Like many, I have left my heart in San Francisco a few times. My earliest memory is of kids piled in back of a canopy-covered, stick-shift pickup truck, waiting in the “bumper-to-bumper” uphill line for our chance to drive down iconic Lombard Street. To make the experience even more unique, we were already wearing our new silk pajamas from Chinatown. I will have to confirm the details of my memory on that one, but I do believe we made it down the crookedest street in the world that night without bumping anyone. I also have come to suspect that splurging on vibrantly embroidered pajamas from Chinatown in San Francisco, and wearing them before the sun has set, is in fact another one of our “unique” family traditions. Keep reading to find out more about our San Francisco adventures, favorite spots, future plans, and how to stitch those DIY Embroidered Tea Towels.
My mom and I have since returned to SF, once with our guys where we dressed up for an unforgettable Cioppino dinner, followed by a night out in the Starlight Room. A few years later, we took a trip with the peeps and pedaled our rented bikes all the way from the Boudin Bakery chowder bowls to the Golden Gate Bridge. Then again, just last month, we found our way back just Mom and Me. How do you put a handmade stamp on those types of special memories I wondered, so that you can savor them forever? That’s how I got the idea for embroidering these cute DIY tea towels.
Cat Studio has a wonderful collection of adorable tea towel designs from all the States and a few cities worldwide. I saw them all over the shops in San Francisco and purchased mine at home at Down To Earth. Claudia Pearson also has her beautiful artwork available online as tea towels (Portland, Oregon’s is especially cute) through West Elm, or at the Whole Foods in Chelsea Market, NYC, which is one of my mom’s fav places! I found several other flour sack towels, and all the embroidery supplies, locally at places like Target and Walmart also, so it’s very easy to find the goods for this project.
The printed art is already lovely on all of these towels. Although I admired them in the shops, they didn’t have quite enough punch for me to want to spend $10-$15 dollars for a dish towel. Then I remembered the coloring trick we learned from our teenage babysitter a few years ago, about using outlining to make it really pop!
I thought that this trick just might add that extra pizazz to these towels that I was looking for. You can see the difference of outline coloring captured here in these two sailboat pictures:
Funny story… our kids grew up in the era of helicopter parenting, at a time when we were being instructed by the media to make sure our kids were “coloring outside the lines.” When our teenage babysitter first taught my daughter how to outline color, I was super nervous. Not only were we encouraging our daughter to color “within the lines” we were actually suggesting she outline them too! Despite this terrible parenting, our girl loved the new technique and the masterpieces she could create this way. Looking back now, I think it actually helped her to master new motor skills, find her inner creativity, and to foster what we hope will become a lifelong love for the arts.
DIY Stitched Flour Sack Tea Towels – What You Will Need:
- Flour Sack Tea Towel (These are the perfect thickness, easy to embroider)
- Embroidery Hoop (Available at craft supply shops. I had one at home)
- Embroidery Thread (Available at craft supply shops. I bought mine at Michael’s)
- Sewing Needle (Available at craft supply shops. I had one at home)
- Scissors (Available at craft and office supply shops)
I am new to embroidery, and there are a few different ways to stitch. I found this online video really helpful in getting started. It’s hard to tell in the photos, but I picked a few of the places that Mom and I enjoyed on this last trip to embroidery highlight for her – and boy did we have an amazing time! Here’s a peek at the fun we had and a few recommendations.
Irish Coffees at The Buena Vista
All of our memories of going to San Francisco include making a stop at the legendary Buena Vista, so this time we figured why not just hop on a cable car and start there. It’s always a great choice.
Pier 39 and the Ferry Building
After fueling up at the Buena Vista, we decided to try something new and check out the scene at Pier 39 and the Ferry Building. It was jam-packed with food shops and stops. If only we hadn’t just eaten! I would definitely go back there again, especially if I was hungry and had time for ice cream and the Hog Island Oyster Co.
