Monday, July 31, 2006

Urban girl tip: POM Tea

I am always a sucker for buying POM Tea when it is on sale at Safeway. It's tasty, allows me to pretend I eat healthy food and comes in a "keepsake" glass. Lovely.

However, every single time I try to open one of these it is tragic. Red tea goes flying all over the place. Oh, the lid may say "push up here" but it really doesn't mean it.

Last night, I decided to give it one more try and had a genius moment. I used the beer opener on our waiter's corkscrew to pop the lid right off without spilling at all. It was amazing!

I realize this may not be a mind blowing discovery to everyone. But trust me, if you have ever had to clean up sticky red tea from your baseboards this is a big deal. Tell your friends!

What to wear: Shopgirl

Shopgirl: The movie itself was only decent, but the outfits worn by the main character were fantastic! Claire Danes plays Mirabelle Buttersfield, a Saks employee who wears a daily uniform of vintage dresses, pumps clutches and barrettes. Let's hear it for costume designer, Nancy Steiner!

In tribute to the great clothing in this movie, I attempted to put together a Mirabelle-approved outfit online. It was tougher than I expected:
  • Dress - This dress is from Kaye Unger. The bold print and shape are pure Shopgirl even if the colors aren't.
  • Clutch - A vintage looking clutch in copper leather.
  • Shoes - Mirabelle was all about the classic pumps. This pair in grey suede from Steve Madden is a little matchy, but too good to pass up.
  • Hair clip - Another must-have Mirabelle accessory. This one is gold with pearls.
  • Bracelet - I love this antique rose gold buckle bracelet.
Now all you need to do is find about 12 more perfect dresses and to throw out all your pants. Good luck!

Things I love today: Rose lotion

This rose lotion from Gianna Rose Atelier is delightful. It has a perfect rose scent and comes in a milk glass jar. I bought it on 50% sale from Zuzu's Petals when Jean was buying a cat soap for our cousin's birthday.

I just visited the Gianna Rose website last night and found a bunch of other treats. I especially love the dog soaps and the bird soaps. Adorable, yes. Too expensive for tiny pieces of soap, also yes. Between this site and L'Occitane, I need to keep reminding myself that in the real world a bar of Dove only costs $1.50.

Weekend Round-Up: Sickie

Let's see...another weekend full of crazy adventures? Hardly! On my first real weekend "off" with no big plans, I promptly came down with a cold.

After rock climbing with Trent and Matt on Friday night, we grabbed dinner at Truly Mediterranean and watched The Matador. On Saturday, Rob went to Yoga with Trent in the morning. It took me an hour to put together the perfect "errand" outfit. I had been to the dry cleaners and the library before noticing that I had distinctly come down with a cold. I managed to go to the hardware store and Safeway before crashing back into bed at home. I slept for five hours, all the way through Rob's trip to the archery field in Golden Gate Park with Matt. He brought me Chinese food and Shopgirl for dinner and headed our later that night to see our friends in The Faraday Effect.

I woke up feeling a little better, but not great, on Sunday and had to pass on Rob, Matt and Amber's plan to bike out to Sausalito for some kayaking. I spent the day reading "Digging to America" and watching bad reality TV. I am pretty sure I have brain damage after watching five episodes of The Hills in a row. Between that and watching Shopgirl, I am feeling homesick for Southern California. It seems like a different world. A world where people drive cars and go out on warm evenings. I should really plan a trip to Santa Barbara soon. I wrote a few letters on Sunday night and turned in pretty early.

What a boring weekend! It's was kind of nice in all it's nothingness however. Very relaxing. At least Rob got to have some fun in between bringing me food and movies! Also, Jean and my parents started their drive to North Carolina yesterday. This is pretty epic for our family, I can't recall a single relative having driven across the country any time in recent history. We're coastal people!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Things I love today: Garden roses

I have the oddest craving for a bouquet of what I call "garden roses." Garden roses are the fragrant, delicate and imperfect roses that are vastly different from those giant Colombian roses that are becoming so common. I haven't found a place in the city that sells them yet, although Zuzu's Petals is a good candidate. Any recommendations?

Frustratingly, I did find a company in England that offers just what I am looking for. The Real Flower Company specializes in the "finest scented garden roses, herbs and flowers." Even the founder is perfect, her name is Rosebie! If I lived in the UK, I would sign up for their subscription program and have them delivered to my office each month.

PS: Thinking about jewelry and crafts, not roses? There is a Feria Urbana sale tomorrow at the Canvas Gallery.

