Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Crafty: Gift tags

Remember when you were a kid and you found office supplies to be utterly fascinating? I admit that I still drool a bit over the some of the supplies at Staples. That's why I love using office supply tags as gift tags for the holidays.

Round metal rim tags like these are cute tied up in a bow or as a name tag on bag of holiday cookies. Paper tags like these are great for decorating or for gift tags. Why spend $40 on fancy-schmacy tags when you can make something cute on your own. Use markers, glitter, stickers, embossers, stamps and more to customize your own holiday tags this year.

Things I love today: Avocado rolls

Pure and simple avocado rolls are the antithesis of the crunchy-viper-eel-sprout rolls that are so popular in sushi restaurants today. (I have to admit I do like the spicy) If you are in the Portrero area for lunch or dinner, drop in to Mikado Sushi on Bryant Street. This efficient and affordable sushi place has great avocado rolls. Plus, it's across the street from a Delancey Street Christmas tree lot with some mighty fine douglass fir trees for sale.

Crafty: Advent calendar starts tomorrow!

It's not officially the holiday season for me until I crack open the first tiny paper door on an advent calendar. A family tradition, I love these glitter covered, Germanic calendars. So in addition to the mini advent calendar on my desk, I am going to post a daily online advent calendar for you! Just visit www.EmilyStyle.com each day and click on the post to see what holiday treat awaits you!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Restaurant suggestion: Axum Cafe

Lower Haight, the bastion of all things hipster, is the location a great Ethiopian restaurant called Axum. This cafe features low prices, delicious food and a friendly atmosphere. On the corner of Pierce and Haight, it's a great place for a late dinner some rainy weeknight...like tonight!

Things I love today: Christmas tree farms

While you are out on the coast picking up some crabs...why not get your Christmas tree at the same time? There are farms all along Half Moon Bay and back in the hills of Santa Cruz. Offering fresh and unique trees, these farms are a festive alternative to Safeway or the Delancey Street lots in the city. Plus, this farm sells redwood trees along with pines and firs!

Urban Girl Tip: Crab season!

Hallelujah! Crab season officially (and finally) opened today! When you can buy dungeness crab for $2-3 a pound it suddenly makes all those crab recipes seem a lot more interesting. But nothing beats the pure glory of a simple crab feed. Cold, microwaved or even barbecued whole crabs served with nothing more than crunchy sourdough and melted butter are delicious! Aside from a spiral cut ham, there is no easier way to serve 8-10 guests than with a crab feed. And with crab, you can just lay down newspaper...no fancy tablecloth required.

If you are in San Francisco, head out to Fisherman's Wharf or Half Moon Bay to pick up some culinary crustaceans. The best deals can be found when buying straight off the boats.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Crafy: Holiday party invitation

Instead of using Evite this holiday season...why not make your own email invitations?

I created this template by expanding on a vintage design. Just click here to view the full sized image and then copy it to PhotoShop to add your party information. You can also print it and use it as a paper invitation. Enjoy!

Urban Girl Tip: Radiators

If you live in an old apartment in any American city, chances are you have one or more radiators as your heat source. Attractive in an urban way, these radiators can be a bit confusing to use. With the weather in San Francisco taking a turn for the very cold, it's time to fire up the radiators. Here's the basics:

Radiators heat your apartment by filling with hot water or steam, usually steam. To turn on your radiator, you have to open the valve near the floor. As soon as you do this, you should hear the radiator start to fill and should feel the heat enter the first chambers. There is a steam valve on the other side of the radiator that lets out extra pressure (and sometimes spits water). If this valve is clogged or stuck open, you'll have problems. Also, there's no real thermostat on a radiator. It's usually either on (really hot in the apartment) or off (really cold in the apartment).

I suggest filing up the radiator when you get home and then shutting off the valve. The heat should get you through the evening. Some people say that you shouldn't turn the steam off when the radiator is hot because the steam will condense and cause a "knocking" noise. But I can't think of a way to cool the radiator down without turning it off...so oh well! If you are crafty, you can even add a thermostat to your radiator or give it some maintenance.

