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Thursday, March 31, 2011

And the SF BayList's Best Local Blogger for 2011 is . . .

The Flirty Blog

Seriously?

Seriously!

* walking up to the mic*

*tap, tap, tap.*

Is this thing on?

first-place-local-blogger-2011-400w

Wow.

Even though I hoped to win as SF Baylist's Best Local Blogger I didn't really allow myself to think that I'd actually win. So I didn't prepare anything to say ahead of time.

There are many people to thank. Seriously. Many. Like well over a hundred of you. So many of you voted for The Flirty Blog as your favorite. I can only attribute my success directly to all of you for your dedication and support.

So I thank you and promise to continue to blog. Diligently. With camera in hand taking lots of pictures wherever I go. *click, click, click.* I love that the blog has turned into, a fun, interesting, sometimes nitty gritty, food filled documentary of many of the things I do in my day to day life. A life made more interesting for the past five years by my desire to write about more interesting things for you. Seriously, if it weren't for all of you reading my blog I wouldn't have ever pushed and challenged myself to do many of the things I've done, gone to the places I've gone, eaten many of the things I've eaten, baked the things I've baked or gone out of my way to learn many of the things I've learned.

So not only did you help me to win as SF Baylist's Best Local Blogger, knowing that you're reading The Flirty Blog has inspired me to be a better me :)

baylist-bloggers-winners-2011
Please be sure to visit the other top 4 blogs from the BayList competition:

2nd Place: MODE BAY AREA
MODE is written by Bay Area fashion, socialite and celebrity stylist Hasti Kashfia. Mode covers many specific topics including fashion, health and beauty and local events to being a mom or a bride. If you want to know where to shop, what to buy and hear the latest about established and up and coming fashion designers, MODE BAY AREA is for you.

Along with finishing side by side in the SF Baylist contest I recently discovered Hasti and I share something else in common: We were both employed at and attribute the foundation of our business success' to having worked at Nordstrom.

While working as a cashier in the Salon Shoe Department, Hasti began studying fashion by observing what the employees and customers wearing. Soon after being hired she moved into management and continued to learn and grow.

I also worked at Nordstrom, as a salesperson in several departments including Ladies Shoes, Savvy and Petite Focus. The neat thing about Nordstrom is that when I worked there I learned every job in each department I worked in. In the women's apparel departments we learned the value of giving great customer service, how to sell, cashier, merchandise, stock, take inventory, you name it , we did it. At the time I didn't realize just how valuable my experience working there would be. How it would be a pivotal experience that would help me to become an entrepreneur.

As I read on I learned not only did we both work at Nordstrom, Hasti and I also both believe in helping others and in being authentic in life and business. I look forward to learning more about the Bay Area fashion scene from MODE BAY AREA and am so glad I was introduced to so many great blogs through this experience.

3rd Place: SF Indie Fashion - Read my recent review about SF Indie Fashion HERE

4th Place: sf girl by bay - Read my recent review about sf girl by bay HERE

5th Place: tablehopper - Read my recent review about tablehopper HERE

Congratulations to all!

Now I need to think of a way to celebrate tonight. Hubby already had plans so I was going to be on my own tonight. Maybe I'll take myself out to dinner. Somewhere cool and exciting that I've always wanted to go. Wow. There are so many places like that! Whatever I do, you'll probably be reading about it here in a few days :)

My Very Own Bone Marrow Donor Song by Jonathan Mann

I wasn't going to make any kind of announcement about my BIrthday, which took place a few days ago . . .
 birthday-fresh-vegetarian-spring-rolls
From my Birthday Dinner

But then my hubby did something super cool. He had our friend and Bay Area jingle writer, musician, viral video star and Song-a-Day guy Jonathan Mann write a song just for me! The song "Bone Marrow" is to help encourage more people to join the registry to become potential donors in Be The Match, the National Marrow Donor Program.

So cool!