Urban girl almanac: Dramatic week

It's been a fun, sad, nice and weird week here in San Francisco. The heat wave finally ended. I went to a new spa. Trent had eye surgery. Jean left the city. I made some new friends. Whew! Here's what I learned during all this madness:
  • Bliss spa is fun but very expensive. If you go, be sure to make full use of their lounge, snacks and sauna.
  • Beard Papa's cream puffs are huge!
  • No matter how often I do yoga, I am always terribly sore for the next few days.
  • It's okay to be really sad and sulky when you sister moves to North Carolina.
  • Hooray for discounted blueberries!
  • Eye surgery is a disgusting miracle of modern science.
  • A granny cart is a city must-have. I managed to do three loads of laundry all by myself on Thursday with the help of the cart.
  • I can only manage to scrounge up about four decent outfits for hot weather before completely running out of ideas.
  • Walking to work takes about 30 minutes and is quite pleasant.
  • See's Candy should really deliver.
  • I love this show.
  • A subset of Murphy's law: The day you straighten your hair will always be foggy and damp.
  • People who live where homes are affordable should avoid talking about real estate with people who live in San Francisco. It is bad for our blood pressure.
  • Half a cup is four ounces (Thanks for asking Nicole...what were you making anyways?)
  • Pretending not to be shy can help you actually not be shy.
  • Duboce Triangle is the best neighborhood in the city!
Let's hope next week is a little bit less dramatic! Rob and I have our five year anniversary on Wednesday and we're going to Manchester Beach next weekend.

What to wear: Friday on the bus

A girl on my bus this morning was wearing an adorable outfit. I have tried to recreate it here for future reference. So cute!
  • Pink shirt -I like the bright color of this one from Banana Republic.
  • Sweater vest - Her sweater was much cuter. More sheer and lightweight. I cheated by changing the color of the only similar one I could find online.
  • Wool slacks - All my wool is stashed away right now for the summer. But this very tempting.
  • Sneakers - Really add something to this outfit. Very professorial.
  • Purse - I didn't see what she was carrying...so I am pretending it was this $700 bag from Anthropologie!
I can't wait for fall to start! Wool - Cashmere - Tweed - Corduroy! I love it all!

Making new friends

I got my very first blog related freebie last night! Jordan invited Rob and I to a screening of World Trade Center that she helped coordinate. It was so fun seeing all my new favorite Duboce bloggers in person!

Jordan quickly greeted us at the entrance. I met Betsy next. She and her date sat next to us in the theater. It took me a few minutes to gather the courage to introduce myself and I probably acted like a total stalker. How embarrassing!

As for the movie, it was pretty well done and a had a strong story. A bit corny here and there (hello water bottle messiah) but overall very tasteful. Maggie Gyllenhaal was particularly good. I think the film comes out in August. You should probably bring some tissues if you go: the woman sitting behind me sobbed mightily from the opening titles all the way through to the final credits.

After the movie we met up with Jordan and Paul and rode the bus home to our neighborhood. They are both so cute and friendly and I am really glad we had a chance to meet! I hope we'll be seeing more of them in the future. Yay for new friends!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Things I love today: Fruit bars

It's not very hot outside today. In fact, it's quite foggy and my straightened hair from this morning now looks exactly like this. But just because the heat wave is over doesn't mean you can't enjoy a popsicle. These Dryer's fruit bars are on sale at Safeway. I recommend strawberry and coconut. Keep them at your office for an afternoon snack. Yum!

Coveted: Heart of Lotus ring

After trying to take a camera phone photo of my favorite ring for the last 15 minutes I have come to some startling conclusions: a) I have terribly unphotogenic hands, really they look awful. b) it may be time to invest in some of this stuff. c) maybe I shouldn't wear rings at all. d) maybe I should get a real camera instead of freaking myself out with blurry camera phone pics.

Once I overcome this new neurosis (approx five minutes and one lotion application later), I think I would like to wear this ring from Satya. Look how pretty it is...it would help distract people from my disfigured monkey paws!

Things I love today: Crazy Horchow

Horchow is such a weird store. It's all so over the top! Very similar to the funny Neiman Marcus home collection (where else can you buy an antler table, to add a "subtle touch of rustic charm(!)," and a gold side chest in the same place!). Both sites are also home to an occasional really good find. Here are my picks from Horchow:
  • Colanders - I love the bright colors of these colanders and the price is great too!
  • Polka Dot Napkins - Another really fun and bright piece. Imagine a table with these napkins and the colander working as a floral centerpiece. Perfect for when Betsey Johnson comes for lunch.
  • Modern flasks - Okay, one of their buyers is definitely feeling the colors this season. But look how cute!
  • Monkey Rug - Jean? Don't deny that you love this!
  • Monogrammed umbrella - Cute without being cutesy and very Kate Spade
I recommend browsing around a bit. You'll find some truly ridiculous items and some real steals. Share your favorites in the comments!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

What to decorate: North Carolina house

Jean and Trent's new house in Chapel Hill is so cute! It will be even better once they take it over and get to decorating. Here are my decorating picks for Jean and Trent:
Any other recommendations for the new Carolinians? Share your picks in the comments section.

