Friday Favorites: Coqueta, a brush and food

Hello, Friday! Here’s hoping that by the time you’re reading this, I’ve already checked in online for my Southwest flight to Florida tomorrow. I’ve made the mistake of forgetting before. And I really don’t want Dave and I to end up in the “C” boarding group like we sometimes do and have middle seats for our first long flight, which doesn’t stop over until Atlanta. When flying Southwest, I love that bags fly free, but I don’t love the mild chaos that goes along with boarding.

Am I alone in thinking that this week has gone by in a blink? In fact, the three weeks since Thanksgiving have gone by in a blink. And even though it wasn’t that long ago that Dave and I got away to explore Southern California and Carmel, I’m in serious need of a change of scenery. Oh, and I’m also in need of some warmth and sunshine, so please don’t let me down Florida. Now, let’s get to today’s regularly scheduled fun, because it’s about that time for “Friday Favorites.”

My favorite recent dining experience: Coqueta

I haven’t been talking as much as I used to about the restaurants that Dave and I have been going to on the weekends. I certainly don’t want to bore those of you who live outside of the Bay Area with a bunch of opinions on food at places that you can’t go. Not to mention, those of you outside of San Francisco are likely a little less restaurant-obsessed than we are here anyways. But this one I’ve got for you today is worth sharing. In fact, I may consider updating my Top 25 Restaurants in San Francisco soon, now that I’ve got a few new ones to add, including an awesome experience at San Francisco’s House of Prime Rib for Dave’s birthday, which made it onto “Friday Favorites” a couple of months ago.

Coqueta via A Lady Goes WestShown above from top left to right: The view of Coqueta from the street, the menu, the “El Plat Cap de Queso,” or one of the best cheese plates ever, and the”Sunny Side up Huevo” a very tasty egg, shrimp and crispy potato dish. Not pictured: The “Ensalata de Kale” crispy salad and the mouth-watering “Albondigas a la Feria” meatballs. 

Coqueta, which means “flirt” in Spanish, has been open for about a year, right on the Bay, or Embarcadero. This tiny place is always busy, maybe because its from the highly acclaimed chef Michael Chiarello. In fact, we’ve tried to get reservations weeks-in-advance and failed. Well, last Saturday night, Dave pulled up his OpenTable app at the right time, because we snuck in a reservation for that very same night. And our dining experience was excellent. Not only is this small and cozy restaurant well-decorated, but the service was perfect, and the food was very different and flavorful. It’s mostly tapas or small plates, with a few large dishes available. And yes, as always, it’s pricey, but no more so than all the other good San Francisco eateries out there. Dave and I each had two drinks and we shared a cheese plate and three small plates. After all that tasty food, we walked out feeling good, but not too stuffed. So of course, we followed it up by getting pecan pie and ice cream from our neighborhood market on the way home. If you live in the Bay Area, or if you plan to visit sometime soon, you should consider adding Coqueta to your list. Every single Spanish-inspired tapas bite was delicious, and the entire scene was just right. I can see why so many people rave about this spot.

My favorite new beauty tool: A cleansing brush

I’m not that fancy when it comes to my beauty routine. I wash my face, occasionally scrub it, sometimes throw on a mask and apply lotion here-and-there. I know I need to be a little better with it, and I’ve always planned to be one day. Well, the time is now, because the nice folks at Klout sent me this fancy Clinique brush to try out complimentary, and oh my goodness, what fun it is.

Clinique Sonic System via A Lady Goes WestIt’s like an at-home facial every time you wash your face with this Clinique Sonic System Purifying Cleansing Brush. No really, it’s not your average face-washing experience.

The brush charges on its base, then you can use it at the sink or even take it into the shower with you, which is what I did. There are different types of bristles on the brush, so you put the whole brush on your cheeks, then tip it to use the green bristles on the little areas of your face, like the sides of your nose. All you have to do is add your favorite face soap, turn the brush on and start cleansing. It gave this fun vibration against my skin and left me feeling super soft. I love it! I’m definitely making this part of my beauty routine. 