Blast from the past

Isn't it an odd sensation when you run across a children's book that you read years ago? All the sudden, you vividly remember each page when five minutes ago the whole memory was at the very back of your brain's deep storage. I just ran across "The Snowy Day" while reserving books from the library online. Maybe this book about a city kid planted the seeds for my later urban fascination...

Christmas kick-off

This Thanksgiving weekend certainly did a lot to get us started on Christmas. On Friday, Rob and I baked and decorated the first batch of holiday cookies. Saturday we hosted a festive brunch and received a nice wreath from Jean before going to see White Christmas at the Orpheum (complete with indoor snow, definitely check it out). And last night, Rob and I went down to Union Square at sunset to take our Christmas card photos in front of the giant tree.

Union Square is so fun this time of year. Families from all around the world mingle around the tree and take photos of each other. Girls in pretty coats sit eating cheesecake on the steps, bundled up babies totter around and even the hobos are in a festive mood. It was great spending an hour down there last night.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Things I love today: Fresh

The makeup company, Fresh, must have a marketing genius on their team. They know that there is little women love more than cute eyeshadows packaged in small, shiny packages. It's nearly impossible to resist their lip gloss sets and their new "Geisha" collection. Plus, they sell one of the world's best lip glosses - "Daphne" aka "Classically Ripening Fruits."

20 gifts for under $20

New York Magazine has a great list of twenty holiday gifts for under $20. Check out the pillows from West Elm and the knit covered hot-water bottle.

Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is already here (really!? How is that possible?!). Following in Garrison Keillor's footsteps, I am thankful this year for some simple pleasures. These are a few of my favorite things:
  • The gorgeous weather in the city this week
  • Getting a seat on the bus
  • The third successful Ladies Activity Club party
  • The San Francisco Public Library system
  • Taking the subway downtown to shop with Jean
  • Stamps and envelopes
  • A glass of cold water from the fridge
  • Having nice friends who like me even though I am a bit funny
  • My fish, Coco Chanel
  • Advent calendars with glitter
  • A great, if a bit funny, family
  • Pomegranate jello salad
  • The miracle known simply as ibuprofin
  • Technology that lets me chat with friends who live far away
  • Rob's little surprises, like lilies and granola bars
  • Just being in San Francisco
Have a great Thanskgiving everyone!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Things I love today: Winter forest candle

Want to get in the holiday spirit? Not ready for the tree and trimmings? Try a "Winter Forest" candle from Williams Sonoma. The crisp pine scent of the candle is just what Santa ordered for holiday early birds.

I bought one last year in an after Christmas sale and packed it away with my decorations. As soon as Thanksgiving is over, I am busting that puppy out!

Sale alert: SLO Swim

If anyone is heading down to San Luis Obispo for Thanksgiving, be sure to stop by SLO Swim for their incredible bathing suit sale. I picked up two cute bikinis (Billabong and Roxy) for just $50. The marked price was about $40 per top or bottom.

Yes...you'll have to suffer exposing your pale winter body to the lower circle of hell that is know as bikini shopping...but it's so worth it!

Weekend adventures

Sailing in my family is an obsession and usually a bit of a disaster. There are few sailing trips we've completed without a comical running aground, shipwreck or dingy-destruction episode. So when things were going too well on our cruise around Morro Bay last weekend, we decided to raise the sails and give it a go. But of course, the rope got stuck at the top of the mast and we weren't able to sail anywhere!

The result? Yours truly up hauled herself up the mast with an elaborate rope and harness system in order to retrieve the rope....barefoot. Rob tells me this fancy maneuver is called "prusiking." All this provided entertainment for the sunset patrons of a popular harbor-side seafood restaurant.

Now if it had only involved the coast guard, being soaking wet and an hour of delay, it would have been a true family affair! At least I was wearing my cute jeans and green wool blazer for this latest nautical adventure.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Goin' to the country

I'm off to a big city marketing conference and then heading south to San Luis Obispo. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Shopping challenge: Party skirts

Why don't fashion designers understand that women like wearing pouffy skirts? How many summer seasons of peasants and a-lines have to pass before designers translate that popularity into holiday wear.

