Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Bargain Finder: Bedside Carafe

Over the weekend, I admired some etched crystal bedside carafe sets that were far outside my price range. A quick online searched turned up much more affordable glass alternatives.

My favorite is this Victorian set for $35 but I also love the modern set by Forum for $15 or the traditional set for $12. It's not something I'd use everyday but it would be great for visiting guests or as an alternate vase!

Things I Love Today: Reba

It's embarrassing confessions time. This one is pretty bad: Over the last few months I have become a die-hard Reba McEntire fan.

It all started when I watched South Pacific in Concert on PBS. Reba was so perfect as Nelli! Then, I bought the CD from the performance and became obsessed with playing it really loudly in the car (apologies to Rob and Margaret). Especially track #20, A Wonderful Guy, for which I've pretty much choreographed my own routine.

Here's the clincher: I am now a loyal watcher of Reba on the Lifetime channel (Lifetime?! Sweet Moses!). If I'm home before six, I dash in to turn on this show. It's so corny but I really love it! And I've caught Rob laughing during it too! It's an amazingly wholesome guilty pleasure.

Now it is your turn to confess: What is your favorite embarrassing TV show?

What to Wear: Cold October

It's hard to believe it was in the 80's just a few days ago. The weather here in the city has taken a dramatic turn for the cold. It's time to start thinking about layers, tights and boots again. Here's one outfit that would work:
  • Long Sleeved Tee - Almost works like long underwear underneath a thick sweater.
  • Wool Skirt - This skirt has an unusual amount of flair.
  • Sweater - Hooray for whoever writes Boden's marketing copy. "Imagine yourself on a beach in mid-winter" totally sold me on this chunky cardigan.
  • Purse - It's my white Michael Kors bag with a red poppy pinned to it for a little color.
  • Boots - From J. Crew and paired with festive red socks.
  • Headband - With a buckle from Nordstrom.
This color scheme is inspired by my recent fascination with art nouveau designs. Stay warm out there today!

Happy Halloween!

I love Halloween! Mostly for the pumpkin carving, trick-or-treaters and candy! I'm still excited for the holiday this year, even with our neighborhood being a total disaster tonight and the weather being near freezing in the city.

We were planning on walking around Castro again but I think it will be too cold to venture outside dressed as anything other than an Eskimo or skier. Instead, Rob and I will finally carve that huge pumpkin from Napa, we'll have a cozy dinner and I'll make pumpkin bread. Any other Castro refugees (Jill, Jordan?) who want to join us?

PS - Check out Rob's adorable little nephew dressed as a dragon for his first Halloween.

Monday, October 30, 2006

What to Candle: Vie Luxe Tuileries

I'd been coveting this candle at Gump's for a long time. I decided on Saturday to make it my birthday present to myself.

The tuileries scent is supposedly inspired by the flowers at the Jardin de Tuileries in Paris. To me, it smells like being on vacation in the tropics or Santa Barbara. Lots of tuberose, jasmine and geranium without being overpowering. Plus, the attractive nickel glass is all set to join your coffee table or bedside.

You can buy it online from Saks here. (Note: the lotion and travel sized versions had a slightly different and less appealing scent than the large candle)

Things I Love Today: Fake Lashes

I wore fake eyelashes for the first time ever on Friday night! These half-strip lashes from Pout were easy to put on, looked very natural and stayed glued the whole night. I'm officially a fake lash convert!

Weekend Round-Up: All my Favorite Things

Oh my! This was a crazy weekend, even by my normal crazy weekend standards. Rob and I were lucky to have lots of visitors and lots of great food! This is going to be a long post.

It all started Friday night with a trip to The Matterhorn for fondue. Jill and Peter braved Critical Mass traffic and Nicole and Dave drove in all the way from Napa to join us. We had two kinds of cheese fondue, one meat fondue and two bottles of champagne, all completely delicious.

Nicole even brought a delicious chocolate cake for dessert. I am so glad that they could come help me celebrate my birthday!

Saturday morning started with a little bit of a fondue detox and a correspondence catch up. I wrote a big stack of thank you notes, while noshing on some fantastic homemade blackberry muffins and jam that our neighbor downstairs delivered. Margaret arrived from San Luis Obispo at 11:30 and we went straight downtown to Gump's! I bought two sets of wedding presents and a candle for myself. Margaret bought the most adorable Christmas cards.

