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Ad Hoc.

"for temporary relief from hunger..."
That's the motto at Ad Hoc.
Here piggie, here.
That's how I felt here at Ad Hoc.

As part deux of my mama-shower, my design girls treated me to a fabulous Sunday Brunch at this yummy bistro in Napa, one of the more "casual" joints by Thomas Keller of French Laundry & Bouchon's.  I'm only calling it a bistro since linens were absent from the table tops.  But unlike FL, you don't need to spend 4 hours AND half of your life's savings to dine at Ad Hoc.  With waiters in jeans and brown Dickies putton-ups, jammin' Johnny Cash-ish Pandora swooning us, and a farm-to-table organic local menu, it was the perfect spot for a lazy Sunday with your yappiest of girlfriends.

The girls started with a few Strawberry Lemonade Sangrias while Beanie & I chugged glasses of fresh squeezed OJ....ahhhh.  
Then the magic started to happen.
We opened with some Bouchon Bakery Pecan Sticky Buns, accompanied with some sort of fruit confection laced with lemon curd glaze.  

The feast continued with simply eggs & ham over toast...they had MUCH better wording of this, but that's the gist.  They paired the entree with a generous bowl of the creamiest grits EVER, tossed in some perfectly sauteed shrimp and sprinkles of asparagus and called it done.  Served to me in it's own cooking pan, I had some robustly seasoned escarole and leeks instead of the ham, my gosh it was good!  What pixie dust did they sprinkle over these veggies??? Oink.

We finished off the Prix Fixe brunch with homemade coffee ice cream, oven fresh golden brownies, and warm cookies for dessert...that's right, c-o-f-f-e-e i-c-e-c-r-e-a-m, my personal favorite.  Needless to say, we were too busy scarfing this course down to have time to take a picture for you.  
Oink.  Oink.

We almost couldn't stand for the photos with such a big belly...oh wait, that just me at near 37weeks now.  Ok, fine.  And a big food belly on top.

The day was so Napa-beautiful, we decided to swing by Robert Sinskey's Winnery for a taste of their "fine wines from organic vines."  Kid you not, that's their catch phrase.  I'm feeling quite high brow and hoity-toity at this point.  Anyways, RS is known to offer tastings with fantastic food & snack pairings.  
Yes, we need more food right now.

This looks oh-so-WRONG with that 9month bump...

No worries, I focused mostly on the snack plate and the truffle salted popcorn treat they served.  I stumbled out of the vineyard drunk with life...these last few weeks before the baby comes will be one to remember as this may be my last time around.  For as uncomfortable as it has been at times during this whole transition, it really is beautiful to see the ripple a tiny new being is causing in my own still pond of a life.

The temporary relief of hunger actually lasted ALL DAY.
Thanks so much M & A, for your generous hospitality today.
Looking forward to our next pig-out together, post baby.


LAB Work: Mimi

Work Budget:  As needed
Time:  Some shopping time + 1 Friday afternoon
Location:  Oakland, CA

Want to take a seat?
Boy, I do.
At 9 months pregnant, waddling, formerly known as walking, is a chore.
But taking on a new design project?
It's like a craving, I just can't resist when it comes to a LAB transformation.
This is my last one, I promise to cut back.
(For now.)

It's a small & cozy one...68 SF to be exact.
Mimi is one of Zozo's classmates at their bilingual Montessori school. Recently, her parents noticed that M's toys have somehow slowly migrated to take nest in every nook & cranny of their beautiful Oakland home.
Sound familiar?
"We've GOT to do something about this...".
Mimi's mom has always wished for a useful Montessori inspired home space.  Any skills picked up at school is always best when reinforced at home.
Practice means routine.
Routine means freedom.
Freedom to learn, to do, to create, to expand.
So here we are, the LAB is on hand for some much needed help to bring this migration to a screeching halt.

Welcome to "Mimi's Office"...
Mom & Dad each have home offices, so why not Mimi?
The breakfast nook is currently the "random toy storage", which actually serves as a walk way to the kitchen.  So we say "Bye-bye random junk room...Hello new office!"

Here's a quick LAB sketch to plot out the various functions we want:  A reading nook, Arts & Crafts, Self Care Station, Work Area, Snack Prep, Cleaning Station, and Chalkboard.  The LAB came up with an open circulation plan using a toddler table set as the island anchor.  A short "wall partition" shelving unit creates a walkway to the kitchen while providing some privacy to the nook.  Come, let's take a tour around the office!

The Color Inspiration?
The black & white french toile fabric on the existing built-in bench and roman shades.  This is our take off point in setting the pallet in this room:  black, white, and a sprinkle of sage tea green!

The Reading Nook
This beautiful bay window is the highlight of this book nook (See 1st photo above).  The natural sunlight, the view, the bench - all elements that would lure you into this corner to read, think, chat.
But, it was blocked.
A dollhouse was pushed up against the bench wall, making it inaccessible, and worst...invisible.  This focal point needed to be uncovered.  We removed the dollhouse immediately, added a bold stripe blanket, tossed in a tea green pillow, and set a floor lamp with a whimsical floral embroidery for added lighting.  A bookshelf was placed adjacent to the reading lamp for easy access to a rotating book collection.  The set up is now warm & inviting for reflection and reading, alone or with company.

Arts & Crafts Station
If there's one thing kids do, it's art.  And lots of it.  This is one of Mimi's favorite home activities.  We wanted everything accessible for her to retrieve on her own, and of course, PUT BACK on her own.  Let's not forget, this is a Hapa LAB transformation, work is part of the fun!

Top Shelf:  Paper stash & a wood caddy for holding glue, tape, rulers, stapler....etc.
2nd Shelf:  Galvanized metal buckets hold crayons, markers, pencils, brushes, and scissors.
Bottom Shelf:  soft bins to store stationary, stickers, craft ingredients; we used sage green to bring in the color from the toss pillow.

