Thursday, May 31, 2007

Feeling Overwhelmed

I've been stressed out the past few weeks. Isn't funny how life always finds a way to replace old problems with new ones? Just as my back finally got fixed and I was so excited to be engaged, new stresses emerged. Largely, two reoccurring antagonists in my life made their appearances.

The bad neighbor: I've been pretty lucky when it comes to neighbors, about every other set is nice and considerate. Our man upstairs has just been getting louder and louder since he moved in a few weeks ago. And not only does his night owl nature keep us up past our bedtime, his recently installed bird feeder ensures that we'll be woken up at 5:30 am by huge flocks of pigeons and finches. I keep text messaging him to turn the TV and stereo down, but that is mostly just frustrating to both of us. I'm exhausted and starting to look at top-floor apartment listings on HousingMaps.

The office bully: I've also had about 50% luck on this. I have a mean co-worker who was just hired a few weeks ago and has been driving me crazy. I'm thinking about finding another job. But aren't the chances pretty high that I'll only be trading the current bully for a new bully? I've rarely met someone who works in an office of more than 5 people without one co-worker being a little "off."

I tried to work-out my stress at the gym last night but it didn't help much. I've also tried baths and spa therapy without much luck. Being sleep deprived isn't doing much for my overall emotional stability. I'm thinking it's time for a vacation :)

Wedding Invitation Drafts

I know it's really early, but I'm a graphic designer and I've started playing around with some ideas for the wedding invitations.

Here's a rough sketch I've created using oak leaves and a repeating clover pattern. The oak is for the giant oak tree outside the club and the clover from the Julia Morgan designed light fixtures.

It's a work in progress for sure. I need to try it with different fonts, different colors, darker clovers, Japanese maple leaves instead of oak or maybe a flower instead of a leaf. Any great examples of letterpress design you want to share?

What to Wear: One Dress Two Ways

Summer dresses can be so versatile when paired with the right accessories. And shirt dresses are the most flexible of them all. Here's Kersten's question:
I just bought this lovely little dress from J.Crew, but I'm sort of at a loss to accessorize it. I'm planning on wearing it all summer to both semi-casual and more formal events, but I just don't know how to pair it and polish off the outfit!
I made two examples below. One for a casual weekend day and the other for a wedding or other formal event:

Weekend
Bag
- An embroidered straw clutch is fun for a casual brunch or trip to the beach.
Sandals - Decorated flip flops look great with a pedicure.
Sunglasses - A must.
Bikini - A great layering top, even if you aren't going to the beach.

Event
Clutch - Sleek clutch with bow from Target.
Shoes - I love the vintage style of these "Lady" pumps.
Bracelet - From Anthropologie.
Hair Clip - Wearing your hair up helps add to the formality.

A little make-up and some sunless tanner will go a long way with either outfit. And don't be afraid to play with color combinations. This denim blue color is practically a neutral.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Inspired: Keira in Africa

Okay, okay. I might owe Vogue an apology. Earlier this month, I dealt them a backhanded compliment. Saying that I would continue to buy an occasional issue for the great photos, despite the terrible botox-soaked content.

I have to admit that the latest issue was pretty good. I read it at the hair salon last night. The feature on Keira Knightley in Africa was amazing and has me considering how realistic it would be to get this dress and two tickets to the savannah next week.

What to Wear: The Lodge at Pebble Beach

My imagination ran a little wild with Jessica's fun request for the upcoming Father's Day weekend:
So, here is my challenge for you. We are going to the Lodge at Pebble Beach for Father’s Day. This is a once in a lifetime thing for my husband as jetting off to high-priced golf resorts are not typical for us. We are going to the Tap Room for dinner on Saturday night without our very young kids and the website states it is ‘resort attire.’ What is that exactly? Regardless, I’d love to just take off my mom-mode and get dressed up.

We just bought a new house, so the budget is very limited - $150. I do have several weddings to go to this summer, so if it can double for a wedding, I can justify spending more. I am a size 6 with any extra weight sitting in my tummy and I recently chopped my hair into a bob. I’d prefer closed toe or peep-toe shoes since I rarely get the time for a pedicure. I think that’s it.
A weekend at an 88 year old golf lodge? Resort attire? A bob? I can't be the only one who instantly had a 15 minute long "Gatsby" daydream by all this! Of course, a beaded sheath and fur stole isn't going to work for Jessica. Back to reality! Resort attire these days means something you would wear to a country club; no jeans and nothing too revealing.

Dress - Casual enough for a resort and formal enough for a wedding. Super flattering color and tummy hiding sash. This dress is definitely not mom-style but is mom-friendly machine washable.
Shoes - A white wedge from Target for $24. Enough coverage for a faux pedicure.
Clutch - Caning pattern straw clutch for $28.
Earrings - Beaded chandelier earrings are flirty with a short bob.

Jessica is going to be one hot-mom in this outfit! Happy Father's Day indeed ;)

Things I Love Today: Summertime!

