Monday, April 30, 2007

Things I Love Today: Geranium Soap

Our local 800 square foot hardware store never ceases to amaze me. They have everything there! Tourists accustomed to Home Depot should make a mandatory stop at a city hardware store to marvel at the incredible density. It will blow your mind!

The Castro Ace Hardware is run by Transylvanians and is full of hidden gems, including a big display of Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day products back in the 4x5' garden and cleaning section. I'm obsessed with the geranium scent already.

What to Wear: 1+1=4

Chrissy wrote in recently with a very complicated request. I reads almost like one of those word problems where Ben can't sit next to Mary and a train leaves Denver at 3:00:
Both of my sisters are getting married this summer. One is going to have a fairly informal affair followed by a lunch with about 50 relatives and in the evening a party for younger friends only. My other sister is going to have a “shotgun wedding” at the town hall in July and a more formal ceremony in the fall. So among the two of them they are forcing me to have four different outfits…

I am 30 years-old, petite (5’2), I have blue eyes, fair skin, long light brown hair and I wear a size 4. Blue in all its shades is my favorite color.

I will see people I haven’t seen in ages and I’d love to look chic. I don’t want to spend a lot of money but I realize I will probably need to spend between $700 and a $1,000.
I think mix and match pieces are the key to making all these events work without going completely broke. These combinations are a little extreme, but you get the idea:

1. Informal Wedding Outfit
- A delicate ivory layering piece for $88.
Top - A bright colored knit for $19.
Skirt - I saw someone in my office building wearing almost this exact outfit and she looked fantastic. Also $88.
Shoes - Chrissy already has these shoes.

2. Evening Party Outfit
Top - Same bright knit top from the day.
Jacket - Cropped French Connection jacket for $168.
Pants - Seersucker trousers for $110.
Shoes - I have a feeling that shoe-loving Chrissy will love these retro LAMB pumps for $274.

3. Courthouse Wedding Outfit
Jacket - You just have to do the whole "1940's" courthouse wedding look for this event. It is just too perfect.
Dress - Grey (not white!) twill sheath dress for $188.
Shoes - The vintage style is a perfect compliment.

4. Fall Wedding Outfit
Dress - Same dress but now standing on its own.
Shoes - The party sandals reappear.
Necklace - A bold turquoise piece for $149. Really play up the accessories with this outfit.

Grand total: $996! Of course, Chrissy can adapt these outfits and bargain hunt a bit to bring the price down and the variety up. Whew!

Weekend Round-Up: Quiet

I love weekends that are full of very little! Rob and I had a quiet movie night at home on Friday night. We ate leftover enchiladas and made a dent in the leftover dishes from the party.

Major sleep in on Saturday morning followed by even more reading in bed. When I finally did roll out of bed, it was only to watch Northern Exposure in HD and polish all the silver in the house (two of my favorite things!). I rediscovered a cute silver pitcher that my mom gave me over the holidays:

At noon, Rob and I motivated to go downtown for some shopping and lunch. We love getting clam chowder breadbowls at Macy's with all the tourists. The weather couldn't have been nicer!

Later that afternoon, we took a taxi up to Russian Hill to meet Nicole and Dave for dinner. It was so great to see them and catch up on their lives since becoming homeowners. We had a great meal at Sushi Groove and followed it with ice cream sundaes from Swanson's.

After eating, we walked down to one of the strangest places in San Francisco: Harry Denton's swanky Club Rouge that doubles as a fantastic fish taco restaurant during the day. It is substantially less-swanky at 9:30, which I prefer! As soon as the girls with the impossibly short dresses arrived, we all headed home.

Up early on Sunday morning to shower, read the Sunday paper and clean the house. Rob's best friend, Rich, was coming in for brunch with his brother and his fiance. They arrived at 10:30 and we grabbed a patio table at Home. This restaurant does a fabulous brunch complete with a make-your-own bloody mary bar. Yum! We talked weddings most of the meal and brought everyone back to the apartment after to review Rob's wedding photography portfolio. He has the first client of 2008 lined up!

Feeling worn out from our big morning, we rented Children of Men and were lazy for a few hours. I put together a bunch of tough what to wear outfits for the week ahead. We finished reading the paper and had a nice dinner of baked potatoes and artichokes.

Friday, April 27, 2007

What to Wear: Shopping

I'm so excited that my friend, Nicole, is coming in from Napa this weekend for a major shopping trip. I don't mind shopping by myself, but it is way better with a friend. With between 3-5 hours of trekking around Union Square ahead, it makes sense to plan the perfect shopping outfit:

Shirt - A knit top that ties in the front for easy on and off.
Cami - A white cami is often useful for layering under potential tops.
Jeans - Trouser cut jeans are great for a day of shopping downtown.
Flats - Comfortably low but also suited to test with skirts.
Purse - How cute is this bag? It's on sale from Anthropologie.
Headband - My hair gets really crazy after a couple dressing rooms. A headband restores a bit of order.
Sunglasses - I could use a new pair to replace my three year old Gucci's.
Ring - I love it more and more every day!
Coffee - Sugary snacks and caffeine provide much needed energy boosts.

Club Monaco, Nordstrom, Zara, Kenneth Cole, Anthropologie, FCUK, Macy's, H&M...I can't wait! I want to have a whole new wardrobe on Monday.