Case in point: Jean has envisioned the perfect black circle skirt for her holiday party needs. But can she buy one? Nope....none to be found just yet. Here are a few leads that come close.

Anthropologie Snowflake Skirt - This comes in a nice fabric but it's not quite full enough and its a little too....well, Anthropologie. If I wanted to look like a French maiden I certainly could do it for less than $138.

DKNY Circle Skirt - I LOVE this skirt but it's more "exploring Italian plazas" than "attending holiday parties." Le sigh!

La Redoute Silk Skirt - The color and fabric are dead on but the cut is a bit off. Can't beat the price though.

BlueFly Marina Skirt - I love formal wear with pockets! Maybe it's the PR girl inside me, but it just makes such good sense! Now if I only knew what size "T2" stood for?

Target Tulle Skirt - Isaac at Target is a good thing. But wearing Isaac from Target in public is a little too public of a discount shopping experience for me. Plus, this looks like something I would have worn to ballet class when I was eight.

Banana Republic Full Skirt - This is probably the most basic choice for Jean's holiday outfit. The skirt is pretty reasonable and would look nice paired with a simple black or white top.

Marc Jacobs Skirt - This is an investment piece that could be dolled up for a holiday party but still worn all year round. I have a hard time thinking of something that would look bad with this skirt.

Oh well! If none of these work out, Jean and I will just have to open a store called "Pouffy Skirts R'Us." We'll make a million dollars filling this untapped need!

Hidden cubbies of goodness

Visiting Macy's last night was like downing a straight shot of 100 proof holiday cheer. The entire store is jam packed with shiny goodies for Christmas. Plus, Jean and I discovered that the perfume sales people keep stashes of samples and treats hidden in the displays.

When buying a Marc Jacobs perfume set, the very tan and very gay salesman loaded us up with no less than four lip glosses, two shimmer powders, two samples and three flower hair clips. Christmas came early this year!

Things I love today: Saganaki

I love cheese with a passion! Always have and always will. That's why one of my all time favorite things is saganaki.

What is saganaki you say? Its none other than a giant block of flaming kasseri cheese. Straight ouzo is the accelerant used is to ignite the Greek cheese in a huge tableside fireball. Don't accept any pan fried imitations. Shouting "opa!" and extinguishing your flaming eyebrows are important parts of the tradition.

Next time you are eating at a Greek restaurant, check out the ceiling. If there aren't black charred marks up there, you're not at the right place for saganaki.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Sale alert: Macy's

Macy's is having a huge sale today online (and in stores?). Definitely one to check out. Especially, this Calvin Klein skirt and this half-off coat!

Shopping challenge: Comfy shoes

My hip has been aching lately. I think it's from too much city walking and too much rock climbing. So it's time to put the four inch heels away temporarily. Instead, I am going to find some comfy but cute shoes.

Duck boots - Growing up in California, I had never even heard of duck boots before I moved to Ireland. One of my roommates in Dublin was from the East Coast and swore by her duck boots when the weather turned rainy or icy. Plus, they kind of look cute with a pair of jeans, wool sweater and pea coat.

Kitten heels - I love kitten heel shoes but they can be really hard to find. This sale pair from Nine west has a little more flair than the standard black-pointy-toe variety.

Ballerina flats - This pair is absolutely divine in leopard, but they're also $400 bucks. Instead, how about these from QVC? Definitely not as cute as the expensive pair.

Urban sneaker - One of these days I have to bite the bullet and actually commit to a pair of urban sneakers. They all just look so weird to me. What are you supposed to wear them with exactly?

Vegas or bust!

Rob, Jean, Trent and I are heading to Las Vegas at the end of December. I've never been and am really looking forward to staying at Mandalay Bay. Any must-see suggestions for visiting Vegas?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Things I wish were cheaper today!

I love stackable rings but I find it so maddening that they are never actually sold as a set. Instead, they are priced at a ridiculously high amount per ring. This is the jewelry equivalent of trying to sell me a PBJ sandwich where the peanut butter, bread and jelly are sold for $3 each. Except that each ring is actually $300 each. Darn it!