Things I love today: Molasses Chips

Sulky, sulky, sulky. I am feeling the need to spoil myself today in an attempt to get out of the funk. Largely, I want an extra large bottle of Ooh La Lift, a cashmere blanket and a box of See's Candy Molasses Chips. Too bad there isn't a See's in my neighborhood. I wonder if I could find a way to have them delivered?

Sad day

I am feeling completely depressed today. My sister Jean just left San Francisco to move to North Carolina for the next six years. She's going to Chapel Hill to get her Ph.D. We had a fun going away dinner together last night at a sushi place down the street. Here's a photo of the impossible amount of food we ordered...and approximately five minutes later when we managed to eat every last roll and two bowls of ice cream.

For the past year, Jean and Trent have lived two blocks away from our apartment. They have been our constant activity buddies. Rob and I have seen them at least twice a week for bike rides, movies, shopping, rock climbing, parties, kickball, eating out and other adventures. I certainly wouldn't have been brave enough to start the Ladies Activity Club without Jean's support. Although I am happy about their new adventure, we are going to miss them dreadfully. And so I've decided to be very sulky all day, apologies in advance.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Testing: SuperC Serum

My aesthetician recommended this vitamin c serum to me last night. Although it smells quite dreadful (like Grand Marnier and licorice), it does seem to create nice results. It is supposed to be good at counteracting the effects of smog and other city related ick. I'm adding it to my morning sunblock and eye cream ritual. I'll let you know how it works out in a few weeks.

SuperC Serum just went on sale online for $28.00 off through August 1. I would be really mad about this if I hadn't been able to buy it from the spa yesterday using a discount coupon.

Sale Alert: Grosgrain napkins

Writing about all these pastries is making me feel like a bit of a butter-lush. So here's a palate cleansing post:

These grosgrain napkins are on sale at Crate & Barrel for only $14.95 for a set of six. Buy two sets for an ideal hostess gift. Plus, they are polyester and probably wouldn't require hours of ironing after each wash. Perfect to go with a colorful veggie platter or something similarly anti-cream puff!

Recipe: Easy blueberry pastries

Hooray for puff pastry! One package of this frozen dough allows you to pretend that you are a baking genius and impress your friends with yummy treats. That huge box of blueberries we bought on Sunday was just calling out to be made into simple turnovers.

Start by letting the frozen dough defrost on the counter for about a half hour. Next, unroll it and cut the dough into squares. Pick up a square and put 5-7 ripe blueberries along with a pinch of sugar in the middle. I also put cream cheese inside a few of these, use more sugar if you do. Pinch the edges together into a triangle and sprinkle more sugar on top. Bake for about 15 minutes at 400 degrees until the pastry is well browned. Blueberry juice will probably leak out here and there. Here's a photo of the final results cooling off.

Eat immediately or reheat each for 10 seconds in the microwave before serving. I brought all the leftovers to work today and they disappeared in seconds. Feel free to play with the recipe. The nice thing about puff pastry is that's pretty impossible to go wrong.

Things I love today: Beard Papa's

I know I'm a little late to the party on this one but I just went to Beard Papa's for the first time last night. Jean and I dropped in to the Mission street store for a snack after our facials, lounging and sauna time at Bliss.

We ordered a box of six vanilla cream puffs and instantly each ate our first outside the cafe. They were soo good! And huge! I was picturing something small, not bagel sized. Those are some pretty serious cream puffs. We took the rest home on the train, feeling very "coveted" for having the bright yellow box (or maybe the stares were related to us having ridiculously shiny faces from the spa!)

Monday, July 24, 2006

Recipe: Blueberries galore

When life gives you an incredible sale at Safeway on blueberries...I say eat nothing without blueberries for several days! Mmm! Antioxidant goodness!

I was going to post the recipe for the blueberry turnovers I made last night but I left my camera phone at home loaded with the photos. Instead, I'll share my recipe for a super delicious blueberry salad we had for dinner:

  • 5 cups of baby romain lettuce (or really any type of fancy greens)
  • 1 cup of sharp cheddar cheese diced
  • 1 cup of big ripe blueberries
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Drizzle of balsamic vinegar
  • Hearty dash of onion salt
  • Shelled sunflower seeds (optional)
Combine everything, toss well and serve with some artisan bread. The blueberries are a perfect match with the cheese and balsamic vinegar. Plus, you get to feel like you are eating super healthy!

