Thursday, May 19, 2011

Saving Dollars on your Do

One of the (many) things I have a hard time spending a lot of money on is haircuts. I know I need to help pay the stylist, for the product used, for the chair rental in the salon, but really? $100 to cut my mousy brownish hair and bangs?

My life changed when I started going to Cinta Aveda Institute in San Francisco. I don't mind students working on my hair. They are as sweet as can be and only want to impress you and their instructors. And I must add, that the instructor checks in at 3 times during your cut to make sure the student is doing well and that you are happy.

I love all the Aveda products they use and the quick head and shoulder massage you get at the beginning. The only down fall would be for you speed demons as this cut takes longer than usual. I think that's a plus actually because I love people playing with my hair. But if you want a fast fix, look elsewhere.

Did I mention a price yet? Oh I didn't? Well my latest lovely who has done an amazing job the last 3 times I have seen her is named Carly. She's adorable and is great with my hair. As she has been there awhile, you have to pay more for her. So the total price is $19. Yep. $19.

So go check this place out my frugal friends. (They also do great facials!)

Cinta Aveda Institute
305 Kearny Street
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 989-4400

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Alone in San Francisco

Well, I haven't been alone. I have been running around like mad between wedding planning, freelance designing and temping full-time. I know this is no excuse but because of blog...Toy Salsa...has been alone in San Francisco. But never fear little blog as I will be back in full force very soon.

Until then, I leave you with a wonderful piece by one of my favorite musicians and albums of all time: Thelonious Monk, Alone in San Francisco and the song is called Ruby My Dear. Perfect for this foggy San Francisco morning.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Our Very Own Stratford-Upon-Avon

A little outside of San Francisco, across the Golden Gate Bridge and through the green hills of Marin, in to Muir Beach sits an old English Inn that looks like it came out of a storybook. It is surrounded by a beautiful green lawn and beckons visitors to their small pub with a wooden sign with a pelican painted on it.

The Pelican Inn is like visiting the British countryside without the cost of the airplane ticket. Once inside, to the left is a small nook of a pub with darts, hearty meals like shepherd's pie and fish and chips, and of course many hearty ales. My favorite is the "Black and Tan," a half pint of Bass pale ale and half Guinness. The pub is dark and moody and I think the best when it is rainy out.

They also have a small restaurant that serves similar fare as the pub but a bit more on the fancy side. There is a huge fireplace and at night, they light tall white candles at each table. The romance of the place is undeniable. This makes it a popular spot for small weddings.

If you want to stay longer than just a pint or dinner, the rooms they offer are cozy and charming. You really feel like you are staying in someone's house but in a good way. If the sun is still up after you eat, take a short stroll over to Stinson Beach to catch the sunset. Make your way back to the pub for a hot brandy as a night cap or into the "Snug," a small living room with a fireplace, to catch up on your book, and then retire to your room.

In the morning they serve a HUGE English breakfast with eggs and bangers. (Included with your room) It is served in their adorable little covered patio just off the tiny dark restaurant.

This place is very special in our family. My mom and stepdad celebrated their honeymoon and many anniversaries here, some of our best friends have gotten married here and Finch and I have celebrated an anniversary as well! We also go on occasion for holiday brunches such as Easter or Mother's Day.

It is well worth the 40 minute drive from San Francisco to this cozy oasis that feels thousands of miles away.

"As soon as I enter the door of a tavern, I experience oblivion of care, and a freedom from solicitude. There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn."

--Samuel Johnson

The Pelican Inn
10 Pacific Way
Muir Beach, CA 94965-9729
(415) 383-6000

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sunny Sundays With a View

Having just spent an evening Remembering Playland, a craving forced us back to the crash of Ocean Beach waves. This time, it was for brunch at the iconic lookout point that has had many face lifts, the Cliff House.

Still a huge hot spot for double-decker buses to drop off tourists, the restaurant that was established in 1863 shows them what they want, but especially opens it's arms to locals. They offer week day dinner specials and have two different dining levels depending on what style you are going for. The downstairs portion, Sutro's, is gorgeous, modern and costs a pretty penny. The upstairs section, Bistro, is more casual with a large wooden bar, wicker furniture and tiled floors. The waiter are loud and proud to spout off to you why it is so great to live in the most beautiful city in the world.

Our preference is Bistro as it is more in our price range and they make AMAZING Bloody Mary's. While we waited, we were served a basket of beautiful buttery popovers. Better than croissants, these little wonders made it hard to save room for the main course. We ordered the famous Johnson omelet with huge chunks of Dungeness crab, avocado and a dollop of sour cream on top. This isn't a cheap omelet (18.95) but you certainly get your a ton of crab and a priceless view.