Things I love today: Land's End tote

This new printed version of the $25 Land's End tote bag is adorable. It looks just like the kind of thing a sassy graphic designer would use to carry her yorkie to work on the bus. Or like something I would force Jean to buy. Plus, it also comes in pink stripes!

Recipe: Homemade pasta

Hormel (of all places) has some really great cooking tutorials on their website. For example, this step by step instruction for making ravioli and tortellini. Those photos are super helpful!

I was researching this because next Tuesday is the November meeting of the San Francisco Ladies Activity Club. This month's activity is pasta making. Our hostess Shelly is putting together a great party! I can't wait until next week!

Crab season starts today

Today is officially the first day of crab season. Rejoice!

Oh wait...what's this...Noooooooooooo!

Look at all those crab pots just waiting to be filled with tasty goodness. Get out there, for pete's sake!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Crafty: Remember cursive?

Holiday card time is just around the corner. My stationary is ordered, I have a dress for the photo and I'm ready to go...except for my handwriting.

I have always wanted to have great cursive. The kind of handwriting that is exclusively the territory of old ladies these days. My printing is okay but my cursive is pretty dreadful. I can't even think of how to do the z's or the q's anymore. Maybe it's not too late. Practice makes perfect!

Mesmerizing and disgusting at the same time

I just stumbled across a link to a website called "centerpiece gourmet" and was instantly mesmerized by the instructional video on their homepage. The pitch? Make beautiful bouquets out of meat, cheeses and vegetables. So wrong on so many levels.

1) it is insanely time consuming to "magically transform food into a treasured gift bouquet" 2) it's gross to handle cheese that much 3) people will think you are a lunatic when you show up at a party with one of these puppies...and that's saying a lot coming from someone who is notorious for overdoing things.

It's definitely worth a few minutes of your life to go to their site and watch the video for yourself.

Urban girl tip: Vintage shopping

On Saturday, Rob and I went on a vintage dress hunt in San Francisco. We didn't find much in the way of cocktail dresses (at least not for under $300) but we did manage to buy a wonderful tweed suit for the Christmas card photo from La Rosa on Haight. The suit is by Lilli Ann, apparently the store for fashionable ladies on the west coast during the 40's and 50's.

While I confess that I am lured by bargains at Zara's, Forever 21 and H&M, it's too bad that really excellently made clothes aren't as popular. I can just imagine how fun it was to go and pick out this suit back in the day. I imagine it being just like that episode of I Love Lucy where she works as a dress model in a fancy shop. Sigh! Until this comes around again, you can drool over the clothes online at this store.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Sale alert: MOMA

Gearing up for the holiday entertaining season? Your perfect party wouldn't be complete without these amazing embossed invitations from the Museum of Modern Art. A set of twelve invitation cards and lined envelopes in red are only $3.95 on sale right now.

UFPhobia: Update

So much for the tinfoil hat theory. According to this recent report, not only do tinfoil hats not block invasive radio signals, but they actually can amplify the signal. Sorry folks, time to switch to plastic wrap.

Things I love today: Wet Seal

Back when I was rocking the size zero Bongo jeans in Junior High, Wet Seal was pretty much fashion mecca. Where else could you get your matching scruntchies and socks at the same time?! C'mon!

Of course, now that I am all grown up I am way over Wet Seal...yeah right...we all know that it's impossible to resist the temptation of Wet Seal. Even the most sophisticated Saks shopper is occasionally drawn in.

So during last night's shopping trip, I had to stop in an pick up some cheap and trendy goodies. My loot: A weird but cute chunky shrug sweater (better than the one pictured) and a long black bead necklace. Plus, their online store has some pretty nice things and with the online benefit of no weird looks from 14 year old shoppers.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Recipe: Spicy orange chicken

Kate asked for the recipe for the spicy orange chicken with persimmons, pecans and celery from Wednesday's party. There are endless variations you can use with this sauce. I love it with tofu, bok-choy and zucchini too. The nuts are a key addition to the recipe. Here you go:


