Friday, December 23, 2005

Advent Calendar: December 23

The holidays are finally here! I somehow managed to pack for my week-long vacation and prepare the apartment for New Year's visitors last night. I could definitely use a nap today!

Click on the advent calendar or here to see today's final holiday image. I'll be on vacation next week but should have loads of adventures to blog about when I return. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Urban Girl Tip: Paris apartments

Paris! The city of love! The city of light! The city of fabulous apartments!

Check out these Paris apartments available to rent for $800 to $3,000 a week. Much nicer than the hostel behind Notre Dame that I stayed at back in college. Plus, with two or three bedrooms each it may even be cheaper than staying at a hotel in gay Pari' these days. Le sigh!

Shopping challenge: New purse

I have a lot of purses...but really only one that I carry everyday. Only one that can stand up to the rigors of urban life. Only one that can carry my umbrella, scarf and pepper spray without worry. My trusty brown nylon and copper alligator leather BGBGirls bag (even just describing it, I feel the love welling up).

The problem is that I've been carrying this bag daily for far too long now. It's time to wean myself off and find a new BFF bag. Some options:
  • Prada backpack - Yuck! I just don't get the allure of these cheepo nylon Prada bags. Would you pay $400 for this ugliness? Moving on...
  • Fendi Spy bag - Now this is more like it. Perfect size, fantastic fixings...if only it were less than $1,400. Or even better this Gucci bag that looks almost identical to my current bag but costs about 1,000% more.
  • BGBG tote - I love this bag...but why is it pink? So much cuter if it were a different color.
  • Tema Dehan Hobo - I know, I know...hobo bags are sooo last season. But you know what: I live in San Francisco - we don't even have seasons here. It's cold all the time and this bag happens to match my coats.
  • Helen Welsh Hobo - We may have a winner! This bag is the right size, for a decent price and has great style. Plus, this matches my accidental all-emerald and brown winter wardrobe.

Things I love today: Peep toe kitten heels

A recent injury has forced me to stop wearing 3-4" heels each day. Instead, I am not limited to 1.5" and under. Icks.

There's not a whole lot of cuteness available in this category. Most flats run the gamut from terrifyingly frumpy to really uninspired. There are few shoes out there that break the mold though. Like these peep toe kitten heels in a pinkish paisley (try saying that 10 times fast) from Nine West. Adorable!

Advent Calendar: December 22

Christmas is almost here! I don't know about you, but I am definitely looking forward to going home for the holidays. The warm Southern California weather, drinking tea in front of the fireplace, taking my parent's dog to the beach and lounging in the hot tub are all in store for me this weekend! Plus, no having to take the bus or stand in line at the San Francisco Safeway for a whole nine days!

Click on the advent calendar or here to see today's holiday image!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Things I love today: Toggle sweater

Maybe it's just the school marm with the cold talking, but I adore this belted and toggled sweater from Joie. It's the perfect thing for stylishly waiting at the bus stop with a cup of coffee and the Examiner on a cold San Francisco morning. Too bad it's $230, on sale from BlueFly.

Oddly, I am kind of obsessed with the idea of wearing this wool sweater over this silk cocktail dress. Wouldn't it be the perfect outfit if Martha Stewart invited you out to her farm for a fall festival celebrating native squash with Dylan McDermott? You could wear leather galloshes to complete the ensemble! When the invitation (and $500) arrives, I'll be set.....

Advent Calendar: December 21 v2

Sorry about getting a day ahead earlier this week. For some reason I was sure that Monday was December 20th...anyways...the rain is back in San Francisco today and I have a teensy cold. Combined, these two things seem to turn me into a fashion moron. I look like a 1960's school marm today despite the fact that I am wearing my best (only) Dolce and Gabbana skirt. Oh well, my New Year's resolution will be to restore the fabulousness.

Feeling a bit schlumpy today too? Click on the advent calendar or here to see today's Christmas image.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Pedicure watch: 11 days and counting

I'm almost ready to call the Vatican and report a Christmas miracle...My Dolci pedicure from December 11 is still chipless more than 11 days later! I am usually lucky if I can make it 11 minutes without a chip, not 11 days. That was definitely $20 well spent. When the image of the Virgin Mary appears on one of my perfect red toenails next week, I'll be sure to let you know.

