Where to Go? What to Eat? in San Francisco with Legion

This week, we asked Legion San Francisco owner Sydney Pfaff the local hotspots in her neighborhood.

LEGION is a shop and art gallery located in San Francisco. The shop features artful goods for your home and body, from candles to ceramics, art & design goods. Art shows hosted at the shop feature both up-and-coming and established artists. 

What do you love most about your area and how long have you been located there? 

Legion has been in Lower Nob Hill now for almost a year, prior to which we were in Chinatown for four and a half years. Sutter Street, our current street, is wonderful — lots of great neighboring businesses, particularly art galleries and amazing restaurants. I lived a block away from the space when I first moved here in 2003, so I have a soft spot for the area.

Is your area known for anything in particular?  

Our block is probably most notable for Liholiho! It’s one of the best (in my opinion) and most popular restaurants in the city. But we’re also super close to Union Square, so the area is constantly filled with both tourists and residents. 

Describe your favorite sights and activities in your area:

PHOTO FROM FLICKR

We’re in such a central location, so close to many different neighborhoods, and I’m fortunate enough to get to walk to and from work every day! There are a few galleries nearby that I love: Hashimoto ContemporarySpoke Art, and Chandran GalleryHuntington Parkis a great neighborhood park. I bring my two dogs to work every day, so we usually stop through their on our walk home.

What are your favorite places for food/drinks in your area?

Photo from Del Popolo

Del Popolois another one of my favorite restaurants — best pizza — and Royaleis one of my favorite little local bars. Other good spots that I frequent are Gen Gen Room(the downstairs bar at Liholiho), HogwashPCH, and Stookey’s Club Moderne.

Behind the Counter: Creation of E+B Body Scrubs

You may know that Etta + Billie makes all their skincare products with natural ingredients. (No weird stuff like artificial colors and scents.) But did you know that we also use sustainable practices and recyclable packaging? 

For example, take our amazing line of body scrubs: 100% natural ingredients, gentle on skin and the environment, made in the USA, and made using local goods, all which leaves your skin glowing, hydrated, and smells delectable.  

Mixing up the oils and scent for sea salt body scrub
Etta + Billie Behind the Scenes Mint Coffee Sea Salt Body Scrub
Etta + Billie Sea Salt Body Scrubs

Here’s how we do it:

  1. Start with the most delicious natural ingredients.
  2. Carefully weigh and melt our butters and sea salt.
  3. After butters are melted, we had our essential oils and additives (like coffee!). 
  4. SO MUCH MIXING. Each batch is mixed by hand. You get some serious muscles after a few weeks!
  5. Once thoroughly blended, we ladle our mixture into molds.
  6. The scrubs sit for at least 20 hours so they will harden up.
  7. Unmold, wrap in beautiful gold foil (also happens to be recyclable!).
  8. Handwrite our batch numbers on our boxes, pop the scrubs in and voila!

Tips + Tricks: Spring Cleaning with the KonMari Method

The countdown for Spring Cleaning has begun. There is nothing that can make you feel as comfortable and joyful in your home as a little refreshment after a long winter inside. Maybe you have even experienced a warm day to open the windows and let some new air inside.

Speaking of joy, Marie Kondo of KonMarie.comis currently leading the charge in the effort to revitalize the home. If you haven’t heard of her, Marie Kondo is the best-selling author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.

The KonMari Method teaches you to ask a simple question when tidying up your house: Does this item spark joy? If not, get rid of it. 

Here is what we have learned from the KonMari Method:

  1. Visualize Your Idea Life:What does your ideal lifestyle and living environment look like? Imagine how you would be living your life if money, time and resources were not an issue. List the goals that come to mind. Describe in detail how you envision your home to look after the end of your tidying journey.  
  2. Tidy by Category:Rather than going room-by-room, tidy by category – beginning with clothes, then moving on to books, papers, miscellaneous items, and finally, sentimental items. Keep only those items that spark joy.
  3. Say Thank You:It is difficult to get rid of your possessions, but KonMari teaches that these possessions are stripped of their dignity when they go unused in a home. If it doesn’t speak to the heart, Marie Kondo teaches us to thank the item for its service, and then let it go. 

Marie Kondo’s focus on joy has been a novelty and eye-opener to many people. She also has her own hit Netflix show: Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. So, if you don’t have the time/energy/concentration for the book, you can check it out there. 

Happy tidying! 

In the Kitchen: International Women’s Day edition!

At a time when we have more mompreneurs, boss women, and female leaders than ever!,we are celebrating the women who broke social conventions and the blazed the way for us. 