My favorite new snack: Seasonal LARABARs

So many of you asked about the Limited-Edition Pumpkin Pie LARABAR that I pictured on my “What I Ate Wednesday” post that I figured I’d give some more details. Yes, these bars are seasonal. Yes, these bars taste like a mini dessert. And yes, these bars are so small that you only get a couple of bites out of them.

LARABAR Pumpkin PieI guess the colors of this are a little more autumn than winter, but I’m still into them.

This box of LARABARs is on my favorites today, not only because I like the taste of the bars themselves, but also because I got the box on sale on Sunday at Target for just $5. I found this box, as well as other seasonal LARABARs, at the end of the vitamin aisle, go figure. I’ve always been a fan of the LARABAR as a packaged snack, because the ingredients are very clean. I’d like to heat one of these up and put some vanilla ice cream on top. That’d be good. But then again, I actually prefer a real piece of pumpkin pie when it comes time for a treat, so maybe not. And you can bet that these bars are stored in my carry-on for in-flight snacking tomorrow.

My favorite new dinner: Brown-rice pasta

For some reason this has yet to show up on my weekly “What I Ate Wednesday” posts, but I’ve been loving my latest discovery, brown-rice pasta. (I seem to eat it for dinner later in the week, yet always show pictures of my foods from Monday or Tuesday on the blog, so there’s a lot you don’t see.) I picked up this bag of Tinkyada Organic Brown-Rice Penne Pasta at Target of all places, a few weeks ago. This stuff is super tasty, in fact, I love it. The best part? The only ingredients are organic brown rice and water, so it’s natural and not processed.

TinkyadaI think I was drawn to this bag because of that little bunny on the packaging. Bunnies are so darn cute.

I’ve said before that I could eat spaghetti squash in place of pasta for forever and be fine, but this brown rice variety has changed my mind. And yes, it cooks like regular pasta, but can also be cooked using an “energy-saving” method, in which you boil it for a couple minutes, then let it sit covered up. I’ve been using the regular method, and the pasta is ready in about 12 minutes. It’s got a nice texture and a slight brown-rice flavor, while still being pasta. Dave has yet to take a bite of it, so I can’t give you anyone else’s opinion on it, but I’m a fan.

My favorite links of the week

There’s always so much good stuff going on around the Internet. Here’s what I’m loving, most of which appeared right here on A Lady Goes West this week:

Okay, guys, that’s that! This time tomorrow I’ll be in the air on the way to Florida for a whole week. Dave and I are going to visit our friends in Orlando for one night and then stay put at my parent’s house for the remainder of the visit. We have a lot of Scrabble, wine and relaxing on our agenda. I’ll be back on Monday as usual, so have a great weekend, and I’ll see you guys on the flip-side! 

Read more Friday Favorites

If you’ve enjoyed browsing through this post, see below for previous editions or visit the the link-up hostesses, Heather, Clare and Katie

  1. A snack, a purse and a ritual
  2. A delivery, a bra and a guy
  3. A sweet, a wine and a read
  4. A drink, a gadget and a plan 
  5. A time, a bottle and a powder
  6. San Francisco edition
  7. Beauty edition
  8. Beach vacation edition
  9. Hidden meanings
  10. Kicks, a book and a bowl
  11. The very best sweatshirts
  12. Party hosting and froyo
  13. Fourth of July daytime activity
  14. Beauty basics edition
  15. Workplace edition
  16. Shopping, sales and a show
  17. The foods I always buy
  18. Sushi, a game and pants
  19. Fitness apps
  20. Delicious and healthy products
  21. Comfort, fitness and function
  22. Beauty, buddha and blog events
  23. Dining, the city and gift ideas
  24. POPSUGAR, sweets and such
  25. A bunch of fun stuff
  26. e-book, food, picnic and tunes
  27. A link, a superfood and a mask
  28. Pants, shoes, food and links
  29. Dining, protein and goodies
  30. Shopping, events and a book
  31. A gym bag, pumpkin and juices 
  32. Workout gear, a top and a massage
  33. prAna, a watch, tea and more
  34. Tasty stuff and gift sales
  35. Decor, bars, boots and a drink
  36. Flowers, music and more

Questions of the day

Are you traveling for the holiday? What are you up to this weekend? Does anyone have any funny travel stories? What’s something you’re loving lately?