Advent Calendar: December 21

Only four more days of the online advent calendar to go. I'll be leaving town and going on vacation for a week so get it while you can!

Today's advent calendar image takes us back to Victorian times. Click on the calendar or here to see today's holiday image.

Epic Christmas dinner party

Last night was our six courses, seven bottles of wine, eight guests, 12 days of Christmas themed dinner party. Wow, was this ever an epic party. Everything was so delicious and the guests were loads of fun. The highlight of the evening were four perfectly cooked rock cornish game hens prepared by Rob and Trent. Even Jean and Trent's butternut squash soup turned out to be delicious. You know it's a great party when afterwards:
  • Someone passes out on the chaise lounge from equal parts food and wine overdose.
  • The tablecloth looks like a Jackson Pollock painting.
  • You end the evening drinking wine straight from the bottle while half-heartedly doing dishes.
  • Your hands still smell like garlic the next day.
  • The ETA for returning the apartment to a state of normalcy is days, not hours.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Urban Girl Tip: Gump's

Here's a tip for any urban girl in San Francisco...avoid Gump's like the plague. Unless you have an insane amount of willpower (or a huge trust fund) there is no way you can leave this store without a major dent in your credit card bill. Everything this store carries is gorgeous and most of it is wildly expensive. There are a few things that are both fantastic and affordable (that's how they get you hooked):
  • Bamboo Party Forks and Server - How is this adorable silver-plated 12 person cake service miraculously inexpensive? Sneaky bastards!
  • Branch Flower Vase - Wouldn't this be the perfect accessory for your desk? Just imagine how lovely it would look next to your pen cup and stapler. $95.
  • Coral Bedding - At $300 for a duvet cover, this is expensive but not as expensive as it could be. I'll give Gump's partial credit for this drool-tastic set.
  • Jean Louis Coquet Khazard Platinum China - At $400 a place setting is definitely not affordable...but it is soo gorgeous with the fern etching. I'll take twelve please!
See! We have gone from $25 to $4,800 in thirty seconds. This is exactly why you need to avoid Gump's. I am using all my willpower right now just to keep from running out of the office, dashing downtown and handing over all my money to the first salesperson I see.

Things I love today: Silver polish

There are few things in life so simply gratifying as polishing tarnished silver. You start with an ugly yellow piece of silver and in a few quick swipes it is restored to a shiny perfection. Aside from Pandacam, I have to say that polishing silver is my favorite soothing activity.

I spent last evening preparing for tonight's dinner party by polishing silver, ironing napkins (another favorite chore) and baking. I am exhausted, but this party is going to be worth the effort.

Advent Calendar: December 20

Only a five more days until Christmas (what?! already? this is insane!). We had an action packed weekend here in San Francisco! Our office Christmas party was Friday, friends came to visit on Saturday and Rob's parents came to visit yesterday. Even though I finished my Christmas shopping two weeks ago, we spent the whole weekend at Union Square in the pouring rain.

Warm up with today's advent calendar image. It's cute one! Click on the advent calendar or here to see what's happening at the inn.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Urban Girl Tip: Scarves

Last night, my friend Nicole remarked "I need more scarves" and really, who doesn't? However, buying and wearing scarves can be intimidating.

Style.com has recently published an Anatomy of a Classic article all about these silky accessories. Especially during winter, when the city is wet and windy, having a scarf handy to rescue a bad hair day can be a life saver. Keep a scarf jauntily tied around one of your purse straps for just this kind of emergency.

Shop for affordable and fun scarves in vintage stores or splurge on a small luxury by picking up a $200 scarf from Chanel, Burberry or Pucci. eLuxury has a few good deals on designer scarves online too.

Pandacams and earthquakes

We just had a small earthquake here in San Francisco. It was only a 3.4 but it shook my third floor office (and my beta fish) pretty well. Earthquakes have freaked me out ever since I was at work during the big 6.5 quake in Paso Robles. It wasn't so much the big quake but the weeks of constant aftershocks that drove me crazy.

