Tuesday, February 28, 2006

To Do: Ladies Activity Club party tonight

The February San Francisco Ladies Activity Club party is being held tonight. This month's activity? Wine tasting! The event is being hosted by a member who is also a wine saleswoman. She should be able to teach us a thing or two about the vino! In preparation for tonight's tasting, I am studying up a bit on wine terms like "mouth feel," "flinty" and "bold." I think I'll just say "This wine has delightful citrus overtones and a bold, balanced finish" not matter what I am tasting!

In the past, LAC events have included pasta making, gingerbread house decorating, poker lessons and pumpkin carving.

Shopping challenge: Spring table linens

Although the weather is still dreadful, I have started to think about the spring entertaining season. Along with the cupcake decorating party, I have a brunch and Easter event coming up soon. After a long winter or Cornish game hen, red wine and balsamic vinegar my current linens are looking worse for wear. In fact, I think it is time to dye the damask table cloth that is less white than other colors these days. Maybe a lilac or olive?

What I need is a new white table cloth, a bright pair or runners and a set of fun napkins. The tablecloth is pretty simple. This "hotel tablecloth" from William-Sonoma is just right. For the napkins, I like this "birdwatching" set from Anthropologie or these chikadee napkins from Gump's. For the runner, this kiwi choice from Neiman Marcus is fun or maybe I'll make my own using green or yellow canvas. A few years ago, Margaret made me two runners in a pumpkin canvas and I use them all the time. Does anyone know of a great source for table linens?

Recipe: Quick and hearty bean soup

Instead of making the red lentil soup I talked about yesterday, I braved the hurricane winds last night to go to Safeway and threw togther my own recipe. It was the perfect thing for dinner during last night's storm and was a snap to make. Here are the instructions:

1 slice of ham steak, diced
1 can of white beans
3 stalks of celery, diced
1 cup of carrots, diced
1 cup of onions, diced
1 carton of chicken broth
Italian herbs
2 cups stale bread, cubed

Lightly brown the diced ham in a large pan. Add the onions and carrots along with a splash of water, once these cook down for about five minutes add the celery, beans, chicken broth and spices. Cover and let simmer for about 30 minutes. (Do not add salt, between the ham and broth there is plenty) Serve in bowls and top with cubed bread.

Monday, February 27, 2006

To Do: Cook red lentil soup

There is only one word to describe today's weather....blustery. Isn't that the best description for the windy, rainy, terribleness that is going on outside? Even the scary thunderstorm icon is back on Google. Yuck. When the weather is this bad, it calls for cooking soup. I found this recipe for Red Lentil Soup in Gourmet's latest Canadian-themed issue. A quick, hearty option for days when your commute requires galoshes.

Book report: Entertaining is fun!

The de Young Museum bookstore was having a sale last Saturday and I picked up a fabulous book called "Entertaining is Fun!" (why they were selling it at an art museum? you've got me) This book was originally published in 1941 by interior decorating whiz Dorothy Draper. Draper's interior design focused on bright contrasting colors with lots of frills and plants. You could say she was the Jonathan Adler of the era.

The book is delicious. Not only is the cover hot pink polka dots but the interior filled with adorable illustrations. The advice is also surprisingly up to date. She does occasionally recommend parties centered around listening to the radio, tomato aspic and playing bridge, but aside from that it's all good stuff. Definitely a must-read for any modern hostess!

Weekend round-up

Two of my friends came for a visit this weekend. These are friends that I made way back in Junior High, which is very special because I was not particularly cute or nice when I was 13. It's comforting to have friends that go this far back because you know that they have seen you at your absolute worst and still have decided to like you.

So anyway, I rushed around on Friday filling the house with flowers, basic sundries and funfetti cupcakes for their late evening arrival. Always-adorable Jackie arrived with two pink boxes full of pastries that we feasted on the next morning. After the huge breakfast on Saturday, we went to the de Young Museum (membership is such a good deal) and had lunch at the cafe. Next was a trip downtown to Sephora, H&M (the far less packed women's store on Post Street) and Zara.

When we got home it was too early for dinner but not too early for filling up on cupcakes, apple tart and champagne while watching Project Runway. A combination of not enough un-frosted food and too much champagne led to me turning bright pink for about two hours (I am Scottish, not Asian!). When the buzz started to wear off, we went to Axum Cafe for a delicious Ethiopian dinner.