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Turning memories into decor and my thoughts

And the countdown is on. In less than 48 hours, Dave and I will be en route to Florida. Our flight leaves super early on Saturday morning, so we will be basking in the Southwest Florida warmth of my parent’s house by the early evening that day. To say “I can’t wait” would be a major understatement. 

Today, I’m going to share some random thoughts with you, in a quasi-round two of last week’s “Thinking Out Loud.” But first, I’m going to show you something pretty cool I made.

Having a chance to decorate

When you read A Lady Goes West, you’ll notice how often I mention the size of the tiny city apartment that Dave and I live in in San Francisco. Well, it’s true. While we love our awesome Nob Hill neighborhood in the heart of the city, the tightness of our living quarters has been an issue over the past few months as we grow out of this little spot. We’re in the process of finding a new place to live in early 2015, and with a new home and more space, comes the chance to decorate.

My decorating style usually varies from room-to-room, which is a luxury we don’t have today, as it’s basically all-in-one right now. But because we have our hearts set on a two-bedroom place, I’m hoping to end up with an office/guest-room, which I can decorate differently from our pale, elegant and simplistic bedroom. How will I do it? Using some of the mementos and memories that we’ve had stored away for years, of course.

Creating thoughtful decor using technology

About a month ago, I was delivered a brand new Sprout by HP, which is not only a fully functioning computer, but is also a creative workstation with a big screen and fancy touch-mat. You can look back and see that I used the Sprout to create my Christmas cards last week. And this week, I put the Sprout to another test …

And just so you know, I have a love for bright things, bright primary colored paintings and bold pieces to be exact. And Dave and I have often perused the paintings at festivals and galleries with our eyes on some contemporary canvas paintings with city scenes, but we’ve not been able to decide on a purchase. Not to mention, many of those paintings are super expensive and way too big for the wall space we’ve had available. So I decided to make my own modern scene.

Here’s what I started with: A “memory” box that has been tucked away on one of our shelves, holding nearly every card we’ve ever given each other and the ticket stubs to all the events we’ve attended while living in both Orlando and San Francisco. 

Memory boxThis box has been around since before we even got married, and it is stuffed full of so many sweet words, pictures and trinkets from our lives.

I’ve always wanted to find something to do with the ticket stubs, and I knew my Sprout would be perfect for this task. Boy, was it easy. I arranged all of the tickets stubs on the Sprout’s touch-mat, moved them around into the right place, and then scanned them into one big image with the click of a button. A bright overhead light flashed over the objects on the mat, then instantly the preview popped up on the monitor. Magic!

Events collageHow cool is that? Years of events on both coasts captured into one JPEG file. I knew I was saving those stubs for a reason, but I sure didn’t know it would be so high-tech.

I wasn’t done there. I wanted to add some more color to the image, so I chose my favorite symbol and placed two big, red, bold hearts onto the background. It took a little time to get it right. In fact, at first I toyed with drawing the hearts myself, and it just didn’t pop as much as the filled-in hearts did.

Using the Sprout by HP via A Lady Goes WestShown above from top left to right: A full-body shot of the Sprout, and me using the stylus and my hands to create projects on the touch-mat. It’s really quite fun.

No that’s not a hand model up there, those are just some freshly-manicured fingers, which I got done during a lunch-time special on a very rainy Tuesday afternoon. I’m hoping the gel color stays nicely through next week. But I digress, let’s get to the final product, and how the image looks today …

Memories and loveBig, bold and just what I was hoping to create. A whole lot of meaning behind one image.

These hearts not only stand for Dave and for me, but they also stand for all of the love we developed and shared while experiencing so many fun events throughout life. Three Dave Matthews Band concerts, theme parks, vacations, the ballet, the symphony, the fabulous Live in the Vineyard weekend, Beach Blanket Babylon, tons of sporting events, you name it, we’ve done it.

As we get closer to moving into our new place, I’m going to get this piece printed onto a canvas, so we can hang it in my office. But for now, this little beauty will be the background on my Sprout and my laptop, so I can soak it up every day. 