We boarded the N-train at 2:30 to trek out the Sunset and our facial appointments at Urban Beauty. We arrived early enough to get boba tea and the best avocado and bacon sandwich at a Korean cafe on Irving. We ran into the mayor (gelled hair) campaigning for a local candidate on the way to the salon. Our facial appointments were a definite "experience," I couldn't stop laughing the whole time. For $35 each, we had an intense facial from this tiny Chinese salon. I don't know if it was the hair pulling, armpit massage, shoulder hickeys or chin slapping that I found funniest. Two hours later I emerged with a giant poof of hair and amazing glowing skin! I'll definitely go back, but next time I'll be prepared for the language barriers and other eccentricities.

Margaret and I had a greasy train ride back home where we met up with Jackie and Scott from Davis. We all went together to dinner at Thep Phanon, my favorite Thai place in the city. The sauteed quails (#49)and whole tilapia (#58) were really excellent. Back home briefly to change into our Halloween costumes. I decided at the last minute to go as Laura from Project Runway instead of a witch. In a black lace dress with red lipstick and a fake belly, I was a dead ringer:

Jackie and Scott dressed up as a bee and beekeeper. Margaret was a vampire and Rob was a baptist preacher.

We walked around Castro for a few hours taking pictures of other people's costumes. About 85% of people down there had no idea who I was supposed to be. But the 15% who did get it were so excited! I got some really great compliments but was ready to stop being "pregnant" as soon as we got home.

On Sunday morning, Margaret and I drove out to the Legion of Honor for some museum time. Great art, great cafeteria! I am so excited for the upcoming Masterpieces of French Jewelry exhibit in February. Back home around 1:00, we rested for a bit and walked around the neighborhood. Margaret left at 4:00, exactly when my mom arrived to spend the night. I received the best birthday presents from my mom! A box of See's candy, Chanel No. 5 perfume and a three string pearl necklace that belonged to my great aunt:

We had a Ethiopian dinner at Axum Cafe and turned in early because of daylight savings time. This morning we had breakfast at the Duboce Park cafe together. There were so many cute dogs out for their breakfast runs. She drove us to work before heading south to her meeting at Stanford.

Whew! That was some weekend! I managed to do all my favorite things with all my favorite people at all my favorite places. I'm exhausted!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Urban Girl Almanac: The Year Ahead

My mom sent me my birthday horoscope from the local paper this morning along with some very nice memories about the day I was born (which I won't post because it will make everyone tear up and/or want to have lots of babies!). Here is what's ahead:
You make a difference this year. Your smile lightens up many people's lives, allowing new beginnings and positive changes. Everyone can get tired or worn out at times; however, you seem like a force that cannot be stopped. The key to this high energy is taking good care of yourself. Discipline can make or break you this year. You also will express a wonderfully indulgent side at times.
I'm not much of an astrology believer but that sounds pretty dead on to me. I hope that this blog and the Ladies Activity Club are helping to "lighten up many people's lives." And I am certainly facing challenges that come with being overly active. My hip MRA is Thursday next week, we'll see then how much "taking care of myself" will be required. As for the indulgence part, feel free to send me as many boxes of chocolates as you would like!

Birthday Loot!

Thanks for all the great birthday wishes on the baby photo post! This is turning out to be a pretty fun day! I just received a bouquet of harvest moon roses at work from Jean and Trent. They smell wonderful!

Also, I got cards from my aunt, Rob's parents and my former nanny Yvette last night. I haven't opened my presents yet but I did see that dad got me a subscription to Latitude 38! How exciting! And Rob's sister sent me a really adorable orange jack-o-lantern kickball.

Fondue is going to be super fun tonight. My friend Margaret is coming up tomorrow and mom is visiting on Sunday. Yay for birthdays!

Happy Birthday to Me!

It's my birthday! Let's celebrate with a few photos of the young Emily.

This photo marked the beginning and the end of my modeling career. The intense-big-eyed-over-the-right-shoulder look was my very own "blue steel."

Awww! The freckles emerged. I think this was taken around the time when I decided I was never going to wear anything but skirts and dresses ever again. And believe me, I meant it!

