When the party ends – A San Francisco Irish Exit

31 Jul 2014

It’s been strangely muggy this summer. The fog, is of course, a cloud full of water, but usually the air in July has quite a chill, especially when like clockwork, the sea breeze picks up as the sun sets everyday. But as I look out my window today the trees are standing dead still, and sweat is gathering behind my neck.

When I first moved here from Boston seven years ago, I cursed the lack of seasons. Gone were my familiar markers of time, and the days faded into one another. Sun, Fog, Wind. Sun, Fog, Wind. Eventually, I learned to pick up on the subtleties. The freshness of the air in December, not unlike an early fall day in New England. The piles of leaves that gather in the sidewalks between the rainy months, never enough to jump in, or look pretty, but enough to run through with your feet and hear the comforting “Sch, Sch”. Or, the dark mornings of summer, when Karl the Fog hugs the city so tightly that we all want to stay wrapped in our blankets, for just five more minutes.

But now, it seems, that not only is the weather changing, but my life is too.

In a few weeks, I will be packing up our little family and moving to Saint Louis. Yes, you heard that right. Saint Louis, Missouri. Flyover country. The Midwest. A borderline red state. Thousands of miles from an ocean. And the craziest part? I couldn’t be happier about it.

The nitty gritty: We can’t afford SF.



Double Vision

8 Nov 2013

In late August of this year, I found out I was pregnant. This was something both myself and Conor were hoping for, but it still came as some surprise. Since I’m over 30 and well, we’d never actually tried to get pregnant before, we figured it might take awhile, maybe even a year. Nope. No way. We’re talking weeks. Days, not months.  I have never been so excited/scared/proud in my life. Finally! I felt like I had been waiting ten years to be a mom, and now it was finally here!

A few days later however, I had some mild bleeding. I was slightly concerned, but hoped it was just what’s called implantation bleeding. I went to see my physician just in case. She also agreed that it was probably implantation but was concerned that I seemed to be “having a lot of symptoms early”. My doctor ordered an ultrasound at a nearby hospital, and after a week of scheduling mishaps, they finally saw me.

The day of my scan, it was incredibly cold and windy. The hospital’s campus sits on one of the biggest hills in San Francisco and from the waiting room I watched the fog rapidly push in across the city, neighborhood by neighborhood. Conor met me there from his work and we waited, and waited, and waited for my appointment. An hour went by, and I still hadn’t been seen. Conor left to go to a work meeting. I tried to keep myself distracted with my phone. Finally, I got in.

After the usual medical paperwork, my technician asked me about my symptoms and confirmed this was my first ultrasound. We chatted for a few moments while she applied the goop to my stomach and adjusted her screen. She moved the wand around for a few minutes, and then – she paused.

“This is your first scan, isn’t it?”

My heart was in my throat. No, it wasn’t even there, it was on the floor, flopping around, a lost goldfish.

“Yes. Yes, it’s my first scan.”

And then, she grinned.

“Girlllll, you are having TWINS.”

I laugh hysterically. I laugh so hard I almost pee and cry at the same time, but thankfully, avoid both.

I shout, “I f*cking knew it!” (more on why I f-ing knew it later)

So there I was, in a radiology room, goo on my stomach, with brand new pictures of the TWO BABIES I was pregnant with. But Conor wasn’t there! How was I going to tell him? My lab tech slyly suggested that I simply show him the ultrasound pictures when he got home from work. I decided to roll with it.

Conor got home around dinner time and we decided we’d go out to eat at our local, Fly Bar. Before I knew it, my husband had already put his coat back on and was halfway out the door.

“Wait, wait!” I protested. “Don’t you want to see the ultrasound photos first?”

“Oh, yes, sorry, yes, let me see them.”

So he’s standing there, in his coat, staring at the scans. Seconds tick by. He rotates the photos around, as if they might make more sense that way. He hands them back.

I purse my lips, as I far too often do when I’m both anxious and happy.

“Did you notice that there’s two there?”

His eyes, looked, I have to say, a bit wild.

“Yes. I did. Is it doubled up or something? Like a reverse image?”

“No. There are two babies there. We are having twins.”

“Twins. Ok. Twins.”

Long pause. An even longer pause.

