Friday, June 29, 2007

Urban Girl Almanac: Hooray for July

The weather has been pretty decent in the city and its been feeling like real summer these last few days. Very nice! Here's what I learned this week:
  • You can find the occasional blibliological treasure on the street.
  • Mistress of the Spices was so bad.
  • Ladies, hide your purses. There are so many great sales on right now. L'Occitane, Conran Shop, La Redoute, etc, etc, etc.
  • Opinions run high when it comes to wedding invitation design.
  • I love apricots, tostadas, cookie dough, cafe au lait and flax seed cereal.
  • This gorgeous photo of San Francisco is from local blogger, Le Blog Exuberance.
  • Always enter blog give-away contests.
  • I strayed from the ordering plan last night at Slow Club and had "fresh egg papparedelle with morel mushrooms, squash buds, mascarpone, sage & ricotta pecorina." It was as tasty as it sounds.
  • Naturalizer has some cute shoes for city walkers. I need to give them a closer look.
  • Cousins are good.
  • Go see my friends, Scissors for Lefty, play at Summerfest in Milwaukee on July 5th. Say "hi" for me!
  • I wore my "vacation pants" to work today. These super soft Club Monaco chinos are usually beach wear only. What a nice way to transition into a holiday weekend.
Rob and I are off soon for a three day weekend in San Luis Obispo. We're going to go to the beach, BBQ, throw the ball for with border collie Penney, eat loads of Mexican food, devour apricots, sleep, visit friends and family, watch Ugandans sing, eat watermelon and then sleep some more. My personal goal? To eat as much potato salad as I possible can, one snuck-from-the-refrigerator-spoonful at a time.

Have a great weekend!

To Do: Banana Splits

The jar of Somebody's Mother's Chocolate Sauce I won from What Would Jane Austen Do? arrived today!

I'm inspired to use it for a dinner party featuring a dessert of ice cream sundaes. Imagine following dinner with a small bowl of homemade vanilla ice cream, bananas, homemade whipped cream, chopped peanuts and this chocolate sauce all hot and gooey.

I can't wait! Now I just have to decide who to invite over for this special treat.

Things I Love Today: Brett Dennen

Summer music is the best. Lazy beats, catchy lyrics and lots of guitar. My latest summer music obsession is Brett Dennen.

I first fell for the live version of "She's Mine" from the Paste CD. Now I can't stop listening to "Darlin' Do Not Fear" since hearing it on the radio one morning.

Brett is playing at the Fillmore here in San Francisco on July 12. I think Rob and I are going to try to make it to the show.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Things I Love Today: Online Menus

I hate feeling rushed while deciding what to order at a good restaurant. I like to start chatting and drinking wine instead of pouring over the menu for the exact right thing to pick.

So I get geeky and often check the restaurant's menu online before going out. Ample time to read the fine print, google ingredients I don't understand and put together a perfect choice. (Very nerdy and somewhat OCD-like, I know.)

I'm going to Slow Club tonight with Rob and my cousin, Heidi. I think I'll have the cannellini bean, gold chard and grana padano soup with either the grilled recla speck flatbread or the shaved summer squash salad. For dessert, I think the strawberry and walnut crisp is for me (although the banana bread pudding is really good). Yum!

Inspired: Footed Compote Arrangements

I've decided (at least for now) to make my own centerpieces for the wedding and pay a florist to the bouquets and boutonniere.

We have the club reserved for the days before and after our wedding and they have a huge fridge where I could store the arrangements on Friday. Plus, I live near a rocking wholesale flower market, only need to do about 12 arrangements, am semi-competent in the floral arts and have friends who have volunteered to help.

I'm starting to collect ideas and photos for inspiration. I really like this yellow arrangement from Martha. Imagine it with garden roses and other flouncy things instead of ranunculus.

It seems like every single reception centerpiece in magazines is in one of these "footed compote" bowls. But I haven't been able to find them for sale anywhere. The hunt continues!

What to Wear: City Shoes

After two years in San Francisco and three miles of walking each day, I've finally resigned myself to wearing comfortable shoes. It's just impossible to get around this city in three inch heels each day. Our reader in the Bay Area has the same issue:
A couple of years ago I bought a pair of black mary janes from Naturalizer and since then it has became my go-to pair of shoes. They work all year round in our bay area weather, are very comfortable for walking on city streets, and they also look decent for casual dinners, so it is one pair that has traveled with me quite a bit.