I always liked how our family friend Kate makes a big deal about congratulating mothers on their children's birthdays. So a big "happy birthday" to my mom today!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Party Recipe: Not-a-Shower

There are very few places where Emily Post and this Emily disagree. One of the exceptions is when it comes to wedding showers.

Traditional etiquette demands that showers only be attended by close friends who are invited to the wedding. However, if you are having a small wedding there may be a lot of people who will not be invited to help you celebrate. Are you just going to leave those friends and coworkers out in the dust? And why do your wedding guests get stuck with the burden of giving multiple gifts?

I agree that you shouldn't have parties just to rake in the goods from unsuspecting, uninvited acquaintances. But at the same time, I don't think there is anything wrong with throwing a small party for friends who are not coming to the wedding.

My friend Liz is getting married this December in a small ceremony. I want to throw her a " Liz Appreciation Party" with a few old friends. I think that there will be some sort of cap on gifts (under $10 or something homemade only) and a general avoidance of traditional shower games. Very few of our old school friends are even close to getting married and I think everyone would like to help her celebrate her engagement.

What do you think? Do you side with MissEm or Emily Post on this issue?

Things I Don't Love Today: Houndstooth Sneaks

These brown wool sneakers would be equally cute with jeans or with a casual skirt. Image them with a pair of opaque tights! My physical therapist has been pushing tennis shoes lately.I think I might be able to make it work with a pair of these and pair of their cousins in red.

Sugar Crisscross sneakers: $37 from Alloy.

Never mind! Sara reports from Europe that these are duds. Not comfy. You have been warned!

What to Wear: Breakfast at Tiffany's Costume

Two years ago, Rob and I went to a movie themed costume party for Halloween. Seeing as how everyone there was a big movie buff, I thought our Breakfast at Tiffany's outfits would be a big hit. Instead, not a single person at the party had ever seen the film. How bizarre is that?!

Reader Khandra mentioned that she was looking for Holly Golightly costume ideas yesterday. What a coincidence! For my costume, I went as Holly from the final scene in the movie; complete with dress, gloves, trench and cat. Rob went as Paul Varjack from the dime store mask shoplifting scene.

Here are some more costume ideas: Buy the authentic cat mask online. Recreate the black sheath dress and gloves combo. Or rock the bed sheet ball gown!

Party Recipe: Amber's Birthday

I have a wee bit of a hangover this morning from last night's party. We took the 47 bus up Van Ness at 7:00 to meet Matt and birthday girl Amber at House of Prime Rib. Ryan, Lindsay, Emily and Steve also joined in the celebration! We started with drinks served in authentic HOPR shakers. I had a vodka shirley and Amber had a Manhattan:

The restaurant seated us at a big round table in front of the copper fireplace. Very cozy! The whole place was packed. About 50% birthday parties and 50% Korean tour bus groups. The famous HOPR beet salad, tossed table side, was very good. I had a fun conversation with the Emily from Boston who was sitting to my right. Amber was a ham, as always, and provided a lot of laughs. She seemed to enjoy the birthday present we brought her: a hair crimping iron with four interchangeable face plates!

By the time our slabs of meat arrived, most everyone was already stuffed. I had the swordfish, which was lovely and we all split a few bottles of wine. Now reaching a deadly fullness, the waiter took our plates, scraped the crumbs off the table and brought out some cheesecake.

At 10:00, Rob and I headed home by taxi. Our bellies were heavy, our wallets lighter and our hearts full of birthday wishes for Amber!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

What to Shop: Quel Objet

Ladies, hide your purses. Quel Objet is a French import website that specializes in brightly colored linens and paper. I fell instantly in love when I saw the dishtowels on display on the homepage ($72 for four?! My heart is breaking!)

I think my favorite item so far is this rainbow tablecloth. It would be impossible not to have fun a party decorated with that wild fabric! And the glasses with wicker sleeves? And the demitasse set? Ce' Magnifique!

Crafty: Sweater Animals

I really, really want to try making these sweater stuffed animals from Martha Stewart. It would be a great way to turn an accidentally shrunken sweater or thrift store find into a cute gift.

But I'm a little worried about how it would turn out. I'm not much of a seamstress. What does "pin wattle and comb" mean you are supposed to do? And wouldn't the sweater come unraveled during the process?