This month is Women’s History month, a time to honor the past and present women who inspire the future. Today, we are honoring women who are influencing the kitchen. Here we spotlight a few amazing female chefs. 

1. Christina Tosi, author of “Momofuku Milk Bar” cookbook

Christina Tosi is the chef, founder and owner of Milk Bar. After working in the kitchens of fine dining restaurants, Christina founded the dessert program at Momofuku, where she later created the concept for Milk Bar, resulting in a culinary empire of her own.

Milk Bar is known for its familiar yet unexpected desserts including Crack Pie®, the Compost Cookie®, “naked” layer cakes with unfrosted sides, and Cereal Milk Soft Serve, among other playful and craveable treats.

Christina is also a judge on the hit cooking competition series Masterchef and Masterchef Junior (on FOX), and was recently the subject of an episode of Chef’s Table, the Emmy-nominated docu-series on Netflix. She’s made headlines in New York Times, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Forbes, The Today Show, among others, and she’s graced the covers of Adweek and Cherry Bombe. 

2. Belinda Leong, chef & co-owner of B Patisserie

Belinda Leong began her career as a pastry chef at Restaurant Gary Danko in San Francisco in 1999. After eight successful years, she left the restaurant for Europe to stage at some of the most esteemed restaurants and patisseries in Paris, Barcelona, and Copenhagen. After two years in Europe, Belinda returned to the Bay Area and became pastry chef at Manresa Restaurant, a two star Michelin Restaurant, in Los Gatos, California before opening b.Patisserie.

At her new bakery, which is co-owned by San Francisco Baking Institute co-founder Michel Suas, Leong offers everything from elegant layer cakes to a 10-hour apple tart to rustic butter cakes. Her signature item is the Breton pastry kougin amann—and if some New Yorkers notice a familiarity in the undulating top and flaky layers, it’s because Dominique Ansel also staged at Fouchon, though at the Paris location. 

3. Pim Techamuanvivit, chef & proprieter of Kin Khao

In Thailand, to eat is to eat rice. So, colloquially, when we say “kin khao” we mean “to eat” or “let’s eat,” – kinkhao.com

Born and raised in Bangkok, Pim took a circuitous route through the world of food–from writing, teaching, to jam making [ahem, award-winning jam making]–before finding her way back home to the food she grew up with. Longing for Thai food of richer quality and variety in the U.S. Pim is now on a mission to liberate her beloved Thai cuisine from the tyranny of peanut sauce. Kin Khao is her first (and hopefully not last) restaurant project.

4. Jessica Koslow, chef at Sqirl

Jessica Koslow started her daytime-only restaurant, Sqirl in 2011 and its been at the top of of the Best-of-LA lists ever since. She started with jams and has expanded to breakfast and lunch, including her popular rice bowls. 

5. Marianne Despres, chef & owner of El Sur 

El Sur was started in 2012, by Marianne Despres, a classically trained chef with roots in Argentina and France. Upon graduating from the Cordon Bleu in Paris, she continued her culinary training in some of the world’s best kitchens including Potel et Chabot and the French Laundry.

After running a successful catering business in the Bay Area specializing in fine French cuisine, Marianne realized she most enjoyed cooking and sharing the food she grew up with, specifically the empanadas from her childhood. Marianne developed the recipes for El Sur’s empanadas using old-fashioned techniques and the finest local ingredients.

In the Kitchen: Best Chocolate Chip Cookies EVER!

From Craftsman and Wolves

These are the best chocolate chip cookies EVER! Seriously. I know there are a ton of blog articles out there claiming to be the real deal, but none of them have ever made me feel the way about a cookie like I do when I’m waiting on the Craftsman and Wolves to get out of the oven. 

Think ooey gooey hot Valrhona chocolate wrapped in a salty-sweet cookie batter with REAL vanilla and sea salt. I mean oh.my.goodness! Take it to the next level with a dip in some almond milk and I’m done for the day!

Have I convinced you? 

Get the Recipe: Valrhona Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredient Spotlight: Cocoa Butter!

Heath and chocolate! What else do you need? 

Most of our products have the delectable cocoa butter in it, loved for its smooth texture, sweet fragrance, moisturizing properties, and (of course) its well-known role in making CHOCOLATE! 

Cocoa butter, like cocoa powder, comes from the bean of the cacao tree. When the beans are extracted from the cocoa fruit or pods, the beans are cleaned and roasted. The beans are then pressed, pushing out the cocoa butter. After the cocoa butter is extracted, the remaining solids are processed into cocoa powder. Cocoa butter + cocoa powder + sugar and milk = chocolate!