PS - It's officially purple day here at EmilyStyle! Weird!

Things I love today: Scented geraniums

Rich and Molly gave out scented geraniums at their wedding in late July. Rob and I grabbed one mint geranium and one lemon geranium on our way out of Hayfork. When we got home, I planted them in my tiny potted garden out on the back stairs. They both smell lovely and have taken well to their new home.

Now that they have survived the transplant, I want to try making this pound cake with lemon geranium leaves from Martha Stewart. This could also be tasty with rose geranium leaves instead. Has anyone tried this recipe before?

What to wear: Spa day

Thanks to Jean and her work last week as a hostess at a party sponsored by Pepsi, I have a facial booked this afternoon at Bliss. I am so excited!

Here's my dream outfit for a day at the spa. It's not what I actually have on, but the color scheme and basic concept is the same:
  • Frisco Dress - From C&C California so you know it's got to be the most comfortable thing in the world.
  • Sweater - Even though its blazing hot today...you just never know in this city.
  • Handbag - From Kate Spade. Makes the whole get-up just a little bit more structured.
  • Flip flops - This pair from La Redoute are my favorite.
  • Sunglasses - A must when you are post-extractions and sans make-up.
  • Headband - Another must for controlling your wild hair after an aesthetician has given you a head massage.
  • Bracelet - I like the semi "organic" design of this bracelet from Anthropologie.
Happy heat wave!

Weekend Round-Up: Tahoe!

Rob and I escaped the city on Friday for a camping trip in Tahoe planned by our friend Nicole. Escaping was a bit harder than expected and it took us six and a half hours to make it to the lovely campground at Camp Richardson from San Francisco. Giant thunder and lightning marked our arrival but thankfully stopped quickly thereafter.

On Saturday, we woke up early to the sound of ravens and had a breakfast around the campfire. It was already warming up when we started our hike to Angora Lakes. Each of these tiny lakes is surrounded by even tinier cabins and it feels like something straight out of a corny summer movie. After the 2 mile hike up, we swam in the lake and picnicked on the shore. Rob rented a boat and rowed five of us girls over to the other side to dive off one of the rocks. After drying off a bit, we hiked back out to the campgrounds in the blazing sun.

I bought a huge chocolate ice cream sundae from the parlor across the street and we walked over to a Native American craft fair before spending the rest of the afternoon napping in the shade at Pope Beach. Ally and Ryan cooked a delicious chicken, corn, garlic bread and potato salad dinner on the campfire. Rob, Nicole and I lounged around the fire playing increasingly challenging rounds of twenty questions for the rest of the night.

We woke up around 7:30 and cooked the most delicious sausage and egg muffins on the fire Sunday morning. There is nothing better than a smoky, buttery english muffin and a mug of hot cocoa in the morning. Rob and I packed up the tent and left at 10:30 to drive back to the city. It only took us four hours this time!

After much needed showers and manicures, we went to the store and bought one of those insanely large containers of blueberries. I cooked up a storm until Jean and Trent came over at 6:30 to go to the movies. We saw "A Scanner Darkly" out in West Portal. More importantly, we ate four candy bars, six blueberry pastries, a medium bag of buttered popcorn, a medium soda and four beers...pretty much before the movie even started! They came over to the house to watch a bit of the Tour and to work on the mirror restoration before heading home. I fell asleep at 10:30 and had wonderful dreams all night about living in an art deco palace in San Francisco.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Crafty: Sun sensitive paper

The Ladies Activity Club went to the Museum of Modern Art last night. We spent most of our time laughing about some of the more obscure pieces (blank canvases and fake whale blubber). But in the photography wing, I was inspired!

SF MOMA had a few Cyanotype photos of ferns in their series on modern photographic techniques. Remember cyanotypes? The blue light sensitive paper you used in elementary school?

I am dying to make a few of these to hang in the apartment. Maybe a series with different herbs to put up in the kitchen? The paper is pretty cheap too! You can buy 15 sheets for only $5 online from NaturePrintPaper.com.

Recipe: Japanese apple salad

A day this hot requires a special recipe. This apple and cucumber salad is one of my favorite things to make during the summer:

Japanese Apple Salad

2 green apples
1 cucumber
1 cup jicama (optional)
Half a cup of rice vinegar
teaspoon of sugar (to taste)
1/2 tablespoon of diced fresh ginger
Splash of olive oil
Salt and pepper

Combine the rice vinegar, sugar, ginger and oil in a measuring cup and set aside to soak. Peel most of the skin off the apples, cucumber and jicama. I usually ditch the cucumber seeds, but it's up to you. Slice these ingredients into very thin pieces about one or two inches long. Strain the ginger out of the vinegar dressing. Toss the dressing with the salad. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can also add some sesame seeds or poppy seeds for crunch. Serves about four.