Last weekend brought out so many great summertime memories and traditions. It's starting to really feel like summer thanks to the following:
  • Watching I Love Lucy in my pajamas, especially the episodes where they visit Hollywood. This used to be a tradition with my sister and cousin when we vacationed in Montecito. They only get funnier each time!
  • Cheesy summertime promotions and shows. I love the annual testing of new soda flavors and terrible television programs like "America's Got Talent."
  • Catalogs full of people at the beach. J. Crew took it to a new level with their little vacation video clip. Never mind that no one goes to the tropics in June (being that it is 193 degrees this time of year). I still like the concept.
  • Corona with lime. Fish tacos. Cantaloupe. Potato salad. Apricots. Turkey subs with lots of vinegar and pickles. Iced coffee. Coconut popsicles. Ice tea with mint. Fresh basil. Bacon and avocado sandwiches.
  • Cold foggy mornings that burn off to reveal sunny days.
Ah, summer! What officially signals the start of summer for you?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

What to Wear: Business Meeting

It can be tough to find the right thing to wear for in today's casual offices. I'm pretty much always overdressed since my office largely wears jeans as a uniform. Katie has the same challenges:
I have to give a presentation at my Sales Meeting in two weeks. I work for a sporting goods company so the atmosphere is relaxed, even in big meetings, but I still want to be professional. I am young and I LOOK really young so I think sometimes my all middle aged and male salesforce can feel like I'm a daughter type. So I'd look to look like an adult, but an adult who is still the fun cool Marketing Manager.

The last little wrinkle is that I work for a female focused brand and in a very male dominated industry so I'd like to be feminine without being inappropriately sexy. I've been doing these presentation for five years and I feel like I've only nailed the look in the winter when you simply have more layers to work with!
This is such a fun challenge because it blends together so many contrasting themes: feminine, professional, young and athletic. I think I found the perfect thing for Katie:

Shirt - A pretty green v-neck tank is structured enough to wear without the jacket.
Jacket - A young, fun version of a traditional board room blazer.
Skirt - I love the length of this traditional white pencil skirt from Bloomingdales on sale. So classic and flattering!
Wedges - Always wear heels when you are presenting, it adds authority. These wedges are on sale.
Bag - Sport as fashion is big these days thanks to stella at Adidas, Diesel and Puma. This bag is made of pearlized PU and suede.
Portfolio - Alligator leather accordion file in dark green.
Earrings - Pearl drops.

And don't forget your lipstick! That always helps me look older; in a good way!

Weekend Round-Up: Memorable

I'm sore, sunburned, tired and hungover...it must have been a great Memorial Day weekend! Let's see, what happened on Friday? Oh, right. We left work and took the 22 all the way to Chestnut Street for dinner with Matt and Amber. Mamacita, a marina-style taqueria, was already hopping when we arrived at 6:00. The margaritas and food were so good that we all ignored the prevalence of investment bankers and blondes.









Four pitchers of margaritas and some churros later, we crossed the street to catch Pirates of the Caribbean. Wow, is that movie ever long...and boring. We could barely stay awake and when it ended we took a taxi straight home.

I didn't get to sleep in on Saturday, thanks to the techno upstairs, but I did stay in my pajamas with a book until about 11. Our friend Nicole, a recent transplant to Utah, was in town for a wedding and met us for lunch at noon. Along with LAC member, Elisabeth, we walked down to Anchor Oyster Bar. Delicious lunch followed by some great shopping in the neighborhood.









They came back to the house for a while after lunch before leaving at 5:00 for the wedding in Alameda. Rob and I spent the rest of the evening relaxing, playing ukulele and reading.

Sunday morning! Up fairly early to prepare for climbing with Matt. There's a tiny rock wall a few blocks from our house that has two hard crack routes. It think it is technically called "Beaver Street Crack" but I like to call it "Pet Cemetery Crack" because of the painted pet tombstones that line the wall (what? your public park doesn't have pet graves?). Despite it being really cold and misty, we climbed hard for about three hours.









We decided to blow off the opera due to the cold weather and instead grabbed lunch from the Irish/Middle Eastern market and had a "jam session" at home. Matt is great at the guitar and is helping Rob learn the ukulele. Matt took off around 6:00 and we had another quiet evening.

Finally, Monday! It took me a while in the morning to realize that the sun was out and the weather was warming up for Memorial Day. Rob and I grabbed our archery gear and took the train out to Ocean Beach. Matt met us at 12:30 for a few rounds of target practice and being taunted by a gopher.









We ended the weekend in perfect style with a couple of hours at the Park Chalet. We managed to grab two coveted adirondak chairs and sat enjoying the weather with all the other picnicking babies and dogs. This is where the sunburn and the hangover came in to play ;)









Overall, it was a fantastic weekend. You can see all my photos from these adventures online here. I hope you had a great Memorial Day break too!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Urban Girl Alamanac: Sidewalks

Another fantastic week in San Francisco. It's always fun when the city has a hot spell, but I am secretly glad that the weather is back to being cold and foggy. Here's what I learned this week:
  • I love DogBlog!
  • Yay for the Sausalito Woman's Club.
  • Safeway is a great place to show off a fabulous outfit.
  • Thanks to all my physical therapy my return to the gym has been pretty easy. I'm already climbing a few 5.10b's.
  • The wagon outside the gym has the best chicken tacos in San Francisco.
  • Lost: I can't wait for next season.
  • Why is that I can sleep through fire trucks but not even the slightest hint of techno music from upstairs?
  • Mangos, cherries and avocados...oh my!
  • Finding the right outfit to attend a wedding is stressful.
  • This organic catering company looks so good.
  • I am ready for my parents to come back from vacation already.
  • Wear sunblock!
I'm so excited for the three day weekend ahead. Rob and I have free opera in the park, kayaking, archery, bike riding and rock climbing on our agenda. And we have our friend, Nicole, from coming for a visit tomorrow. Should be fun!

What to Wear: Florist

Chelsea from Frolic (don't you love her blog?!) wrote in earlier with a great shopping challenge:
I have never been able to pin down the most appropriate, stylish and comfortable outfit to wear when I work on flowers for a wedding. I climb on ladders, haul buckets of water, clip stems and then have to pin corsages on beautifully dressed guests and make discreet appearances after the wedding has already started to transfer flowers from venues or to wait for the baker to deliver the cake and arrange the flowers quickly as guests are arriving.