Brunch at Home the next morning followed by a quick trip to Nordstrom for Stila makeovers and shoe shopping completed the weekend. After this, it was too rainy and miserable to leave the house for the rest of the day. Altogether it was a perfect girly weekend full of art, shopping and carbs. Hope you had a good weekend too!

Friday, February 24, 2006

To Do: Become a Girl Scout volunteer

One of my New Year's resolutions for 2006 was to find a way to volunteer in San Francisco. Back in southern California, I was on a few committees and really enjoyed volunteering. But finding the right kind of organization to join in San Francisco has been tough. The standard groups, such as Friends of Library, are enormous and others, like the Opera, are for wealthy socialites (which I am sadly, not).

So I have decided to investigate becoming a Girl Scout volunteer. I was a brownie and a Girl Scout back in the day. I figure my crafty, perky nature is pretty well suited to the Girl Scouts. I just sent in an email asking for more information, hopefully they will get back to me soon! I can just imagine, taking a troop of girls to the museum or making lanyards. It would be so fun!

Urban Girl Tip: Tulipiere

I learned something new today! Behold, the Tulipiere! Isn't it fantastic?! I couldn't find an official definition online or in the dictionary...but I think it's pretty much just a vase designed with special holes or fingers for arranging bulb flowers.

Here is a plain white example and here is a more ornate sample with an outrageous price. Whoa, this is an even more ornate and expensive tulipiere. This white and green "lettuce" example is pretty cute. But I personally like the Gump's artichoke tulipiere best and you can't beat the $35 price tag!

PS: Any francophiles out there know how to correctly pronounce "tulipiere?" (It has an accent over the "e" that Blogger refuses to post).

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Shopping challenge: Mirror, mirror on the wall...

When we moved to San Francisco a few months ago, I left our old cheapo full-length mirror behind and vowed to get something better. Apparently this is a little bit harder than I thought. For the last six months, I have been relying on Rob and the medicine cabinet to be my mirror...this will not do! So begins today's shopping challenge.

I tried to find a sample of my old mirror online but apparently it is too cheap for e-commerce. If you have ever been to Target or Ace Hardware, you know which $9 mirror I am talking about. It was nailed to the wall in a way that made everyone look pear shaped. I am so lacking in curves that it actually worked for me...but it did drive female visitors to our apartment completely insane.

Here's a kind of cool option from Olde Good Things. The border is made out of vintage ceiling tiles but it's a bit more than I wanted to spend. The simplicity of this "Minimal Mirror" from Design within Reach is also pretty nice. Oooh, and then I could say that I officially shop there...an added benefit. This wood framed option from CB2 is a good pick too. It looks like it might be too huge for my city-scale bedroom, though. This choice from Neiman Marcus has a little too much flair for my taste! But this alternative is just saucy enough! (Check out this cool mirrored coffee table, too)

Okay, I give up. I am not feeling inspired by any of the full length mirrors. Any tips? Votes? Suggestions?

The cutest method of transportation ever

Warning: This post contains dangerous levels of sentimental transportation. May not be appropriate for the Sarcasticas of the world.

I thought Rob and I broke the cuteness barrier back in October when we started riding around Golden Gate park on a skateboard together. I ride in the front and steer while Rob rides on the back and kicks. Pretty darn adorable.

But now, Rob's taking it to a whole new level. He's decided lately that he really wants to start riding a bike to work again. (We work at the same office and usually take the bus or drive) But I am a terrible bike rider, always have been. Each time I get on a bike in put my life in grave danger. The sheer anxiety alone would make biking to work a terrible idea (not to mention that I wear skirts and pumps to work each day).

So Rob has decided to buy a pedicab like the ones we coveted on our trip to China. He'll pedal in the front and I'll ride in the seat! I think he's already ordered one online and has plans to assemble it with Trent as a weekend project. It's pretty common in China to see a man peddling his lady around town in a modified tricycle or pedicab but I haven't seen it done in San Francisco before!

Things I love today: City magic

Living in San Francisco can sometimes be such a bizarre experience. But it also has its "magical" moments. Like yesterday, when the postman amazingly managed to fit an 800 page InStyle magazine, six letters and a catalog into a four inch wide mailbox .

Or when dollar coins appear in the pockets of your favorite coat. Or when you all the sudden notice something like a restaurant or shop in your neighborhood that you never knew was there. Or when you find a seat on the bus next to someone who doesn't smell. Just a thought!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Crafty: Throw a cupcake frosting party

I may host the San Francisco Ladies Activity Club party in March since no one else has signed up yet. Actually, I am excited to host my second event!

