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Places We Go : Hangin' in the Holiday-Filled Bay Area


During the holidays, my favorite adventures are meeting up with friends to wander the festive neighborhoods of the Bay Area. And surprisingly, I'm always on the look-out for decorating ideas. Let's take a look..

The French Market Marin, at the Marin Civic Center in San Rafael, was filled with old fashon holiday decor when I visited in midNovember.

I loved the midly creepy Santa dolls - a visual lesson on the impact of displaying a collection.

Charming paper buildings and Santas - I wondered if it's too late to start a new collection.

Don't you love this white lace garland? Easily made from old curtains and tablecloths.

A few weeks later, Jeanette and I had a true Ladies' Lunch at Neiman Marcus' Rotonda near Union Square in San Francisco. The restaurant was filled with mothers and their daughters out for a holiday adventure.

I splurged on a lobster club sandwhich. It was out of this world and it was $42. Gulp.

After we pushed ourselves up from our booth, we marvelled at the glorious holiday decor at Neiman Marcus.

MacKenzie-Childs' shop at Neiman Marcus featured festive goods, including dog bowls.

I admired the Michael Aram's holiday decor. The handsome 48" espalier tree sculpture was $975.

We walked past the Union Square Christmas tree on our way to the Westin St. Francis Hotel.

Inside the lobby, the St. Francis Hotel's Sugar Castle includes 30 rooms, illuminated windows and is surrounding by a charming village and running train. Inspired by the chef's hometown of Bordeux, the castle weighs over 1200 pounds.

Each piece is intricately handcrafted using sugar art techniques such as pulling, blowing, shaping and moulding. I was mismerized by the soft pastel coloring. Truly magical.

We crossed Union Square to look at Macy's Christmas decor which was 90% off. I'd like to have those Santas!

The stunning view of Union Square from Macy's 7th floor looked like a Norman Rockwell painting.

On another day, Jayne and I started in San Francisco's Japantown.

We ate at the popular Marufukuramen restaurant..

We slurped up the BEST chicken paitan ramen, filled with juicy chicken, soft boiled egg and creamy broth. A perfect meal for a cool weather.

We had to check out nearby Daiso Japan. Most items are $1.75 if not marked. Otherwise, they're priced in Japanese yen. So fun to pretend we took a day trip to Japan.

A few blocks from Japantown is the popular Fillmore street - filled with shops and restaurants. We loved the brightly colored cardigans in this new French shop, Sezane. And wouldn't it be fun to have fresh boughs on our windows?

A clothing store created a novel Christmas tree covering a tall plant with tinsel. You can see Victorian houses in the window's reflection.

Along the way, we sat at the counter window of Oregon's Salt & Straw eating kiddie scoops of ice cream. Jayne had pear&blue cheese while I had almond brittle with salted ganache. Yum!

We ubered back to Jayne's Glen Park neighborhood. The local grocer offered sweet Nobel Firs for $80 each.

I entered the Glen Park BART station to get home. I'd forgotten its magestic 1970's Brutalist architecture. No wonder it's called BART's most stunning station. I'm looking forward to a last holiday lunch New Year's weekend in St. Helena. Hope you're enjoying your holiday fun. Have a great Sunday (and GO 'Niners!)

PS ~ Have you watched the "White House Christmas 2023" TV program? This annual show is on HGTV and is hosted by the Scott brothers. Three hundred volunteers come from all over the U.S. for a massive 72-hour decorating party. What will the theme be this year? Will the White Gingerbread House fit through the doors? What will the First Lady wear as she gives a fun tour at the end of the show? The one-hour special premiered on December10th but you can stream it any time.



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