Benefits of Cocoa Butter

In soap, cocoa butter creates the smooth lather and moisturizing effect that everyone loves. Its also amazing for chapped skin, eczema, and stretch marks during pregnancy. 

Why is cocoa butter so good for your skin? 

1. Hydrates and nourishes skin

2. Improves skin elasticity

3. Holds in moisture by forming a protective barrier

4. Slows skin aging by protecting against the sun’s harmful UV rays

5. Smooths scars, wrinkles, and stretch marks

6. Heals rashes from conditions like eczema and dermatitis

How to use Cocoa Butter

You can rub one of our cocoa butter products on your skin or lips every day as part of your skin care regimen. Our cocoa butter products, combined with various essential oils and vitamins take your bathing experience from basic to spa-quality.

Our Geranium Patchouli products use cocoa butter + cocoa powder for double the chocolate! The luxurious satin texture in this soap makes it a crowd favorite. 

Floral, sweet rose geranium + grounding earthy patchouli oils are an intoxicating pair. Geranium Patchouli Soap cleanses + detoxifies, prepping skin for exfoliation with Geranium Patchouli Body Scrub. Finally, massage luxurious hydrating Geranium Patchouli Body Lotion onto skin. Emerge from the bathroom glowing. 

Try it today. 

Last-Minute V-Day Gift Ideas

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! Giant stuffed bears line the grocery store, candied hearts are making eyes at would-be dieters, and love is simply in the air. 

Valentine’s Day is a chance to show someone special that they’re always on your mind. You could go with the expected gift: a two-layer box of mystery chocolates (not knocking it.) Or you could choose to go head over heels with these amazing, albeit non-traditional gifts for Valentine’s Day. 

1. Realistic heart jewelry 

Can an anatomic heart be more pretty in this rose gold setting? This Etsy seller even pairs it with a custom printed gift note. 

2. Cooking Class

This Valentine’s Day, make a 3-course meal with your special one. Many cooking classesfeature specialty chefs from your local area, cocktails, and guided sessions on knife skills and plating. Then enjoy a candle lit dinner. 

3. Citrus Scents

Totally a favorite on a normal day, grapefruit is known to boost confidence and … ahem performance. Wink. Wink. This grapefruit + cardamomscent will also enhance mood and decrease stress so you are kept in the moment.

4. Shadow Box

  Swoon! Fill a shadow box with tokens from your relationship: photos, tickets, notes.

5. Chocolate!!!

Yes! Chocolate! But you can take it beyond sweets, like these fancy hot chocolatecanisters sourced from South America or the Dominican Republic. 

And yes! Etta+Billie has you covered in the chocolate realm too. Every one of our main products has cocoa butter in it (aka the main ingredient in Chocolate). We also use cocoa powder in our Geranium Patchouli Soap (double the chocolate).

Want more information on this chocolatey goodness? Check back next week for our ingredient spotlight on cocoa butter. 

Go-To Tips: Goal Planning When You Just Aren’t Feeling Motivated

It happens: One week we are motivated and killing it at work, at home, and out in the world. The next week, it feels like we’ve been hit by a freight train and we are not motivated to get anything done. It’s a shame too … your to do list is sitting pretty, written in gold pen on top that hilarious Emily McDowell notepad you treated yourself to last year. But what happens when you are just struggling to check any of it off?

1. TAKE A BREAK

If you’re unmotivated because you’re burnt out, take a break before starting up again.  There are many things you can do when finding yourself in a slump that might recharge you: 

Take a little “you” time to regroup, recharge, and get going again. 

2. BE AMBITIOUS (BUT NOT TOO AMBITIOUS)

If you are finding yourself in a pattern of being overwhelmed, revamp your to-do list. Set actionable daily goals and stick to the list. If you get done early in the day, instead of moving on to tomorrow’s list, take the rest of the day off to prep, plan, and envision what you will be doing tomorrow. Be ambitious with your goals, but don’t be overly ambitious in trying to achieve those goals in one day. Make a list and plan on doing at least one thing a day that gets you to your goals. 

3. CELEBRATE SUCCESS

Celebrate the victories, both big and small. If you are moving forward, then you are succeeding. Its cliché, but progress is progress. If you stay positive about the execution of your goals, it’s easier to stay motivated. Sometimes just making this shift to a more positive outlook can make all the difference. 

Want more ideas? Read our article on Go To Tips: 8 Simple Ways to Take Better Care of Yourself.

Recipe Roundup: Cozy Winter Dishes

I admit it: I’m pretty anti-traditional when it comes to resolutions. People generally pick something and then beat themselves up about not doing it, or just have a hard time incorporating it into their lives because it’s something really intense – like going from never exercising to setting a goal to go to the gym 5 days a week! It’s not very sustainable or easy to accomplish. 