This is a great side dish for a Japanese inspired dinner. Combine the apple salad with grilled tuna steaks, cold soba noodles and pot stickers for a perfect summer meal.

Things I love today: My favorite places in San Francisco

Over the past year, the following things have become my favorite parts of San Francisco! Whether you live here or are just visiting, you've got to check these places out:
  • Lucca's Ravioli - Fresh pasta, sauces, cheeses, smoked prosciutto, sausages!
  • The Legion of Honor - My favorite museum in the city!
  • Catch - A fantastic seafood restaurant in the castro.
  • Lower Haight Boutiques - There are two fabulous shops nestled in this hipster neighborhood: Doe and Zuzu's Petals.
  • Tangerine - Best place to have brunch!
  • Ribbonerie - This store has an amazing collection of ribbon, jewelry, buttons, antique linens, etc.
  • Truly Mediterranean - An inspiring dive on 16th street.
  • Sea Trek - I love kayaking in Sausalito on a hot day.
  • Starlight Room - Old fashioned, fancy and a bit corny. It's a great place to grab a glass of champagne.
Any other suggestions? Share them in the comments section below.

What to wear: Cheering for Floyd

Floyd Landis is an amazing bike rider who has dominated this year's Tour de France despite a terrible hip injury that will require him to have a replacement once the race is done. (I have a hip problem that is 550% less severe but is still a constant nuisance. I can't even imagine how much pain he must be in). After falling far behind, he had a miraculous day yesterday and has a good chance of winning the tour this weekend.

I'm not much of a bike fan and I am certainly not one to wear a green and yellow spandex outfit to support my favorite racer, instead here's my own "Cheering for Floyd" outfit:
Go Floyd! I won't be watching the Tour this weekend because we're camping in Tahoe with Nicole. But I will be keeping my fingers crossed for Floyd!

One year in San Francisco!

Today is the one year anniversary of my move to San Francisco! I can't believe it's been 12 months already!

Rob and I got so lucky with our apartment in Duboce Triangle. We had no idea how great our neighborhood would turn out to be. And when we got jobs together at the same company? And when Jean and Trent moved in a few blocks away? We must have earned a bunch of good karma somewhere!

I hate to think about just how clueless I was this time a year ago. I didn't know how the door buzzer worked, I had sore legs all the time from hiking around the city and I once walked all the way from Civic Center to Castro (about two miles) because I couldn't figure out how to get on the subway when the booth wasn't staffed! Those first few weeks were full of so many embarrassments and adventures!

Over the next few months, I managed to:
And that's just through October! It certainly has been a wild ride. Here's wishing that number two is just as fun, crazy and incredible as this first year has been!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Things I love today: Tomato runner

This adorable tomato linen table runner is from Gump's. It's even cuter arranged with a pot of geraniums! However, $100 seems like an awful lot to spend on a small piece of fabric...even if it is from my favorite store in the universe.

I bet you could create your own using white linen, red fabric paint and a potato stamp. I'm sure it wouldn't come out exactly as cute but you'd probably have a lot of fun trying. You could experiment with a few other designs too. Imagine a lemon, kiwi or pear runner for your summer parties!

What to wear: Global warming

Yet another hot day in San Francisco has me wearing a crazy white, green and yellow striped pencil skirt from the back of my closet. The pattern of the skirt resembles lawn furniture, so it works perfectly for summer!

Here's my ideal outfit for today's hot day. The emphasis here is on the "global" part of global warming:
Actually, all this hot weather is kind of fun! It's challenging me to break out of my standard San Francisco uniform of a sweater with pants or a skirt.

Crafty: Embroidery pattern

I've been kind of slacking off on my latest embroidery project. I am hoping that by posting it online I'll be inspired to finally finish it:

I am using this pattern in white thread on two coral pillowcases. The design is copied from a tiara by Chaumet. It's about six inches long on the hem of the pillowcase. You can click on the photo for a larger, printable version.

I think it's all that satin stitching that has put me off the project for a while. I took me a long time just to finish the greek key pattern and I haven't started on the floral part just yet. And that's just the first pillowcase!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Things I love today: Puma

City life necessitates a comfy pair of stylish sneakers that you can wear with jeans. Weekend errands and long shopping trips downtown simply can't be done in heels. I bought a pair of La Bamba's a few months ago and have nearly worn them out.