On not being perfect

Clementine posted a must-read dissertation yesterday on the prevalence of "perfect" people on the blogosphere. You know the ones: the people with important careers, wonderfully decorated homes, tons of friends, fabulous clothes, ideal husbands, etc. The ones who make you feel maybe a little bit bad about yourself?

I just wanted to say - in case anyone thought it - that I'm not one of those perfect people. I like clothes and putting together outfits, but if you run into me in San Francisco the odds are pretty good that I might be dressed schlumpy. I like cooking, but I've made a some disastrous meals. I like entertaining, but I've hosted parties where no one's showed up. I live in a fun city, but I spent a lot of time watching TV and eating mac 'n cheese in my pajamas. I have an overbite and the figure of a praying mantis. I wore headgear in elementary school, for pete's sake!

I may be a "fabulous little lady in a big city" but I'm still a real person. My goal here is never to make someone feel even a little bit bad about themself. If you ever feel that way, visualize the headgear. Just wanted to let you know!

Things I Love Today: Fruit for Dessert

The Moroccans and Chinese have it right. There is nothing better than serving a gigantic plate of fresh fruit and tea at the end of dinner. All that delicious fruit stimulates conversation, balances out a heavy meal and keeps everyone engaged at the table a while longer.

After our hearty squash enchilada dinner last night, I brought out a silver tray with slices of ripe pluots, mangoes, blackberries and grapes from the produce market. Delicious!

PS: This photo isn't mine, but instead from a great food blog called Cucina Testa Rossa. Check it out!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Things I Love Today: Swatch Book

What is it about color that is so fascinating? I can't be the only one fixated with with the new MSNBC "Fuller Spectrum of News" ads and paint chip displays at the hardware store.

Pretty soon I'll have the ultimate color book. I am so, so excited to be getting my very own Pantone formula guide next week. For graphic designers and color geeks, this is the ultimate inspiration tool. I can't wait!

Recipe: Roasted Squash Enchildas

We're having some friends over for dinner tonight and I made a favorite recipe for the occasion. The Chronicle's recipe for roasted squash and poblano chile enchiladas is so delicious!

I prepared the filing last night, replacing a couple cubed chicken breasts for one squash. It's easy to roast the peppers on a gas stove and I love the smell, it reminds me of Southern California! Save the squash seeds to bake and use as a garnish on top of the final dish.

When I get home tonight, I'll cook the tortillas on the burner, dip them in enchilada sauce and fill them with the mixture and shredded cheese. Bake the whole thing for 30 minutes and pair it with a side of black beans. Yum!

To Do: Start a Club!

So many people have emailed me over the last few months about how to start their own Ladies Activity Club. How wonderful! I've answered them individually, but I'll share some tips here for everyone else:

Step 1: Plan
Find someone to be a co-founder with you. Ideally, this is someone with a different set of friends. I started the SF LAC with my sister. Between the two of you, find six or more enthusiastic women to invite. You should host the first party, your co-founder should host the second and you should should line up a few more hostesses to get things rolling.

As for rules, there aren't many. I recommend that hostesses try to keep their costs below $5 a guest. And we usually avoid activities where people have to shell out a lot of their own money. We've done wine tasting, pumpkin carving, bowling, board games, painting, charity, poker lessons, etc. No hostess gifts allowed and no dues. The parties should be on the same day of the week at the same time (we meet Tuesday at 7:00) each month for consistency.

Step 2: Launch
Host your first party! Explain the concept to your guests. Encourage them to bring guests to the next party and sign up to host in the future. Enjoy! A lot of the hard work is done.

Step 3: Grow
Keep inviting new people to join and encouraging people to bring their friends! There is a little bit of organization involved in keeping the club going. I recommend managing your rsvp's with evite and using a spreadsheet to keep track of your hosts. Line up a new hostess as soon the last month's party has passed. Momentum is key!

Each time a new person hosts their first party, have a mini round of applause at the end for them becoming a "full member" of the club. It's kind of cheesy, but nice. When you get to one year, have a big party to celebrate!

There will be months that are harder to get together than others, but it's always worth it in the end. The parties are so much fun and it is such a great way to meet new people. If you start a LAC club in your area, let me know. I want to hear all about it!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Things I Love Today:

The marriage of Craigslist and Google Maps is a tremendously beautiful thing. has got to be one my all-time favorite websites. One click shows you where all the available apartments are in the city and one more click gives you a quick preview of the ad. Plus, you can sort by price and it's available for 40 cities in the US.

I love the internet so much!

Party Recipe: Book Exchange

Last night's Ladies Activity Club party was one of our best so far! Hostess, Victorianna, came up with the idea of making bookmarks and having a book exchange for April. Each guest brought a wrapped copy of one of their favorites and we had a "white elephant" style switch. You would have thought we invented sliced bread with this idea, everyone was so into it. It's all the fun of a book club but without the reading assignment.

Here's the list of recommendations from the SF LAC:
  1. One Thousand White Women - About a controversial "brides for indians" program in the 1870's.
  2. Oh the Glory of it All - A scandalous expose of San Francisco high society from Dede Wilsey's stepson.
  3. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - A story of fate and dysfunction in New York.
  4. The Time Traveler's Wife - This book came wrapped with a package of tissues tied to the top, which pretty much says it all.
  5. East of Eden - A timeless Steinbeck for anyone who lives near Salinas.
  6. The Handmaiden's Tale - Set in bleak future where women have few rights.
  7. One for the Money - Clever stories featuring a female bounty hunter.
  8. Out of Africa - This was my contribution! I've read it probably 15 times.
  9. The Fountainhead - Ayn Rand's novel about politics and society.
Everyone left the party inspired to become a full-blown bookworm! You can view all the photos from last night online here.