I often end up wearing all black which helps me blend in with the caterers but I am usually sweltering hot and I think black is kind of dismal for a summer wedding even if I am not a guest. Do you have suggestions for something, stylish, comfortable, and appropriate? I am short 5'4 and usually like some extra height but heels obviously won't work. I want to be comfortable and appropriatly dressed while hopefully displaying an effortless style.
I wish Chelsea lived in San Francisco so she could do my flowers! Here's my outfit suggestion:

Top - A delicate knit from Anthropologie will be comfortable and professional. This pick has a flower crochet pattern on the edge for a bit of humor. Pair it with a basic cami.
Trousers - Club Monaco really has the best pants, but sadly no online store. This pair is from J.Crew.
Apron - From Lotta Jansdotter in blue linen. Chelsea could add pockets in a complimentary fabric for her tools and supplies.
Shoes - A foot-friendly wedge from Naturalizer.
Earrings - Green studs from Forever21.
Bracelet - A wood bangle adds a natural flair.

Gorgeous!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Inspiration: Marc Jacobs China

Why do so many modern china patterns fall into one of two categories: boring or bizarre? I've been to Replacements and to the porcelain room at the Legion of Honor, I know that there used to be some gorgeous china patterns.

Luckily, there is hope in the name of designer china collections. Kate Spade's designs are fun, Jasper Conran always does well with Wedgwood and I just discovered Marc Jacobs for Waterford.

It's exactly my taste, but you could set one fabulous table with the David dinnerware in red, yellow or blue. Zoom in on the photo to get a closer look at the detailed pattern.

What's your favorite china pattern?

Things I Love Today: Produce

After a winter with frostbitten oranges and $2 lemons, the appearance of inexpensive summer produce is making me incredibly happy. I'm eating fruit like I have scurvy!

Rob and I stopped in a Mexican produce market on 16th street on our way home last night. We bought two avocados, a giant mango, a big bag of bing cherries, a bunch of basil and a pack of tortillas...for $5.50! Five dollars and fifty cents, people. That is so cheap!

The cherries were an appetizer, the basil went on our organic cheese ravioli and the avocado went in the mixed green salad. Yum.

What to Wear: First Adult Wedding

The wedding season panic continues! Is there anyone out there not worried about what to wear to a wedding this summer? Here is Asako's requst:
Like many of your writers I am frantic with the upcoming wedding season especially since this is my first real adult wedding. Many of the others I've missed while I was off in grad school but now I've moved "home" to Michigan with just a bit of spare change. I'm acting as the special assistant to the bride. I need a solid outfit that will mask what I call the "mother load" (my plus size bust) while handling the unpredictable Michigan spring weather.

I'm desperate and another trip to the mall might drive me crazy. Being out of town for the last two years means that this will be the first time that many people will have the chance to see me so I'm a bit nervous.
Yikes! First things first: a) brides get to have special assistants? Since when and where can I get one? b) I have the opposite of a "mother load" myself, so I'm not claiming to be an expert. Here we go!

Dress - Victoria's Secret should know a thing or too about larger chests. This dress is in a gorgeous color and on sale for only $65.
Clutch - Put the money you've saved on the dress toward a sparkly clutch and a facial.
Pumps - Silver and snake print leather is definitely a "grown up" shoe choice.
Earrings - Pretty flower and leaf decorated drops.

Asako will knock 'em dead!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Things I Love Today: Andrew Bird & The Mysterious Production of Eggs

I love getting music from friends. My friend, Sarah, makes the greatest indie mix tapes. And Seth brought Rob and me a CD as a hostess present when he came to visit a while back. I've recently rediscovered some of these gifted songs when I adding albums to my work iTunes.

Anyway, the CD Seth gave us is Andrew Bird's The Mysterious Production of Eggs. It's sort of between Badly Drawn Boy and Modest Mouse, with more wool sweaters. Mr. Bird is quite good and I'm tempted to get a few songs from his latest album. Just thought you'd like the introduction :)

What to Wear: Safeway on a Warm Day

On the rare day where the weather is sunny and warm in the city, San Francisco's women throw down some seriously cute outfits. Most of the time San Franciscans are known only for sporting a good pair of jeans and a blazer. Everyone must have a secret stash of gorgeous warm weather clothes just waiting in their closets for days like these.

Here are two approximations of outfits I was inspired by yesterday at Safeway:

Blazer - There's no sense in paying extra for a well made quarter of a jacket that will be only worn three times in this freezing city. This version is $25 for Forever21.
Tank - Also from Forever21.
Skirt - Her skirt was cuter that this, but you get the idea.
Shoes - A summer wedge with a peep toe. This girl was really tall and was rocking the platform wedge.
Dress - Way to look like a vixen while picking up a case of soda on your lunch break, anonymous girl!
Shoes - Adorable!

It's on! I'm going to spend an hour tonight planning the perfect ensemble to wear to work tomorrow.

Inspiration: Baskets from The Conran Shop

How many places do you think I could register before officially being labeled a crazy person? How about just Gump's, Sur La Table, Crate and Barrel, REI and The Conran Shop? It's not that I want that much stuff, it's just that each store has a few things I really love.

If I had to pick just one, it would probably be Conran. Every single thing at The Conran Shop is perfect. I fell in love with their new baskets last night. This picnic basket for $48 honestly kills me because it is so ideal. As do its other basket friends.

The Conran Shop had better get their online registry going in the next 10 months. I'll come over there and design it myself if I have to.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Things I Love Today: Super Sunblock

When I first bought Lancome's UV Expert sunblock, I didn't like it very much. It was super thick and sort of left a white residue on my already extremely pale skin.