Spicy Orange Chicken:
Serves 4-6

3 chicken breasts or equivalent in breast tenders, cubed
6 slightly ripe persimmons, peeled and cubed
3 cups celery, cubed
1 cup pecan pieces
1/3 cup of soy sauce
3/4 cup orange juice & pulp (freshly squeezed)
1/3 cup of water
1 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 teaspoon schizuan chili oil
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
Pinch of black pepper

Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet, add garlic and chicken cubes. Cook chicken over high flame until it starts to brown. Combine soy sauce, orange juice, water, chili oil, ginger and pepper in a measuring cup. When chicken is slightly browned, reduce heat and add a half of the sauce mixture. Cook on low heat until chicken is no longer pink and sauce is reduced. Add celery, pecans and remaining sauce. Cook until chicken is done and sauce is reduced.

If you have prepared this in advance, you can leave the dish at this point until it is ready to be served. Once you are ready to serve, heat up the chicken and celery and then add the persimmons and cook only until hot. Serve with white rice and a rice vinegar salad to counteract the spicy chicken.

Note - It's okay to use underripe persimmons in the recipe. The unpleasant startch taste cooks out. If you don't have persimmons, substitute with mango. You can also replace the chicken with firm tofu using the same cooking instructions.

The gods have smiled upon me

Yay! I just found out that today is chair massage day again at work! I love how the free half hour massages always manage to coordinate with the day that I the most sore from working out. My little crab claws are going to be brought back to life!

Urban Girl Tip: 5 must-have vases

I'm back and feeling much better today! (Except for my arms that are extremely sore from trying to be a 5.10b climber last night, but that's a different story for a different post)

After the party on Wednesday, I starting thinking about vases and, particularly, how to slim down my collection. It occurred to me that you really only need five basic kinds of vases:

The bud vase: A small but stylish bud vase is perfect for placing a tiny bouquet in the bathroom when you have guests or on your bedside table when you don't. Choose one that is narrow enough to accommodate just a few stems.

The huge vase: For dramatic arrangements of sunflowers, lilies and more you'll need a large glass vase. Use this vase on the dining room table when it's not in use. The height makes it impractical for dinner parties.

The tulip vase:
The rectangular shape of this vase lends itself well to soft-stemmed tulips and more. Your flowers won't look as droopy and will last longer with this kind of container.

The low vase: Dinner party floral arrangements shouldn't be over 7-10 inches high. My favorite solution is a 5-inch tall blue china bulb pot that is easily filled with roses or other flowers cut short.

The vase set: A small set of three matching vases can help you turn just a few flowers into a dramatic arrangement. This set of "perfume bottles" from pottery barn is a fun option.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Bad combination

The combination of a champagne headache from last night's (rocking) party and this morning's trip the dentist has left me feeling really icky. It's a total sweater-coat, sunglasses and "screw you" kind of morning. So, no perky posts from this urban girl today. Check back later.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Things I love today: Dinner parties

I love throwing dinner parties! Tonight, our friend Kate is visiting San Francisco. Instead of eating out we decided this morning to have everyone to the apartment for dinner. Nicole and Dave are also coming with their dog, Mojito, in tow. Here's the plan:

  • Edamame crudites
  • Pork Gyoza with Schizuan chili sauce
  • Apple, jimica and radish salad with rice vinegar & grapefruit dressing
  • Spicy orange chicken, persimmon and pecan stir fry with rice
  • Ginger gelato and pumpkin gelato
Plus chilled white wine, fun tunes, mauve roses and an orange table runner. It's going to be great! I have to stop at the produce market on the way home and then start chopping. Good thing Rob and I just bought fancy new knives! (uh oh, that's exactly the kind of statement that results in tomorrow's post being about having my finger sewn back on)

Sale alert: La Redoute

La Redoute, my French catalog obsession, is having a coat sale online right now. Cute pea coats are $50 and 3/4 wool coats are $70. Plus, if you enter this coupon code with your order you can save an additional 20%.

You can never have enough coats (especially if you live in foggy SF)!

Urban Girl Tip: Galoshes

After being hit with a surprise rain storm last night on my way downtown. I vowed to be more prepared today. It was time to break out the rain boots! Actually my light green boots are from Martha Stewart and technically for gardening, but they do look cute with a skirt. Plus, I brought a pair of flats in my purse so I don't have to stomp all over the office. If you are shopping for boots, visit Target for a really nice and affordable selection.