So, in order to recover from this harrowing experience I am tuning into the online bliss that is Pandacam. Watching his holy-roly-poliness tumble around and sleep is better than a cocktail of prozac, gin and zoloft combined.

Things I love today: Sad Christmas songs

Isn't it odd that some of our most beloved Christmas songs are really devastatingly sad?

This occurred to me when I was at a physical therapy appointment and that insanely depressing Charlie Brown Christmas song came on. All jazzy and John Coltrane, how is it even possible that we use this song to celebrate the holidays?

And think about "Have yourself a merry little Christmas"... in it's modern incarnation this song is sped up and made to sound so cheery. But rent Meet me in St. Louis sometime and you will start sobbing before you even get to "from now on our troubles will be out of sight" lyric.

Add in "Blue Christmas," "White Christmas" and "The Christmas Song" and it's miracle we manage to celebrate at all. Why is Easter (which should be the sad holiday) totally devoid of sadness, while Christmas (behold, I bring you good news of a great joy!) is full of depressing songs?

Maybe these sad Christmas songs are meant to counteract the saccarin sweetness of the santa-angels-two-front-teeth side of the holiday season. Without these sad songs we might all overdose on holiday cheer. Despite the fact that these songs occasionally lead to embarrassing misty-eyed episodes at Macy's, I'm glad that we have them to keep us sentimental.

Advent Calendar: December 16

Happy office-Christmas-party-Friday to you! Man is it freezing outside today! Not literally freezing, San Franciscans can't handle the snow, but pretty darn cold. Warm up by clicking on the advent calendar or here to see today's holiday image.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Things I love today: Dolci

Name check to the Dolci spa on Steiner Street in Lower Haight in San Francisco. My sister and I went for pedicures on Sunday and had a great experience with their friendly staff.

That's all fine and dandy but the real reason I love Dolci today is that I haven't even had one tiny chip since Sunday. For someone who wears high heels everyday and goes swimming in the municipal pool, this is a miracle. Good job ladies!

Advent Calendar: December 15

Only ten more days until Christmas! I hope you have your tree up and decorated (I do!), your gingerbread house made (I do!), your shopping done (I do!) and your Christmas cards all in the mail (I don't!).

Not quite done crossing off your holiday list? Maybe today's advent calendar image can help. Click on the calendar or here to see santa's helper.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Things I love today: Teeny tiny handbag

How adorable is this teeny tiny purse from Bluefly?! How much more adorable is it once you know it's only $33? It's the perfect thing to take to that cocktail party this Friday. You can wear it around your wrist all night like a giant bangle while you effortlessly chit chat.

At 5 inches wide, you can fit your credit card, ID and lipstick just fine. And when you are splashing in that fountain with a glass of champagne at midnight, how fantastic will it be to have this cutie along for the ride?

Shopping challenge: Hostess gifts

A bottle of wine or a bouquet of flowers is fine...but if you have the time and the creativity, you can come up with some fantastic hostess gifts for the same price:
  • Chocolate covered Oreos - This is still in the traditional food hostess gift realm but much cooler. Check out the gold designs on the top of each cookie. Is it a sin to pay $18 for 12 Oreos?
  • Fleece throw - You can find these fleece throws for $10-20 just about everywhere. The trick to turning them into a good hostess gift is finding one in a color that matches your host's house and then quickly embroidering their initials into one corner. It will literally take you 20 minutes to embroider this memorable gift.
  • Printed cocktail napkins - This one requires a little more advanced planning but it's worth it! A set of 100 custom printed cocktail napkins is only $28.
  • Mini citrus or gardenia tree - Citrus and gardenia trees do well indoors and are great for people with green thumbs. You can find them online but they are much cheaper from your local nursery.

Advent Calendar: December 14

Starting to burn out on the holidays? Feeling a bit Grinchy? Click on today's advent calendar or here to see a photo that is sure to brighten your spirits.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Things I love today: This lady

I love New York Magazine's Look Book column (yes, I also read the Times and the New Yorker and no, I haven't spent more than 80 hours in New York combined, what's it to you). I also love Gawker's Looking at the Look Book feature.