Admittedly, they are not too high on the style meter. They have earned a lot of mileage because of their versatility, but it is time to retire, replace, and upgrade them.

Would love to get your suggestions. I don't need an entire outfit, but just one or two shoe options that:

* would work with jeans and casual black trousers
* have a medium heel (I am petite, so added height is good)
* would be comfortable for walking around for several hours, like in museums, while shopping, or long air travel
* can work from spring to fall, in fair weather, sort of
There are three styles of comfortable shoes I rotate between every day: a low wedge, a comfortable low pump and a flat. Since flats are out for our reader, let's find her some comfortable heels:

Work Wedge - This comfort wedge from Naturalizer is far from looking "orthopedic." Black alligator leather with a cross-over peep toe. These shoes would be adorable peeking out under jeans or pants. On sale for $49.

Casual Wedge - These look so comfy! They'd be a great way to add a flash of color to a pair of jeans or paired with a skirt or summer dress. On sale for $44.

Mini Pump - Not the most creative or attractive shoe available, but certainly the most versatile. I have a pair of these that I wear with skirts, pants and dresses. They go with almost anything.

Sandal - Sort of a strange shoe...but one that I think would be really comfortable and cute in person. Adorable with jeans, shorts and skirts. Plus, really high user ratings. This cork wedge is from Clarks for $83.

I really need to buy some new shoes!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Things I Love Today: Apricots

By my estimate, I had sixteen perfect sweet apricots in the last 24 hours. No matter that it is really cold out, it feels just like summer to be barefoot at home with a mouthful of apricot!

Safeway currently has the tiny, delicate apricots that are so good. They're packaged in clear boxes with red handles for extra safety. These are the kind that you can barely look at without bruising. The kind that are exactly two bites. The absolute antithesis of those baseball sized sour things they usually market as apricots.

Yum...I'm resolved to eat five more when I get home.

What to Wear: Pearls!

Sarah wrote in with a question about pearls:
I'm looking to find some cheap fake pearl necklaces... not choker length, more of a mid-length... although a long string that I can double up would be fine, too. I have been looking everywhere with no luck! What's a girl to do when she wants a cheap fake pearl necklace??
I love wearing pearls! There are so many places to shop and so many different styles to choose from. I picked a couple great strands for Sarah:

Big and Bold - So classic with any sort of collared shirt or dress for work. You can find a lot of vintage pieces like these. This particular choice is from Anne Taylor for $38.

Long and Lean - Channel your inner flapper with a long strand. Great doubled up with a v-neck sweater and trousers. This strand is from Forever 21 for $7.00.

Fresh and Different - Try classic pearls in a unique design. This multi strand pearl and bead set is $20 with matching earrings.

Classic and Simple - It's worth spending a tiny bit more for a classic set of pearls. This set of freshwater pearls in a mid-length necklace, bracelet and studs is on sale for $79 from JCPenney.

I'm inspired to wear my pearls tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

More Wedding Invitation Ideas

I've been playing around with that oak bracket pattern some more and came up with three different invite design ideas (yes, those are fake names).

I still feel like they are too plain. Probably because I can't visualize the letterpress texture. I'll try a vertical layout or some more variations of the oak pattern. What do you think?

Design A: Outline on White

Design B: White on Yellow

Design C: Yellow on White

At least I have a lot of time to experiment!

Sale Alert: L'Occitane

I love L'Occitane's (pronounced "la oxitan" as I learned through embarrassment) scents, lotions, candles and soaps. The shea butter hand creme is a real lifesaver for my rock climbing paws.

But, wow, can it be expensive! I only spoil myself when there is a really good sale like today. They've got some great items for 20-50% off. Plus, enter PRIVATE to get an extra 10% discount and don't forget to add the free samples and free gift wrap to your order.

I bought the lavender bath salts, the shea butter softening hand mask and the olive paste for hair (already sold out). The lavender linen water is another favorite of mine. Happy splurging!