What to Wear: Out in Paris

This shopping challenge was one of the toughest I've done so far! Lucy* is going to Paris in May and needs one dress for two big nights:
Ok, so it's always been a dream of mine to catch an opera and a great show in Paris. And I have convinced my hubby to go along when we're there next month. The recommendations for attire at the Moulin Rouge are: "Elegant attire required (tie and jacket not necessary): no shorts, no short-pants, no sport shoes, no sportswear." Which is pretty funny actually. As for the opera. I don't care what anyone else is wearing. I just need to convince my hubby it's important enough to haul it there. I'm up for anything. Shoes must be high and hot is all I ask.
For the sake of budget and luggage, I think it would be best to pick one dress and then match it with two sets of accessories. I think the brits say "tart it up."

Dress - This red and black number is from L.A.M.B. It's a splurge at $280 but you could definitely wear it again.
Hair Clip - If you can't wear feathers in your hair at Moulin Rouge, where can you? This clip is from a goth store for $6, or you could make your own with a glue gun.
Shoes - They don't come much more "high and hot" than red patent leather platform peep-toe pumps.
Bracelets - Basic gold bangles are a nice compliment.
Clutch - From Forever 21.
Blazer - Switch the outfit to opera-mode with a shimmery cropped blazer.
Shoes - Ivory peep-toe shoes are just the right amount of "demure."
Earrings - Pearl drops.

Le sigh! I want to go to the opera in Paris. Maybe Lucy will send me a postcard.

*name replaced by request

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

To Do: Book a Hotel in San Francisco

Anne wrote in with a good question about visiting San Francisco:

I was wondering if you could recommend some cheap (but nice) hotels or b&b's for me. My husband and I would like to take a trip in mid June to San Fran. We would be coming into the the Oakland Airport. Not renting a car, so we would need a hotel close to the BART line. I guess maybe around $100 a night or less?

I usually recommend that people book a hotel in San Francisco through Priceline. Choose a boutique level or four star hotel in the "Embarcadero/Union Square East" area and enter your price bid. You can get rates around $75 during the off season and around $100 a night during the summer.

All the hotels in this price range and area will be pretty nice. I've stayed at the Monaco and a couple other places in the city through Priceline. You'll either be around Union Square or over near the Ferry Building, both are convenient for getting around. And you're close to the three downtown BART stations for getting back and forth to the airport.

Things I Love Today: Raw Almonds

Raw almonds are the best snack ever! Sweet and crunchy and fairly healthy. However, I just discovered yesterday that I've been inhaling approximately 84% of my daily fat intake by snacking on raw almonds all day. Even for "good fat" that is still a whole lot of fat!

As a bonus, they're full of calcium and iron and they're great for cooking. Trader Joe's has them in 16 ounce bags for a good price.

What to Wear: Spiderman 3 Premiere

Holy cow, the shopping challenges are crazy good this week! I can't believe new-reader Emily's request:
I am going to New York for my first time next week. My husband and I were invited to the premiere of Spiderman 3. I'm typically not that 'hollywood' so I have no idea what to wear. We're basically going to be part of the James Franco entourage, as dorky as that sounds. I feel like black formal is overdoing it because it's a comic book movie. Maybe something springy and fresh and fun. We're also going to the after party so a change from heels to flats or something might be in order. This is the first time I've ever done anything like this and I want to feel confident.

As far as budget goes, do you think we can do it for under $500? I generally don't wear sleeveless/tank tops just because I'm not a fan of my arms, but other than
that I'm open to anything. If you have time to help that would be GREAT.
Dorky?! Being part of a famous actor's entourage hardly qualifies as dorky in my book. Let's get to it for our clearly delusional reader!

The key to fitting in with fancy Hollywood (and New York) types is to not look like you are trying too hard. You can always spot the outsider on the red carpet in what looks like a prom dress. I did a little research, and the event is fairly casual. My goal was to make Emily look like a fabulous stylist who just effortlessly threw the perfect outfit together:

Dress - It's a little bit of a budget buster...but soo gorgeous and timeless and be-sleeved and great for someone with tan skin, green eyes and shoulder length dark hair. Diane knows how to dress real women. And she's worth $365.
Necklace - Find a vintage statement piece. This one is $84, but your local antique store may have something cheaper.
Shoes - Ties in with the gold on the necklace and adds a bold flair to the outfit. $88. Switch to basic gold flat sandals for the after party.

Get your hair done, get your make-up done, get a spray tan, and then live it up. Have a fantastic time in New York, Emily. Send us a photo!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Things I Love Today: Alto Bookcase

Along with a sapien bookcase, Rob and I bought a tall leaning bookcase from Crate and Barrel last week. We Rob assembled all the pieces on Saturday and it's perfect!

All the books from all over the house are lined up on it in according to the Dewey decimal system (so nerdy) and our dining room has been converted to a cozy library.