Things I Love Today: Forest Wrap

This top from French Connection is a perfect office-to-out piece. Paired with a pencil skirt and a cardigan it is great for work. Ditch the cardigan, put your hair up and you are ready for a night on town.

The wrap cut is universally flattering and the pattern is pure deco genius. Online for $108.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Birthday Wish List: Ice Cream Maker

Rob and I don't have any appliances. No toaster, blender, kitchen aid or coffee maker. Our turn of the century kitchen just isn't designed for them. We just have a hand mixer that makes occasional appearances.

The only appliance I really covet is an ice cream maker. I loved making homemade peach ice cream growing up and have visions of making crazy concoctions for dinner parties. This version from Target seems small enough to be added to the birthday list.

What to Wear: House of Prime Rib

We're going to the famous House of Prime Rib on Wednesday to celebrate Amber's birthday. I am really excited because this seems like one of those funky old fashioned restaurants that I usually love. They've been serving beef and creamed spinach table side for San Franciscans since 1949.

Never mind the fact that they basically only serve beef and I eat everything except beef, it's going to be fabulous. Here's my vintage inspired outfit:
This is going to be fun! I wonder if I should wear gloves?

Party Recipe: Pumpkin Carving

The October Ladies Activity Club party was last night. Christine hosted us for a night of pumpkin carving at her adorable apartment. I was blown away by how much thought she put into her party. She made a great buffet of snacks all from scratch: two cakes (one using my pumpkin pan), caramel apples, blue cheese dip, tea sandwiches and sangria. She even bought special "Creepy Cranberry" Halloween soda! And her whole apartment was decorated with pumpkins, gourds, corn, candy and candles:

After feasting on all her snacks, we started carving pumpkins. Christine provided us with templates and a wide variety of carving tools. Casey and I went for traditional freehand designs while everyone else used the fancy templates:

Around 10, we were all done with our pumpkins! Christine awarded prizes, doled out cake to take home to our boyfriends and husbands and lined up our creations on the table for a final photo.

Jill was nice enough to give me a ride home from the party. Before going to bed, I roasted the seeds I saved and lit my pumpkin on the coffee table. I love carving pumpkins! Many thanks to Christine for hosting such a fantastic October party!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Party Planning: Holiday Prep

I know, I know...it's not even Halloween yet and I'm already thinking about holiday entertaining. I just love throwing big Christmas parties and can't wait to start planning. Last year's highlight was the epic "six courses, seven bottles of wine, eight guests, 12 days of Christmas themed dinner party."

I haven't started thinking about what to do this year (there's talk of converting the garage again). I hope these invitations from Crane's will be involved somehow!

Things I Love Today: Noir Orange

I completely forgot about the two massive chocolate bars that Sara brought me from Geneva until just now. My favorite so far is the Noir Orange from Lindt. According to my not-so-excellent french translation, it contains candied orange peels and extra fine dark chocolate.

It is soo delicious! I think I may just eat all e 150g (?) myself!

Shopping Challenge: Flat Party Shoes

I'm in search of a pair of flat shoes that can be worn with a black cocktail dress for my birthday on Friday. Flat shoes that can be worn with pants and skirts are easy to find...what about something a little bit dressier? Most "evening flats" look like something that would be worn by a grandmother or a 10 year old flowergirl.
  • Moonuinit Flat - The scooped edges give this a bit more of an adult look.
  • Charli Flat - The open toe, gold color and leather twist makes these a little more exciting than your average ballet flat. Might be a little too hipster for me though.
  • Waggle Flats - I like these just for the distracting "fuzzy pom pom toggles."
  • Open Pose Pumps - Okay, so these are not flats. But they are from Aerosoles and should be comfy...maybe?
  • Pointy Skimmers - I think these are the winners. Decent shape, good price and "pewter crocodile."
Arrg. I want to wear heels so badly! Maybe I should be looking for some sort of palanquin instead :)

Weekend Illustrated: R&R

I've been trying to take it easy on the weekends (a little unsuccessfully). My hip has been not so great this week so I decided to give relaxing the ol' college try this past weekend. Rob and I had a "hermit night" on Friday. We watched a corny movie and ate mac 'n cheese in our pjs:

We met up with Matt on Saturday for a round of archery in the park. My new bow arrived, but without a string so it was back to the plastic freebie. The weather was scorching and so were my mad archery skills! We celebrated after with lunch at the Park Chalet. I am always surprised at just how good the food is there. Fried onions, steak skewers, feta & spinach pizza, caramel apples, cupcakes and margaritas, delish!