Chestnut Shopping District (and Downtown, Fillmore, Hyde and Union)
What can I say, this was a total Girls Trip! When my mom said she heard we should try the Chestnut Shopping District, she didn’t know she had me at “Chestnut.” I mean really, if you could hand-pick a name for a place to spend an afternoon, wouldn’t it be “Chestnut Street?” Oh yes, we did find some very sweet shops there, and not just sweet as in darling marinewear (which is a big hit for us sailor girls), but also “sweet tooth sweet” as in Susie’s Cakes. Apparently, “cupcakes are the new coffee” in Chestnut Land.
Perfect Potrero Hill
You’ve got to hand it to the bloggers. I definitely think they are having more fun. Julia’s gorgeous account of Potrero Hill was enough to get us out in time for breakfast at Provender Coffee. If only you could taste pictures. Would you believe that the Avocado Toast there was the best thing we ate in San Francisco, and possibly one of the best breakfasts I’ve had in my life? Seriously. They have something good going on there, and I’m going to be following Julia and Thomas around the world now on their blogging trips, like this cute Potrero Hill pup, to get peeks in to any other mouth-watering recommendations they would like to share with us.
Potrero Hill also happens to be a delightful neighborhood. It’s out from the City a bit, and the view looks back across at Downtown. We enjoyed browsing the area and landed at Anchor Brewing Company, hoping to take advantage of a cancellation to enjoy their morning tour. Having only recently heard about these events, we didn’t realize how quickly they fill up, how fun they are, and that no one actually cancels their brew tour reservations. Why would you? So, we had to beg and grovel to get in. Truth be told, it worked for us and was worth it, but it wasn’t pretty. Our recommendation… this is a super cool “steamed in tradition” tour and you should book it as soon as you know you’re headed to San Francisco!
After hiking our way back up those Potrero Hills, our nose led us to Chez Maman for lunch.
Fair warning, you will have to wait in a lovely setting and suffer inhaling all the wonderful aromas in order to get a table. Everything looked and smelled so good on this menu that we could have had anything and been very satisfied. Honest confession – we left our self-control at Chez Maman and splurged on the Apricot Chardonnay Gelato. I repeat… Apricot Chardonnay Gelato. If you ever have that opportunity, don’t think about whether you are full or not, just say yes!
Potrero Hill was so special, that I really wished I had found a print or photo to capture that experience. Back home, I did some research online and found the artwork of Wayne Thiebaud. He spent some time living and painting there. I especially love this one of Potrero Hill and also how he captured the sweet cake experiences we found in San Francisco. I don’t see where these prints are available online, so now I’m hoping to track down one of his art books.
Painting of Potrero Hill by Wayne Thiebaud found at TheArtStack
Finding Neverland – Orpheum Theatre
To cap off our weekend in San Francisco, we had an Uber-iffic fun time at the Finding Neverland show at the Orpheum Theatre. I say Uber-iffic, because that turned out to be a great surprise. We were transported all over town via Uber’s “Pool” option, and it was easy to figure out, worked great, and introduced us to a lot of friendly people we wouldn’t otherwise have met. We listened as NYC and Chicago natives debated who has the best pizza. We rode with a sweet and stylish girl that got dropped off at Hayes street, which led us to want to go back later and enjoy that neighborhood. We shared a ride with the energy of twenty-somethings ready for a night out in the City. It was all a lot of fun.
The Orpheum Theatre was beautiful and the performance was mesmerizing! It was the perfect “cherry on top” to a fantastic trip. What do you say Mom, do you want to Never Grow Up with me?
P.S. If you haven’t checked out my Daychanger page, it has a new idea every month for how to have more fun.
P.P.S. A tip on something in the future to do in San Francisco is to grab one of the bike tours that lets you ride across the Golden Gate Bridge, enjoy playing Bocce Ball with a view here, and then leaving your bike and catching a ferry back. That was the advice we got from a local, and it’s on our list for next time.
P.P.P.S. Below are some more pics from the great trip to San Francisco we took with the kids a few years ago. The highlight for us was the Steinhart Aquarium – absolutely fantastic and a must see if you haven’t been!