I want to buy another pair of Pumas but it amazingly hard to choose a pair from all the crazy designs. This Speed Cat pair is pretty cute, right? At $70 for the pair, maybe Keds are starting to look pretty tempting instead!

Crafty: Painting the apartment

Oh no...is it really time to paint our apartment? For the last year, we've been living with the "budget beige" color that came with the place. Since we're probably not moving anytime soon, it is time to start thinking about painting.

Both Rob and I are stubborn and artistic. This is a fatal combination when it comes to choosing paint colors. In San Luis Obispo, we debated over colors for the living room for two years. Finally, we agreed on a lovely green for the living room and orange for the kitchen....and promptly moved to San Francisco a few month's later!

Here's one option I came up with from Behr for the living room. That photo is a bit outdated, but the basic layout is the same. Our new rug is green...maybe this would be too much green?

For the bedroom, we have a blue and white porcelain with celadon color scheme. Maybe something along these lines would work?

Ugggg. I hate picking paint colors! And I am totally perplexed about all this crazy San Francisco molding. If you find any good options, let me know!

Chocolates!

Andrea Doffing is a member of the San Francisco Ladies Activity Club. She's also a fabulous chocolatier who makes hand-crafted organic chocolates infused with exotic spices! Her business, Mirabai Chocolates, is based here in San Francisco.

You can support Andrea by buying a sample of her lavender chocolates from the Women's Initiative online. Even better, you could join the ranks of Microsoft and hire Andrea to create custom chocolates for your next big event! Go Andrea!

Sale Alert: Sur La Table

Sur La Table is having a great summer sale right now. You can stock up on all kinds of beautiful basics without going broke. My picks:
Oh my! This is a dangerous sale for sure! Between Sur La Table and this afternoon's trip to Sephora, I am toast!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Things I love today: Gel pens

I ran by Office Depot at lunch today and went a bit nuts with all the back-to-school supplies. I love office supplies and have absolutely no restraint when it comes to art supplies. Gel pens are irresistible to me!

I bought a package of fluorescent gel ink pens and a package of metallic uniball pens. My office notes are so much more fun. Pick yourself up a pack today!

What to wear: A muggy day

It seems like every girl in San Francisco is wearing some version of this outfit today. Including me! Start with a light and charming skirt and accessorize away:
  • Pleated skirt - This choice is from the Macy's Juniors department. You can also find great inexpensive knee-length skirts like this at Nordstrom's B.P. and Forever 21.
  • Basic t-shirt - The v-neck and ruched center gives this shirt a bit more of a dressy look.
  • Bangle bracelet - Anthropology is selling this one for $500. I have something similar in bamboo that cost me $5 in Nice.
  • White purse - Despite the initial terrible smell, this purse from Urban Outfitters is a fun piece for summer outfits.
  • Sandals - Like flip flops, but appropriate for work.
  • Headband - From Scuni at Target. Adds an "Italian actress from the 1950's" element!
While I hope the warm weather continues, I am starting to run out of things to wear! My usual sweater combos are just too warm. Time to go shopping!

Crafty: Embroidered note cards

I had a few letters to write last night and was feeling inspired by the amazing craftiness of my new readers. The results? Sew-your-own-stationary! I used a set of blank notecards and envelopes (available at any craft store) and embroidery floss for this project.

I went with freehand designs, but you certainly could draw a pattern on the back of the card as a guide. This was a fun and fast way to test out some new embroidery ideas and stitches. Click on the "N" to see four finished cards. The monogram design is my favorite!

Each card took about 15 minutes. Punching your needle through the paper is really easy and the final results look amazing. Next time, I want to experiment with embroidering on top of printed stationary, I think it would be a fun way to personalize an important note.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Coveted: Jasper Conran Chinoiserie China

If I had a million dollars, I would buy a set of this lovely Wedgewood bone china designed by Jasper Conran. I've been in love with it ever since I saw it on display at Gump's. It's a perfect blend of modern and old fashioned design without being boring.

Ideally, I would blend a complete set of this china with the equally expensive and impractical Gump's Celadon china. Sure, we're talking about upwards of $7,000 in dishes...but it would be totally worth it!

PS - Yes, I do go visit the china section at Gump's for fun. It's clear that I have obvious delusions about my net worth.

Things I love today: Preppy embroidery

My office building is largely populated by fancy interior designers. I just ran across one in the elevator rocking a white blazer embroidered with sandpipers, linen pants and loafers with no socks. I guess today's heat went to his head!