But then I realized that it contained that fancy, just approved from Canada, mentioned repeatedly in Vogue, Mexoryl UVA ray block mojo. And decided to continue giving it a chance.

Two weeks and about 30 hours in the sun (I walk to and from work) later, I'm a convert. My skin has improved a lot and I've gotten over the residue issue. As a serious sunblock conessouir, I would glad continue paying the semi-outrageous $35 price tag for this super block. Think of the money it will save you on skin cancer zapping later down the road.

What to Wear: 1950's Cocktail Party

Costume parties are the best kinds of parties! Melissa is hosting one in a few weeks:
I have been reading through your archives for the past few days, and I absolutely love your blog. I am an urban girl living in the PA country, and at least I can imagine that I can walk to my favorite things, find organic foods, eat at great restaurants, and live a somewhat normal existence while reading about other people in the blogsphere (oh my, that sounds pathetic).

Anyway, I was hoping you could help me out. I am hosting a retro cocktail party on June 1st. Most of the guests and I are teachers, so it will start at 4:00pm. I'll be making 50's inspired appetizers, like pigs-in-a-blanket, deviled eggs, and sweet-and-sour meatballs (updated and from Epicurious, of course), offering sidecars and champagne cocktails as my retro beverages, and while I'm not requiring it of others, I want to dress the part.


I have a 3/4 sleeve, fire engine red, silk blend cardigan with pearl buttons, but I need something to pair it with. We don't have much in the way of vintage shopping out here. Any suggestions of what to wear to truly set the tone would be greatly appreciated!
After reassuring Melissa that city dwellers dream just as much about living in the country, away from public transportation, exorbitant rents and neighbors with grand pianos, I found just the right things to complete her costume. Melissa will be looking cute in something like this:

Sweater - Standing in for her own cardigan.
Skirt - This circle skirt from Calvin Klein for $70 is just perfect for this costume party and also for the rest of the summer with more modern accouterments.
Shoes - Bright plaid peep-toe pumps for $34 from Delias.
Apron - Kick up the kitsch with a vintage inspired apron from Anthropologie for $15.
Glasses - Cat eye glasses for $7 make this into a full-blown costume.
Earrings - Perfectly old fashioned from Forever 21 for $5.
Ring - It matches for $4!
Retro Cocktail Poster - From Arkiva Tropika.

I have a strange craving for a Tom Collins and a cheese log all the sudden! Have fun at your party, Melissa!

Wedding Planning: The Location

Here we go again! I think Rob and I have found our wedding location and my new favorite yellow color has made a comeback:

The Sausalito Women's Club was designed by Julia Morgan and finished in 1918. Still actively meeting, the club now also rents out the facility for weddings. It's gorgeous, with lots of wood, arts & craft details and a brand new $500,000 kitchen. Martha herself would faint at the sight of this kitchen.

There's a carved wooden bar, a Japanese garden, a mural in the bathroom, a working fireplace, oriental carpets, 90 year old wicker furniture and two dressing rooms upstairs with 180 degree views of the bay. Basically, Rob and I want to live there.

They rent it out for 48-hour periods, allowing for leisurely rehearsal, set up and take-down. Parking is a bit of an issue since it is a residential neighborhood, but they have a whole system of shuttles already in place. Oh, and it's affordable! And the volunteers who run it are really nice! No shysters in sight.

Plus, there's a full stage with lights and a piano. Just what we need to put on our after-dinner variety show. Did I already mention that we're doing that instead of dancing? That's why Rob is learning the ukulele, why I'm shopping for ostrich feather fans and Jean is sewing sequins on snoods. (We're nuts)

The stage curtains are yellow velvet...bringing us back to the same ivory and yellow color scheme I was envisioning before. And there you have it...wedding planning is starting to be fun :)

Monday, May 21, 2007

Things I Love Today: J.J. Sempé

Some New Yorker covers are just so brilliant, so clever, so wonderful that you have to sit staring at them for a few minutes. For me, these covers are almost always from French artist J.J. Sempé.

Take for example, this cover from June 2004 with children floating in a wave. Or the drawing posted here of a piano teacher giving lessons in a crowded apartment. Pure bliss!

Weekend Round-Up: Open Air

I'm mighty tired today from the weekend! Rob and I walked home from work on Friday and had a quiet evening at home. On Saturday, we woke up early and drove out to Sausalito. We met with two members of the Sausalito Women's Club in charge of wedding coordination. They were really nice and this venue seems like it will be perfect. I'll do a separate wedding update post later.











At noon, we drove back over the Golden Gate bridge, dropped off the car and took the subway to the Bill Graham Auditorium. Matt, Amber and Lindsay were there exploring the Bay to Breakers expo. We registered and picked up some discount coupons on the show floor. We then dropped off Lindsay at her apartment, deciding to drive down the crooked part of Lombard for some reason, and went to Sports Basement (look Jean, they have an online store!) at Crissy Field. Now 2:30, we parked up on Russian Hill and walked down to the Oyster and Beer Festival at Fort Mason. The line to get in was super long and entrance was $19, so we decided to picnic just outside the fence instead.









With rations from Safeway and a great view of backstage, we sat out in the sun for a few hours. Rob and I took the bus home around 6:30 and recovered at home the rest of the evening while watching Manhattan.