But I also love that the New Year sparks the imagination for improving your healthy and happiness. And it’s one of my favorite times of year to try out new (somewhat healthy) recipes. 

I’m talking about the kind of meals you eat while wearing fuzzy socks. These Winter recipes are the ultimate in soul-warming comfort food. And healthy (ish) too! 

So, park yourself in front of the fireplace and chow down on these amazing cozy dishes. After all, the New Year is about improvement, not deprivation. 

Roasted Winter Vegetable Bowl

Pepper-Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

Lemon Chicken Piccata

Apple Crisp in a Mug

Where to Go? What to Eat? Manhattan, NY

Manhattan is known for many things—theater, shopping, dining, sightseeing, you name it—making it a very popular spot for both visitors and residents. With everything New York City has to offer, it can be overwhelming knowing where to start. Where should you go? What should you see? Where should you eat?

Sylvia Parker, owner of Magpie and a native New Yorker, has you covered! Sylvia’s shop—located in the Upper West Side of Manhattan—offers unique, beautiful, and practical gifts that are frequently handmade, organic, and locally made and designed. “We’ve been on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for six years,” says Sylvia. “We love our neighborhood for its mix of people, our proximity to two wonderful parks (Central and Riverside), the cultural richness, and old-time architecture.”

river and manhattan skyline

Where to Go?

American Museum of Natural History

Just a few blocks away from Magpie lies the American Museum of Natural History, a city landmark with world-famous exhibits. “I’ve always loved the old-fashioned dioramas and the giant blue whale suspended from the ceiling there,” Sylvia remarks. One of the largest museums in the world, the AMNH offers spectacles and exhibits for children and adults alike.

Central Park Rambles

A wooded area within Central Park, the Rambles are a restored area of the park that have been fitted with nature trails, gardens, and bird feeders. Located between 73rd and 78th streets, the Rambles offer a beautiful outdoor space full of both native and exotic plant species as well as views of a pond where visitors take out rowboats when the weather is nice.

Shakespeare Garden

Also in Central Park is the Shakespeare Garden, located near the Delacorte Theatre, the site of the annual “Shakespeare in the Park” series held in the summer. A less-frequented part of the park, this serene and picturesque part of the park is perfect for a relaxing stroll on its winding paths. Full of seasonal flowers, the garden is particularly lush in the spring and is a popular spot for outdoor weddings.

Museum Mile

A fifteen-minute walk across the park takes you to Museum Mile, which features one block after another of incredible museums including the Guggenheim, Cooper Hewitt, Frick, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, “which I consider one of the best (if not the best) museums in the world,” Sylvia adds.

Riverside Park

With four miles of park, from 72nd to 158th street along the Hudson River, Riverside Park is frequently considered one of the best waterfront parks in Manhattan. With sunset views, a bike path, outdoor cafes in the summer, a skate park, and other sports courts and fields; this park is a must-see when visiting the city.

food and drinks

What to Eat?

Zabars and Fairway Market

Two longtime favorites, Zabar’s and Fairway Market are both famed for their selections of cheese, coffee, and foodstuffs from around the world.

Orwashers, Maison Kayser, and By the Way

“Orwashers and Maison Kayser have particularly delicious bread and pastries,” notes Sylvia. “I also like a bakery called By the Way that sells homey gluten-free and dairy-free cakes and cookies.”

Murray’s Sturgeon

Murray’s Sturgeon, a gourmet deli, sells everything from dried fruit to smoked fish and has “the sweetest counter service ever.”

Amelie Wine Bar

A French bistro that was recently cited by Michelin, Amelie has phenomenal brunch and dinner menus as well as a wine list that is updated daily.

Mermaid Inn and Pizzeria Sirenetta

Mermaid Inn and Pizzeria Sirenetta are sister restaurants that both have terrific happy hour food. Pizzeria Sirenetta serves Neapolitan pizzas and rustic Italian fare while the Mermaid Inn is known for their seafood.

Jin Ramen

Another good spot for happy hour food, Jin Ramen offers delicious Japanese food and—of course—multiple kinds of ramen to choose from.

Shake Shack

The second Shake Shack to have ever opened its doors, this Upper West Side staple is popular among tourists, residents, and folks who work in the neighborhood. “There is always a long line outside for the burgers at Shake Shack.”

Amorino and Van Leeuwen

It’s also a good neighborhood for ice cream lovers,” Sylvia notes. “Amorino sells Italian-based gelato, while Van Leeuwen is local and features vegan ice cream in its shop.”