What to Wear: Traveling Europe

I did a three month European tour in college, it was so much fun to see France, Italy, Spain and Greece by rail with my rucksack. Reader, Ashlynn, is heading across the pond with her husband next month:
You always have fabulous ideas for what to wear to events so I have one for you. My husband is taking me along on one of his business trips to Europe for 2 weeks. We will be visiting 8 countries in the 2 weeks – so tons of airplanes, trains & driving. I want to dress cute, but I need some comfortable shoes & layers for if an airplane gets too cold or too hot. What do I wear? What do I pack?
How exciting! When you have some serious traveling to do, it's good to pack basics and mix and match pieces. And pack light! You'll want to boost your wardrobe with new things you buy over there:

Sweater - A bright cardigan can be worn with anything.
Jeans - A very "American" thing to wear but also extremely versatile.
T-shirts - Bring a couple in dark colors for layering.
Trousers - I have a pair of grey trousers that have been to four continents! Can be worn with sneakers for the day or pumps for evening.
Dress - A non-wrinkling basic in black jersey. Good for day or night.
Sneakers - A comfy pair of puma sneakers will get you through all eight countries.
Flats - Take at least three pairs of shoes with you and rotate daily.
Tote - Big enough for your tour book, camera and journal.
Scarf - Accessories are easy to pack and help you feel fully dressed.
Sunglasses - A must have.

Add some extra tops, a bikini and a light jacket and Ashlynn will be all set for her big adventure!

Weekend Round-Up: Sleeping In

A little fun, a little rest and a little exercise add up to a perfect weekend in the city!

Rob and I walked home from work on Friday night, stopping at a used bookstore to buy a hostess present. At 6:30, we took a bus up to the Fillmore for dinner with friends from work. This was part one of a "Thai Challenge" to see whose favorite really reigns supreme (theirs was good, but I think ours can win!). In a bizarre coincidence, our friends from Tahoe were also eating at the same restaurant that night. After dinner, we all returned to our host's apartment to play Wii. Taxi home around 11:30.

I slept in a long time and stayed in bed with a book even longer on Saturday morning. When I did get out of bed, it was only to watch Say Anything and grab a cup of tea. At one, I took the train downtown for the Macy's sale. I really killed at this sale, buying $300 worth of dresses and tops for $130. It started to rain and I headed home with an it's-it as a snack. I was exhausted! Rob put together our new bookcase and we had a quiet dinner at home.

Sunday morning was another marathon sleeping-in and reading session. At noon, Rob and I took our tandem bike out to the park. We had lunch at the de Young (fantastic chard and basil soup!) while watching an adorable baby crawl after pigeons. We walked through the Vivian Westwood exhibit and then pedaled back home for some errands and chores. Rebeca came over later that night to trade some unwanted clothes. Too fun!

Friday, April 20, 2007

What to Wear: Yosemite Wedding

Mary just discovered this week. And just in time, she has a major shopping challenge coming up:
I'm going to a wedding in Yosemite on May 12 and have no idea what to wear. The wedding is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. or so, and then we break for a few hours to rest and recuperate before joining family and friends at a campfire.

So really, I need two outfits-- a dress & accessories for the wedding, and something to wear to the campfire that night. It's my husband's brother who is getting married, and my husband is the best man. He'll be in a dark brown tux and I'll be sitting with him & his family, all who are somehow in or involved in the wedding so they'll be dressed pretty formally. I don't know if I need to match the level of formality or at least step it up a notch?

I'll have lost about 30 pounds when the wedding comes along--a size 12 down from a size 16 so I'd like something that shows that off a little bit (but I'm still a size 12, so I feel that limits me a bit!). I'm on a bit of a budget and can spend maybe $250-$300 altogether.
Mary sent a photo of herself with the request. She's got a great figure, perfect skin and a cute blonde bob. Fitting all these clothes into a $300 budget was challenging, but I think I did it:

Dress - The is the most important piece! I've been coveting this dress from Anthropologie but I think I'm too scrawny to do it justice. At $148, the color, price and cut is perfect for Mary.
Clutch - Adorable brocade and only $15!
Earrings - $38 freshwater pearl drops from Anthropologie.
Shoes - Mossimo pumps in light gold from Target. $20.
Blazer - Black eyelet jacket from Forever 21. Can double as a cover up with the dress if needed. $20.
Henley - For $24 from Delias.
Jeans - I didn't include these in the calculation because Mary probably doesn't need to buy a new pair.
Shoes - Depending on how formal this campfire will be she can either stick with the pumps or switch to flats.
Headband - $18 from Urban Outfitters.

Final total: $263! Armed with these two outfits, Mary will be ready for anything that comes along at this wedding. Plus, she'll have a lot of fun new wardrobe pieces after the event.

Things I Love Today: Tribeca Shoes

Speaking of olive, I found these adorable micro-wedge shoes at a Marshall's in Atlanta last month. They're part of the Kenneth Cole Tribeca line of casual (and cheaper) shoes.

Super comfortable, versatile and only $23 from Piperlime today.

Inspiration: Orchid and Olive

Rob and I got stuck in the mission last night with a friend from Atlanta. A sudden rainstorm made taxis impossible to find. We ended up walking in the cold rain (our friend was only in a t-shirt) to the Bart station and managed to get him back to his hotel only halfway drenched. We warmed up with three shots of Patron at a bar next door before catching a cab home.

Anyway, it was actually really warm earlier this week before it got all cold and rainy. And when it is warm in the city, our resident's dress with some serious flair. I saw a cute interior designer waiting for the bus wearing a purple dress and olive green jacket similar to this outfit and was instantly inspired.