Up at 6:30 am Sunday morning for Bay to Breakers. We packed up and took a subway full of runners in costume downtown to meet Matt. It was a gorgeous day and we joined 60,000 racers at the starting line for the tortilla toss. It seemed that there was more nudity this year, perhaps because the weather was nicer? We had a great time walking across the city, spotting great costumes, listening to bands and avoiding nudists. Some highlights include a unicyclist in a pink leotard, an 82 year old grandmother walking with her family and a guy who had dyed and shaved his hair to look like Gorbachev being swarmed by an unaffiliated team dressed like Russians. You can see all my photos here.











We reached Ocean Beach in three hours and 15 minutes fully exhausted. Unlike last year, we figured out how to walk straight to the N train at 43rd street instead of walking all the way down to 9th. Matt joined us for a great lunch at BurgerMeister before peeling off. Rob and I recovered at home the rest of the evening. I watched A Walk to Remember (is there any other movie quite so cheesy and at the same time devastatingly sad?), stretched and napped. We turned in early and slept like logs all night.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Tagged: Favorite Places to Eat in San Francisco

Step 1: Add a direct link to your post below the name of the person who tagged you. Include the city/state and country you’re in.

Nicole (Sydney, Australia)
velverse (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
LB (San Giovanni in Marignano, Italy)
Selba (Jakarta, Indonesia)
Olivia (London, England)
ML (Utah, USA)
Lotus (Toronto, Canada)
tanabata (Saitama, Japan)
Andi (Dallas [ish], Texas, United States)
Todd (Louisville, Kentucky, United States)
miss kendra (los angeles, california, u.s.a)
Jiggs Casey (Berkeley, CA, USA! USA! USA!)
Tits McGee (New England, USA)
Kat (Ontario, Canada)
Cheezy (London, England)
tafka PP (Jerusalem, Israel)
Liza ("Northern" Israel)
Beth (Dublin, Ireland)
Emily (San Francisco, CA, USA)

Step 2: List out your top 5 favorite places to eat at your location. Okay, it is impossible to narrow it down to just five in a foodie city like San Francisco. So I'm going to present my five favorite cheap places to eat:
5. Burrito Wagons - The only places you can get authentic Mexican food in San Francisco have wheels. Try the chicken burrito at the wagon parked outside of Best Buy on Harrison. Or the spicy chicken street tacos outside Mission Cliffs. Come to think of it, anything from a wagon is usually good. Also try the crepe wagon parked outside of Slim's.

4. BurgerMeister - Organic meat from Neiman Ranch, ice cream from Mitchell's, beer on tap and plenty of crispy french fries. Even cheaper when they have specials during the week or coupons printed on the back of Safeway receipts.

3. Miyabi Sushi - Definitely not the best sushi in San Francisco, but good and very cheap. It's a perfect place to get a big bottle of sapporo and whole bunch of rolls to share with friends. Plus, open until 11:30.

2. Axum Cafe - Great Ethiopian food served up by a friendly family in a relaxed location. The Tibsi fishie with a veggie combo is a must. Also open late, this cafe goes until 10:30!

1.
Truly Mediterranean - Absolutely no atmosphere but seriously delicious food. Order the combo box full of falafels, hummus, baba, dolmas, seasoned onions, tabouleh, cucumber salad, feta cheese and pita bread. Plus, you're in the middle of Valencia Street hipster heaven and near the Indian ice cream store.
Step 3: Tag 5 more people. I tag Jean, Jordan, Sara, Kate and Diana.

Even that list was really hard to come up with! I'm feeling very lucky to live in such a great city. Have a great weekend!

Urban Girl Almanac: Summertime

This has been one crazy week! Between the Ladies Activity Club and work, I've barely had time to think. But luckily, it has been full of equal amounts fun and stress. I am looking forward to sleeping in this weekend. Here are a few things I've learned:
  • I've graduated from physical therapy! (again!)
  • The sale rack at Club Monaco is the greatest. They have this incredible teal jersey dress on sale right now.
  • You can accomplish a lot in three hours of power shopping downtown.
  • Kabuki communal baths are so relaxing and not creepy at all.
  • When did the guy from Maroon Five become so hot? Seriously, watch the video for "Makes me Wonder" in HD sometime.
  • Kiwis are great in salads.
  • Rob is so good at taking care of me. I was stressed about work last night and he brought home Truly Med for dinner for me.
  • I cannot wait for the LOST finale next week!
  • I am ashamed to admit that I kind of love cheesy summer network TV programming. America's got Talent? National Bingo Night? I love it all. It's our version of Eurovision.
  • I'm jealous that my parents leave for vacation tomorrow!
  • An upstairs neighbor getting a grand piano and wanting to learn how to play it is one of the worst things that can happen to an apartment dweller.
Rob and I have a big weekend ahead. We're going to Sausalito tomorrow to look at wedding locations and go kayaking before coming back to the city to attend the Oyster and Beer Festival. Sunday is going to be devoted to walking and then recovering from Bay to Breakers.

What to Wear: Graduation

All our readers seem to have fun events coming up this summer: weddings, vacations and showers. Tamara has an especially big event ahead. She's graduating from law school!
This spring I am graduating from law school and graduation attire is causing me huge problems. I need something to wear to the ceremony during the day (in Seattle, the weather should be nice, sixty or seventy and sunny - for once, but the event is at the baseball stadium and dirt and grass are involved in walking) and something for a casual BBQ at night (at my parents, they have a deck with wide holes I tend to fall into and a fire pit).

I would love a top/skirt combo that I could switch just the bottom to jeans/capri's/whatever for the BBQ. Also, I need an outfit for the ceremony that works with black shoes because my robe is black and I feel like black shoes would probably be the best sticking out the bottom, unless you have something super darling in mind and then I am open to suggestions.