Click the player above to watch the video here.

jonathan-mann-bone-marrow-song

The line in the song I love most addresses the all too common myth that donating marrow is excruciatingly painful. It isn't. In fact, in some instances the donor feels no discomfort at all and in most cases it is so minimal that Extra Strength Tylenol is all that's needed to treat any discomfort.

Jonathan wrote in the song:

"Join the bone marrow registry
It's simple, quick and easy
All they gotta do is swab a cheek and you can save a life
And if you're ever a match, they'll give you barely a scratch
And just like that you'll be saving a life"

Which is so true!

Spinal Taps
For some reason a lot of people think that marrow donation is the same procedure used for administering a spinal tap (also known as a lumbar puncture) to collect cerebral spinal fluid to diagnose an illness the patient has.

Stem Cell & Marrow Donation
A bone marrow transplant is a donation from a healthy donor to a sick patient. Marrow or stem cells are harvested to transplant into a sick patient who needs healthy bone marrow to survive.

A marrow donation can be done two ways. The most common way, performed over 70% of the time, is called a Peripheral Blood Stem Cell (PBSC) donation. It works like this:

Donation Method #1
In Peripheral Blood Stem Cell donation the stem cells are harvested from the blood. This requires the donor to take a medication for several days that causes the marrow to overproduce stem cells that are released from the bones into the blood stream. The donor is then hooked up to a machine that separates the stem cells from the blood (just like platelet donation) and the blood is returned back to the donor minus the stem cells.

Donation Method #2
The less frequently used method is done for children who experience a higher transplant success rate when they are given actual bone marrow cells and not PBSC. Bone marrow is harvested witfrom the back of the pelvic (aka hip) bones. A hollow needle is used, with anesthesia, to remove marrow which regenerates and replaces itself. This method may cause some soreness along the back of the hips that most donors say felt like a bruise.

Advocating for the National Marrow Donor Program became part of my life after my cousin was diagnosed with a blood cancer similar to Leukemia. She was incredibly fortunate that she found an anonymous match within the national registry and received a successful transplant from a stranger a year and 9 months ago.

But others are not so fortunate. In fact, 70% of patients do not find a match in time.

So I've continued on with my volunteer advocacy work supporting Be The Match and any patients who reach out to me for help learning how to launch their own bone marrow donor drives similar to the drive I launched for my cousin Tami at www.HelpingTami.org. Please visit her website to learn more about the need for donors and about the donation process.

Want to know what the registration process is like? View this video my friends helped me to produce that shows exactly how you register to become a potential marrow donor. It only takes ten minutes! It's that easy.

Here in the SF Bay Area there are two active donor recruitment organizations that host donor drives. They are Be The Match and the Asian American Donor Program. It doesn't matter where you register as all registrants are added to the national and international donor pool run by Be The Match. If you are a match for a patient in another city, state or country your donation can be flown to them. You don't have to go to them to give a donation.

You can locate local Be The Match donor drives wherever you live nationwide by CLICKING HERE to use their online zip code locator.

Or CLICK HERE to view ethnic focused* Bay Area drives hosted by the AADP.

Or CLICK HERE to order a nationwide registration kit by mail. It's a short form and 4 cotton swabs that you need to swipe on the inside of your cheeks and mail back. That's it. The registry will contact you if you're ever a match to a patient in need.

A huge THANK YOU to my hubby and to Jonathan. You two really made my day!



To learn more about how the donor program and transplant process work you can visit these previous posts:

• Meet Tami's no longer Anonymous Stem Cell Donor!
• *Race Does Matter
• Tami's Stem Cell Transplant is Today! Day "0"

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What is a Charcuterie?

If you're like me you may have wondered what exactly is a "charcuterie" and how do you pronounce it?

Charcuterie is a French word pronounced in English as "shar-koo-tuh-ree."