What a fantastic color combination! I wonder if I could use this for wedding colors without it being too dark?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Things I Love Today: Sapien Bookcase

I'm so excited! I ordered a Sapien bookcase yesterday from the DWR near my office. It should arrive next week!

That makes two new bookcases ordered in the last four days. What a huge improvement from our current method of book storage: one overstuffed shelf and many piles of books all over the apartment. I may actually be able to buy new books without feeling guilty!

What to Wear: Headbands

Marissa emailed earlier this week with a fun accessory question. Here's what she said:
I have recently discovered the joy of fabric headbands/wraps! They are so much fun. I think that you love them too.

Do you have any guidance on how to wear them? Are they appropriate for the office (where one has to wear a dress everyday)? Are they any good websites/stores where one could find some cute ones to add to their collection?
a) Your office makes you wear a dress everyday? That's kind of awesome. b) I definitely love headbands and really anything in the the hat/tiara/hair accessory category. c) Yes, you can wear headbands to work.

I like headbands best when combined with hair pulled up or back in some way. A loose bun, french twist or ponytail is a great match with a headband or scarf for the office. Most headbands fit into three categories, each with distinct rules:

Traditional - Usually about two inches wide, this includes fabric bands you can find at a drugstore or basic plastic bands. Forever 21 has 10 colors of plastic headbands for $3 a pop. Because these bands are wider, it's often a good idea to balance them out with bangs or side swept hair. Here's a perfect example on Nicole Richie.

Scarves - A great alternative to traditional headbands, scarves work with hair up or down. I have a couple vintage scarves that are headband favorites. Any scarf at least 12" wide can be folded in a triangle and then into a band for your hair. Urban Outfitters makes it even easier with their collection of tieback scarf headbands. Or you can cheat with a fabric covered headband.

Skinny - Two skinny bands worn close to the hairline is my latest favorite. Scuni sells elastic versions for cheap, Urban Outfitters has the metal variety and you can find fancier versions at department stores. This gold band from Anthropologie would be perfect with a jewel-toned cocktail dress. Wear skinny bands with loose hair pulled straight back. Channel your inner Grecian goddess.

Whew! This turned into a mini dissertation on hair accessories. There are just so many fun headbands for sale right now. I want them all!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Inspiration: Marigold and Gray

The latest issue of Martha Stewart Weddings is jam packed with fantastic ideas. One of my favorites was the unique color combination of bright yellow with gray. It's such a fresh and modern mix! The magazine ran a whole spread of wedding ideas with along this theme.

In the meantime, I'm thinking about how I can apply it to my own outfits and home decor. We are planning on painting our living room (full of gray furniture) a light yellow color, but the paint is more on the chartreuse than marigold end of the spectrum. Hmmm.

What to Wear: Coachella

Katie Speed (isn't that the best name?) wrote in earlier this week with a tough shopping challenge:
I love, love your "What to Wear" posts so I decided to get some ideas for what to wear to a music festival coming up called Coachella. When planning an outfit for such an event, you must take into consideration the fact that it takes place in a VERY hot desert and lasts all day. It will be a challenging outfit to plan but I know you can do it. (please?)
I'm glad to help! In the interest of full disclosure, I should admit that this event is my personal idea of purgatory. Tons of people, blazing sun, no place to sit. I am getting heat stroke just thinking about it. Remind me to tell you sometime about the tortured 37 minutes Rob and I once spent at Live Oak Festival.

Lots and lots of people do like outdoor music festivals in the desert (around 100,000 people actually) and there are some amazing bands performing, so I shouldn't be too judgmental. Here's my recommendation for Katie:

Shirt - Cowboys know that the anti-sunburn benefit of a long sleeved shirt outweighs the coolness of a tank top. Find one in a light material and color. Pin some band buttons to it for a little extra flair.
Shorts - Even the most aggressive dust shouldn't be able to stain these cute navy shorts from J.Crew.
Sweatshirt - Buy one at Coachella as a souvenir and night-time layer.
Hat - Your poor nose will fry without a hat. This version from Target is cheap and "indy."
Shoes - Coachella will destroy your shoes. Cheap sneakers from Old Navy paired with light socks will at least be comfortable. It's too bad that it won't be muddy so you could wear wellies like Kate Moss.
Sunblock - Find the highest SPF available in lotion and lipgloss and apply frequently.

Have fun at Coachella Katie! Stay hydrated!

To Do: Bronzer

My pale skin (really, so very pale) is out of fashion now that the sun is out and my tweeds are put away. The advent of spring means that it is time to get serious with the bronzer.

I normally wear some bronzer everyday, but it needs to be stepped up in spring and summer. My go-to bronzer is comes in a big tin from Cargo. It's pricey at $25, even though that tin will last forever. Alternately, Wet n Wild Mega Glow Face Illuminator cream is great stuff. And it's only $1, which makes me love it even more.

A big Sonia Kashuk brush is perfect for both the powder and the cream. I'm not sure if make-up artists would agree, but I like brushing bronzer above and below my eyes. That's my palest part and the bronzer really brightens it up.

In conclusion: Bronzer. Available for many different prices. So much better than a real tan.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Book Report: Color

Between choosing paint for the apartment and musing over wedding colors, I've been hue crazy the last few days. Luckily, I found the perfect book to compliment my obsession. It's called "Color: A Natural History of the Palette" and investigates the origins, anthropology and history behind ten colors.