Inspired by this decorator extraordinaire, I have found some preppy embroidered pieces that are perfect for a hot day in San Francisco:
  • J Crew polo - You can choose your own color and embroidered "critter" online.
  • Dog polos - I don't have a dog, but if I did, the little cruiser would totally be wearing a lobster polo to work today!
  • Castaway skirt - If you have the guts to wear this extreme prep, go for it! I personally would rather be caught dead.
  • Palm belt - This is adorable with just the right amount of embroidery. Imagine it with jeans, a white blazer and these shoes!
  • Penguin sweater - I have one in lilac passed down from a friend. It's so comfy and just a tiny bit prep.
Happy hot weather day!

Weekend Round-Up: Outdoorsy

I some how got suckered in to exercising all weekend. The weather was gorgeous, so it wasn't too bad. But, wow am I sore today!

On Friday, we met up with our bride and groom in Alamo Square for a wedding portrait shoot at 4:30. It was, of course, freezing and windy. I have a feeling the wedding couple and their parents held us personally responsible for the cold weather! After a couple rolls of film in front of the painted ladies, we drove over to the Palace of Fine Arts (also freezing) to finish the shoot. Here's a photo from my camera phone of the couple with some swans that refused to behave. They headed off for a reception dinner and we headed home for pizza delivery!

Rob went for a run on Saturday morning while I slept in and read (lovely!). At 11:00, we drove across town to meet Matt for a hike in Mill Valley. This was training for our hike up Half Dome at the end of August. I've decided I really only like the parts of hiking where you are walking downhill in the shade or where you are picnicking. After our hike, we drove to Sausalito to kayak around Richardson Bay. I was completely spent after this and spent the rest of the night lying on the sofa with an ice pack and a beer!

Sunday started with something much more my style. Rob and I drove out to Golden Gate Park to have breakfast at the de Young with the New York Times. I really do think they have the best latte's in the city! We visited the Gee's Bend quilt exhibit and then walked over to the botanical gardens to see the turtles. Something about the heat or all the exercise pushed me into "spring cleaning" mode and I spent the next hour at home organizing all the closets! Rob and I walked down to the climbing gym at 2:00 to meet Matt for a couple hours of rock climbing. How I managed to have any energy left for this is a mystery!

At 8:00, we went to Jill and Peter's house for dinner at a frightening look at global warming courtesy of the Discovery Channel. Needless to say, I went home and stayed up far too late purging thoughts of Armageddon from my mind with reruns of the Cosby Show!

Whew! What a weekend! I really did think this one was going to end up pretty boring. Oh well! Jean, how was Donner Lake?

Friday, July 14, 2006

What to wear: Ready for anything

The weather today is completely screwy. It was supposed to be blazing hot but it's freezing and foggy. Plus, Rob and I have a wedding portrait shoot after work for our former neighbors from San Luis Obispo. It's one those days in the city where you have to be ready for anything.

And this is the perfect outfit for such a day. It's got all the favorite elements of a versatile San Francisco ensemble:
  • Black turtleneck - I have a Diane Keaton-esque attachment to turtlenecks.
  • Light coat - Believe it or not, this darling cropped peacoat is from Gap.
  • Slacks - A comfy pair with pockets and a short enough hem for wearing flat shoes.
  • Ballet flats - I wear my pair from Arturo Chiang all the time. They are cute and great for unexpected hiking!
  • Headband - From Target. A must for keeping curly hair under control on a windy day.
  • Big bag - Ready to be stuffed with light meters, film and hair spray!
I even have a t-shirt on underneath this all in case that heatwave decided to show up today! I'm all set for being a stylish photographer's assistant at Alamo Square and the Palace of Fine Arts this evening!

Urban girl almanac: That was Monday?

Yet another wild and crazy week here in San Francisco. It started with a trip to San Francisco's famous gender-illusionist asian-fusion restaurant and will end with a wedding photography shoot. Here's what I learned in between:
  • A stitch-it-kit is a fun going away present.
  • It's okay if transvestites, especially Asian transvestites, are much prettier than you.
  • A cab home from SoMa only costs $6.
  • Don't push yourself too hard in yoga class. A lesson I never quite learn.
  • Le Tour de France, 85% boring and 15% a good opportunity to drink Bordeaux and look at aerial views of tiny French villages.
  • Stock up on old $20s, the change machine at the laundromat doesn't take the new ones.
  • Both "laundromat" and "cantaloupe" have weird spellings.
  • It is really fun to play cyber-fashion-plate.
  • An American in Paris is better than a bottle of prozac at lifting the spirit.
  • It costs $3.70 to take Bart to Berkeley.
  • Morels! Eat lots of them!
  • Don't forget to switch at MacArthur on the way home.
  • In San Francisco, always ignore both the weather reports and yesterday's weather.
Have a great weekend!