How’s that for taking some old mementos and putting them to use?

Before I end this story, in case you missed my first post about the Sprout, here are a few details on it in my own non-techie words:

  • It’s a functioning Windows PC computer, but oh-so-much more
  • Has a huge flat-screen 23-inch monitor, which is also a touch-screen
  • Features a high-quality camera and web-cam
  • Has an LED light and a 3-D scanner, which can also be used to scan documents
  • Even though it can do some amazingly creative things, it’s very user-friendly
  • Offers an app store, with tons of apps ready for Sprout use
  • Comes with a touch-mat, wireless keyboard, mouse and stylus, even though it can be used solely as a touch-screen without any extra accessories

It goes without saying that I’ve had a lot of fun with the Sprout. In addition to using it for blogging, browsing the Interwebs and scanning, I’m also starting to really enjoy the fun apps that it comes with. You can turn your pictures into water-color paintings and even make puzzles. Awesome stuff! And now …

Some more Thinking Out Loud

Because you guys seemed to dig my random thoughts in last week’s Thursday post, I figured I’d do it all over again. This time, it’s getting even more random.

  • Mail, like snail mail. I’m obsessed with the mail. I check it once, maybe twice a day if it’s not there yet. I also stop by the front lobby of our building at least once a day to see if I have any packages. I just love getting mail, especially all the cute Christmas cards as of late. Does anyone else feel that way? 
  • Bumps and bruises. Do you know there is rarely a day in my life in which I don’t have a bruise for some reason? My knees are always a little bit red from teaching group fitness classes and having them down on the gym floor. And because our apartment is so small (there I go mentioning it again!) I often knock my shins against the coffee table or bed-frame or hit the tops of my hands while trying to dig something out of a stuffed cabinet. Needless to say, I’m always all banged up. No big deal when I’m covered up in the cold weather, but I’m hoping my latest marks clear up before I put on shorts next week.
  • Airport food and traveling. Because I travel the same flight-path to Florida so often and usually fly on Southwest, I know what I can expect at airports and on planes food-wise. For instance, the Las Vegas airport has horrible food. Just horrible. And I always land there hungry for my delayed layover. But on Saturday, when Dave and I fly out, I’m going to be armed with a ton of food. I wasn’t sure if you could take a small yogurt through security, but I did it in October and you can. Now you know. I will have yogurt, I will have oats, I will have protein bars, and to top it off, I will have a baked sweet potato slathered with almond butter. There is no chance I will get hungry and need to purchase Cheez-its or Ho-hos, no chance, my friends. But if Dave buys them an offers me a bite, it sure doesn’t count.
  • D-I-Y. Or Do-it-Yourself. Outside of my blogging endeavors, this is something I sort of fail at. I see so many bloggers posting these incredible photos of little things they’re creating from scratch to give as gifts, like body oils, scrubs and home-made baked goods. I’m so impressed by this. I just want to say to all of you out there, bloggers or not, that take the time to do D-I-Y gifts: You go girl or guy! Totally. You do. Can you send me one just for fun too? Please? I really like getting mail. 
  • Packing. I’m waiting until tomorrow to pack for my trip (because we can’t leave out a big suitcase in our tiny apartment, ohhhh there I go mentioning it again!), but I’ve been mentally picking out my outfits. I’m a really good packer. Truly. I excel at it. You’d know this if you read I’m an expert at … But I know it will take me a while to pack, so I plan to put on the Christmas tunes and give myself all of Friday afternoon to accomplish it.

How’s that for random thoughts?

That’s all she wrote for today. Thanks, Amanda, for hosting the fun and thoughtful link-up party. Make sure you all come back by the ole’ blog tomorrow for some “Friday Favorites.” See ya!

* Disclaimer: A portion of this post is sponsored by Collectively on behalf of HP. While I was provided the Sprout by HP and compensated in exchange for my review, all of the words, thoughts, pictures and commentary is 100 percent my own. Honesty matters, my friends. And who wouldn’t love this awesome toy?

Questions of the day

What’s something you would like to turn into a piece of decor? How have you been creative lately? Do you have a favorite style of painting or picture? Tell me a random thought!

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