I'm only through ochre, black and white so far and already hooked! Reading this book will forever change the way you think about color.

What to Wear: Wedding Outift for Under $100

Today's challenge comes from Emily in San Luis Obispo (what a coincidence!). She's an adorably petite school teacher with some big events ahead:
I have a couple of weddings to go to this summer and I spotted a cute/cheap dress at Forever 21. I was wondering if you could give me some ideas for shoes/accessories? The weddings are in different states so I could wear the same outfit to both. (We're on a tight budget right now though so the cheaper the better!)
The green and white dress Emily picked is a great foundation. Here's one way to accessorize it:

Dress - Only $27?! Forever 21 rocks for this sort of thing.
Sweater - Any white cardigan will do. This cropped version is a good match with the empire waist. $17.
Clutch - Isaac Mizrahi from Target for $16.
Shoes - Payless has some really cute options for spring. These cork slingbacks are $20.
Headband - Matches the purse and ties together the yellow accents. $3.
Earrings - Simple pearl studs balance out the bright colors and patterns. $5 for three pairs.

The final outfit is so very "Kate Spade" and only comes to $88. Emily is going to look adorable in her bright summer ensemble.

To Do: Spring Cleaning

Spring cleaning fever continues to rage in our apartment! I'm no Martha Stewart, but I have a basic checklist for airing out the apartment after a long winter. Even though Rob and I have a housekeeper who comes once a week, there are still a lot of jobs that need my attention a couple times a year.

Here's what I've done so far:
  • Clean all baseboards and molding (this takes forever in a San Francisco Victorian apartment)
  • Scrub walls with magic eraser sponge
  • Clean all window, framed art and mirror glass
  • Throw out stuff in "junk" drawers
  • Flip the mattress and eradicate dust bunnies
  • Clean papers off of the desk
  • Organize pantry
  • Clean medicine cabinet
  • Unpack summer clothes
  • Put away winter tweed and wool clothing
  • Purge closet of unwanted clothes and organize remaining
  • Buy flowers for the table
  • Take inventory of house needs and measure
  • Spend $100 at to the Container Store
  • Buy new furniture
  • Pick out paint colors
And here's what I still have to do:
  • Paint!
  • Install new furniture
  • Take old clothes and other donations to thrift shop
  • Take shoes to cobbler for repair
  • Host a clothing exchange party for other unwanted clothes and shoes
  • Clean the refrigerator
I can't believe how much I've already cleaned over the last few weeks. Go me! What do you include in your spring cleaning ritual?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Post of Silence

For those impacted by the terrible incident in Virginia. Our thoughts are with you.

Coveted: Rachel Leigh Rings

I included this affirmation ring in a What to Wear outfit a few weeks ago and have been obsessed ever since. Wouldn't it be gorgeous paired with a delicate spring dress? has fourteen Rachel Leigh rings including this one for sale. Each with bold gems, designs from nature and bright gold.

At $60 to $90 a piece, they're an affordable little splurge to welcome spring into your wardrobe.

Things I Love Today: Wallpaper City Guides

These pocket-sized city guides from Wallpaper ("the most authoritative and influential design magazine in the world" la de dah) are a refreshing variation on the traditional travel book. Instead of 250 pages of restaurant, sights and hotel recommendations, these guides give you just a few select gems paired with big photos and brief descriptions.

I bought the San Francisco guide at the de Young gift shop on Saturday and am already inspired to do some city exploring. There are so many restaurants and shops mentioned that I haven't been to yet. And the booklet comes with a place to write down your own favorites and a handy fold-out map.

This would be a perfect housewarming gift for someone who just moved to a new city. In fact, I think I'll order the Chicago version today for a former co-worker of mine who recently relocated.

Update: Or maybe I wont! The Chicago guide isn't out until October 07. In the meantime, the guides that are available can be easily purchased through Amazon.

Weekend Round-Up: Spring Fever

Oh, it was so glorious to be home this weekend! Rob and I celebrated not going out of town by walking home after work in the nice weather Friday. We stopped at our local hardware store for paint chips and the produce market for groceries. Once home, we had a quite dinner of curry soba inspired by Cha-Ya and baked apples.

Saturday morning was all about reading and relaxing with a cup of tea. My friend, Sarah, called from Santa Cruz saying that she was coming in for lunch. I had just enough time for a pedicure before they arrived. Rob peeled off for the gym and I hitched a ride with Sarah and her friends to the Richmond for dim sum at Ton Kiang. After a big lunch, we visited the de Young and then came back to the apartment for a round of Cranium. The "olds" (Rob, Sarah and I) beat the "youngs" (Charlie, Bo and Paul) pretty squarely!

Sarah's gang left for North Beach at 6:00. Rob and I left for the Toots concert at 8:30, stopping for a quick slice of pizza on the way. For an AARP member, Toots really knows how to rock! It was a great show at the Warfield and was so much fun to see Matt and Amber. After, it was back home on the subway at 12:30 and straight to bed.

Rob and I both had oddly bad headaches the next morning. It took an extra bit of coffee and some scrambled eggs with turkey bacon to really get going. After a few errands, we packed up a quilt and spent two hours in Duboce park reading, watching dogs, wedding planning and getting a little sun.