What to Wear: Jet Set

Romance is in the air this week! Our readers are going on all sorts of fun dates. Angella has an upcoming trip to visit a special friend:
In a few weeks I'll be flying to the Midwest to see a guy I really like. He'll be picking me up at the airport, so I want to look like a million dollars without trying too hard when I get off the plane. At the same time it needs to still look fab after a 6 hour plane ride. It would be priceless if I started waking towards him and he had that whole jaw dropping, oggle eyed look. Any suggestions? I'm a short (5'4") petite, college kid that is a big fan of sleeves.
How exciting! I put together something for Angella that is young, fresh and attractive:

Tunic - Find one that has a low neckline, short sleeves and a hemline that isn't overwhelming on your petite frame. This pick from Urban Outfitters is great paired with a belt.
Jeans - A medium wash with a not-too-wide leg.
Pumps - I love the vintage-look of these stacked heel pumps from French Connection.
Bag - This tote is big enough for weekend supplies.
Journal - To keep a record of your adventures together.
Sunglasses - Always a must have.
Earrings - Gold hoops are flattering and fun.

Drink plenty of water on the plane so you can be sure to arrive relaxed and lovely!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Inspired: Street Book

Once in a while, you can find something incredible on the streets of San Francisco. On my walk to work, I spotted a book lying on the sidewalk. After a quick smell check, I picked it up for a closer look. It's missing the cover, so the inscription page was on display.

The original owner was a Barthol W. Lorigan, who apparently was born on April 19, 1881. His mother wrote "By his dear mamma on his birthday, the sixth" in incredibly perfect handwriting.

Inside, there are 500 pages of poems and literary excerpts designed to improve the minds of turn-of-the-century young men. The best part is that nearly every single page has at least one gorgeous engraved illustration. I can't wait to scan in some of the better designs!

What to Wear: Country Club Date

Our reader, Nancy, has a very fancy date coming up this week:
Please help!! I have a hot lunch date with a wealthy gentleman next week in OC at a country club. He is from an old Houston family and has made comments about the women in So. Cal. not knowing how to dress appropriately! I have lived in SF so I have some clue but my wardrobe for the past year has been suburban soccer mom!

I am in my mid 40's- great shape (petite size 2) 5'3". I have long brunette hair, kind of classic looking. I know a luncheon dress would work but not sure my legs are ready to see the light (if you know what I mean). Can you help??
Oh my! Let's many times have I been invited to extremely posh country club for lunch? Right, never. I'll be relying on that experience and my own vivid imagination of how people who are very wealthy dress for this challenge:

Shell - Pretty yellow cashmere with button details.
Cardigan - A perfect "country club" pattern.
Trousers - I was hoping to find something a little more classically "Katherine Hepburn" but these petite Banana Republic pants are close.
Bracelet - So appropo from Brooks Brothers.
Heels - Yellow suede pumps from J.Crew.
Clutch - Woven straw wristlet with a Chanel-inspired strap for only $24.

Good luck on your date, Nancy!

Weekend Round-Up: Indian, Thai and German

This was a great weekend! On Friday, Rob and I went to the climbing gym with Matt and his friend. I bouldered hard for over an hour and met a nice person at the same time. At 7:30, we met some friends visiting from Sacramento for cheap Indian and Pakistani food at Pakwan. After stuffing our bellies with curry, naan and lamb, we grabbed a few scoops at Bombay Ice Cream (try the jasmine tea, delish!)

I was exhausted from the busy week and slept almost 10 hours on Friday night! I woke up feeling so refreshed and so sore from the gym! Rob and I had a quiet morning in our pajamas designing and making our wedding website. At noon, we ran up to the Irish/middle eastern deli for fabulous turkey sandwiches. Rob geeked out more back at home while I baked cookies. Eric and Rachel came over at 7:30 for dinner at our favorite Thai restaurant. Everyone came back to the apartment for tea, cookies and conversation until midnight.

Matt and Amber invited us out on Sunday for a hike along the Dipsea trail in Marin to the Tourist Club. We hiked the steep 2 miles and made it to the German pub at 2:00. This bar and lodge was founded in 1912 by European immigrants. It was lovely to sit an outdoor table with beer, sausages, enormous pickles and a view of Muir Woods for a few hours. And thanks to the windy days we've recently had, you could see all the way past Oakland from the top of the hike back.

