minutes. And it was wonderfully homemade and seriously ooey-gooey. Our steaks arrived not long after she had become engrossed in her dinner.

I’d love to share pictures of our dinners, but I learned something very interesting while documenting this tasty meal.

Steaks don’t photograph well in low-light.

You’ll just have to believe me. The steaks were delicious. Not just “good” delicious — they were the best-steak-you’ve-ever-eaten delicious. Perfectly seasoned, perfectly cooked, and not hidden under sauces, wrapped in bacon, or topped with butter. These steaks were simply the best.

So good.

The dinner was finished with a big scoop of ice cream that came with our tot’s meal, and, by the time the last bit was licked from the bowl, we had enjoyed a fantastic family dinner at a fancy restaurant that lasted just about an hour and a half!

I’ll be honest, if we hadn’t have received the buy-one get-one coupon, we probably wouldn’t have ever checked the restaurant out. The steaks are delicious and the service is awesome, and you’re looking at $10 to $30+ per person for dinner entrees, which means there’s something for every taste. The kid menu was priced very resonably and offered pastas, burgers, and grilled cheese. And what’s awesome is the Steakhouse Grill & Bar has a tasty half-pound Angus cheeseburger that is amazingly priced under $10.

We look forward to eating at the Steakhouse Grill & Bar again sometime soon — and not waiting for a special day as a reason. We’re saving up to head back simply because the food was awesome, the ambiance fantastic, and it’s totally worth it.

*Just so you know, I wasn’t compensated to write this review. I did it because I really enjoyed eating at this restaurant.

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The week in review…

Posted in About Life, About Me, The Bay Area by Sarah Lipoff on 12/28/2012

I haven’t posted anything in a week and it’s kind of nice. I love sharing recipes, projects, and musings, but sometimes it’s nice to take a break. Between having a toddler, the holidays, and my parents visiting for the week, there’s been a lot of awesome stuff going on. So instead of telling you all about it, here’s a collection of pictures sharing all our fun….

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Happy holidays!

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Lunch at Anchor & Hope in San Francisco

Posted in About Food, The Bay Area by Sarah Lipoff on 12/21/2012

Anchor&Hope

Yesterday we were treated to a holiday lunch at the Anchor & Hope by some wonderful friends. My husband’s known this couple for almost 20 years, and has been working with his buddy for over 10. It was a true treat for us to drop the tot off at preschool and then head into the city for this special gathering, and I was looking forward to a tasty lunch (and maybe a mid-day glass of wine — total indulgence!).

Known for their tasty fish dishes, the restaurant is tucked on Minna street and has an ample seating area and a bar for patrons. We had a noon reservation, and when we got there (after struggling to find parking!) the place was packed. Before I even had a moment to look at the menu, a beautiful selection of oysters, perfectly poached shrimp, fresh clams, crab and lobster salad, and a variety of house sauces was placed on our table.

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Wowsa.

From here we sampled more delicious oysters and also sipped an amazing bottle (or two) of wine.

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While watching the food come out of the kitchen it looked like the lobster roll sandwich was the thing to order, and our party ordered their share — along with the seared salmon sandwich (which I ordered).

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Then it was time for coffee and dessert, which was also absolutely delicious. In fact the cup of coffee that my husband ordered (that I sipped too) was one of the best cups of coffee I’ve had ever.

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Anchor&Hope-dessert

But the best thing about our lunch was the amazing service. Our waiter was wonderfully attentive without being overbearing and the rest of the staff filled water glasses and removed plates like silent serving ninjas, making us feel like we were the only table in the place, which we weren’t. The place was packed, and from the smiling and approving faces seen around the restaurant, everyone else was having an awesome time too.

While checking out the dinner menu, which wasn’t much different than the lunch offerings, I had no doubt that the restaurant would be packed again in only a few hours with patrons that would continue streaming in until closing. But, I would suggest hitting Anchor & Hope for lunch — with a reservation of course. You can sit and enjoy a leisurely mid-day meal, without feeling rushed, and not bust the bank. Sandwiches run around $15 to $24, with lunch entrees over $18. And you have to order a few oysters (starting at $2 each), which are shucked perfectly and seriously tasty.

Plan on parking at the garage on Howard and 2nd (which ran us $9) and metered parking is free after 6pm and on Sundays. You’ll love the energy of the restaurant, the fantastic staff, and the sensational fish.

Yeah, I’m going to BlogHer PRO

Posted in About Me, The Bay Area by Sarah Lipoff on 12/08/2012

 

Next Thursday I’m making the trek into the city to attend BlogHer PRO. I’m excited, anxious, worried, and apprehensive. It’s my first blogging conference and I’m not really sure why I’m going. Sure, it seemed like the right thing to do when I purchased the ticket over a month ago, but now I’m letting my head get the best of me and I’m seriously ready to find some excuse not to go.

Yeah, I’m lame like that.

But then I remind myself there is an amazing community of awesome crafty (and local!) ladies that are attending, all of whom I’m excited to meet. There’s going to be interactive activities and professional speakers. There’s going to be free food.

And it’s a whole day away from the responsibilities of the tot.

Yes, I’m seriously over-thinking what I’m going to wear, concerned I’ll be sitting in a corner all by myself — or that I’ll say something seriously awkward (which I’m known to do). But I also know I need to get over myself, get out there, AND BE SOCIAL.

If you’re heading to BlogHer PRO next week I’ll be there and I’d love to get to know you in real life. I’ll be the one lugging around my massive teal green Epiphanie camera/laptop bag.

 

 

Kehoe Beach (on Thanksgiving)

Posted in About Life, Life with Child, The Bay Area by Sarah Lipoff on 11/22/2012

I’d normally be sharing pictures and recipes from my Thanksgiving feast right about now, but this year we are postponing our turkey making until the weekend. Instead we acted like today was just like any other day, which didn’t stop us from being seriously thankful. It turned out to be a glorious day, making a trip to the beach the perfect way to spend the day together as a family. Kehoe Beach is tucked away in West Marin past Olema and through some of the most glorious cow fields I’ve ever seen — and I’m from Wisconsin.

After walking a short trail, flanked by some of those seriously happy cows, you come over a ridge to spectacular stretch of beach that seems endless, and it is also dog friendly. This was the first time we’d taken the tot on a “hike” and she loved every minute of it. We checked out worms on the trail, barnacles on the beach rocks, inspected the various footprints in the sand, and determined the water was way too cold for any swimming…

Happy Thanksgiving — I hope you all had a wonderful day!

(Get ready for turkey pictures on Sunday…)

*And thanks to the husband for the awesome pictures.