So far, my idea is to throw a cupcake frosting party. Since cupcakes are a) delicious b) easy to make/decorate and c) uber trendy right now this seems like a great party theme. I'll just make a few dozen cupcakes in different flavors and set out a lot of frosting, flavorings, toppings and decorations. The possibilities are endless.

And what would a good cupcake party be without "twisted-coco cupcake" martinis!

Shopping challenge: Perfect black pumps

On Monday, I lent a bunch of clothes to my sister for her graduate school interviews out in North Carolina. When she asked my for a pair of black shoes to wear...I realized I didn't actually own a pair of basic black pumps. Yes, I have purple and red alligator pumps. I also have embroidered maroon peep toed pumps. And green metallic skimmers. And gold sandals. But no perfect black shoes. Time to do a little online shopping!

Oops...I am already way off track. Look at these suede peep toe pumps from Linea Paolo. Gorgeous! Ignore them and their deliciously affordable price. Think black and boring.

Like these from Bandolino for $70. Soooo basic. But that's the point, right? These are divine...but the peep toe and flowers aren't really "basic." Now this pair from Pelle Moda could be perfect. Maybe a little too much sass with the stiletto and alligator. Aha! This pair of Via Spiga pumps is just right. Not too shiny, pointy or flashy. Just a nice basic black pump.

Things I love today: The Miramar

When I was young, my family used to spend a few weeks each summer at the Miramar Hotel in Montecito, CA. This funny resort had the sort of run-down, old-money charm that is hard to find these days. It was equipped with tennis courts, shuffleboard, a salon, two swimming pools, a boardwalk, a fancy "European-style" terrace dining room and railroad car cafe. The head waiter was about 84, the tennis pro was 90 and the leathery, craby, speedo-wearing, French lifeguard named Jeac was even older.

Together with my grandmother and aunt's family, we rented the same cabana each year following strict traditions. I am pretty sure that being exposed to all the 1950's "glamour" at this hotel had a big part in establishing my current misguided opinions about style and etiquette.

I am not sure why I have been thinking about the Miramar lately. I had a dream last night about the resort. It has been sadly been closed now for a few years. A recent sale to Ty Warner (of Beanie Baby fame) ensures that it will probably be remodeled into the kind of McMansion resort costing $1,200 a night and offering gold leaf facials. So sad. I wonder if places like this even exist in America anymore.

Note to self: Don't start posts with "When I was young.." it makes you sound 500 years old. Actually, this whole post make me sound like I am ancient! For the record, I stayed at the Miramar in the 1980's...not the 1890's.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

To Do: Celebrate!

Hooray for me! I officially finished the draft of my book and sent it to the publisher today! I won't go too much into the details, but I will say that the book theme is vastly different than the material you are used to on EmilyStyle.

I lead a double life. How very intriguing!

Anyway, all 23,961 words are finally done, edited and ready to go. I started the book in November and can't believe it's finally complete. Pretty soon I'll be an official "author" and will have to start wearing plaid and tweed blazers with leather elbow patches! Ooh! And glasses!

Pop the champagne!

Things I love today: L'Occitane shea butter hand cream

Between rock climbing and the freezing cold weather in San Francisco, my hands have been dried out beyond belief. Rock climbing in the gym is a double whamy: not only do your hands get scraped up but all that chalk also dries out your skin at the same time (I guess that is the point though, isn't it!).

It would be awful without L'Occitane's shea butter hand cream as my constant companion. I keep the mini-size tubes in my purse, at my desk and next to the bed. It doesn't smell funny and has a great consistency that's not too greasy. Now only if it wasn't so darn expensive!

Crafty: Indoor ivy topiary

As I mentioned last week, my indoor limequat tree unceremoniously bit the dust a few weeks ago. After a rather unsuccessful trip to the wholesale flower market on Sunday, I decided to replace it with an ivy topiary. It looks gorgeous! Especially with the lime green baby tears I planted around it. The living room has such a nice modern "English garden" feel right now.

But according to the American Ivy Society (yes, really) I am probably going to kill it shortly and may be a bad person for even thinking I could be worthy enough to own ivy. Last time I checked, ivy was straddling the plant/weed line, right?

Urban Girl Tip: Don't get cable TV

What a relaxing three day weekend that was! The dreadful San Francisco weather combined with all our friends being out of town basically left Rob and I "snowed in" at the apartment for three days. Aside from feeling a bit guilty about not leaving the house (a la: "Why am I paying all this rent to live in this fun city if all I do is stay inside. I could do this in Kentucky."), it was a lovely time.