While similar to a butcher shop, there are distinctions between the two. Ask the right questions and take a peek at Wikipedia and you'll learn that for centuries charcuterie meant pork that had been cured or preserved into products such as salami, ham, bacon, terrines and pâtés. Now, it can be any kind of meat including beef, poultry, fish and, oddly, even vegetables*!
heritage-pork-fatted-calf-san-francisco
Fatted Calf • Hayes Valley, San Francisco

When I recently visited a local charcuterie the first thing I noticed was that the meat looked different than the meat I'm used to seeing in grocery stores. It may sound strange but it was prettier. The colors seemed deeper and more vibrant. To further showcase the meat, it was displayed on shiny, white platters and surprisingly, there wasn't blood or liquids pooling beneath the cuts of meat.

hertiage-beef-fatted-calf-hayes-valley
Fatted Calf • Hayes Valley, San Francisco

I suspected it was the dry aging process that made the difference. While factory farmed, grocery store, beef cattle are slaughtered, processed and shipped quickly, often with blood and water still seeping from the meat, better cuts of charcuterie meat are slowly dry aged. Dry aging allows the moisture to evaporate at low temperatures which leaves behind a more tender, premium meat with a more intense flavor. To learn more about Dry Aged Beef CLICK HERE.

fatted-calf-charcuterie-heritage-pork-beef

Fatted Calf (Napa & San Francisco)

So imagine my surprise when I walked into the Fatted Calf Charcuterie in San Francisco and found myself intrigued by the meats in their display cases. I went home, got online and learned more about them. From their website:

"The Fatted Calf is an artisanal charcuterie producing a wide range of hand crafted products using high quality, natural ingredients. We use the best available products; organic and hormone free meats, superior seasonings and salts, organic herbs and produce.

We produce a variety of charcuterie; pâtés, salami, prosciutti, confits and a large selection of fresh sausage. Our cured meats are made and aged using traditional methods. All of our fresh products are made to order in small batches to guarantee quality."

fatted-calf-humane-meats-sf
Fatted Calf • Hayes Valley, San Francisco

This is a list of the Heritage and humanely raised meat sources from The Fatted Calf website:

Cattail Creek (Lamb), Junction City, OR
Devil's Gulch Ranch (Rabbit, Pig, Sheep & Quail), Marin, CA
Full Belly Farm (Produce), Guinda, CA
Heritage Food USA (Includes all meats) Nationwide
Hudson Ranch (Pigs & Poultry), Napa, CA
Marin Sun Farms (Beef, Lamb, Goat, Chickens, Pork and Eggs), Marin, CA
Mariquita Farm Watsonville, CA
Prather Ranch (Beef), Macdoel, CA
Riverdog Farm Guinda, CA
Star Route Farm Marin, CA
Wine Forest Wild Foods (Wild/Foraged Produce), Napa, CA

fresh-duck-fat-fatted-calf
Fatted Calf • Hayes Valley, San Francisco

The Fatted Calf also offers one of the hottest ingredient to hit the culinary scene in years: Rendered Duck Fat. You can purchase it packaged in jars or plastic tubs at gourmet food stores or online. But, given the option, purchasing it freshly rendered from organic and humane certified farms would be my first choice.

The Fatted Calf got me to thinking... What about people who live in the South Bay around San Jose? A quick search online and I discovered el Salchichero in Santa Cruz.

el-salchichero-humane-charcuterie-santa-cruz

el Salchichero (Santa Cruz Storefront and the Santa Cruz, Scott's Valley and Live Oak Farmers' Markets)

Hubby and I were spending a day in Santa Cruz so we dropped by el Salchichero to get an in-person look at their retail shop. We found it in a small shopping complex called the Swift Street Courtyard. It seems like a fun place to spend an afternoon perusing the other shops and having lunch at the nearby bakery.

tofu-master-of-disguise-t-shirt
We were warmly greeted and the guy behind the counter was really friendly and happy to chat with us even as I explained I am a vegetarian doing a blog post about meat. . . While wearing my "Tofu Master of Disguises" t-shirt hubby had recently given me. LOL

charcuterie-curing-room-el-salchichero
el Salchichero, Santa Cruz

Just to the right as you enter the front door is a viewing window to the curing chamber where you can see long strands of curing link sausages like Kielbasa, Smoked Beer Sausage, Sweet Italian, Breakfast Links and more.

