I’ve actually never decorated our apartment for Christmas before. But since I decided to host a Holiday Party this year, I got a little bit more motivated. 

Not too exciting, I know. But it does help make things feel a little festive. And I’m particularly proud of our tiny, tiny tree (Sawyer is obsessed with it). 

IMG_3285I ordered a bunch of crepe paper for super cheap online, and made some (incredibly easy) garlands from Oh Happy Day (she does the best party decor). 

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Sprinkled some Christmas lights on the bar for cheer … 

IMG_3290… and thought Kelly’s guitar could use a little festivity too. 

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Of course, our chalkboard was the easiest thing to update. 

IMG_3288I even got motivated to string up a few extra garlands before the party!

(I told you Sawyer loves that tree)

xo

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A while ago, I made a quick note at the end of a post about a brilliant idea I read in a comment online. The article was about composting — how everyone wants to do it and knows they should do it, but it’s hard to actually make it happen. I have a composting bin in my kitchen that was provided to me for free by the wonderful city of San Francisco, but I hardly use it because it’s a pain to deal with. It stinks up my tiny kitchen, is impossible to find a decent bag for, and emptying it is the worst. 

But this commenter had a brilliant solution: Every week, she saves all of her vegetable scraps, and freezes them. Everything: spinach stems, onion skins, garlic shavings, ends of carrots and potato peels. Then, when she has a free afternoon, she dumps it all in a pot of water, flavors accordingly, and boils it for a few hours to make vegetable broth. Genius, no? 

So I did it. 

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It worked out great (as you can see above — this is only half, I froze the rest), and I’m totally going to keep doing this. There is a caveat — I have a small freezer, so I can’t do this with all my vegetable scraps otherwise I’d have no room in there. But it is really easy (I love that I can keep this in the freezer until I have the time to make the broth), it makes me feel like I’m throwing less away, and the homemade stock is a delicious bonus. This is a mix of chard, onion, carrots, garlic, potatoes, and Lord knows what else. I put it all in my biggest pot of water, flavored it with rosemary, parsley and peppercorn, and let it boil for 3 hours. At the very end I decided to put in a big tablespoon of miso for that extra umami, but I think it would’ve been fine without it anyways. 

With this sudden gloomy weather in California, I fully intend on making some extra-delicious soup tomorrow night. 

xo

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In college, I was lucky enough to get a beautiful coffee table from my stepmom. 

IMG_3271It’s a piece with quite a history — built by Drexel Heritage Furniture in 1960 (see the notation on the bottom of the table?). 

IMG_3267Unfortunately, I didn’t quite realize this for the first few years I owned this piece, and brimming cups of sangria, spilled mugs of green tea, and the occasional dinner mishap took their toll on this poor little guy. The evidence is above. 

IMG_3266So I decided to do something about it this weekend. After poking around online a bit for various water/heat damage fixes on antique furniture, I found a mild solution that I thought wouldn’t cause too much damage if I messed it up. 

First, I mixed a tablespoon of baking soda with about a teaspoon of water, to make a thick paste. 

IMG_3270After cleaning off the table, I took the paste and carefully rubbed it (with the grain!) on all of the water and heat rings, slowly buffing them away. 

IMG_3273After washing the baking soda off, I gave the entire table a good coat of lemon furniture oil (this stuff smells great). 

IMG_3275Voila! Isn’t the change amazing? I was ridiculously proud of myself. 

IMG_3276Of course the oil does soak in over time, so I’ll have to keep up the maintenance — but with the occasional rub down and vigilant coaster use, I should be able to keep it looking just like this.

xo 

This year, we did Thanksgiving at my Dad’s house in the Lower Haight — it was the first time he and my step mom had hosted a holiday meal since moving into their new home, and it was absolutely perfect.

Finally, a good shot of the siblings all together!

Pumpkin pies (made by Luke!) cooling in my Dad’s new kitchen.

Drinking wine and poring over old photos of my grandparents before dinner.

Miso!

Elizabeth’s infamous annual cheese ball — a deadly concoction of goat cheese, garlic, sundried tomatoes and basil.

Self-portrait by Seth.

My plate: Turkey, roasted vegetables, wild mushroom stuffing, my Dad’s famous potatoes, and my kale salad —kale, quinoa, red onion, feta, avocado and dried cranberries. 

Of course, no Brunner holiday would be complete without Seth stuffing his face with whipped cream. 

I’m so thankful for this motley crew. 

xo

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This Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for my grandparents.

My grandfather passed away this week.

My Nana and Papa were the epitome of class — always impeccably dressed, put together and presented. Even in his 90s, Papa still had the most amazing shoe and sock combinations. His shirt was always tucked in. His hair was always combed, his face always clean-shaven.

They had the best taste too — every single one of us, from my dad to Seth, got that incredible attention to detail from them.

I should write more about both of them. I want to write more. But I’m still not sure what to say. I’m still soaking up memories. I still haven’t allowed myself to grieve yet — I’m still just floating above the surface.

But for now, I’m grateful that I had such wonderful grandparents for such a significant part of my life. And I’m thankful for the two amazing grandparents that are still a part of my life every day.

Love you always.

xo

The best part about my Halloween decorations this year? They’re edible! One of the kabocha squashes sounded particularly good the other night, so I chopped some up and roasted them for about 20 minutes with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. A perfect squash doesn’t need much else.

My favorite squash is my mom’s acorn squash — roasted with just a little bit of brown sugar and butter. But kabocha squash is already pretty sweet so I went the savory route. After they were soft and carmelized on the bottom, I cut up the pieces and tossed them in a salad with kale, dried cranberries, feta, red onion and pepitas. 

By the way — you need a good knife when cutting your kabocha. I’m learning the hard way that I am in desperate need of a new knife set.

xo

“This country has more wealth than any nation, but that’s not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military in history, but that’s not what makes us strong. Our university, our culture are all the envy of the world, but that’s not what keeps the world coming to our shores. What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on earth.

….

“I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. We’re not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States of America.”

Today was a good day. A day where I fell in love with my country. 
God Bless America.