We made it back home at 6:30, fully exhausted from our day outdoors. My calves are burning!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Urban Girl Alamanac: Windy & Wild

What a week! I'm exhausted and ready to sleep in all weekend long. Computer troubles over the last five days have had me feeling completely handicapped; like I am suddenly without arms. At least it was a week full of good food and good people. Here's what I learned:
  • I'm getting too old to be a groupie...even a groupie for an awesome band like Scissors for Lefty.
  • It's always exciting to rediscover Tulle.
  • The key to dressing for cold San Francisco summers is to wear bright colors in long sleeved tops and pants.
  • Bruschetta sauce is the best on a Trader Joe's homemade pizza.
  • Sushi is fun to make and even better to eat.
  • It costs $5 to take a cab from 16th and mission to my house.
  • Stella and french fries do not make a good dinner.
  • Laughing with friends for four hours is absolutely the best medicine.
  • The Nancy Sinatra (chicken salad with bacon) sandwich at Caffe Pazzo is delish.
  • I miss walking a mile and a half to work on days when Rob and I drive.
  • Raspberry lambic must be packed with anti-oxidant goodness.
  • Citizen of Humanity Collette cut jeans are so flattering (not so much in that store's photo, you'll have to take my word for it).
I'm off to the climbing gym tonight. Tomorrow's plans are undecided. Hopefully somehow involving a trip to the beach and a meal at my favorite thai restaurant. Have a great weekend!

Things I Love Today: Relish Tray

My parents follow a wonderful routine each night. Everyone convenes in the living room before dinner to read mail, talk and watch the birds in the yard. My dad has a scotch and water. My mom has a glass of wine and usually sits on the sofa frenching green beans or shelling peas.

The centerpiece of this "cocktail hour" is most often a relish tray; a plate with some combination of carrots, celery, cucumber, radishes (with a small dish of salt), green onions, etc. It's such a great way to relax before dinner and a tradition that Rob and I like to follow when we can.

Last night, I made a relish tray with some goodies from the produce market. We sat in the living room drinking small glasses of raspberry lambic and it was so nice to be home!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Inspired: Nasturtium Topiaries

There are few things more summery than bright yellow and orange nasturtiums. So for summer solstice, it seems appropriate to be inspired by the nasturtium topiaries on the fireplace mantle in Susanna Moore's apartment. What a fresh idea!

Rob and I have bamboo trellised tomatoes in our living room right now, but they are ready to be moved outside. Maybe I'll replace them with some nasturtiums.

PS: Nasturtium leaves are great in salads. They have a distinct peppery taste. And you can make the unripe seeds into capers. Yum!

What to Wear: Michigan Wedding

More wedding outfit requests keep rolling. I don't mind though, weddings are a fun opportunity to find a perfect dress. Today's request is from Carol:
Here's the scoop. I'm about 5'4", a size six on top and size eight on the bottom, with a very J-Lo butt. I have a small waist and decent, but short, legs. I am not crazy about showing off my upper arms, but I would be willing to go with a really great sleeveless dress if it didn't attract attention to them. I have a short dark brown bob, green eyes and fair skin.

I tend to wear a lot of black, so I'd love to wear something that pops, color-wise. I'm open to just about any style, but long dresses tend to make me look squat.

The wedding itself will be held at a Catholic church in the middle of the day. I won't change clothes before heading to the 5 p.m. reception at a nice restaurant in the same town. I'd like to keep the total ensemble under $200. Maybe $250?
She sounds adorable! I found what I think will be the perfect dress for Carol right off the bat (as you can tell, my photoshop is still broken):

Dress - On sale for $57 from Tulle. The color (bright), sleeves (present) and cut (flattering) seem perfect from Carol's figure. I would probably switch the "bow" in the front with a different knot if I was tying the sash myself.
Shoes - A traditional style pump in leg-lengthening beige.
Earrings - These gold and coral drops from Anthropologie are a bit of a splurge, but super pretty.
Bracelets - Metallic painted wood bangles from Forever 21 for $6 tie the whole thing together.

Have a great time at the wedding Carol!

To Do: Happy Hour

Between the work bully and some other office drama, my job has been pretty stressful lately. It's easy to get caught up in feeling sorry for yourself when things at work are bad. But nights like last night make it all worth while.

Rob and I met a group of hysterical co-workers for happy hour at Il Pirata last night. These are people who know how to tell a great story and who will laugh with you until beer comes out your nose. With these guys, all those terrible things that have happened at work suddenly become the funniest things you ever heard.

We sat out on the patio drinking pitchers of stella and eating garlic fries and laughing until the fog rolled in and the sun went down. I feel mighty tired this morning, but it was so worth it!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Party Recipe: Sushi Making!