el-salchichero-santa-cruz-butcher-ribeye
el Salchichero Dry Aged Ribeye, Bone In

The el Salchichero website says:

"It will continue to be our passion to provide both food and education regarding local sustainably raised animals. We specialize in meat products created from a chef’s perspective."

pork-sirloin-el-salchichero-charcuterie
Pork Sirloin at el Salchichero

"Count on us for hand-cut meats artfully extracted from whole carcasses, house-made pate, fresh and smoked sausages, and assorted smoked and cured meats. Our meats are never frozen and we never use fillers or binders."

el-salchichero-charcuterie-butcher-santa-cruz
el Salchichero • Santa Cruz, California

"el Salchichero uses pasture-raised animals from N-A Ranch, Devil's Gulch RanchGleason RanchClaravale Farm, and Ratay Ranch. These ranches believe in sustainable agriculture and treating their animals with the utmost respect."

santa-cruz-beef-cattle-pastureland
Where Grass Fed Beef in Santa Cruz Comes From

When I asked the guy behind the counter, Sausage Wrangler Chris LaVeque (that's his title on his business card), where they source their beef from, he shared with us that the cattle on the N-A Ranch are raised about a mile away from the shop. He told my hubby where to drive to view one of the pastures their Black Angus cows often graze in. We found it but there were no cows that day.

Also it turns out that Chris LaVeque seriously underplays his credentials. Not only is he the owner of the charcuterie, according to Santa Cruz Foodie.com, "his background includes a degree from San Francisco’s California Culinary Academy, an apprenticeship with Severino’s Community Butcher, an internship at renowned Los Gatos restaurant Manresa, and positions at local restaurants Cellar Door and Gabriella Cafe."

charcuterie-whole-rabbits-humane-raised
el Salchichero • Santa Cruz, California

Price
It's undeniable that the meat I'm showing you in this post can cost two to three times as much as the meat you would find at your local chain grocery store. But if you currently buy meat the higher cost doesn't mean you can't afford it.

The key, both budget and health wise, is to simply eat less meat. The USDA recommends no more than 2-3 ounces of cooked, lean meat per meal. Eating less meat and more whole grains, beans and vegetables is a simple solution to afford organic, humane certified and sustainable meats.

For instance if you cook at home and the cost is two to three times higher than the meat you buy now, you can eat smaller portions of meat with each meal. Or if you eat out a lot, only eat meat with one meal per day and you'll still spend about the same amount each day.

Why does it cost so much more?
Because, the way the animals are raised and the meat is processed are highly labor intensive. Giving the animals plenty of space to live on, pasturelands to graze upon, the luxury of time to grow so that inferior genetics and synthetic growth hormones aren't needed and basically keeping them healthy enough to not need to use continuous antibiotics all contribute to the higher cost of  organic, humane certified and sustainably produced meats.

Where to Find a Local Charcuterie
My best suggestion is to search the name of the city you live in with the word charcuterie on Google, Yahoo, Bing or a similar search engine. You'll find local shops, if there are any listed, and you may even find locations like Famers' Markets which have become a great source of handcrafted and artisan produced meats.

Knowing I'm Vegetarian, You're Surprised I Wrote this Post
I kind of am too! But, while I choose not to consume meat it doesn't mean I'm unwilling to have a conversation about eating it.



And for my vegetarian and vegan readers this post has something for you too! I think my friend Elisa first told me about Gather. . .

And to explain the vegetable reference I made earlier in this post:
*Here in the San Francisco Bay Area even vegans and vegetarians can have charcuterie at Gather an ominivore's restaurant in the East Bay that serves beef terrine and Prather Ranch burgers but also has a Vegan Charcuterie offering. While culinary aficionados debate whether vegetables can even be charcuterie, Executive Chef and Co Owner Sean Baker simply wanted to create a charcuterie experience for Gather's vegan and vegetarian diners to enjoy.