“Ok. Twins. Ok. I’m going to need to sit down and have a cup of tea.”


After a few days of soaking it all in (at times we’d just look at each other and say, “TWINS”, while shaking our heads) we came to terms with our huge blessing and equally huge challenge. By the end of April we are going to be in charge of not one but TWO new human beings. In a small one-bedroom apartment. In one of the most expensive cities in the US. Ready or not, here it all comes!



The photos were taken at one of our favorite places in San Francisco, a photo booth place in Japantown called Pika Pika.

All the booths are themed, and once you put the money in you have a set amount of time to take the pictures and then decorate them on screen.

It’s cheesy, for sure, but it’s so us. I love it.

Anyway, I hope I haven’t bored you to tears with our story, and since you’ve made it to the end, here is the Twin FAQ!


1) Yes, Twins.
2) Twins run in Julie’s Family (Hi, mom). 
3) They are fraternal.
4) Yes, we are staying in SF.

Blue Jean Baby

26 Aug 2013

As this summer draws to a close I’ve found myself obsessed, in a very nostalgic fashion, over a candle. This candle somehow encapsulates the best bits of my teenage years in the late nineties (without reeking of Nag Champa incense or clove cigarettes!).

Once it’s lit, suddenly:

Vintage Levis that fit just right. Late nights closing at a Boston coffee shop listening to The Smiths and Blur. My friends and I with long hair done up with a million tiny braids. Chanel lipstick in Vamp. I swear, it’s all there in this amazing little candle!


It’s called Blue Jean, and it’s made by Capri Blue, who you’re probably familiar with for their ubiquitous scent Volcano which always seems to be burning at Anthropologie. Volcano, though citrusy and sweetly pleasant, doesn’t really do it for me. Blue Jean on the other hand, is somehow capable of completely transporting me to another time and place.

And it’s a time and place that I’m quite fond of – so I’m going to cue the Elton John and soak in this summer scent while it lasts.






Hello Fog, Goodbye STL Summer Break

21 Jun 2013


Oh hello! I’ve just returned from a much needed break in Saint Louis to visit friends and family. The weather there hovered around 85 all week, which was just fine by me. Now I’m back at my desk in San Francisco in a sweater (!!!) drinking a cup of tea, and wondering once again why I live in a place with no warm weather. “But 60 degrees is perfect!” say you silly people who enjoy wearing at least three layers at all times. Whatever! I really don’t mind a bit of chill – I just really, REALLY, miss seasons after seven years in the Bay Area. At first I missed the fall, with it’s lovely colours, then summer, with its heady warm nights, and lastly the winter. It of course, does not snow here, and I have to say the Christmases I’ve spent here have been the most depressing I can remember. The streets are empty, there’s barely a decoration in sight, and no one seems very interested in that Jesus fellow.

Enough whining! Anyway, yes, it was nice visit home. Saint Louis always has a nice mix of “Town & Country” going on. You can go to upscale restaurants downtown or in Clayton (in St. Louis County) or in a few minutes you can be in the rolling hills of the river valleys, with no one around except a perhaps a weather-beaten barn and a few horses. The area is rapidly growing too, which means there’s always something new to see every time I visit.

Here are a few discoveries from this trip, as well as a few photos I snapped with my trusty phone along the way. Enjoy!


Shakespeare in the Park – Annual free festival in Forest Park of Shakespeare’s plays. It’s worth noting that the festival is the only free outdoor professional theater in St. Louis. Well attended during nice weather, so make sure to come early to find parking and a good spot for the picnic blanket!


Vino and Shakespeare with @esweeney8


Saint Louis Art Museum – Still, hands down, one of my favorite places in the city – and it’s free! The Saint Louis Art Museum’s building was designed by renowned American architect Cass Gilbert for the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition, also known as the World’s Fair. Originally part of the Palace of Fine Arts, the Museum was the only building from the Fair designed to be a permanent structure, the “one material monument of the Exposition.” The museum was just about to undergo three weeks of renovation during my trip, but I’m sure the new extension is going to be breath-taking. Designed by award-winning architect Sir David Chipperfield + HOK, the new East Building increases the museum’s public space by 30 percent.