It's true that this is a special occasion-kind-of-place, but when the weather is sunny and warm (a rarity in SF) then that's an occasion all on it's own. Head out there and stare off into the waves.

The Bistro at the Cliff House doesn't take reservations but most of the crowd there is to just look around and not eat, so don't get intimidated. Sutro's strongly recommends making reservations. The Cliff House is located at the end of Geary and the top of The Great Highway. They are open every day.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dogtown, Alameda

The weather has just been amazing in the Bay Area the last few days. The sun is out and everyone is in a good mood. Time to head outside with the little man and let him romp around with some friends. Most dog parks are fairly small and not all that inviting. There are two in the Bay Area so far that are my favorites. One of them I just discovered in Alameda. (The other is in Novato)
There are two parks for two sizes of dogs, large and small. Since the dogs in the large park were running around at lightening speed and leaving their owners in the dust, we choose the “small dog” area. True, the park was smaller but still plenty of space to stretch his legs. There were water bowls, toys, benches for owners, poopie bags and lots of grass and bushes…pretty much everything you would want for your pooch.

Byron made several friends and left a lot of souvenirs. Seeing my dog happy always makes me happy. Even if you don't have a dog, sometimes it's nice to stop by a dog park with a cup of coffee or tea and giggle at the little guys. The fresh air, the smell of the salt from the bay and joy people radiate in the sun is just about as good as it gets.

The Alameda Dog Park is located in Lower Washington Park at 8th St. and Portola Ave. Parking is free.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Putting the Soul back in Food

Finch and I had an amazing discovery on one beautiful San Francisco Sunday morning. We had heard rumors of all you could eat fried chicken and cornbread brunch in the Tenderloin. There were even whispers that it was under $20 per person. We had to see if this was a dream come true or a cruel urban legend.

Farmer Brown is everything we wanted. The rumors were all true. This is one of those places that is so hip that it makes you grateful to live the city. A place like this wouldn't fly in a small town. When you first walk in, there are thumping beats from the live band. The dude on the mic is into it and you instantly get in a better mood due to their rhythm. We were seated right next to them and didn't mind at all.

Finch can never say no to a Bloody Mary at brunch and I had to try the mimosa. Both a little pricey ($9 and $7) but tasty. We were then shown the buffet. Hot fried chicken, homemade biscuits, thick country gravy (with or without sausage), a steaming pot of grits, spicy cornbread, crisp bacon, fluffy eggs, flapjacks, grapefruit, and an assortment of desserts including sweet potato pie. This was my first real experience with grits. I tried them Finch's way, with salt and butter, then my moms way, syrup on top and then the waitress' way, mixed with sausage gravy. I couldn't pick a favorite. Everything was scrumptious! The fried chicken especially deserves a spotlight. It is crispy and will leave grease all around your face. This place must really go through some napkins. The soul in the food, the music and the atmosphere had a lasting impression on us. For the rest of the day we were in great moods and our souls kept purring.

If you want to try Farmer Brown for yourself, it is located at:
25 Mason St (between Turk St & Market St) in San Francisco.
$16.50 gets you all you can eat brunch.
Brunch 9:00-2:30 Saturdays and Sundays
They are also open for dinner and soon for lunch (starting April 20th)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

An Evening at Playland

Not long ago the amazing little theater that could, The Balboa, hosted the premiere of a documentary about an amusement park on Ocean Beach in San Francisco called Remembering Playland at the Beach. Long before I was born, the amusement park had been torn down to make way for housing. Being raised in the small coastal town of Pacifica, about 15 miles down the coast from the city, I always dreamed of the perfect palace of dreams where heavenly inventions like It's-Its were born and where Laughing Sal would greet and terrify children.

It was a sold out show on a Tuesday at 7:00pm. To celebrate the opening, the theater sold It's-Its treats, showed a Donald Duck cartoon and then clips of old movies that had been filmed at Playland by the Beach. The crowd was also treated to a mentalist reading cards and sharing secrets of why it is so hard to win at carnival games. The documentary wasn't anything special, but the footage of the old rides, children giggling in the old Funhouse and tiny twinkling lights in the wet damp fog made it worthwhile. As we were leaving the theater, the It's-It truck pulled up and gave everyone a free ice cream! Two It's-Its in one night?! Oh yes I said.

After our dessert, we headed over to the whole-in-the-wall bar across the street called Hockey Haven. They were having Playland drink specials so I of course ordered the Laughing Sal, which was nothing more than a vodka cranberry with a splash of something else. It tasted good though and added to my to my jolliness.

Then low and behold! Four Laughing Sals came in for a drink before the next show. They even had a boom box playing recordings of the eerie laughing. Seeing these "ladies," was the perfect ending to an evening of homage to the long lost Playland at the Beach.

The Balboa is going to start showing this film again on April 23rd if you're interested in checking it out!