On Sunday we summoned the dark forces of Comcast to install cable TV and internet access. For the record: I hate Comcast. I think they are a price-gouging, evil megla-monopoly. But a girl's gotta have access to the Daily Show...so we made a deal with the devil. As soon as the cable man left, it was pretty much a non-stop marathon of Project Runway, Number 1 Single and Clueless thereafter. Watch out Urban Girls: Installing cable is one of the most social-life destroying moves you can make. I wonder if I'll ever go to a bar or restaurant again.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Mammalian moment

Jean loves all things monkey. She loves spooky tarsiers and crazy capuchins. That's why I am sure she will love "Ask Dr. Capybara." (Disclaimer: I know...Capybara is not a monkey...I think it's a rodent..this is besides the point) My friend Brian and I discovered this bizarre website during a conversation this afternoon. Enjoy!

To Do: Spring cleaning

With the weather being so miserable this weekend, I have planned a few indoor spring cleaning activities. I recently bought the Neutrogena Microdermabrasion kit and want to try it out this weekend. My skin has definitely taken a turn for the worst lately. It's also time to start tanning the toothpicks. And my Carrot Top hair is starting to fade already so I probably should try this too. What better way to celebrate spring than by buffing, polishing and tanning!

Urban Girl Tip: Next Bus

Sometimes it so great living with a techy! Rob has programmed our computer at home to turn on automatically at 7:30 am and display the Next Bus listings for the 22 bus to work. I am such a computer-moron that I can't even fathom how this possibly works. But I love it!

It makes me feel as if we are living in the future...like Jetsons! Of course if it was the future...I could take a jet pack to work instead of a stinky bus full of crazy hipsters and trannies.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Baby it's cold outside!

Man alive is it cold today! How did we manage to go from a balmy 75 degrees to freezing cold and windy 55 degrees in a matter of a few days?! Even worse, weather reports for this weekend predict thunderstorms (is it just me or is Google's depiction of thunderstorms pretty scary?). Serious weather demands serious accessories.

My number one all-time favorite cold weather accessory is a vintage fur collar. I inherited a few from my Grandmother a few years ago (Don't throw flour at me PETA! The minks have been dead twice as long as I have been alive!). You would be amazed at how warm such a tiny piece of fur can be.

Toss it on under a coat and you are ready to brave the elements. You can even doll it up with a broach. I haven't tried the faux version, but I would imagine that they are not as warm. I mean, there's a reason people have been wearing fur for so long. Combined with a pair of leather gloves and thick tights, a vintage fur collar is the only accessory you need to survive the crazy San Francisco weather.

To Do: Buy new citrus tree

I somehow killed my limequat tree by moving it across the living room. Maybe it died of a broken heart thinking that we loved the Christmas tree more. Or maybe it was the ant invasion. Or perhaps it wasn't really dead. It is now at least. There is no way it can survive Rob's special pruning job.

I have to remember to get up early on Saturday to go to the wholesale flower market and pick out a new tree. Hopefully, this one will last longer.

Urban Girl Tip: Things people in apartments should never own

Living in an apartment building comes with its own unique benefits and challenges. Largely the challenges have to do with living within earshot of several other people. For the record, I would like to formally announce today that people living in old, wood floor apartments should never own the following items:
  • Rolling chairs - Not that offensive in a living room or office situation. Horribly annoying in a bedroom right when you are falling asleep. My upstairs neighbor has a very loud rolling chair in her bedroom. In my imagination she is a med student (or do I somehow know this fact about her in real life?) and the chair is actually one of those awful stools that doctors are always rolling around in when you go for a check-up.
  • Platform pumps - I admit it, I violate this rule myself. But look at how divine these shoes are...You can't say no, even if it means annoying your downstairs neighbor. Sorry Mr. Might be a Drug Dealer in apt #2!
  • Tongue scraper - Through the bathroom vent in my apartment I can hear someone gag each morning right after brushing their teeth. Using my skills of deduction, I have determined that this is likely due to overzealous tongue scraping. Unless you want all your neighbors to think you are bulimic/pregnant...avoid the tongue scrapers.
  • Whatever caused that crazy noise - One of the benefits of living in an apartment is you occasionally get to play "what on earth was that sound." In my experience, your chance to play usually arrives during the middle of a mellow dinner party or right before you fall asleep. Was it a pojo stick? Dropped back of marbles? Three legged child? Your guess is as good as mine.
I wish that there was a store design specifically for the needs of apartment dwellers. It could sell quiet rolling chairs with soft wheels, noise dampening carpets, radiator thermostats and magical window screens that keep out the noise while letting in a breeze. Sort of like an Urban Outfitters...but real.