Thoroughly worn out from shooting, overheating in the sun and feasting, we all came back to the apartment to relax and play classic Atari games. I was only good at Skydiver and Centipede:

The host of the October Ladies Activity Club party came by to pick up some pumpkins and a cake pan that evening and we took Matt to dinner at Burgermeister before calling it a night. I had to get to bed at a reasonable time for brunch the next day. Sara, a blogger from Geneva, was visiting the city! On Sunday morning, I took the 22 bus out to Union Street for breakfast at Home with her and her friends.

It was so fun to meet her in person! I even had a chance to buy a pair of fake eyelashes at Sephora for Friday's party before heading back home. Despite really trying to rest, I still may have overdone it on Saturday. So it was straight back to the couch and my trusty frozen pea ice pack for the rest of Sunday.

There is another big week ahead of us. The LAC party is tonight, Amber and I are celebrating our close birthdays together on Wednesday, the office is having a bday lunch for me on Thursday and we're celebrating Friday night with fondue. I have to admit that it was good to get a little rest this weekend, even if it does go against my nature!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Urban Girl Almanac:

This has been a very crazy, crazy week! Seth visited, coworkers came out from the east coast, Scissors for Lefty performed. I haven't had a meal outside of a restaurant in six days! Here's some lessons I learned:
  • Pumpkins on public transportation...pure comedic gold.
  • Your stomach will not explode if you eat Ethiopian, southwestern, Japanese, Mexican and Thai all within 48 hours.
  • Want to know what you will look like in 30 years? Check out your reflection in a subway car window. Something about the coating and the lighting just kills your self-esteem.
  • The Connecticut Yankee on 17th has the best vegetarian chili.
  • Free gin tastes better than paid-for gin.
  • There is absolutely nothing wrong with a half pound Japanese cream puff in my book.
  • Appreciating readers is super fun!
  • I do not like whales because they fail to recognize my fabulousness.
  • I love whales because they apparently poop sparkles.
  • Skye, Courtney and Haley are big winners!
  • Sleep masks are a good thing.
  • I think I've finally come to accept and maybe even embrace my flat shoe situation.
  • Birthday count down: 6 days. Hip MRI count down: 13 days.
I don't have anything planned for this weekend aside from brunch with Sara on Sunday. And I can't wait. Rob and I are going to do nothing more tonight than eating macaroni 'n cheese in our pajamas and watching TV. It is going to be glorious! Have a great weekend!

What to Decorate: Chartreuse

This bold chartreuse, green and red color scheme was featured in the New York Times home & garden section. Ever since I bought chartreuse t-shirt a few months ago I've been unsucessfully obsessed with trying to find ways to make this color work.

I don't think I'd be brave enough to paint my walls this color but I could swing some accents. This retro chair could be a good way to bring some chartreuse into my life.

Birthday Wish List: Enamel Ring

This enamel ring from J.Crew has a cool "70's cocktail party" sort of vibe to it. I think it would be perfect worn to Thanksgiving with this silk skirt that I am completely in love with.

But the skirt is $298 and the ring is only $26, so the ring wins and gets to be on the birthday wishlist!

What to Wear: Halloween

I think I've finally decided what to be for Halloween! I bought a fantastic black lace/crochet cocktail dress from Club Monaco last night. With the dark stockings I was wearing when I tried it on I looked just like a witch and my costume was born:
  • Dress - Club Monaco doesn't have an online store, so I can't show you the cute dress I got for half off. This version from Neiman Marcus is nice too and has the added benefit of being called "Glenda."
  • Hat - My plan is to buy a witch hat designed for a pet costume and turn it into a jaunty little hairpiece.
  • Purse - This little wristlet is perfect in orange.
  • Shoes - The bow on these DNKY pumps is very cute!
What are you going to be for Halloween?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Party Recipe: Golden Birthday

I'm turning 27 on the 27th this year. My hairstylist told me that this means it is my "golden" or "champagne" birthday. We're going to celebrate on Friday night with fondue and a few close friends at The Materhorn Restaurant.