Vegan Charcuterie at Gather
($16.00 selection currently on the menu March 2011)
  • grilled Hen of the Woods, spring onion soubise, baby onion marmalata, wild oregano, onion seed
  • baby fennel, smoked olives, kumquats, avocado, pepper vinaigrette
  • salt roasted beets, kombu-braised pistachios, cashew goat cheese, saba, Olio Nuovo
  • spring vegetables, Meyer lemon, sea palm"
I'll be trying it out for sure in the near future and of course will report back here on The Flirty Blog :)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

#JapanLife on Twitter

I love origami. For me, the simplicity of folding a single sheet of paper into an origami crane is a meditative process unto itself and amazing how something so simple and mundane can be transformed into something so graceful and beautiful.
japan-life-bloggers-tsunami-fundraiser-2011
Miniature Autumn Cranes

So, when I was approached and asked if I'd like to offer a blog post or tweet about something I love or admire about Japanese culture for the #JapanLife week on Twitter I didn't hesitate to say yes. Some of you may know I create sets of one thousand miniature origami cranes as a hobby. I do so for several reasons:
  1. Because origami is part of my cultural heritage taught to be by my grandma when I was just a little girl.
  2. Because of a little girl in Japan named Sadako Sasaki once made a thousand origami cranes that became symbolic of the hope for world peace.
  3. I also fold miniature sized cranes because I think individually, they represent tiny gestures of kindness that all too often we undervalue or overlook. But when put together over the course of a lifetime, they represent something truly wonderful: A life full of altrusim, selflessness, empathy, compassion and kindness.

stacie-tamaki-origami-japan-life-american-red-cross
As many of you have, I've also watched countless hours of news coverage of the loss of life and destruction in Japan following the earthquake and tsunami earlier this month. Sometimes it feels like your heart can break a thousand times over when witnessing disasters of this magnitude :(

If you would like to make a monetary donation to help the quake and tsunami survivors you can CLICK HERE to Donate directly to the Red Cross on their "Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami" web page:

"Your gift to the American Red Cross will support our disaster relief efforts to help those affected by the earthquake in Japan and tsunami throughout the Pacific. On those rare occasions when donations exceed American Red Cross expenses for a specific disaster, contributions are used to prepare for and serve victims of other disasters."

Thank you to the TweetPhilanthropy.Wordpress.com blog for Creating the #JapanLife week on Twitter and to Art of the Spa for encouraging me to participate.

Twitter Chats & Bloggers Expressing Passion for Japanese Culture, Raising Awareness for the Plight of the Japanese People – Join Us for the week of 3/27 -4/2!  CLICK HERE to learn how

Monday, March 28, 2011

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Meringue Coffee Cakes

daring-kitchen-march-yeasted-merignue-coffee-cake

daring-bakers-orange-chocolate-coffee-cake
You can bake a beautiful wreath coffee cake, oozing with whatever sweet or savory goodies you decide to fill it with.

daring-bakers-yeasted-meringue-coffee-cake
The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

The dough is not sweet. In fact, it is described as "brioche" like so if you want sweet, you'll need to create it with the fillings you choose. You can also add a glaze if you have a super sweet tooth.

freshly-picked-california-oranges
Because I live in California, and because I have fresh oranges hanging in my backyard, well, technically the trees are in my neighbor's yards but their branches hang over our fence and I bought my hubby an arial fruit picker for his birthday one year so . . .  I decided I'd go citrus using fresh orange zest in the filling of my coffee cake.