This rainy weather in San Francisco is actually kind of fun!

I voted!

I voted! Mostly for a chance to look inside the fire station in my neighborhood and to get the sticker. But hey, I voted!

The voting forms in San Francisco were extremely complicated. I felt like an 80-year old Floridian trying to figure out where I was supposed to mark my choice and why I had to choose back up options. Plus, there was a bunch of information on the ballot that was not in my voter information documents. Sneaky!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Crafty: Embroidery update

Two updates to the earlier post about embroidery: First, your pattern doesn't have to be complicated to be darling. Look online at vintage linens for inspiration. You can also simplify by choosing a simple color palate or using white thread on colored cloth. White thread on white cloth is also fun and allows for a few more "goofs" in the stitching.

Next, if you are shopping for supplies look online. Joann.com is currently having a big sale. Plus, you get 40% off the most expensive item you purchase with a coupon code. It's really hard to find embroidery supplies in San Francisco, so shopping online for your floss and loops makes sense.

Yum: Enchiladas

Trent and Jean had us over for dinner last night. The menu? Delicious poblano chile and butternut squash enchiladas using a recipe from the San Francisco Chronicle plus chicken. It was excellent!

Crafty: Easy needlework

It's getting cold and rainy out there. Perfect weather for staying inside and doing a little embroidery. It's not as hard as you think! Unlike some crafts (knitting, ceramics) where you could have bought a better looking finished product in a store for less money, embroidery is actually a good value.

Start by buying something to embroider. My favorites are pillowcases, fleece blankets and dish towels. You can also work on a holiday stocking, table runner or set of napkins. Next, sketch out your design. Keep it pretty simple. A set of initials and some flowers or snowflakes is good for beginners. Pick a simple stich that works for your design or just wing it. You can also incorporate some cute buttons into your design, cutting back on the amount of sewing required.

Now the fun part, go to a local craft store and buy embroidery floss for your project (It's more fun than shopping for eye shadow and much cheaper). You'll also need an embroidery loop and some needles. Sketch your design on the fabric using washable chalk and get started!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Is this a new trend?

With all the online shopping I have been doing lately, I have discovered a weird new trend. A lot of store models seem to have given up on pretending that the clothes they are wearing are fashionable. These two photos are prime examples from Nordstroms. Does the model look really upset about having to model these outfits? Why? Is she trying to secretly signal "You really don't want to buy this. It's itchy and unflattering"with her eyes?

Things I love today: Sale accessories

Usually, I am not a huge fan of Kate Spade. Okay...Well maybe I am...I just can't afford a single thing the lady sells. However, Nordstroms is having a big sale right now and some of the cutest items are from Kate Spade. With the hefty discount, this make up bag is definitely enticing. Also cute: these earrings, these bangles and these jeans.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

My gun is for sale!

The antique gun that has been a bit of a mystery in my family has been posted in the online catalog for the December 6th auction at Bonhams in San Francisco. You can see the lot here and bid on it if you are interested.

What we felt was probably not that consequential of a gun turned out to be a Japanese matchlock from the 19th century, complete with gold and copper dragon decorations. I was tipped off when the exact same gun was on display at the Asian Art Museum. Plus, it has been rated as in "very good" condition. I am so proud! Here's the full summary:
The 41 1/2 inch tapered round .60 caliber smoothbore barrel with tulip-shaped muzzle inlaid with silver bands. Top of barrel inlaid in gold and copper with two writhing dragons sporting amidst the clouds, the breech inlaid in silver with stylized waves. Full stock with engraved brass mounts.
I usually could care less about a gun, but this one is special! I hope it goes to a good home!

Shopping challenge, continued

After going blind temporarily after my terribly unsuccessful shopping adventure yesterday, I have decided maybe it's better to go vintage.

Back in the 50's and 60's people actually wore cocktail dresses and didn't have to settle for cut-rate taffeta. However, it's a jungle out there for vintage shopping online. The sites that did have cute dresses were mostly sold out and the rest were frightening.