I think I could easily dress up the table a bit with a gold/champagne theme. I already have a roll of gold gossamer streamers and some of these mini gold frames left over from another event. Maybe get some white lilies for the centerpiece? Any other ideas?

Weeknight Round-Up

While you guys have been busy being brilliant for Reader Appreciation Day, I've been out and about in San Francisco. It's a busy week full of fun, free activities. Here's the scoop:

Tuesday night, Rob and I snuck Seth into the Bombay Sapphire Perfect Pairings event at the W Hotel. Delicious cocktails and food that was even better because they were totally free! Here's the guys with the raspberry lime martinis:

After filling up on drinks for an hour, we walked over to Beard Papa for giant Japanese cream puffs. I looove this place:

And to complete our backward evening, we then went to sushi for a few rolls before calling it a night. It was super fun!

Wednesday night, we went to The Warfield to see Scissors for Lefty perform at the SF Weekly Music Awards (Did you catch them in their undies on the cover this week?). We bought the cheap tickets but somehow made it into the $50 section full of free food. Scissors for Lefty had an awesome show:

The only downside was this blonde girl standing behind us who was talking on her cell to someone in the balcony. In the loudest voice every she kept repeating "I'm waving! KayKay! I'm waaaaving! I'm waaaaaaaving!" After a few minutes everyone around her started waving too in the hopes that this mysterious KayKay would finally spot her and she would stop "waaaaving."

We left the show early after SFL was done and made it home in time to watch Project Runway. I am so disappointed that Jeffrey won. He definitely does not poop sparkles in my book. I'm taking some visiting co-workers shopping tonight, but other than that it should be a quiet evening.

Reader Appreciation Day Winners

Honestly, I was blown away by the responses to yesterday's contests! I had no idea there were such creative people lurking on the site. You guys are all fabulous! But there could only be three winners:

Contest 1: Shoe Quiz
Rob's sister Skye won this challenge by correctly matching all four pairs of flats with their stores. She's getting a set of custom embroidered cobalt blue dishtowels!

Contest 2: What to Wear
This is where you really impressed me! I loved all of the outfits. Lots of tweed, layers, boots...you've been paying attention! After a lot of deliberation I chose Courtney's outfit (pictured) as the winner. Courtney needs to email me her address so I can send her a gingerbread candle from L'Occitane.

Contest 3: Why I Don't Like Whales
Trent found the scariest video ever and jean brought up my accessorizing foibles...but in the end it was Haley's four reasons why I should like whales that won me over. "They poop sparkles" is now my favorite catch phrase. Haley also needs to email me her address so I can send her a copy of the book, The Design Mix.

Congratulations to our winners! And many, many thanks to everyone who participated. Our first ever Reader Appreciation Day was a huge success!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Reader Appreciation: Fill in the blank

This is the final Reader Appreciation contest of the day! Using the photo of me kicking a humpback whale in Santa Cruz as a reference, complete the following sentence:
"Emily does not like whales because..."
There's really no wrong answer. So the person with the most creative response will be the winner! Enter your answers into the comments section to compete for a free copy of the book The Design Mix.

The winner of this and the "What to Wear" contest will be decided tomorrow. Submit your entries today for a chance to win!

Reader Appreciation: Brian and Hadley

We already know that Margaret and Rebecca are fantastic! Let's find more readers who rock!

Margaret nominated Brian as an appreciated reader last night:

"Brian is a wonderful friend. He's great for brunch or making you lunch, parties you never dreamed of attending and local adventures. I guarantee a hug and a smile on your face. If you're spending time with Brian you’re sure to have a good time."

I agree! Brian is a great reader and a party animal! And what about our neighbors to the North? From Canada, our reader Hadley wrote in:
I've been lurking around your site for the last few months and it is one of the first sites I check when I log onto the net at the beginning of a 12 hour shift at work. (yech) Thank you for helping me pass the time and thank you for all the great ideas on your site. A silent but appreciative reader - Hadley
Super cool! Email me your reader appreciation nominations, photos and comments!