Along with the orange zest I added orange flavored gum drops and bittersweet chocolate chips for my filling.

yeasted-coffee-cake-ingredients
The Coffee Cake Dough Ingredients

I hadn't ever worked with yeast before so I was a bit nervous going into this challenge. Due to technical difficulties my dough wasn't quite as fluffy as I'd hoped for but the cake was still very yummy.

yeasted-bread-dough-wet-ingredients
The wet ingredients: Milk, Water and Butter

yeasted-bread-dough-dry-ingredients
The dry ingredients: Flour, Sugar, Salt and Yeast

kitchen-aid-stand mixer-bread-dough
Blending the Ingredients together first with a mixer then by hand. Wimpy, wimpy, wimpy! Man I'm out of shape. After kneading the dough for about ten minutes my arms were killing me! I'm pretty sure when I wake up tomorrow morning my arms will be sore. I really need to exercise more.

yeasted-bread-dough-coffee-cake
The Dough

This is where I went a bit off course. Turns out my house was too cold to allow the yeast to rise. After 45-60 minutes my dough was supposed to double in size. Instead it rose by about 5%. A quick phone call home to my mom and she suggested turning my oven on to 200º degrees for just a minute or so, turning the oven off, then putting the covered bowl of dough (I used a metal mixing bowl, Saran Wrap and a dish towel) into the now warmed oven. It worked like a charm. Another 60 minutes and my dough had easily doubled in size.

proofed-yeasted-bread-dough
The dough after the first rising.

The recipe calls to split the dough so you can make two wreaths from one batch. When the dough was almost done rising I made the meringue for the filling.

daring-bakers-meringue-ingredients
Meringue ingredients: Sugar, Vanilla, Salt and Egg Whites

daring-bakers-kitchen-meringue
It was really easy. Just beat the ingredients together until the egg whites are stiff.

orange-zest-gumdrops-chocolate-coffee-cake
Coffee Cake Fillings

For my fillings I used orange slice gumdrops that I'd cut with kitchen shears, allowing them to fall into a small bowl of flour so the cut portions wouldn't stick together. After cutting them apart I dropped them into a wire sieve and allowed the flour to drop off into a bowl to use later to dust my marble pastry board with.

The fresh orange zest I mixed 50/50 with granulated sugar.

The bittersweet chocolate chips were Ghirardelli.

Next time I think I'll add some roasted nuts too. Maybe walnuts or hazel nuts. They'd add a nice flavor and a bit of texture.

daring-bakers-orange-coffee-cake-filling
The dough rolled out into a 10x20 inch rectangle with meringue and fillings added. The dough was then rolled into a log (jelly roll style) and formed into a wreath.

The next step was to use kitchen shears to score the wreath every inch. The wreath was covered with Saran Wrap and placed back into the still warm oven. . .

orange-gumdrop-zest-yeasted-coffee-cake
. . . then was allowed to rise for another 45-60 minutes.

Before baking I brushed the dough with an egg wash using the leftover egg yolks from the meringue, mixed with a bit of heavy cream. I used one TBS of cream to each egg yolk. This made the coffee cake dough shiny after being baked.

daring-bakers-meringue-coffee-cake-challenge
The wreath after baking for 25 minutes. The meringue became chewy where exposed to air through the slits and the rest baked into the dough.

chocolate-meringue-filled-coffee-cake
For the second coffee cake I only added chocolate chips because hubby doesn't like fruit flavored desserts.

Before the dough was allowed to rise the second time . . .
daring-bakers-march-coffee-cake-challenge
. . . and after rising for another 60 minutes (below). The difference in size after the second rising is quite dramatic!

daring-bakers-egg-washed-coffee-cake
The chocolate meringue coffee cake after baking for 25 minutes at 350º.

daring-kitchen-coffee-cake-challenge
If you'd like to bake this coffee cake yourself you can download the recipe as a printable PDF by CLICKING HERE.

And each month I like to feature examples by other talented Daring Bakers. The photo montage shows just how varied our sweet and savory results were even though we all started with the same basic recipe. Take a peek and be inspired!