All that warm weather put me into full spring cleaning mode and I spent the rest of the afternoon on a major dust and debris purge. My baseboards have never been cleaner! We took a quick trip to the Container Store for supplies and spent the rest of the night feathering our not-so-shabby-anymore apartment.

Friday, April 13, 2007

To Do: Toots and the Maytals

I am so, so excited to be at home for the weekend. I can't even remember how long it's been since we had a proper city Saturday.

Along with sleeping in, getting a pedicure, going to Sausalito and visiting the de Young, I'm also planning on going to see Toots and the Maytals at the Warfield Saturday night. We went to see them last year with the same group of reggae loving friends and had a lot of fun. I wonder if I can convince everyone to go to the crepe wagon after?

PS: Isn't that poster cool? Belly Up has a great collection of rock posters on sale for $25 on their site. I want their skinny Feist poster for the bathroom and this amazing pear poster for the kitchen.

Coveted: New Sofa

Our new upstairs neighbor, a gay interior decorator, visited our apartment earlier this week to discuss the loud techno music that keeps us up at night (ah, San Francisco!). He was full of praise but dealt a backhanded burn when he complemented us on our "shabby chic" style. Ouch.

Time to paint and buy new furniture. I'm thinking we need to replace our Room and Board sofa in "putty" with something a little bolder and bigger. Does anyone have a new sofa that they're in love with to recommend?

What to Wear: Arizona Wedding

Today's shopping challenge is full of lots of specific requirements. These kinds of detailed challenges are my favorite! Here is Mrs. Dub's request:
My brother is getting married. In Arizona. In June. Yet, his wedding colors are black, white and fuschia ... and everything I can find in those colors is either wintery or strapless. And did I mention that I need something that has sleeves? (Preferably short ones because of that whole Arizona in June thing.)

I also would like to mention that the last time I saw my Arizona family and friends, I was only two months post-partum. Since then I've lost nearly 50 pounds and would like to celebrate my new bod with a killer dress, preferably with a funky flair. Any ideas?

Oh, and I'm looking for something in the same colors for my charming 6-month-old, Miss Dub. But everything I can find is so cutesy. And she's really a sassy kind of baby. Thanks for your help! (And boy do I need it.)
Is this dressing-to-match-wedding-colors a new trend? I don't know that I've ever matched my outfit to a wedding's color scheme. Does that make me a bad person? Did I miss the memo on this? Enough musing! Here's my recommendation for this stylish mom and daughter in the desert:

Dress - I am in love with this dress from Anthropologie and it is on big-time sale right now. Goes with the color scheme without trying too hard, has sleeves and is flattering to a newly trimmed figure. Only $129.
Purse - Big enough to carry sunscreen and other necessary supplies. $34 from Target.
Shoes - These patent leather wedges are fun and still practical for running around all day.
Sunglasses - Celeb-style sunglasses for $20.
Earrings - Delicate gold hoops with navy beads.
Baby Dress - I know nothing about dressing small children, but this Old Navy dress seems modern and affordable to me.
Baby Shoes - Navy sandals from Robeez.
If you can, treat yourself to a pedicure, blow out and spray tan to go with the outfit. It's not everyday that your brother gets married and you get to show off :) Have fun in Arizona Mrs. Dub!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Coveted: Freestanding Fireplace

Now that we have a fancy new elfa entertainment center in the closet, I have an extra space in the living room where the old TV cabinet used to be. My dream is to put in a freestanding fireplace. There are some pretty decent electric models that are all lights and mirrors and only require an electrical outlet. But Rob is pretty convinced that we could manage to install a no-vent propane model instead.

This model is the current leader (I would paint it) and not completely unrealistic for $850 including shipping. Warm weather doesn't start here in San Francisco until September, so there are plenty of cold months ahead perfect for cuddling around a fire. Does anyone know of a source for free-standing fireplaces with a more modern style?

What to Wear: Farmer's Market

Sam is a culinary guru and author of bay area foodie blog, Becks & Posh. She wrote in with a shopping challenge last week:
A week from tomorrow I am going to the farmer's market (nothing different there), where I'll meet several local food blogging girlfriends (nothing new there either), only this time we will be entertaining a visiting, rather well-known blogger from New York. None of us need to worry about attracting him, we are not his type, but we'll want to look fabulously San Francisco and Farmers Market-y gorgeous nonetheless. What do you reckon?
A day at farmer's market is serious business in this city. And since you're meeting with a blogger, you'll want to be photo-ready for the resulting mentions on his site. Here's my recommendation:

Shirt - A white cotton shirt is always flattering. With the sleeves rolled up to show seriousness of intent.
Tank - I love the color of this tank from Target.
Jacket - This adorable green twill coat is under $50. The bright color will look great in photos with all the produce.
Jeans - Organic cotton Levi's. They don't make jeans more San Francisco than these!
Shoes - I like the contrasting light green color of these Lacoste loafers.
Sunglasses - In case it is bright and sunny out.
Necklace - Made by San Francisco artist Peggy Li and featuring a large silver leaf.
Basket - Designed for shopping and big enough to hold all the veggies, fruits, olive oils, chocolates and meats you want to take home.

Add a little fresh, pink, spring-y make-up and Sam will be ready for her day at the market!

Engagement Present!

I received our first real, official wedding present earlier this week. A business associate sent us two crystal champagne flutes from Tiffany's! It's so fun to have a giant robin's egg box with a white satin ribbon on my table.