Things I love today: Spirit Fingers!

I can't believe that little ol' EmilyStyle.com was featured today as a "blog to visit" on Spirit Fingers. In my opinion, Spirit Fingers is one of the best and funniest websites in the universe.

The pressure is on now...quick!...think of something funny to say about MUNI, legwarmers or embarrassing yoga mishaps....ack!...I am drawing a blank! Is it weird for blogging to actually cause you to blush in real life?!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Sale Alert: Jonathan Adler

Attention home fashion fashionistas and readers of Domino Magazine: Jonathan Adler is having an online sale featuring "scandalously well priced" goods. If you have ever coveted his pottery, rugs or pillows...now is the time to whip out those credit cards. I love this cactus vase and cannot believe it's only $24. Even better are these colorful throw pillows for $47.

I admit that I am not always a die hard fan of all of Adler's designs, but I love his philosophy and his back story! Plus, I have his bath towels and soap dispenser from Macy's featuring delightful fish.

Sale Alert: Macy's

I love Macy's! I love it even more when they have huge sales...which they do about 300 days a year. Sales that include adorable winter party dresses and cute coats. My picks: these satin and velvet pumps for only $30. At that price you don't even need to decide between the green and the pink...you can get both.

Urban Girl Tip: Free chocolates

At the end of our delicious Valentine's dinner at Catch last night, the waiter brought us two small boxes of chocolates with our check. One contained five Ghirardelli chocolate squares (delicious!) and the other was a promotion for a HBO show called Big Love.

I must be a little out of the pop culture loop but I hadn't heard about this polygamy themed show before. It's apparently about a man with three wives (one of who is oddly enough played by Chloe Sevigny). What marketing genius decided that: Valentine's Day chocolates + polygamy + the Castro = Success!? It makes about as much sense as: 4th of July apple pie + Brokeback Mountain + Tennessee Baptist Church!

Update: The more I think about this...the more it annoys me. C'mon people! Those cute gay couples at Catch last night are painfully aware of their lack of marriage rights in the US...and then HBO comes along and promote not one straight marriage but three at a time!? I'm calling the Human Rights Campaign.

Things I love today: Breaking out the whites

Spring was officially here last week when San Francisco was a balmy and unexpected 75 degrees all week. Today, the temperature has dropped back down into the 50's but I still insist that it's time to start dressing for spring.

Celebrate with me the annual return of the white pants! Although worn with a wool turtleneck and a down jacket...this pant choice still triumphantly marks the return of the sun to this foggy city.

Pretty soon it will be time to celebrate the annual return of the t-shirt, white pleated skirt and flip flop. It hardly seems possible!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Things I love today: Whitman's Sampler

Many thanks to my co-worker for delivering boxes of chocolate to the whole office today! Valentine's Day just isn't official until you have scarfed down a chocolate covered caramel from a heart shaped box.

These chocolates remind me of a Valentine's Day a few years ago when Rob gave me a 4 pound, 17 inch red velvet heart full of See's candy and a rock climbing belay device. The best part was that he gave it to me during a trip to Yosemite and we have to struggle to get it to fit in the bear box each night. Jean, Trent, Rob and I may not have had enough sleeping bags or enough tent for that snowy trip but we certainly had enough chocolate!

Today's "TILT" post is really dedicated to my wonderful boyfriend (the sampler was just a decoy!). Without you I would never have had the guts to go camping, take up rock climbing, travel to China, move to San Francisco and experience the other countless adventures we have undertaken together. You are a magnificent man, sassy sir and fantastic fellow. I love you!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Rob surprised me this morning with a bottle of Chanel's Coco Mademoiselle perfume! It smells wonderful...even when combined with eau de chlorine that is lingering on my skin from last night's swim. I gave Rob a box of See's Candy and high speed internet access hookup for the apartment this morning.

Tonight is a romantic dinner for two at Catch, our favorite neighborhood restaurant for "step out" dinners. Happy Valentine's Day!

Things I love today: Crunchwrap supreme

At Taco Bell last night, Jean said "I bet you are going to blog about this...aren't you." Well, I wasn't going to but now I feel obligated.