I am 5.5 and a size 4/6, but a tiny bit self conscious so body hugging would freak me out. As for budget, as much as I wish I were on a Jimmy Choo budget, I have to wait until I pass the bar for those so...some constraint is great but, I am also attending 7 weddings this summer so, if the outfit is a tiny bit workable for at least one wedding I can definitely convince my husband that this is a worthwhile graduation gift!
Graduating is so fun! You get to wear a cap and gown and celebrate with all your friend and family. Here's my recommendation for Tamara:

Sweater- For that perfect coastal weather I know so well. I just bought this cashmere sweater in black on sale. Very cute and something you can wear to the office later!
Shirt - Something about wearing a graduation gown without a collared shirt has always weirded me out.
Skirt - This skirt is pretty, professional enough for a lawyer but fun enough to pair with a different top for a summer wedding.
Shoes - These wedges are adorable in person. My sister has them in white. Red works for this outfit but Nordstrom stores have a wider variety of colors than the online store if you want something else.
Jeans - For hanging out with your family around the fire.
Earrings - A graduation present to yourself!
Headband - Your hair might be kind of wrecked after wearing the graduation cap.

Congratulations Tamara!

Inspiration: Tabletop Terrarium

City dwellers without yards aren't completely banned from having a green thumb. Thanks to a well-placed tabletop terrarium, anyone can have an exotic garden in their living room. I love the height of this version from Gump's. For something more modern, try these lidded glass jars from Smith & Hawken. They even give you a full tutorial on gardening indoors.

I have a small terrarium in the dining room, but it is currently unoccupied. I guess I need to make run to Hortica on Castro for a few plants this weekend.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

What Would Jane Austen Do?

A reader just emailed me to say that she's started a blog and decided to name it "What Would Jane Austen Do?" Isn't that a fabulous name for a blog? Doesn't it just immediately make you smile?

Being a daydreamer, this got me thinking about what Jane Austen would indeed do and how much I would like for her to be on my "cosmic board of directors" if there were such a thing. I'd also invite Katherine Hepburn, Lucy Honeychurch, Diane Keaton, Eleanor Roosevelt, Audrey Hepburn, Karen Blixen, Emily Post and Coco Chanel to sit on the board. I'm pretty sure they wouldn't get along at all, but it would still be marvelous and the advice would be incredible.

Who would be on you cosmic board of directors? Post your suggestion below.

Things I Love Today: La Rue Pump

If I could wear high heels, I would buy a pair of these La Rue pumps in a heartbeat. Linea Paolo always makes the cutest shoes and this season is no exception. The heel, the bow, the strap...they're perfect. Grey suede is my favorite, but I'm also drooling over the dark red patent.

PS: This is completely unrelated, but the commercial came on TV last night while I was writing this post. I can't be the only one annoyed by those new Lexus ads featuring musicians with their eyes closed behind the wheel. People! I have a hard enough time dodging crazed investment bankers in BMW's on my walk to work. Now I have to worry about zoned out musicians too? Yikes.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

What to Wear: Bridesmaid Accesories

Kristin needs help finding accessories to match her bridesmaid dress:
I am writing to you for fashion help. One of my closest friends is getting married in September and I have the great privilege of being one of her bridesmaids (my very first time!). She is very gracious to purchase the dress for us (burnt orange color), and us bridesmaids need to pick out gold color shoes. I like the shoes that the model has on, but I can't seem to find them anywhere. Do you have any ideas for the cute pairing of gold shoes and elegant jewelry? I want to spend around $175.
What a lovely color for a fall wedding! The shoes in this picture are such a great match because they are a muted gold instead of something on the lamé end of the spectrum. I found a whole bunch of options close to these online at Zappos.

Shoes - This pair is from J.Lo (I know, but no one will see the label) for $99.
Earrings - Pearl drops from Anthropologie bridge the gold shoes with the orange dress for $34.
Clutch - Find one in the same muted gold. This is from Macy's for $88. Target also has a similar clutch for $15.

I've never been a bridesmaid before either but I think Kristin will have a great time in this outfit!

To Do: Kabuki Baths

Last night's Ladies Activity Club was one of the best! We all met at our hostesses house at 7:00 for some wine and snacks before heading over to the Kabuki Springs & Spa on Geary. For $20, you get entrance to the Japanese-style communal baths.

Step 1 is to rinse off at these special shower stations, then you rotate between the sauna, steam room, hot pool and very cold pool. They provide you with tea, water, salt scrub, lotions, cucumbers...the works! The whole bath area is sparkling clean and very mellow. We had such a great time there for about two hours and left feeling completely refreshed. I can't wait to go back!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What to Wear: France & Alaska

Emily has a big summer coming up. First, she's jetting off to France for a few months. After that she'll be coming home to Alaska for a wedding. She needs a dress that can stand up to the international demands.
I have a fashion challenge for you. To begin with, I'm a college student, so my budget is limited, especially considering the amount of traveling I'm having to do this summer. But, I'm going to Pont Aven, France for a painting program for 4 weeks and then home to Alaska for my best friend's wedding. Both places will be summer weather, but a little on the chilly side - jackets required most of the day.

Her wedding is going to be very small and pretty casual, so I'm hoping I can find one dress that I can make work for my go to dress for for the summer. Additionally, I'm a little bit out of shape right now so I'd love anything that could a) make my waist look a tad more defined than it is right now and b) potentially still look fabulous if I lose a little bit of weight.
Step 1: Rent both versions of Sabrina and watch them repeatedly until your flight to France. It's good to have a frame of reference for your fabulous, frenchicized return. Step 2: Do a little shopping. Here is an idea that might work for your travels:

Dress - Something about this dress is just so flattering and appealing. I know the sash in the front is a little odd, but I think it could really work for Emily. And the "polyester/spandex" blend is immensely packable.
Jacket - Also very continental and great for layering.
Bag - La Redoute brings inexpensive French style to America. This leather bag is by Laura Clement and generously proportioned to hold all your baguettes and silk scarves ;)
Shoes - Also from La Redoute and on sale as well. A bold heel balances out the bag and adds authority.
Earrings - Ties in with the cream jacket.