Plus, the glasses are perfect for my favorite spring beverage: Lambic. This is a Belgian beer made with real fruit. Imagine the best berry soda ever with a little kick. Ideal for a festive spring brunch!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

What to Wear: Date in Ohio

Today's shopping challenge is a fun one. Kim wrote in with a first date request:
I saw you did a “first date” outfit last month. However, I was wondering if you could create one a little more casual. I live in Ohio and it’s more casual in terms of first dates. I was thinking either to the movies, for coffee, or to a bar for drinks – something along those lines. I was wondering if you could create an outfit centering around jeans, but also looking really cute!
Sure thing Kim! Here's my outfit suggestion for your casual date:

Shirt - I love the color, pattern and cut of this shirt from Alloy. And it's only $24.
Jacket - This white leather jacket is from the Gap and I think also might be attractive. Let me know if you have a chance to try it on in person.
Jeans - Your cutest, most flattering pair.
Flats - I've used these cute white cutout flats for a couple outfits. I really need to buy these for myself!
Clutch - In red from Target.
Earrings - Simple gold hoops with yellow stones from Anthropologie.
Bracelet - Under $5 from Forever 21.

Inspiration: Charade

One good thing about being knocked out at home is getting to watch movies all day on the big TV. Yesterday, I watched Love and Death, Borat and Charade. Of all the Audrey Hepburn movies, Charade is really my favorite!

Her 1963 Givenchy wardrobe is absolutely to die for. All those perfectly cut dresses and bright mod coats paired with kitten heels and hats. And that singularly perfect trench paired with beige gloves! Le sigh. Honestly, it makes me want to throw out all my clothes and start over fresh.

Pincushion Day

My New Year's resolution to be more brave in 2007 seems to be working well. Yesterday's spine injection was scary, but I think I managed okay.

Rob and I drove to hospital at 6:00 am yesterday morning (not before locking the keys in the apartment and having to wake up our super). I changed into a hospital gown and some really nice nurses helped me get set up with warm blankets and an IV. My doctor came in and marked my back with a sharpie and the countdown began. Rob sat with me until 7:30, when six people whisked me off to a surgery room.

The whole procedure was done in about ten minutes. They rolled me onto my stomach, sedated me a bit through the IV, took some x-rays, gave me about 6 novocaine shots and then the cortisone injection right on the "x." The whole thing hurt less than getting the IV in the first place. I was pretty zonked in the recovery room for the next hour. Eventually, they wheeled me out to the street and Rob drove me home to sleep it off the rest of the day. My new Ryka pants were the perfect post-op gear (not the kind of mention they are looking for, I'm sure!).

Overall, I'm doing pretty well. I don't have any notable pain which is really good considering they sent me home with a bottle of 90 vicodin. In a few days, I should know if this procedure did the trick.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Sick Day

What to Wear: Maui Wedding

Calie wrote in with a great shopping challenge. How do you do "aloha" in a modern way?
I am going to a beach wedding on Maui in May. The invitation states it’s aloha attire, which for men means aloha shirts /khakis and for women a sundress of some sort. I have considered getting an aloha print sundress but most of them have bad cuts and look cheap. I’m originally from Hawaii and even when I lived there I never wore aloha dresses because they were too touristy looking.

I’d like a dress that’s a bit more modern. I live in SF and have scoured the stores for the right dress and haven’t found it. Most of the dresses are too puffy below the chest, or too loud, or even too plain. I want something in between plain and loud that accentuates the figure.
This was a tough one. You want to participate in a theme without making it look like a costume party. I went through a lot of dresses before finally deciding on this outfit:

Dress - Silk jersey with a modern ostrich feather pattern from Anthropologie. Not badly priced at $168. I think you could wear this again to a non-luau event.
Shoes - You'll probably ditch them after the first half hour.
Clutch - Proenza Schouler in purple suede from Target.
Bracelets - A modern variation on a puka shell bracelet.
Flower - A purple orchid for your hair ties in with the clutch.

Have fun in Maui, Calie!

Weekend Round-Up: Happy Easter

What a perfect weekend! Rob and I drove down to San Luis Obispo to spend Easter with family. I took a lot of photos to share with Jean, who didn't get to come this year. On Saturday morning, we did the standard walk the dog, farmer's market, breakfast at the local diner routine with my parents. It was an especially gorgeous and warm day.

After breakfast, it was back home to do some yard work. My contribution was putting on goggles & gloves and then standing around taking photos of everything. I also threw the ball for the border collie.

Margaret came over that afternoon and we went downtown for a little shopping. When we got back, everyone dyed eggs. Bright oil pastels turned out to be a great way to add a little extra flair to our designs. Now 6:00, I called a bunch of old friends in town to go out for drinks. We all met up at Black Sheep and later ran into a group of our friends downtown dressed as bunnies.

Rob and I got all dressed up on Sunday morning for Easter service. Mom had a great time showing me and my ring off to all the old ladies at our church. At noon, Rob and I drove out to Los Osos after to visit with his sister and four nephews. Such a great family! Back to the house at 3:00 for a champagne supper with family friends. We followed the traditional easter egg hunt with a dinner of ham, scalloped potatoes, asparagus and strawberry shortcake.

So fun! I hope you had a great Easter weekend too!

PS: Congratulations to our free Ryka shoe winners: Girl con Queso and Marian! Send me an email with your mailing address and those sneaks will be on their way to you this week!