The June Ladies Activity Club party was last night! Our hostess, Rachel, taught us how to make sushi. She had picked up all the supplies and ingredients needed at the Japantown market just a few blocks away.

Each person got to create their own "signature" roll using some combination of avocado, asparagus, cucumber, carrot and ahi tuna. My roll included avocado, carrot, sesame seeds and wasabi crackers. Yum!

We all got really stuffed on the sushi and had a great time drinking the wine and tea Rachel provided. The rolls were a lot easier to make than I would have thought. What a fun party!

You can see all the photos online here (sorry for the unfinished pics, my PhotoShop software is broken with a capital B).

Things I Love Today: Axis Cafe

Practically every building in the design district has a small cafe downstairs. It's amazing how many hidden gems you can walk to for a work lunch.

The latest find is Axis Cafe, a hipper-than-though restaurant with a living room set-up inside and a garden patio outside full of freelancers on laptops. The menu is full of things like artichoke sandwiches and brie relish, but the prices are surprisingly low. The service is the only part that lags behind a bit.

In a glorious example of San Francisco's crazy streets, the cafe is on the corner of 8th and 16th.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Things I Love Today: Homemade Pizza

Mmmm...I made a really tasty dinner last night thanks to Trader Joe's. For $1, I bought a bag of fresh herb pizza dough. Just roll it out to about 10 inches across, top with a jar of TJ's bruschetta sauce and fresh mozzarella.

Bake for 20 minutes and enjoy! The chunky brined tomatoes from the bruschetta are delicious instead of traditional pizza sauce. Yum!

What to Wear: BCBG Post Baby

I love all the details that came with Tina's request:
Your blog is one of my favorites - I love that it inspires me to put more effort into my fashion choices (as a new mom I use that term loosely) without making me feel like a total schlub in the process. I am going to an evening wedding in two weeks - my first big outing post-baby.

I have a gorgeous dress (it's a lot longer on me than the model) but I am at a loss for accessories - and I need the works - jewelry, shoes, bag, shawl/light coat. The difficulty for me lies in the color of the dress (navy) and my desire for something really fun and different (translation: baby weight camouflage).

I was thinking of going with gold, but I'm having a hard time finding metallics that are young, fresh and sexy - without wandering into hoochie territory or winding up excessively matchy-matchy (do I need a third color? Is gold just a bad idea??). It doesn't help that I have very little time to shop and need to keep the final tab within reason, ideally $200 or less.

About me: I am 5"4' with medium fair skin and almost black hair. Due to my need for a light cover-up of some kind I feel I must mention my current excess of cleavage, which limited my dress options considerably, and would likely do the same for any sort of structured item with a front closure.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for any and all guidance!
Whew! I feel stressed just reading that. Luckily, Tina's already done the hard part. She found a gorgeous & flattering blue dress. Here's one way to work it for the wedding:

Cropped Jackets - I posted two because I couldn't decide which was better. I love the open front and bold pattern of the top option from Forever 21, but it might be a little much for Tina. The more basic white option is from Wet-Seal. The real lesson here is that Tina should take the dress with her to one fabulously inexpensive shop and try on the pairings in person.
Clutch - Vintage silver bag from Etsy for $14. I love the simple silver/navy combo for the evening.
Shoes - Silver sandals from Kenneth Cole with a foot-friendly heel and a wallet friendly $70 price tag.
Bracelet - A basic sterling silver bangle.
Earrings - There's already a lot going on with this outfit. Keep it balanced with simple faux diamond studs.

Have fun at the wedding, Tina!

Coveted: Yellow Coat

I watched Guess Who's Coming to Dinner over the weekend for probably the 10th time. It makes me cry every single time, all the way from the plane landing over the title to the final scene where they sit down to eat.

Anyway, in the first scene Joey is wearing this gorgeous yellow trench coat. If I could find a yellow coat for sale anywhere, I would buy it in a heartbeat. Does anyone have any hot leads?