This is just a quick note of praise to the marketing geniuses at Taco Bell HQ who came up with the idea for the "Crunchwrap Supreme." Replace the beef with spicy chicken and it's even more delicious. After a long swim workout at the municipal pool, nothing in the world could have tasted better than one of these puppies. Ignore the fact that it is literally a calorie laden frisbee...it was divine!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Weekend round-up

What a crazy, fun weekend! Taking the train to Sacramento turned out to be somewhat like my delusional imagination had predicted. It was easy and semi-elegant. Once I arrived in Sacramento, my friend took me to dinner and then we went to "the hottest bar in Folsom"....Folsom Lake Bowling. Yes...it is a bowling alley...not even a particularly nice one...where we had to wait for an hour in line to get in....it was a unique experience.

The next morning it was off to the mall for some shopping. I picked up these adorable Arturo Chiang ballet flats at 75% off. And then to my all time favorite valley restaurant Spaghetti Factory. It brought back so many memories of being a broke college student and going out to dinner with my editor, Trent, and my roommate, Andrew. After dinner it was off to go see the movie Something New. Despite a rocky start, it turned out to be a really great flick.

The next morning, I tried my first ever Bikram (hot) yoga class. What a weird experience! The yoga studio was a sultry 105 degrees. As soon as you walked in the door it hits you like a hot gym sock right in the face. It's a well documented fact that I am a "hatha-clutz," so I was pretty sure I was going to have to be carried out on a stretcher after a 90 minute class. It actually went okay though. A lot of sweating but no fainting, drooling or other embarrassment. The instructor even asked me if I was a dancer...which is a compliment, right? Or does it mean, "oh my, you are extremely pale and bony."

Now, about 6 pounds lighter after having sweat out all my bodily fluids, I managed to make it home on the train. I even talked to some nice strangers for help with directions...one of my least favorite things as a shy person. Made it back to the city in time for a birthday dinner with my cousin and then straight home to bed. Whew! I need a weekend to recover from my weekend!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Urban Girl Tip: Riding the rails

I am taking the train to Sacramento this afternoon. Of course, with my hyperactive imagination I imagine it will be exactly like this. When in reality, it's going to be like this. I have a book, a New Yorker, a pashmina, spice drops and an iPod...I should be okay.

I haven't taken the train by myself since college. I'm actually kind of nervous! I hope I manage to make it to Sacramento before midnight!

Friday's perfect thing: Pin flower frogs

Flower frogs are such a perfect product. Especially these heavy metal "pin" type frogs. Pop one of these into any bowl or pot and you can instantly become a flower arranging wizard. Forget glass frogs or marbles, it's the turbo metal pin frogs that really get the job done.

Of course, this all stems from the Japanese flower arranging tradition of Ikebana. (I really want to join this club! Seems a little imposing, though) Is there anything that Japanese can't do perfectly! For $2.50 each, you can afford to stock up on pin frogs and let your creativity run wild.

Fashion Week Favorites

While Fashion Week has thus far predicted Greigeageddon and Lindsay Lohan zombies for fall 2006, at least a few designers are breaking out of the Russia-esque mold. Thank you to Temperly, Pamella Roland and Zac Posen for helping us have something halfway decent to wear...Although quite oddly all matched with berets.

Today's favorite pick goes to Temperly. Good ideas abound with this collection and it's full of a little more flair than most others. Love the dark tights, embroidery, belts and short coats.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Shopping challenge: Resort wear

My sister is going to Hawaii a few weeks from now - lucky dog! What should she pack with her? Let's quickly run down some tropical resort wear essentials:

The Basics: Two bikinis, two pairs of flip flops, two pairs of sunglasses, a pair of sneakers, a pair of strappy shoes, a canvas tote, a sarong, lots of tees and tanks, tons of sunblock, chapstick and sunless tanner. Don't pack accessories, buy them there instead as souvenirs. To make coordination easier, stick with a white, blue, brown and coral color scheme.

White pants: It wouldn't be a tropical vacation if you didn't wear a pair of white pants. Sure, they may be beyond the salvation of bleach by the time you bring them home...but it is so worth it. Since I know Jean has a Gap gift card waiting to be used (thank you Aunt Lucie) this is my choice. Also pack a pair of dark blue cotton slacks and some drawstring pants both in a light fabric that dries quickly.

Something warmer: When it rains in Hawaii, it can actually be a bit cold. This fine knit hooded sweater in blue from J.Crew is the perfect thing for throwing over a bathing suit or pairing with some white pants.