Self Care (Vanity/Grooming)
The original plan had the Reading & Art shelves butting up next to one another.  But there was a glitch.  A 13" wide air vent in the middle of the wall required a back up plan.  In a Montessori space, it's always good to have a Self Grooming Area.  We placed a vanity mirror and a rod with hanging buckets below to hold sunscreen, hair brushes, hair ties and other sundries.  This will help Mimi get herself ready for the day each morning.

Work Area  
Ever try to work at home but you don't have a dedicated seat or desk?  Very inconvenient to say the least.  We threw in 4 chairs and a generous work surface as we expect playmates and large craft projects.  A fun black & white rug anchors this area visually by highlighting it from the wood floor.  This creates a nice circulation to the room, allowing access to the table from 3 sides, getting any supplies needed, and approaching the reading nook.  We hung a roll of art paper and hooks on the back of the dividing shelf, doubling up the function in this small space.

Partition Wall Storage
Our favorite Ikea shelf is back, the Expedite!  In a jiffy, it created a private partition for the office while housing practical life items and providing supply storage below via woven baskets, a soothing natural touch against the white finish.  We added lockable casters so this piece can easily roll to the counter wall when they need to open up during a party.

In the distance (above photo), we mounted a chalk tray underneath the bar counter.  For $12, you can get a can of brush on latex chalkboard paint and turn a boring drywall into a writable surface!  A good use for a vertical wall surface that would otherwise be wasted.  What kid wouldn't want to draw on walls if they could, right?

Snack Prep
Mom plans on serving some yummy snacks in this office.  They have a wonderful little "snack clock" that shows Mimi when her next snack time is, and better yet, WHAT she will be having!  I got her a note clipper so Mom can better display what's coming on the snack menu.
In the cubbies below, we placed a H2O dispenser, glasses, mugs, plates, bowls, utensils, and left a shelf for placemats and napkins.  Clear placement of snack supplies will help her set the table as well as guide her in putting away clean dishes.

Cleaning Station
What LAB transformation is complete without a Cleaning Station?  We used a narrow 3tier shelf to hold the trash can, hand broom, wipe clothes, spray bottle, and other supplies.

The Nature Tray
Montessori welcomes natural elements.
We finished up this M-inspired space with a Nature Tray so that Mimi can get creative with the Earth.  It's so lovely to have cut flowers, stones, leaves, twigs, or anything a child may find on a morning walk around the neighborhood.  We used a wooden tray and a small glass vase as the base.  Zozie designed this display on his own using some cuttings from the garden as a surprise for Mimi.  This is a nice topping on the partition wall, welcoming guests into this space.

So this is it!
Our last LAB transformation before our new arrival comes.
Who's crazy enough to do a new design project at 9 months pregnant?
The same one who opened a new Lobby Lounge for a LA hotel 5 days before birthing Zozie.
Seems like a trend for me.
Install a project, birth a child.
Easy enough, right?
I give Beanie 14 days...



This is Green Gulch Farm.
And 14miles away in SF, is Greens, the pioneer of elegant vegetarian cuisine.  Pushing the envelope in the 70's, Greens has brought an awareness of vegetarian fine dining to a whole new level.
Green Gulch is the organic farm that shares the same campus as an active American Zen Center in Marin County.  It is also an active supplier of fresh organic produce for Greens all year long.

As a Zen minded family, Green Gulch is a special place for us, especially with us having Zozie.  As Zen is most often a solo self practice, it is a rare find to come across a community that had any children at all, let alone an actual "Children's Program" each 1st Sunday of the month!  This is not simply childcare while you go and self practice.  It is actually a program designed to engage and involve children into Zen practice itself.  The farm is a natural practice ground for such teachings.

As my due date approaches, I wanted to celebrate our new arrival.
The growth and birth of a new being, from nothing, to now, something.
This is not my first time around.  In fact, it is my fourth.
The two, after Zozie, have come and gone but stay with me, though this current one is kicking the hardest now, in both my mind and belly.
The miracle of it all still inspires me.
All have made full and complete life cycles, some just longer than others.
For Beanie, she is just beginning.
And I wanted to give this little bud that acknowledgement...

Greens was the perfect pick for my "Non-Baby Shower".
I wanted no more gifts, no more clothes, no more gear, and no more life extinguished for celebration (vegetarian)....just well wishes, support, advice, and good old fashioned friendship.
I have all I need to dress, feed, change, and entertain a newborn.
But really good food with really good friends?
Can never have too much of that!

I have the perfect circle of Mandarin Mommies to celebrate this occasion billed as my "Last Hoorah Dinner".  Food was one of our connections.  We have a long standing Mother's Night Out every 3rd Saturday of the month.  That's how much we love food...and how much we love gabbing with each other.  So every month, for one night only, we are free spirits, unencumbered, and feeling like we can stay up and out, all night long, college style.  Most often, we pay for it the next day.  Toddlers jumping on our faces bright and early, starting the day for us without our written, verbal, or physical consent.  But even with that, our monthly MNO is sacred.

Almost graduating at 9 months (36wks), and fellow bump bearer at 6 months.

My non-baby shower then moved into a private singing room at the Music Tunnel, our local Karaoke bar, where they serve yummy boba milk teas and Taiwanese stinky tofu, (yes, at the same time).
I know, a super classy follow up to the wholesome fine dining experience at Greens, right?  You betcha.  One of the most fun nights in a long time, thanks to each of my Mandarin mamas for making this happen.
Pass the mic and pass the stinky tofu... we took the stage in my last hoorah!
(Now if I can dig up that YMCA clip to attach...hummmm....)