SF Life Insider’s Guide: Blooms, Pocket Museums, Vintage, NYC

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Well friends, if you haven’t seen the daffodils popping up already, we have a few places where you can find orchids, magnolias and tulips – oh my! A foreshadowing of spring is always welcome. Did you know there are many small museums all over the bay to expand your art awareness? You do now, so read on for the details. If you can’t find the next great item to enhance your wardrobe, you might enjoy some of the vintage shops that have piqued our interest. And speaking of spring, join me in NYC at the Renewal Summit on May 13.

Join me in New York City for this fabulous all-day event of inspiring speakers, panels, exhibitors, and connecting with other fabulous Tomatoes. I’m moderating this panel on Happiness at Every age. GET THE DETAILS.

The Magnolias in Bloom

One of San Francisco’s most breathtaking natural marvels, the annual bloom of more than 200 rare and historic magnolias with trees reaching 80 feet, is typically at its now through March at the SF Botanical Garden. Velvety silver buds on the often-bare branches of these elegant trees, many rare and historic, open into dazzling pink, magenta, and white flowers, filling the wintery garden with dramatic splashes of color and sweetly fragrant scents. Peak magnolia bloom is on! Get out and experience this beautiful annual spectacle. San Francisco Botanical Garden, Golden Gate Park near 9th and Irving

March 5. The Tulip Garden at Union Square

Pick your own bunch of tulips for free! Flower Bulb Day is coming to America. On March 5, a colorful display of more than 100,000 tulips will cover Union Square in San Francisco. And, we can pick our own tulips – 15 per person limit.

These tulips are grown in America, but the flower bulbs originate from Europe. European traders export flower bulbs to more than 100 countries all over the world and we are lucky to be the American city to receive them. The” tulip garden” at Union Square will open to the public at 1:00 p.m. on the 5th, and it will be closed at 4:30 p.m. By that time, all 100,000 tulips will be picked and give many bay area households a wonderful feeling of early spring. See you there, in bright floral of course. www.flowerbulbday.com

Feb. 25-27. The Orchids are back in Orchid Masquerade

The annual Pacific Orchid Exposition returns at the County Fair building in SF. There will be thousands of orchid flowers and plants on display, with judging from the American Orchid Society, as well as plants for sale from members of the San Francisco Orchid Society as well as many local, national & international nurseries.

Hands-on demonstrations will be conducted by experts with information about successfully growing and blooming orchids at home in San Francisco, as well as ongoing efforts to promote habitat conservation around the world. We are looking forward to learning how to re-bloom those Orchids we have hanging around. We are assured this can be done! Get the details.

Pocket Museums

Sure, we all know that here in Northern California we have world class museums at our fingertips, but there’s much more to the region’s art and history than what is on display at the usual exhibit spaces. While smaller museums may not draw the kind of buzz their larger counterparts do, their diverse, boundary-pushing and under-the-radar collections are just as interesting. Here are a few we love.

The Mills College Art Museum

It has a long history of exploring and sharing contemporary art. Since 1925, the Oakland institution has displayed the work of both well-known and up-and-coming artists, including an annual exhibition of the college’s graduating studio art majors. The museum’s current exhibitions, which include a retrospective of the African American artists of the Paulson Fontaine Press, are prime examples of how a small but nimble institution can not only push the boundaries of how both art and artist are defined, but of who gets to choose what goes on display.  Mills College Art Museum is open 11am to 4pm Tuesday through Sunday and 11am to 7:30pm Wednesday; 5000 MacArthur Blvd (Oakland), mcam.mills.edu.

Charles Schultz Museum

Few artists have captured the American imagination the way Charles M. Schulz did with his Peanuts comic strip, so it’s no surprise that there’s a museum dedicated to the man, his work and the cartoonists he inspired. Three exhibitions are currently ongoing at the Santa Rosa gallery including Drawn From Life, which looks at the people and places that influenced Schulz’s work, and Li’l Folks, Big Laughs, rare cartoons from Schulz’s pre-Peanuts series. A celebration of the centennial of Schulz’s birth is up next, arriving at the museum March 20th.  Charles M. Schulz Museum is open 11am to 5pm weekdays and 10am to 5pm weekends; 2301 Hardies Ln (Santa Rosa), schulzmuseum.org.

ICA San Jose

There is a postage stamp-sized museum in San Jose’s South First Arts District with galleries dedicated to the visual translation of urgent contemporary issues by diverse artists. Their current exhibition, Chapters of Light, features the work of Ghanaian artist Conrad Egyir, which combines religious and West African folk iconography in portraits of the every day.

In March, South Korean artist Soo Sunny Park’s large-scale immersive sculpture Viewing Filter (Veil of Vision) takes over the space, followed in April by the cinematic, sculptural installation Facing West Shadows: The Endless End, which examines themes of extinction and climate change. ICA San Jose is open noon to 5pm Thursday to Sunday;560 South First St (San Jose), icasanjose.org.

Vintage Finds

If you are tired of heading to department stores in search of something fun and new but are dismayed because the styles aren’t quite right for you – perhaps consider vintage and/or consignment shopping. Good for the environment, less expensive (in some cases) and you can shake up your style with one of a kind finds as well. Here are just a few places where you might find your next favorite item.

Sui Generis Consignment

This is far from your average consignment shop. We love it for authentic, luxury pieces from brands including Dolce & Gabbana, Moschino, Prada, and Kenzo with a less daunting price tag. Look for gold vintage Chanel earrings alongside Comme des Garcons T-shirts, Giorgio Armani suits, and Raf Simons trainers.  2231 Market St. suigenerisconsignment.com

Afterlife boutique

Located on Valencia Street it’s known for its huge range of cool, casual vintage items along with some statement designer pieces—has teamed up with Super Thrift Bros. to launch Afterlife Collective, which will curate amazing vintage finds from a community of vendors. New location opened this month! 541 Valencia St. (Mission), theafterlifecollective.com

Eden & Eden


This is an aesthetically pleasing, impeccably designed boutique where you’ll find unique high fashion vintage pieces that you could never find on your own, alongside current fashions, jewelry, and home goods. From the blush pink vintage Sonia Rykiel power suit of your dreams to an Yves Saint Laurent tweed coat you’ll treasure forever or a floaty caftan perfect for your next beach getaway, Eden & Eden’s vintage collection has something for every occasion. 560 Jackson St. (Financial District), edenandeden.com



  • Kim Selby, the SF life editor of The Three Tomatoes, is your gal for info on what’s hot and happening in the beautiful bay area. Having lived on the Left Coast for 27 years, after almost a decade in NYC, she has explored and continues to have adventures all over the San Francisco area. Passionate about fashion, formerly with GLAMOUR magazine and Fashion Director at Saks Fifth Avenue , Palo Alto, Kim produced fashion shows in the bay area for over 20 years. She now creates events to empower, delight and inspire women, aka “Tomatoes”. Learn more about Kim at www.kim-selby.com

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