Monday, June 18, 2007

What to Wear: San Francisco Summer

Summers in San Francisco can be cold, cloudy times. But that doesn't mean you should keep wearing your winter coat and tweed pants until August. SF newcomer, Alison, has a request:
I have a shopping challenge that I'd like to get your take on. I've only lived in San Francisco a few months, so this is my first summer here. The summer weather is much cooler than what I'm used to, so my wardrobe doesn't seem to fit the season. I feel like I put on my fall clothes every morning. I'm looking for some clothes that seem summery but are still warm. I'm about 5'2 and wear "corporate casual" to work every day (though some weekend options would be appreciated as well). My budget is a bit limited since I have a lot to buy!
The trick is to wear lots of summer colors (white and bright tropicals) and fabrics (linens) but in cuts that give you extra warmth for those chilly 50-60 degree days:

Sweater - Bright colors always feel like summer. This cardigan is a classic with the matching shell or even better with a fun printed tank underneath.
Trousers - In white linen.
Shoes - It's not so cold that you can't rock a sandal wedge and a cute pedicure.
Bag - A new summer purse is always fun.
Earrings - A dangly pair with teal beads.
Bracelet - Matches the earrings and makes the outfit extra bright.

Tunic - A linen tunic is absolutely summer but also surprisingly warm. This version from La Redoute is a steal.
Jeans - I heard that Old Navy's jeans are actually really cute...I need to investigate myself.
Belt - Slung low over the tunic.
Shoes - Jeffrey Campbell makes the most comfortable flats for hiking around the city. I've worn completely through a few pairs myself.
Bracelet - A little "safari" touch.
Sunglasses - A summer must, even on foggy days.

Voila! Alison will be warm while looking hot!

Weekend Round-Up: We're with the Band

It's so cool to be friends with a band! Rob and I have known Peter and the other members of Scissors for Lefty since their first gigs in San Luis Obispo six years ago. Now, they have their first big album out and they're about to go back on tour. We spent the majority of our weekend being "groupies."

On Friday, we met up with Matt and Zach at The Independent at 9:00. Scissors for Lefty was the headliner! The first opening band, Lemon Sun, was really good. The second band was just awful, so we dashed out to grab a few beers at Zach's fifth floor apartment around the corner. SFL went on at 11:30 and had a rocking show! Rob and I walked home once they closed down the bar and crashed into bed at 2:00.

I managed to sleep in until 10 am the next morning, so fantastic! At noon, Rob and I went down to union square for some shopping. We had our favorite tourist lunch: clam chowder bread bowls from Boudin. After a few more errands, we had a quiet dinner at home with the Dixie Chicks documentary Shut Up & Sing.

I managed to slept in again on Sunday morning. At 10:30, Jill and Peter picked us up for a long day with the band. They were playing three shows at Rasputin record stores around the bay area and had invited 10 lucky fans to join them on the bus with free t-shirts and lunch, all part of a contest sponsored by The most die hard fans were two adorable 16-year olds from San Jose, Fawna and Patty.

The first show was by union square in San Francisco; a big hit! We packed up the buses and drove over the bridge to Berkeley for the second show; an even bigger crowd. It took an hour to drive to Campbell for the third and final show; with the biggest crowd yet. It is so strange to see your friends asked for autographs and photos. I can imagine how fun it will be if they really make it big time!

Rob and I made it back home to our messy apartment at 9:45 pm, a little sunburned and definitely tired. I don't think we have the stamina to be full-time groupies!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Dad Appreciation Day!

My dad's single greatest skill would probably be optimism. More specifically, a unique breed of always knowing things will work out, that you can do anything and that everything is good.

It's a skill that helped him to have all sorts of adventures in Chicago as a boy, to coordinate troop shows for the army, to create his own successful film company in San Francisco, to have a sheep ranch in Half Moon Bay, to own multiple sailboats and planes, to go to medical school in his 40's, to have me when he was 50, my sister when he was 53, to have a successful second career as a psychiatrist and to zip line across the Costa Rican jungle in his 70's.

I hope that I've inherited some of his optimism...I certainly got his nose, fine brown hair and chicken legs! Even a small dose of it would go a long way. Happy Father's Day!

What to Wear: San Diego Vacation

My family used to take a beach vacation once a summer down in Montecito. It was lovely! We'd sleep in until the fog burned off, swim in the ocean, read New Yorkers, play shuffleboard and eat ice cream sundaes. Elizabeth also has a some California beach time coming up:
I recently got married and next month I'll be going to San Diego for a week with my husband's WHOLE family. I'm talking aunts, uncles, cousins and babies. The entire time is spent in beach cottages and no one leaves the beach the whole time unless it's to go across the street for groceries. Naturally, I will be decked out in a swimming suit all day and it's really important to me that I look great (especially in front of my mother-in-law).