Quincy, Illinois / Hannibal, Missouri – About a two hour drive north of Saint Louis, Quincy and Hannibal are historic river towns nestled on the banks of the Mississippi.

Quincy, Illinois in Adams County, is famous for its tree-lined streets, beautiful parks and attractive historic neighborhoods. The city of Quincy is home to 42,000 residents and was voted as one of the top ten of historic towns in the United States. In addition to local designations, Quincy is home to four National Register of Historic Places districts, covering about 250 blocks and a dozen individually listed National Register properties. Be sure to check out the architecture driving tour during your visit.

Hannibal, founded in 1819, is most famous as the boyhood home of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, aka Mark Twain. Twain based many of the characters in his books upon people he had known growing up in the town. Besides visiting Twain’s home and the museum, there’s also nearby Mark Twain Cave which is mentioned in five of Twain’s books and well worth the visit.


Mark Twain in front of his boyhood home in Hannibal


HotPot Smoothie Shop- A super healthy (especially by Midwestern standards!) and cheap lunch option. We only had the smoothies there but I was quite impressed with the Green and Sticky, which is noteworthy considering my current obsession with Pressed Juicery. Not too sweet, not too herbal, and definitely made me feel 200% better after a late night out. They also serve lovely sounding vegan and paleo friendly bowls.

* Nerd Note – they also have a smoothie called Red Dwarf!  It’s made with mango and pineapple and topped off with a Swedish fish!

Crazy Bowls & Wraps – OK. So this a chain… But! If, you, like me, aren’t really fond of eating burgers and fries for every meal, CB&W makes tasty bowls (and yes, wraps) that even cater to vegan and gluten-free folks. Since it’s a local chain, there are several locations around the STL metro area.

Mai Lee  – Get your pho fix at Mai Lee. I tried the Bun Mang Vit (bun noodles with duck and bamboo) but I have the feeling the Pho Ga (noodles with chicken) is probably even better!


Robust Wine Bar – We stopped here for dessert and a bit of champange after dinner. Located in the very cute downtown area of Webster Groves, Robust has a suprisingly good wine list for the Midwest. And the DESSERTS ARE SO GOOD. The salted caramel pot de crème is possibly the most decadent thing I’ve tasted all year. Pro-tip: Avoid the noisy dining room and chill at the bar.


Paperdolls – A local boutique that’s recently added a new location in Ballwin, Paperdolls reminds me of my very favorite place to shop in SF, Ambiance. The decor is girly without being juvenile, and the clothes they carry are trendy, wearable, and not too expensive. I picked up a sparkly multi-strand silver necklace for $32.

Secondhand / Discount Stores – Overall, the secondhand and thrift shops in Saint Louis are much less picked through than in other places in the U.S. Chances are, that amazing mid-century chair you found for a steal on eBay probably came from a small town in Missouri. Let me put it another way, if vintage shopping is your thing, Missouri is your Mecca. Seriously.

Also, be sure to check out designer discount stores like T.J. Maxx. We hit up the one in Des Peres and I was blown away by the selection of Kate Spade, Tory Burch, and Parker for bargain prices.


If you are visiting during the summer months - hit the pool! There are many neighborhood pools that are well-appointed, clean, and downright swanky compared to the pools you might find in other cities. We visited the pool in Manchester, and I have to say it much more “theme-park” than city pool. Pro-tip – If you’re not down with “OPC” (Other People’s Children!), go later in the day to avoid the crowds of littles.


Get a “concrete” – Concretes are the STL version of a frappe or shake. It’s blended so thick that it’s like, you guessed it, concrete, and you can actually flip over your cup without anything falling out. The hometown favorite is Ted Drewes, but most of the frozen custard (Sidebar, yes, frozen custard instead of ice cream!) places around STL sell concretes.

Drive down a country lane, especially one with trees hugging the road until you see a beautiful farm with a white-washed barn. Stop for moment to enjoy the view, breathe, and sigh contentedly.








Down by the River Charles

15 Apr 2013

boston skyline 1997


I took this photo fifteen years ago the first time I walked across the Charles. In many ways,  Boston is still a home to me, and by the way my feeds look today, most of the people in my life. Very thankful that everyone I know is safe, and I was so happy when Conor came home from work today, so I could hug him.

Lots of hugs to you and yours,