But more than both these things, I love Ruth Chandler Duke. Ruth is featured in this week's column and she is fabulous!

Shopping challenge: Foodie gifts!

What do you get a finicky foodie for Christmas this year? I've got two suggestions for killer presents that will satisfy even the toughest gourmand. Plus, some of these gifts are great for design mavens too:

Bodas Pavina Double Walled Glasses - Beautiful, useful, innovative and affordable! What more could you want from a gift? A set of these glasses is my favorite house warming gift idea.

Bialetti Express Cappucino Maker - A perfect gift for an urban apartment dweller and coffee junky. This sleek and compact stove top cappucino maker is the antithesis of huge and expensive expresso machines.

Bonjour Laser Themometer - For the gearhead you can't do better than a laser themometer. I have no idea what you are supposed to use this for, but I would imagine it delivering hours of entertainment at dinner parties.

Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker - It's the kind of thing you would never buy for yourself and would probably only use once or twice a year...but just think of what you could use it for! All those fancy-schmancy recipes for five-herb ice milk are now within reach.

Advent Calendar: December 13

The Ladies Activity Club met last night at Jill's apartment for our holiday party and gingerbread house making project. I had such a great time decorating and gorging myself on piles of candy. Ah, the holidays!

While I work on burning off those calories, why don't you click on the advent calendar or here to see today's San Francisco holiday image!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Things I love today: Japanese stickers

Ahhh...Japanese pop-culture. You certainly can't understand it so why not just savor it? I don't claim to get what it means, but I am a huge fan of cute, tiny Japanese sticker and stationary sets. For example, this flying burger cat...or this meloncholy dinner roll both defy explanation and yet are completely appealing.

Some of the better designs are sold at trendy boutiques around San Francisco. But for the real deal (and the best prices) you have to go shopping in Chinatown or it's online equivalent. Search for San-X online if you are looking for the wackiest available! Sticker insanity makes a great stocking stuffer.

Advent Calendar: December 12

Happy Holidays! I hope your weekend was full of Christmas tidings! I was lucky to hang out with my New York cousin this weekend. Plus, I got a festive pedicure and visited Macy's downtown (aka Christmas Crackville). Boost your holiday spirit by clicking on today's advent calendar image or here.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Happy Holidays to me!

My antique Japanese matchlock riffle sold at auction this week for almost twice the expected price! Yay! I am so proud! I wonder who bought it and where it is headed next?

Urban Girl Tip: Feria Urbana

If you are fan of small shiny objects (like most ravens and women) you need to check out the Feria Urbana this weekend. Jean and I went last night and loaded up on way too much jewelry. At least most of it is going to be used as Christmas presents! Earrings started at $10 and amazing necklaces started at $20. Peggy Li was one designer featured at the show. Gorgeous jewelry, great deals...what more can a girl ask for!

Sign up for Feria Urbana's mailing list to be kept in the loop on upcoming craft shows in San Francisco.

Advent Calendar: December 9

Click on the advent calendar image or here to see today's vintage holiday image. The photo is of San Francisco's Union Square in December 1935. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Must reads: Ludwid Bemelmans

One of my favorite "best kept secrets" these last few years has been the travel writing of Ludwig Bemelmans. The author and illustrator of the Madeline series, published fantastic illustrated travel books for grown ups in the late 1940's.

It looks like the cat is out of the bag though! Daily Candy sent an email today about Lunch with the Emperor and a few of his books have been issued in new editions. You can request the original copies of Bemelman's books from the San Francisco Public Library. I currently have The Donkey Inside checked out myself!

Advent Calendar: December 8

Happy rainy December day to you! Click on the advent calendar image or here to see today's cozy holiday picture.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Urban Girl Tip: Creative holiday shopping

Instead of giving boring presents like Old Navy gift cards and scarves, be creative with your holiday shopping this year. Check out Feria Urban (over by Golden Gate Park) for crafts and art gifts made by San Franciscans. They are having holiday sales tomorrow night and this weekend.

Also, look for gifts in antique stores. Inexpensive shops, like Mickey's Monkey on Haight and Pierce, offer all kinds of clever and one of a kind gifts. Or shop for unique accessories at a vintage store like La Rosa. Not only will your gift be unusual, but you'll probably also spend less than if you bought something downtown.