Row 1
Audax Artifex: Tomato Pesto Cheese Dough with Speck and Pineapple
Audax Artifex: Tomato Pesto Cheese Dough with Olive and Mortadella
Aliciag: Chocolate and Pecans

Row 2
Within the Kitchen: Chocolate Chips, Peanut Butter Chips, Walnuts and Caramel
That Skinny Chick Can Bake: Apple and Cinnamon
Diabetic Sinners: Blueberry, Lemon Zest and Almonds

Row 3
Aeroflot Reh: Marionberry, Honey, and Almond
Barbara Bakes: Cranberry and Orange
Sweet and Saucy: Dried Plum, Almond and White Chocolate

Row 4
Aeroflot Reh: Marionberry, Honey, and Almond
Cooking Rookie: Chocolate
An Aspiring Foodie: Cinnamon and Chocolate Chips


Thank you Ria and Jamie! This was a great and fun challenge and I learned how to work with yeast! I'll definitely be trying something savory the next time I make this dough.



If you liked this post you'll enjoy these Bakers' Challenges too:

• January 2011: Fancy Joconde Imprime Entremet
• February 2011: Panna Cotta and Florentine Cookies
• April 2011: Edible Container and Maple Mousse

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Beautiful Double Rainbow

Last week hubby and I took a wrong turn in Los Gatos and this is what was in front of us at the end of the street.
double-rainbow-los-gatos

"Stop the car (he ignored me)... Stop the Car (I think he asked if I was serious)... STOP THE FREAKING CAR" I hollered at him.

I grabbed my camera, stood in the middle of the road (don't worry, it was a quiet side street) and took this picture in the rain.

Though I was tempted I didn't make a video of it. Who can compete with the super famous "Giant Double Rainbow" guy?


Here's his Youtube viral hit video. As of just now it has 26,479,043 views. WOW.

I settled for a picture just because I thought it was really pretty. I posted it on Facebook and was really surprised how many people commented on it. Apparently people really enjoy the occasional double rainbow picture :)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Winning is Fun, but It Isn't Everything

Well, the voting for the SF Baylist contest closed a week ago and the winner will be announced on March 31st. Because I was nominated I did my best to launch a good faith campaign to win the Best Local Blogger category. How do I define a good faith campaign? Well for starters:
  • I only asked the people who I know have read or regularly read my blog to vote for me.
  • I declined offers from friends saying they would ask their friends who didn't know me or my blog to vote for me.
  • I tried not to be annoying by repeatedly asking people to vote: I did post on Twitter a couple times per week, Facebook once a week and did one blog post when I first discovered I'd been nominated.
baylist-2011-winners-announced
But before the winners are announced I just wanted to say THANK YOU to everyone who threw a vote my way and that I'm cool with whether I win or lose :)

On the bright side, even if I lose, I've discovered a bunch of really great blogs written by some of my fellow nominees. Almost all outrank me on traffic and site valuation by generous margins so the real surprise will be if I win :P



The contest brought to light that even though I blog about a lot of topics, one that is noticeably absent is fashion. SF Indie Fashion and SFS Street Fashion Style are out there writing killer posts about the Bay Area fashion scene. You should check them out...

sf-indie-fashion-blog

Founder and Editor Lorraine Sanders, along with a short list of contributors and content partners, keep readers up to date about the local Indie fashion scene.

From the SF Indie Fashion Blog: "SF Indie Fashion is a web site and online resource dedicated to independent designers in the Bay Area and beyond. We love the stores that sell ‘em, the shows that feature ‘em and the people that buy ‘em. We strongly believe in the importance of conscious consumerism and supporting San Francisco’s independent fashion scene, locally-owned boutiques and businesses, female entrepreneurs and creative endeavors of all kinds."

sfs-street-style-fashion-blog

SFS is a comprehensive street fashion blog that began in 2008. Visit and you'll find photos of everyday people the blog's authors stopped on the street and asked "Can I take your picture?" Some of the photos are accompanied with the intersection the "look" was spotted at. Others include designer names and some even have short interviews. Check out this cool article I found that just published yesterday on CNN.com about the blog's authors Dyanna Dawson and John Tran.