But today, I think I have found a cute solution. This website seems to have a nice selection and decent prices.

Urban girl cannot subsist on cheeze-its alone

I am sure that you can't survive on cheeze-its and lettuce alone, but these last few months that's pretty much been by diet. It's time to dramatically cut back on the cheese crackers (damn you Safeway two-for-one). Tonight, I want to actually get around to cooking the frozen tuna steaks I bought at Trader Joes a few weeks back.

Something Japanese always feels double-healthy. How about this ginger, miso and cilantro glaze? Maybe paired with some pork gyoza and a salad with rice vinegar and grapefruit dressing? Hmmm...maybe backing away from the Cheeze-its won't be too hard after all.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Shopping challenge

It's already November, and that means it is time for Rob and I to work on our annual holiday card portrait. The plan this year is for me to wear a formal dress and be staged by the subway, in Golden Gate Park or on a trolley. Of course, this entails purchasing formal wear. A daunting task. The trick is to find a dress that is affordable, doesn't make me look like I am going to prom/being a bridesmaid and that I won't freeze to death in. Here are so possible options:

Betsy Johnson Taffeta Party Dress - Normally I am not a fan of Betsy Johnson but this dress in blue is kind of cute. Price tag: a whopping $389.

BCBG Long Halter Dress - Pretty simple design in a flattering color. It's not thrilling but it could work. Price tag: a still-too-expensive $218.

Vera Wang Ruby Taffeta Gown - Verging on prom-style, this dress has an attractive neckline and nice color. Price tag: $312, a big savings off the regular $500.

Satin Bustier Dress with Sash - Even more dangerously in prom territory, this retro style dress from Jessica McClintock is actually something that would be fun for a photo. Price tag: only $202, what a bargain.

Satin Strapless Dress - Banana Republic has a couple cute options. I like this one best but I am not sure how it would work with my pale complexion and twiggy figure. Price tag: a decent $148.

Cross Front Dress - Way too plain, but something that would actually have a chance of being worn again. Price tag: a surprisingly cheap $135.

I kind of feel like scratching my eyes out now...so maybe an evening dress is not the solution for this photo shoot. It seems like evening wear these days breaks down into three categories, prom/bridesmaids, mother of the bride gear and beautiful but devastatingly expensive designer gowns. How about I buy a luxurious white coat and an expensive pair of shoes instead?

Things I love today: Urban Outfitters

This replica of the classic Charlie Brown Christmas tree is too darn cute. It would be really adorable in someone's tiny apartment this holiday season. Of course it is from Urban Outfitters, staple of all things hipster and ironic. Also on their site today: this really nice folding mirror that would look great on a side table as a vanity.

Embarrassing photos: continued

And here is an even more embarrassing photo...the famed tinfoil hat contest from last week's UFPhobia session. Feel free to laugh at my expense. Enjoy!

As promised: embarrassing photos

Here's a photo of me as Dolly Parton for Halloween. Rob is dressed as a crazy southern Baptist. Nope...I am not a blonde....and yep...those are the infamous pashmina boobs.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Things I love today: Ruffled tuxedo blouses

Now that Halloween is over, I have ditched the Dolly Parton double-D's and returned to my normal small-chested self. But that doesn't mean I can't still exhibit a little "frontal flair."

Last weekend, I picked up a brown striped ruffled tuxedo blouse from Zara for $30. It's fun paired with some cute jeans or tucked in with a skirt and blazer. The ruffles are undeniably girly and it almost has the same effect as those giant pashmina boobs I put together last night. Here's a good example in green and here's one in white.

Urban Girl Tip: Sephora sale finder

Sephora.com doesn't prominently advertise their sale items like most websites. In order to find the good deals you have to enter "sale" into the search box. The results? Some pretty fabulous discounts. For example, Sephora's All Over Color (translation: eyeshadow) is being sold for $2.50 vs. the regular $9.00.

Plus, Sephora is one of those weird stores where shopping online is actually better than in person. Sure, you may have to pay shipping if your order is small but you also get a handful of fun samples and free gift wrapping. Both of which you don't get in the stores.