Add some perfect make-up and a splash of new French perfume...voila! Emily will become Amélie.

Things I Love Today: Kiwis

I stopped by the produce market on my way home last night for a much needed veggie fix. I made artichokes and paired them with a delicious salad of organic mixed greens, a cubed avocado, a cubed kiwi and balsamic dressing. Even better with a few raw sunflower seeds tossed on top and a glass of white wine on the side.

Yum! It was the perfect meal to offset the stress of our upstairs neighbor's announcement that he is buying a grand piano. Just when we finally had the techno music under control!

Monday, May 14, 2007

What to Wear: Wine Country Wedding

Wedding season seems to be driving guests across the country a little nuts. Why is shopping for dresses so hard? Here is Erica's request:
My friend is going to her brother's wedding at the end of May. It might be in Sonoma County? At any rate, wine country. She's been shopping for weeks with no success. I just talked to her and she's decided to wear a dress she already owns. The problem now is two-fold: 1) the low-cut bodice needs to be made more modest for the Catholic ceremony 2) Shoes? accessories? She's 5'9" and a size 4.
The dress she chose is a great one from Tracy Reese. But it is a bit hard to match with accessories. Here's one option:

Dress- $139 from Anthropologie.
Sweater - A navy cardigan (even a low cut one like this pick from Urban Outfitters) should provide enough coverage for the ceremony. If not, see if you can discretely fit a bandeau bra in navy under the top.
Shoes - A winery wedding most likely means a wedding with a lot of lawns. And lawns mean that heels are out. These blue wedges are delicate, fun and non-lawn aerating.
Clutch - From Proenza at Target for $10.
Earrings - Green bead drops from Forever 21.

I hope Erica's friend has a great time in wine country!

Weekend Round-Up: Lake Tahoe

I know, I always say it...but what a fantastic weekend this was! Rob and I left the city at 5:30 to drive up to Tahoe for a visit with our friends Bill and Leslie. For the first time, the traffic wasn't terrible. We made it up to their house on the Truckee River exactly at 10 and spent a while catching up before bedtime.

We all woke up pretty early the next morning for our volunteer project with the water quality board. We were assigned to Pole Creek and the Truckee River below Big Chief. Armed with a GPS unit, camera, water sample containers, ph testers, oxygen saturation kits and worksheets, we graded each of our locations. You can see all the photos online here. I was in charge of drawing and photography, natch:









We returned to the water quality office at 11:00 to turn in our results and get a free lunch. Back to their house for a short break. What a great find! Bill and Leslie are renting this old cabin from a family that is off sailing around the world. It has a perfect location right on the Truckee River and they've loved staying there, aside from the tribulations of an all-wood-stove-heating-system during a very cold winter:









We picked up our gear and drove out to a climbing spot on a ridge later that afternoon. We all climbed a few routes and practiced the ukulele (Rob's already getting pretty good!):











Back home at 6:00 for a barbecue dinner followed by an hour in the hot tub and a few games of Yatzee by the fire. Ah cabin life!

A nice bit of sleeping in the next morning followed by a big breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, apple pie and cranberry mimosas. We all motivated around 11 to drive to Tahoe City for some kayaking on the lake. The weather was perfect and the lake was as famously clear as ever (they say you can see a dinner plate a 100 feet down).









Back on terra firma, we stopped at a cafe for a snack and a game of battleship. At 3:00, Rob and I loaded up the car and drove back to the city for a quiet night of unpacking and calling our mothers.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Mom Appreciation Day

This isn't the best photo, but it has a great story. It's from a family trip we took to Costa Rica to visit my studying-abroad sister. My mom went on a day hike with us in the rain forest when we were staying at a really nice lodge in Corcovado (aka: the Jungle of Malicious and Poisonous Beings). We saw all kinds of animals and swam in the river. What a memorable trip!

All of this segways into a few notes of appreciation for my mom. She's the most humble, tough, selfless and hard working person I know. She deserves a lot of praise!

And she's not just a great mom, but she's also a fascinating person. She overcame some pretty serious illness and disability as a child. Worked in Ethiopia for the Peace Corps. Taught herself to be an award-winning filmmaker. Raised six kids, including two sets of twins.

I can't even imagine doing everything she does professionally and also gardening, making my dad breakfast in bed every day, volunteering, hosting parties, sending care packages, advising friends and caring for one nutter of a border collie. I get tired just thinking about it!

Happy Mother's Day!

What to Wear: I am a Scientist!

Rob and I are going to Tahoe this weekend to visit friends. They're living in an adorable old cabin with a hot tub along the Truckee River for the next few months. Our plans for the weekend include rock climbing and helping to take water samples from the river for an environmental study. I get to play scientist (and dress like one too)!

Shirt - A basic cotton blouse with ruffles from American Eagle on sale. The picnic shirt I blogged about a few months ago is also on sale.
Sweater - Cashmere? Why not! Also on sale.
Jeans - Necessary leg protection from icky things like ticks and snakes.
Boots - Polka dot rain boots from Target for $20.
Scarf - Adorable and practical.