Unfortunately I haven't been blessed with my husband's perfectly tanned skin, but instead, have a big problem with an annoyingly white exterior. You've mentioned getting a "spray tan" more than once on your blog so I thought I'd ask if you have any advice for a first-timer? Feel free to advise on cute beach outfits as well! You're so good at this!
I'm jealous! For the tan skin, I recommend a professional spray tan in a salon the day before you leave (go with the lightest shade they have) and/or ample applications of Build-A-Tan at home. Here's my recipe for great vacation at the beach wear:

Dress - A light linen piece that can work as a dress or with pants/shorts underneath.
Bikini - A basic model from Old Navy.
Rash Guard - This is a favorite trick of mine for preventing sunburns, especially when snorkeling. Plus, the rash guard and bikini bottom combo is very flattering.
Pants - A nice pair of wide leg pants is perfect for relaxing on vacation.
Shorts - I don't wear shorts. But if I did, I would totally wear these from J.Crew.
Bag - For all your sunblock and sand-logged magazines.
Sandals - A step above basic rubber flip flops.

Have a great time in San Diego, Elizabeth! Try to make it to Balboa Park and eat as many fish tacos as you can.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

What to Wear: Irvine Graduation

Graduation season is here and plenty of people are having a hard time deciding what to wear under their cap and gown. It's especially tricky in California, where casual is king. Courtney has this question:
I read your blog all the time and love your “What to Wear” ideas. I have one for you, if you could help me. I am graduating next weekend and I am trying to find something to wear under my cap and gown. I want something that will be nice for brunch afterwards as well. I am on a student’s budget (and a post-graduate, soon-to-be-paying-off-loans budget) so something classy but inexpensive would be nice. Any ideas?
Graduation is so fun! I've found a few affordable basics for our recent grad:

Dress - This adorable knit dress with a tuxedo front is even better looking on the model. The collar will look great under a gown (matches your lei) and you can certainly wear it other places. The best part? Only $88.
Shoes - Be one of the proud few not wearing flip flops ;) These grass friendly wedges are $79.
Earrings - A graduation gift to yourself for $38.

Things I Love Today: Tonga Room

We decided on the Tonga Room last night. As you can see from the photo...we had a good time!

This restaurant is in the Fairmont Hotel, surrounding a "lagoon" that is actually the old indoor pool. There's a boat floating in the lagoon with a three piece cover band. Every half hour it rains inside. The strong Mai-tai's come in coconuts with umbrellas and cherries. It's heaven!

If you go, know that the food isn't that bad. It's not great either, but the portions are enormous and the ingredients fresh. I would recommend going for cocktails and the buffet instead of a real dinner. Oh, and after you are fully tiki-ed out, I suggest walking down to the Irish Bank for drinks in the alley courtyard.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Things I Love Today: Sun

The weather in San Francisco has taken a sudden turn for the gorgeous. It's 81 degrees out and sunny. Forget bad neighbors and bullying co-workers, I love this city! Everyone is out in their best dresses and there are, quite literally, puppies littering the sidewalks.

Plus, I have an appointment for a blow out in a few hours and dinner out with a friend from Atlanta tonight. I can't decide if we should go to Foreign Cinema (outdoors and delicious) or the Tonga Room (pure camp-glory and $7 appetizer buffet).

What a difference a little sun makes! I think I have a vitamin D high. I'll need to savor it while I can, the temperature is supposed to be back to the mid-60's by the weekend.

The Best: French Fries

Rob and I had dinner at Oola last night on Folsom Street. It's a fun bistro in SOMA with about 15 tables and a small cocktail bar.

The food and wine were both good, but the real stand out was the order of truffle french fries with parmesan cheese. Honestly, they were the best french fries I've ever had. Imagine the most perfect, hot McDonald's fries with truffle oil, a sprinkling of cheese and a hearty dash of salt.

Epicurious has a recipe if you are interested in trying truffle fries at home.

What to Wear: Cotswolds

Another Emily (from Duluth!) wrote in with a fun international challenge:
So this is my dilemma. I am leaving Friday of next week for a quick jaunt in the Cotswolds in England and need a comfortable yet classy outfit for the weekend. I am going to be meeting my great grandmother's family and friends and want to look the part. Can you help me?
It's going to be pretty cold over there, but that doesn't mean Emily can't look the part of the English rose:

Shirt - What is better for England than a floral print?
Cardigan - A bright yellow cardigan to keep you warm in the cold weather.
Trousers - Traditional light gray wool trousers are versatile for every season.
Shoes - Classic ivory peep toe pumps.
Bracelet - Gold and white bangles from Forever 21.
Purse - Very British from Anthropologie. (PS - Did you notice that they just redid their website? You can now see prices and color choices without clicking through. I love that!)
Earrings - Little rose studs from Etsy.