Advent Calendar: December 7

Today's advent calendar image is super cute! Click on the calendar or here to see today's surprise.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Crafty: Pomanders

Want a fun holiday scent in your apartment but happen to be anti-tree? Try making pomanders instead. This easy project combines cloves and oranges to make festive decorations.

It's also a great project to do with holiday visitors. If you have children visiting or friends coming for tea, set out some oranges and cloves for a fun activity.

Advent Calendar: December 6

It's getting cold out there! Warm up today with this advent calendar picture! Click on the calendar or here to see today's image.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Urban Girl Tip: Holiday party idea

I am throwing a holiday dinner party in a few weeks and wanted to make something that was really festive. I came up with a fun idea but I think it may be a little too crazy to work: Serve twelve "small plates" to the guests, each one corresponding to the lyrics from the 12 days of Christmas song. For example, start with pear & goat cheese (partridge in a pear tree) and work through to a chocolate drum (12 drummers drumming). It would certainly be an experience!

Victorians were really odd

Browsing on Fay Cullen, you occasionally stumble across an odd Victorian piece of jewelry. Jeeze, they were weird back then! Some of it is just "eccentric." For example, this gigantic locket or this John the Baptist pearl necklace. But this Victorian mourning bracelet woven from hair of the deceased person is downright gross. You would have to be a crazy person or Angelina Jolie to wear that thing. Pukeness!

Let's move on to some cute gift options instead: Like these styling cufflinks, an odd but cute pearl and diamond ring or these pretty ruby earrings.

Shopping: A lotta Lotta

I am apparently a huge accidental fan of Lotta Jansdotter. The Swedish/San Franciscan designer is almost omnipresent these days!

Open Sunset Magazine, there's Lotta in her cute apartment! Open a present from my aunt in Chicago, it's Lotta's post it notes! Shop on Fillmore, look at Lotta's textiles! That cute store on 16th, featuring Lotta's aprons! Buy stationary for a holiday gift, it's by Lotta!

Admittedly, I am an accidental fan because her designs are really gorgeous not just because she has managed to blanket the city. Go Lotta!

Advent Calendar: December 5

I hope your weekend was full of Christmas tree decorating, gift shopping, cocktail party chatting and crab feasting like mine was! Click on the advent calendar or here to view today's holiday image. Trust me, this one is a must see!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Advent Calendar: December 3 & 4

Saturday and Sunday's online advent calendar links are combined into one spectacular weekend image! Click on the advent calendar or here to see the fun holiday picture for December 3 and 4.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Coincidences

Since my apartment is stocked with inherited antiques and I happen to work in an area filled with antique stores, I occasionally have the weird experience of running into my belongings on sale in random places. Like today!

On my way to the bank at lunch I spotted these sconces (excuse me "carved giltwood italian wall brackets") in the window of a shop down the street. They are identical to a pair I have up in my living room (but mine aren't gilded). My grandmother always said they were fancy and from Italy...guess she was actually right!

PS - You still have a few days to bid on my antique Japanese matchlock rifle! The auction ends on December 6. Maybe I should go into the antique business!

Advent Calendar: December 2

In the holiday spirit yet? If all this cold and rainy weather in San Francisco hasn't done it for you already try clicking on today's online advent calendar. Click on the image or here to see what surprise awaits you today!

PS - This image is big enough to work as really nice desktop for your office computer. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Things I love today: Comp books

Work is just more fun when you have the right supplies! I love the old fashioned simplicity of these black and white composition books for taking notes in meetings and making to do lists. Plus, you can express your rebellious-teen side by drawing pictures of skulls and robots in marker on the outside. Or, if you were more like me as a teenager, you can use it to play MASH with your co-workers!

Urban Girl Tip: Holiday entertaining

The San Francisco Chronicle just came out with a great section of tips and recipes for holiday entertaining. Check out the appetizer suggestions and cheese plate instructions!

Advent Calendar: December 1

Here's your first advent calendar window for the countdown until Christmas. Either click on the calendar image or here to see today's online advent image. Happy first day of December!