A San Francisco Morning with Helene in Between

Mom, hear me out. I met up with someone from the Internet...

... and looky, I wasn't kidnapped! Far from it, actually. Helene (I'm sure you know her already!) and I have known each other for a couple of years now thanks to this crazy little blog universe, and I reckon that I know more about her life than some of my own IRL friends'. Mind-boggling, right? Or should I say, mind-bloggling?

Okay, I'll stop. It's late and my mind's gone cuckoo, apparently.

Anywhoodles, Helene was in town for a hot second last week, and I couldn't let her slip away without giving her a hug in person! Bright and early on Friday, I raced the sun over to Helene's hotel, fetched her sweet soul, and then together we ventured over to Mr. Holmes Bakehouse, an Instagram icon that I felt was best experienced with an Instagram star in tow.
We took our time photographing every inch of the bakery (oh, to be hanging out with another blogger!), and then on tiptoes, inspected every enticing pastry. Eventually, we settled on sharing a ham & cheese croissant, a kouign amman, and my personal favorite - a pear cream-filled, sugar-dusted donut!

10/10 would recommend, folks. These baked goods are beyond, which is quite the dangerous fact as I can see myself Ubering over for a sweet treat much too often now.
How cute is Helene?!

She's just as genuine and bubbly and blog-savvy as she comes across on her blog (and Instagram and Snapchat and Twitter and... and, that's as much as I can handle keeping up with at this point #InternetDinosaur). 

I always find it so refreshing having the opportunity to spent time with fellow bloggers - sometimes, I feel like I'm living a double life, and each time I've met up with a blogger in real life (hi Jordyn and Kelly!), my love for this community gets validated a smidge more. Chatting about other blogger friends, discussing the quickly evolving world of social media, getting deep into SEO and photography and platforms ... I emerge from these conversations feeling newly inspired and motivated and all, blogging's the BEST EVER!
After stuffing ourselves silly with buttery croissants, Helene and I made our way over to the Golden Gate Bridge, who was acting quite shy and hiding behind low-hanging fog.

But you know, it made a beautiful scene, regardless. Very on brand, as Helene joked.
Deciding that we might as well make it a true San Francisco morning tour, we headed first to Ghirardelli Square (as the sun chose to make an appearance!),  
then cruised along the water from Fisherman's Wharf where we watched as the bakers at Boudin shape sourdough into teddy bears and turtles, 
to the charming Pier 39, our final destination.

Most of the sea lions were laying low, but the ones who were out were sunbathing and playfully making conversation with the crowd. At this point, the sun was out in full force, the water in the bay was gleaming, and San Francisco really started showing off. So rare to have such a warm day during our delightfully strange Indian summer!
Then, realizing that it was quickly approaching work hours, we said our goodbyes (and Helene sweetly gave me her signature white rug as a parting gift!) and from there, Helene went on to break the Internet at the Daily Tay's wedding with Sarah from Venus Trapped in Mars and I beelined it to much less glamorous work meetings in the Financial District.

All in a morning's work! Thanks for hanging out with me, Helene!

Have you met a blogger friend in real life? Was it everything you expected and more? And most importantly, when are you headed to San Francisco so that I can hang out with you as well?!
PS. A throwback to brunch and the Guggenheim with Kelly, brunch and exploring Cow Hollow with Jordyn (yes, I really love brunch), and dinner in Seattle with Jordyn!

Falling In Love At Kittea Cat Cafe + Tasty Carnival Fare

Fun fact: my roommates banned me from ever paying a visit to the new cat cafe in town. I've been itching to go since the day it opened, but have also been kept on a VERY tight leash. Each time Hanna (my one co-conspirator) or I tentatively broach the subject, we're immediately shot down.

Me: "Does anyone want to..."

Any Given Roommate: "I swear if you say 'go to the cat cafe,' I will lock you in your room with a pot of green tea and my parents' dog."

Every. Time. 

So when my partner-in-crime Cassandra was in town this week and the rest of the roommates disappeared to who-knows-where, Hanna and I saw an opportunity and ran with it. We called up Kittea Cat Cafe in Hayes Valley and after hearing that they had an availability in twenty minutes, threw on clothes and ran out the door.
Twenty Minutes Later

...after gleefully observing the kitties from the tea cafe side of the place and pointing to each furry little guy excitedly, at long last it was time to take our shoes off and situate ourselves in heaven.

We went straight for Holly, the playful little girl who could hold her own (she hissed the cutest, most non-threatening hiss when a cat three times her size tried to play). 
Hanna made a beeline for Piglet, a sweet baby girl who was quite the curious athlete, rappelling up Hanna's shoulder every chance she could, or even better, poking her nose into entirely new territory: 
Piglet says she's willing to write a "What's In My Bag" columnist for us! Doesn't that sound meowvaleous?
This beaut is Autumn, the funniest kittycat there.

When we first met her, she was misleadingly taking a nap... but very soon after, she stirred awake once the scent of paninis and scones wafted over to her. Autumn's the foodie of the group - braving hell and high water in an effort to sneak up within a millimeter of anything edible by hoomanz. She waited impatiently under tables stacked with food, then decided why not try her charm on top of the tables before sternly getting a talking-to from her handlers. Two minutes later, she was back at it again.

I have to say, I appreciated the perseverance! Autumn's my type of gal. 
SO THEN, I fell in love. Head over paws in love.

Cassandra spotted this gorgeous princess from afar, picked her up, and plopped her right into my lap.

And then she never left.

Her name's Dark Chocolate, Cocoa for short... and you. guys. At seven weeks old, she was the tiniest, sweetest thing you ever did see. She curled up nice and small into my lap, purring away as I petted her for a full hour, and adorably meowing in protest whenever anyone else dared touch her. Every so often, she would stand up–and right when I thought she'd decided it was time to say goodbye, she simply readjusted herself to be more comfortable and laid back down.