I'll also be bringing lots of sunblock and my new mini iPod loaded with The Dandy Warhols singing "Scientist." What do you think Jean and Sara? Do I look like a real scientist? :)

Inspiration: Seagrass Glasses

Here's another idea to put in my "when I have a yard someday" binder! Sur la Table (pronounced "taub", fyi) is carrying these affordable seagrass glasses as a part of their summer line. The baskets come off for easy washing and there's also a wine carafe to match. They'd be equally adorable full of flowers, tea candles or mango margaritas.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

What to Wear: Greece

Many thanks to everyone who commented on the previous post about "dream crushers" in the wedding industry! I'm lucky to have such great (and resourceful) readers. I feel so much better already and have found some great alternatives.

Let's get back to it! Melissa from Montreal is about to set off on a Greek cruise (as are, coincidentally, my parents). She's got all her formal outfits picked out but needs some guidance with other basics.
So, I figured I'd ask you since I'm beginning to panic about what to bring on my Greek island cruise, coming up this June. I'm a small Asian (only 5 feet), weight about 108lbs, and I have long dark hair. I love colour and I don't want to look touristy. Do you have any suggestions on what I could bring to get full usage for mixing and matching? The other issue, of course, is trying to keep things light--it's a 14 day cruise and we'll be staying on 2 of the islands (Santorini and Crete!) for 3 days each, so I'll have to bring my suitcase with me.
Pack light! It's so much easier to mix and match a few pieces. I used to be a heavy packer, bringing all sorts of things I'd never wear outside a vacation. Things like hats. Instead pick a color palette and bring a few basics with more small pieces like tank tops for mixing it up. Forever 21 has inexpensive jersey dresses that are perfect for a trip like this. Here are a couple things I'd pack for Greece:

T-shirt -I love the cut of this shirt from Anthropologie. It's casual with during the day or dressed up with a skirt for dinner.
Trousers - They're not very practical but you simply have to take white pants with you to Greece.
Skirt - Inexpensive and bright from Zara.
Shoes - These are cute but also "comfort sandals" for hiking around steep seaside towns.
Bag - A seagrass tote from Target matches the trip and can be easily tossed if you find a replacement in Greece.
Bangle - Accessories! So easy to pack and so potent.
Sunglasses - Of course! A must-have along with your bikinis.

All that blue water, amber jewelry, ancient ruins, ouzo and moussaka...I'm more than a little jealous. Send me a postcard Melissa!

Things I Do Not Love Today: Wedding Planning

I'm becoming convinced that the entire wedding industry is set-up to make you either a) lose your mind or b) lose your mind and go completely broke. The Knot should itemize psychiatry bills in their budgeting worksheet.

After our nice meeting with the Ahwahnee wedding coordinator last weekend, Rob and I were pretty convinced that we'd found our location. There was an expensive "minimum" for having a wedding there on a Saturday night but it was still somewhat within our budget when you included the facility fees, food, drinks, cake, taxes, tip and room blocks as they said we could. But when it came to booking the actual day, that minimum suddenly only included catering. What a scam! I love my friends and family, but I'm not prepared to spend $200 per person just to feed everyone at this wedding. That's ridiculous.

I'm pretty heartbroken about not being able to have the wedding at the Ahwahnee. But if I'm already uncovering hidden catches at this early stage, I'm sure it would have only gotten worse. I've planned corporate events several times before and never encountered this kind of trouble. All I want is to get married in a nice spot with decent food and 75 guests. What is so crazy about that?

So it's back to the drawing board. Rob and I have to start all over again with our wedding planning. Until I book the venue, I can't really start on the colors and all the other fun parts. Does anyone have any fabulous venue recommendations for Northern California?

We've Got Mail!

Remember Lucy? Our reader who asked for something to wear to Moulin Rouge and to the opera? She sent a postcard from Paris!

I love getting mail and I can't wait to hear more about her trip.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

What to Wear: Alumni Reception

Anne wrote in recently with an outfit request for a musical reunion on a graduate student's budget:
I grew up in the bay area and spent my high school years playing in the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra. They are having their final concert of the season on May 20th but they are also having a reception for alumni and their families afterward. It will have been a very long time since I have seen many of my orchestra-mates and as always, would like to look chic and cute. But how? The concert is at 2pm so I imagine dress can be more on the casual side.

As far as budget goes...well, I *am* a grad student. But I should be finishing up in a year or so, and realize it might be time to get some grown-up clothes. I'd rather not spend too much money but am willing to spend more on pieces that are classic and will last me a long time. I am a very short asian girl. Well, not very short, I'm 5'0" on a good day, but I definitely buy most of my things in petite sizes so that I don't look like a little girl playing dress-up.
What a fun event! When it comes to looking hot and investing in a versatile basic, a wrap dress is the perfect solution. You can wear them anywhere and they're always flattering. Here's my pick:

Dress - I love the bright color of this wrap dress from Boden in Ketchup for $98. This British catalog makes really high quality clothes. I found a few specifically petite options that were similar, but not quite as functional or cute. This dress comes in regular and long lengths and could be easily hemmed.
Necklace - A maroon/brown color palate softens the bright pink for the afternoon event. This necklace is from Target.
Clutch - It seems that I am all about the alligator clutches recently! I just love the light brown color of this version from Nordstrom BP.
Pumps - A delicate platform will give Anne a bit of extra height. And the burgundy combination with the pink is fun.

Have fun at your party, Anne!

Inspiration: Sunflowers

What a great idea! The wide "fruit" of a sunflower is the perfect spot to nestle a placecard. This would be adorable for a dinner party to celebrate summer solstice (June 21).

I bet you could also serve an elegant artichoke standing up like this, with the stem cut off at the base.