Things I love today: Morels

Mmmm. I have a new favorite fungi! Last night, we took BART to Berkeley for dinner with octogenarians Mel and Thelma and Jean, Trent and mom. It's becoming almost an annual tradition to meet up at Lo Coco's on Shattuck for a meal with this group!

Rob and I shared a wonderful Sicilian pizza that included black morels, gorgonzola, romano and mozzarella. It was seasoned with pepper and bit of nutmeg. Absolutely delicious!

I don't think I had morels before last night and now I am addicted! And I'm not alone. There are entire websites devoted to morel recipes online.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Crafty: Mark your calendars for Crafts & Cupcakes

I just received an invitation to an adorable craft fair at the end of August. I love Feria Urbana but it can be a bit of a zoo. This event looks to be a bit smaller and full of some really creative designs.

I already like these felt note cards from One Hot Tomatoe. Any event promising "cupcakes and paintings of cupcakes" sounds right for me!

What to wear: Summer at the office

I am wearing my favorite blue wrap sundress from Zara's today with a cardigan and pair of retro pumps. It's the perfect girly outfit for a warm day in the city and trip to Berkeley tonight. Zara doesn't post pictures of their clothes online (what a shame!) so I recreated a different, but similar outfit for you:
  • Sundress - This lovely dress is from DVF. I prefer something with short sleeves or at least straps for my own bony shoulders, but this is pretty darn cute!
  • Cardigan - A must have in San Francisco where air conditioning and/or heavy fog are never too far away. I have about five in different colors from La Redoute.
  • Sandals - These are so cute in person! I forced Jean to buy them a few weeks ago for a similar outfit featuring a yellow and white sundress.
  • Purse - This vintage bag is just as cute as Kate Spade's recent straw designs but only costs $24.
And, of course, don't forget the sunglasses!

Things I love today: Limes

Something about the gorgeous weather we've been having in San Francisco has roused my inner SoCal girl. I have been completely obsessed with fresh limes for the last few days.

Last night, we had fresh cataloupe with lime for dessert while watching the Tour and drinking Bordeaux. Today, I had a delicious plate of bean tacos with guacamole and lots and lots of lime from Dos Pinas. I love it!

Maybe this weekend I'll make some coconut lime sorbet!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Obsession: Antique lockets

There is something so undeniably romantic about lockets. In this age of camera phones and flickr, the idea of carrying someone's photo in a tiny jeweled case on your neck is so old fashioned. Which, of course, it partly why I am obsessed!

Check out this French locket from Lang Antiques. Isn't it lovely! Here's another beauty, but two and a half inches is a whole lot of locket! This book locket and swivel locket are also both adorable choices.

Bargain finder: Delias Shoes

Yellow and grey is a hot color combination for late summer. Blend these yellow shoes (they call them tan, but I think they are yellow) from Delias for $34 with a pair of your favorite dark grey trousers, a white sweater and some yellow accessories and you'll be rocking! They'd also be cute with a pair of jeans for weekend errands.

Things I love today: An American in Paris

Gene Kelly + Leslie Caron + Musical + Gershwin + Ballet = Amazing and wonderful film! An American in Paris has always been one of my favorite movies. Sure, it is 118 minutes long and full of bizarre non sequitur ballet...but I still love it.

Gene Kelly is pretty much the most attractive man that ever lived and Leslie Caron is absolutely charming. And the music? I know the words to every single song and had my own little "sing along" party on the couch last night. After watching the first half, I went to sleep with a huge smile on my face and had lovely dreams about a Paris filled with singing and dancing American painters.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

What to wear: Going to MOMA

The Ladies Activity Club is going to the Museum of Modern Art next week for our July party. SF MOMA is open until 9 pm on Thursday nights and even offers tasty treats. It's a perfect LAC venue. Now, I just have to figure out what to wear.

Being very obsessed with appropriate outfits (I once owned a regulation croquet skirt), I need to come up with the perfect thing for this evening! This outfit is all about the accessories:
  • Grey or brown pencil skirt - Looks great with everything.
  • White blouse - Another foundation piece.
  • Artistic necklace - This choice from MOMA in New York is made of silk. You can dry clean it!?
  • Low heels - The color and shape of these pumps from Casadei makes them traditional but fun.
  • Handbag - I love the color of this purse from Via Spiga.
Toss in some pearl studs, nude fishnets and a trench. You are set to mingle at the museum!

Update: Check out the cute blue shoes from J.Crew that Sara found for only $50!