My heart... was in pieces. This is the reason why I'm banned from cat cafes–my roommates know me well enough to know that an experience like this was way likelier to happen than not.
As Cocoa refused to move an inch (she's demanding when it comes to naps! you see why we get along!), other cats stopped by to say hello before returning on their merry way to play.

Our ONE gripe was that we weren't able to meet Stanford, an eight-year-old black cat who we fell in love with over Instagram. Kittea calls him their very own celebrity, and we've been dying to see him for weeks... but alas, the gentleman decided to be a diva and hid in a box in the back during our visit, and so... no dice.
This is Goose, a super shy kitten who Cassandra spent her entire visit coaxing out of hiding from under a piece of furniture. After half an hour, Goose finally complied, but fell asleep upright in Cassandra's arms...

Is that not the cutest thing you've ever seen??
Each of us with a kitten in our arms, we settled down into a corner with our endless pots of tea and debated the pro's and con's of bringing one (or three) home.

Me: we're doing it.

Voice of Reason(s): okay, but really?

Me: WE'RE DOING IT. Cocoa's comin' home with us!! 
I mean, how could you say no?!

Well... one deterrent: Mr. Oliver. Dapper as he may look, he was quite the rambunctious guy who first took a playful swipe at Hanna's leg and then decided that Cassandra's pigtails were his prey. He batted at the braids and then gnawed at her scalp, and then we were like:

perhaps we should reconsider. 
At the end of the day, I came as close to bringing home a pet as I ever have (no but seriously, HOW did I say goodbye to those beautiful eyes) but alas, mind won over heart. I wanted Cocoa to have a family who has the time and energy to play with her all day every day, and for her to be spoiled with all the luxuries in the world.

It was the most heartbreaking thing ever when Hanna pried Cocoa off of my lap... she laid her down gently on a furry throw, but as we watched from outside, she looked so lost and confused out of the warmth of my lap.

In happier news, as I was obsessively checking their Instagram last night, I saw that the most precious family adopted not only Cocoa but Holly too! While it did hurt my soul just a little, I know that those kittens will grow up in a most loving home.
In need of a drink and some grub (the cat cafe had been our first stop of the day, and it was already 2pm at this point!), we wandered the streets of Hayes Valley listlessly until we came upon an intriguing restaurant called Straw. There was no wait, and the food looked delicious so we claimed a table - and later found out that it's a super popular spot with a ridiculous wait typically!

Counting our lucky stars, we ordered Strawberry Basil mimosas and a Bloody Mary.
... and flipped through their quirky menu, bellies rumbling. 
Shared the Rocky Mountain Madame - egg-in-a-hole brioche toast with prosciutto, swiss, and the most insane bechamel drizzled all over, plus a delicious serving of home fries.

Also an order of the Fried Chicken n' Waffles Monte Cristo (apparently it's been on TV!) - crispy chicken sandwiched between belgian waffles dusted with powdered sugar and jam - as crazy scrumptious as it sounds. Plus amazing sweet potato tater tots dipped in barbeque sauce! 

We weren't hungry enough for The Ringmaster, Straw's famous donut burger, but there's always next time!
Finally, I can't talk "carnival fare" without telling you about another new San Francisco find that we stumbled upon on a walk last weekend. 

The Myriad Market Hall, between the Castro and the Mission. Chock full of lovely food vendors and live music.

We whiled away an afternoon at the bar of the San Francisco Brewing Co., and the owners were the friendliest people ever - they beckoned the guy who ran the "robot-made" baguettes next door to toss us a baguette to try and then escorted us over the cookie place to make sure that we tasted a damn good cookie ("it's a $4 cookie, it has to be good...") - so much fun!

Highly recommend if you're at a loss of what to do on a weekend!  
A purrfect weekend comes to an end, sadly enough.
Have you ever visited a cat cafe?!

Hiking Lands End in San Francisco

There's an old joke about San Francisco dwellers, which is that once the weekend hits, you'll find them either a) hiking, or b) in line at brunch. Sometimes both. Actually, more often both than not. And as I am not one to pass up a ticket aboard the predictablewagon, a couple of Saturdays ago I found myself doing just that. Sort of.

Leah and I rolled out of bed and commandeered the kitchen–she on pancake duty and me to whip up some eggs. Then we woke a reluctant Hanna, had a light brunch that we didn't have to wait two hours in line for, and then scampered out of the apartment to give our lovely cleaners some space.

Our Uber rolled past Ocean Beach, where there was a Corgi Con (!!!!) but my friends would not let us stop to go check it out because they "don't think Corgis are cute" and yes, now I am currently reconsidering these friendships. The compromise was to stop at Cliff House (which by the way has the best popovers), try and see the Corgis from afar, and then set out on our expedition.
First stop: the storied Sutro Baths! Public saltwater swimming pool complexes from way back in the day. Along with Lands End itself, Sutro Baths has been a SF mainstay that we've been longing to check out for awhile now. 
It's an easy hike with incredible views of the Golden Gate Bridge and of the Bay in general, and we stopped to snap pictures every other step, it seemed like.
For a breather, I plopped on down atop a ledge that overlooked Mile Rock Beach, enjoying the crashing waves, the melody of what sounded like an organ far off in the distance, and the sunshine gently beating down on my back.
Then, a little birdy named Leah decided to keep me company.
And Hanna, too.
And lest you thought our squad was complete...

it wasn't.

After having enough of a break, we decided to keep going - and came upon the Labyrinth.
Not too long after, we finished off our hike with a grin and a walk through the unbelievably posh neighborhood of Seacliff (um those houses ... are ridiculous) and a happy hour at Embarcadero.

A Saturday well spent.

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