If non-traditional interior design is your thing you should check out this blog...

sf-girl-by-bay

Victoria Smith is the Editor and Writer of sfgirlbybay and her credentials are impressive...

From her blog: "sfgirlbybay is known for representing ‘bohemian modern style’ and for showcasing the freshest designers, artists, crafters, products and trends.

. . . victoria was honored to have recently been voted #10 of the london times top 50 design blogs, msn/glo’s 10 décor experts to watch and is most recently featured in elle decor, rue magazine, pure green magazine, gifted, the san francisco chronicle, and the february 2010 issue of loftlife magazine. she has also been featured in many major publications, including the new york times, domino, sunset, better homes & gardens diy, and real living magazines, as well as television programs as abc’s ‘view from the bay‘ and hgtv’s ‘small space, big style‘. she is a frequent writer for 7×7, and uppercase magazines, as well as a guest blogger for such sites as poppytalk, design*sponge, apartment therapy and decor8."




Onward to food.... Wow there are some great food blogs out there. While Michael Bauer's Inside Scoop may have been the first local food blog I was reading, it will no longer be the only one. After checking out Eater, Bay Area Bites and Tablehopper I'm a fan of all three and have subscribed to all of their RSS feeds so I can read their latest and greatest posts.

inside-scoop-sf-blog
CLICK HERE to visit Michael Bauer's Blog

Inside Scoop with Michael Bauer is the only blog I was reading before the contest began. I've enjoyed reading Michael's friendly and insightful food reviews for years.

From Inside Scoop: "Michael Bauer is the executive food and wine editor and restaurant critic for the San Francisco Chronicle where he is in charge of the largest food and wine staff on any newspaper in the United States."

eater-sf-blog

Eater is a great news blast food blog.

From the Eater Blog: "Launched September 27th, 2007, Eater SF provides extensive coverage of the San Francisco restaurant, nightlife and bar scene. From the newest temples of haute cuisine to the oldest bars in the Bay Area, Eater SF has you covered with original reporting; user-generated tips, rants and raves; and a curated round-up of what the rest of the restaurant and food media are talking about. Updated a dozen times a day or more, if it's not on Eater SF, you don't have to know about it."

bay-area-bites-blog

I'm shocked I'd never heard of Bay Area Bites before. It's a collaborative blog that's also destined to become one of my favs.

"Bay Area Bites, KQED's aggregate food blog, is dedicated to providing a variety of food-related information from the Bay Area and beyond. BAB bloggers are culinary professionals, food writers, and cookbook editors. Many have local food blogs of their own. Blogger profiles are online so you can learn more about each BAB contributor."


And this made me laugh a bit.. On the "about" page on the Tablehopper website it states:

"So, first things first: tablehopper.com is not a blog; it’s a website, with content provided by my free weekly e-column, 'the tablehopper.' . . . It comes out every Tuesday and Friday, and is free to subscribe. So hop on board!"

Ironic only because it's author, Marcia Gagliardi, was nominated as Best Local Blogger. Website or blog I really like it and will be following Tablehopper from now on :)



And last but not least, Laughing Squid is a blog that's bound to hold something that amuses everyone from artists to fashionistas to foodies and techies alike.

From the Laughing Squid blog: "Founded in 1995, Laughing Squid is an online resource for art, culture & technology and an independent web hosting company. It is run by primary tentacle Scott Beale, who is also the publisher editor of the blog and is joined by the occasional guest blogger."

squidoo-blog

In total there were 54 blogs nominated so while it would be cool to win, and would give my blog a boost of "street cred," winning isn't everything and I'm confident that continuing to grow my readership post by post will work out okey dokey in the end.

Here's the thing, I figure if I don't win I could be the local blogging version of Clay Aiken. He didn't win American Idol but he was able to use his runner up exposure as a launch pad to create a larger fan base and take his music further, faster than he could have if he'd never been on AI.

So that could be me. If I lose, I want to become the Clay Aiken of the SF Bay Area local blogging scene :D

ETA 3/31/11: CLICK HERE to learn who won :)


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