A versatile skirt: Ignore this divine Prada skirt (your wallet will thank you), instead go for something washable that can easily be worn with flip flops or heels. This option from Old Navy is not inspired but would work.

Shirt dress: From beach cover up to dinner outfit, a simple shirt dress is a must-have for vacationing. Try to find one that is made out of synthetic fabric and won't wrinkle. This one is adorable but made of cotton and linen.

Fashion Week Favorites

Greigeageddon® continues to be the running theme of Fashion Week. But hark! What is this?! Could it be! A hint of green appeared on the runways last night. If you squint you can even catch some purple, blue and yellow here and there. Sacre bleu! There is hope for fall 2006.

Today's pick: a lovely cream coat (dress?) from Rodarte. The ruffles are oh so romantically modern and the headband is a flirty touch. Runner up: this adorable mod belted coat from Michael Kors.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Urban Girl Tip: Feria Urbana

My favorite cool craft fair is back! Feria Urbana, the place to buy fabulous jewelry, t-shirts and more directly from designers, is holding a valentine craft fair tomorrow night at 6 pm at the Canvas Gallery on 9th and Lincoln. The deals are amazing, the venue sells cake and the shopping goes till 10 pm. It's perfect!

Note: If you can't make it to tomorrow's event there is another one on Saturday February 25 at noon.

Fashion Week Favorites

It's getting harder and harder to choose even one favorite piece from Fashion Week. Apparently there is some sort of "nuclear winter" due to arrive in August 2006 that will wipe all colors besides black, greige, tan and putty from the face of the planet.

Anyway...here's today's favorite pick from Fashion Week. This Luca Luca dress has an interesting drop waist. The lowered proportions give the dress a fresh, not-retro vibe.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Fashion Week Favorites

Today's collections were pretty repetitive. Beige, black, tan, belt and poof pretty much sums up all of Fall 2006. Even Betsey Johnson stuck to muted colors.

My favorite collection today was hands down Oscar de la Renta. If I had a couple thousand dollars laying around I would snatch up this dress in several colors. Look at that delicious collar and the perfect cut! Just different enough flair to be memorable & not so different that people will think you are on drugs.

Urban Girl Tips: Last minute dinner parties

Last night Rob's friend from Boston decided to drop by our house for dinner unexpectedly I got the news at 5:00 and had to do some emergency planning to throw a dinner party for five people in two hours. Here's three tips:

1. Cleaning - A clean bathroom is a necessity when you have guests because it's the only place they'll be able to spend some time alone looking at the baseboards. Along with organizing the medicine cabinet (admit it, you always look), I also put flowers by the sink as a distraction. Also, always clean the bedroom. For some reason you can never get away with keeping the door closed.

2. Stalling - Buy cheese and crackers for an appetizer (easy prep) and don't skip the salad. Both these "courses" help you stall the guests and give you more time to cook. Also, provide plenty of alcohol.

3. Cooking - Go for something easy for the main course that can be roasted. Never try a new recipe if you are in a rush. I usually fall back on pork tenderloin stuffed with apples, pecans and cranberries. Brown the meat, boil some potatoes and stuff the whole thing in the oven. Also, don't forget dessert. Pie is always a good choice.

Whew! Last night was so fun! One other tips is to leave the dishes for later. If you have been working for a few hours preparing for a party, you don't have the energy to wash plates. Just scrape and toss anything perishable and save the rest for the next night. Or even better, throw dinner parties the day before the housekeeper comes!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Fashion Week Favorites

I don't follow NY's Fashion Week that closely, but there are a few notable ups and downs already. Basically, everything from Diane Von Furstenberg and Tuleh gets my thumbs up and everything from DKNY (so very 1992) and Baby Phat (I feel a little icky just writing it) gets a big thumbs down. The thing I would take home? This fun shirt dress from DVF that is very Katherine Hepburn from Adam's Rib.

Only in San Francisco: Volume 1

San Francisco is such a wonderful city. Full of fog, beer, music, art, parks, kickball, fashion and more. It also happens to be a city full of crazy people and "alternative lifestyles" (the kind that make even midget polygamists do a double take). There are so many people to keep life in this city interesting that I thought it was time to launch a new feature on this blog. Only in San Francisco...
  • Do you see a totally standard looking 80 year old man in a wool sweater, jacket and khaki pants on the bus...sporting a set of bright red acrylic nails.
  • The question "Are those dogs or people in the back of that convertible?" is not that weird.
  • Your morning bus ride involves 2-6 transvestites.
  • Do you see a homeless man eating a hot dog (no bun) and drinking orange juice from a jug while blasting classical opera from his boombox.
  • Is taking a vegan out for dinner not at all a challenge.
  • Would someone ever consider wearing assless chaps on the subway.
  • Is Chinese New Year a major holiday that includes a parade broadcast in HD.
  • Do bad bus stories make for the best conversations.
Ahhh San Francisco! I love you so!

Shopping Challenge: Cedar shoe rack

$48 is definitely too much for a few pieces of wood that hold your shoes...right? Especially if each cedar shoe rack only holds four pairs of shoes and you would need three racks at least to even make a dent in the close.

Thank jesus for the internet! A quick Froogle search turns up some remarkably similar racks for $21 each. That's still pretty pricey though...$63 for a shoe holder? For $39 I could get a three level rack that is less attractive but actually includes more cedar (and here I was thinking that the cedar itself was the expensive part.) If I forgo the wood, I can even get a 50 pair (!) shoe rack for only $49.

Unfortunately, this just doesn't seem like the kind of thing you should buy online. I think my next trip downtown will include yet another expensive visit to the Container Store.

Crafty: Embroidery project

Last week I found out that Rob's soon-to-be-nephew is a boy and is going to be named Nathaniel. That meant it was time to finally finish the embroidery project I started for the baby back in December. Using an inexpensive fleece blanket from Old Navy, I embroidered his initials (NR) surrounded by water lilies and a smiling frog (kind of like this). I even managed to successfully make french knots for the frog's eyes on my first try. (Margaret knows that I have a clinical problem with french knots).

Embroidering baby items is so fun because you know that they'll be valued for a long time. Long after the baby passes up this blanket, it will probably stay packed away with his booties. My next project may be something with this adorable monkey pattern. Too cute!

Note: I also completed the endive stamp valentine project this weekend with Jean! The cards came out very well and we discovered that Jean has a knack for stamping! Glitter helps a lot!

Friday, February 03, 2006

Urban Girl tip: Pub quiz

Jean and Trent invited us out last night to Mad Dog in the Fog for trivia night. Between the burritos, rowdy crowd and pitchers of beer, it was altogether an excellent time. Lower Haight certainly knows how to party! Rob and I left before the final rounds, I wonder how our team finished? Did "Still searching for weapons of mass consumption" take home a prize?

Exhaustion from a week full of dinner out, bad hair cuts and ballet has finally caught up with me. I crashed into bed last night at 10:45 and barely managed to get up this morning. Tonight's schedule includes rock climbing at Mission Cliffs and then a Scissors for Lefty show (can't wait to hear the new songs) at Bottom of the Hill. Tomorrow morning is all about sleeping!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Crafty: Make your own valentines

It's supposed to rain on Saturday, making this weekend the perfect time to create your valentines. Homemade valentines (like Easter Trees) are a Williams family tradition. Even my non-crafty mom breaks out the doilies and stickers for Valentine's Day. Martha Stewart always has the best ideas for making your own cards. This year, they suggest using the bottoms of endives and other lettuces to make rose prints. I especially like the white ink on red paper version.

Other ideas include these candy themed cards, these doily cards, these heart stamp cards (I made them a few years ago) and these stitched valentines.

Urban Girl Tip: Swan Lake

Jean and I had a fabulous time at the ballet last night. For the record, going to see a performance at the War Memorial Opera House is one of my all time favorite things. The marble steps, the gold entry hall, the coat check, the ushers, the multiple intermissions, the Irish coffee, the works! Last night's event was particularly fun because I got to take Jean as my guest. Plus, there were all these cute little girls all fancied up in their best velvet dresses and white shoes attending the ballet.

It was also a fun night because the ballet performance was wonderful. Chinese prima ballerina, Yuan Yuan Tan was breathtaking as Odette. I have never seen such a talented dancer. People couldn't stop talking about her during the intermissions. If you can, try to catch a performance featuring this amazing dancer. The San Francisco Ballet's production of Swan Lake is running for a few more days.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Urban Girl Tip: When mist attacks

What the hell is going on with the weather today?! It was fine this morning, just a little drizzly. But now the whole city is engulfed in a massive, impenetrable fog bank. San Francisco is no stranger to fog, but this is some kind of mutant, man-eating fog.

Don't believe me? Check it out for yourself with these online live cams of the city. That one marked "Bay" looks a lot like oatmeal. The one marked "Interstate 280" is basically just a grey screen. Run for your lives...it's Fogageddon!