Have fun on your trip, Emily!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Show

One of the most exciting parts of our wedding planning is the show! Instead of a DJ and dancing, we're going to put on a variety show after dinner. Our venue is perfectly suited for this, with a large stage trimmed with yellow velvet curtains.

So far, we have a few good acts lined up. Our friends Mike (piano) and Myla (voice) have serious musical talent and have agreed to play. Rob's ukulele is getting better every day. Matt and Peter play guitar. Seth plays banjo. Jean and I are rehearsing a circa-1954 dance routine.

I just need to find a few more people with hidden talents who want to participate! The internet is a great place to find inspiration for this sort of thing. In particular:
If only I could find someone who tap dances or has an exceptionally well-trained poodle! Uh, oh. Do you think recruiting friends to perform at the wedding automatically qualify me as a bridezilla?

Weekend Round-Up: Favorite Things

Last weekend was so perfect and relaxing! Rob and I drove down to San Luis Obispo on Friday night and arrived about 10:30. After a gloriously quiet and dark night of sleep, we joined Margaret for breakfast on Saturday morning. It was sunny and 75 degrees out! Just right for breakfast burritos and lattes at Linnaea's patio.

After breakfast, we walked around downtown for a little shopping. I was so excited to see that our friend's band, Scissors for Lefty, had their new CD for sale at Boo-Boo's Records! (You can buy it from Amazon too!)

It was too nice out to shop, so we grabbed a few beers with Margaret and sat on the creek patio at Frog and Peach. At 2:00, it was time for the nephew's birthday party. It was so nice to visit with everyone and so fun to see that the sock-monkey was a hit.

At 7:00, we met Margaret and Shane for a delicious dinner at Big Sky. We felt like such grown ups at San Luis' best organic, fresh restaurant. After dinner, we went to watch Knocked Up at the downtown movie theater.

Another great night of sleep followed by another gorgeously warm day! We ran over to the local coffee shop for breakfast and ran into an old co-worker in the process. For the next few hours, we just relaxed, watched the birds and read in my parent's living room.

At 1:00, Rob and I loaded up the car and put up a welcome home sign for my parents (they got back from vacation late last night). We decided to take the scenic way back to the city, driving through San Simeon, Big Sur and Carmel. Drives like these make me never want to leave California!

Back home at 7:30, we ordered sushi delivery and worried about the new piano that has finally arrived upstairs. You can look through all my photos from the weekend online here.

What to Wear: Evening in San Francisco

Remember Mary? We helped her find something to wear to a wedding in Yosemite a few months ago. She had another question:
Okay, I don't know if we're allowed to come back for seconds but I was trying to figure out what to wear to my best friend Alice's birthday celebration in San Francisco next weekend, and I realized there was probably no one better to ask than you! I think the plan is to go out for a tapas-type dinner and then go to a few bars for drinks? Not really sure, but at any rate, I'd like to look cute. I have a pair of shoes that I bought recently that I'd love to work around, because I don't have many opportunities to wear them.
Dressing for a night out in San Francisco is fun because you can basically wear anything you want! It should just be a little "creative" and warm enough for our cold evenings. Here's my recommendation:

Sweater - A kimono sweater will flatter Mary's curvy frame. It's a fun silhouette for dinner, but still warm enough for walking between restaurant and bar without a coat.
Jeans - A flattering dark pair of jeans is appropriate for nearly anything in this city.
Earrings - Bright chandelier earrings add fun and color (and they tie in with Mary's blue shoes).
Clutch - I love this bag! It's a bit expensive but perfect for San Francisco.
Shoes - Blue and gold sandals bring a bit of summer to this ensemble.

Have fun in the city!

Monday, June 11, 2007

To Do: Cook Dinner?

I'm officially out of recipes and completely stumped about what to make for dinner. Rob and I have been eating a lot of fish, artichokes, Mexican food and pasta lately. I'm craving something new.

Does anyone have a favorite dinner recipe to share?

Things I Love Today: Paste Magazine

Busy, grown-up lives don't make it easy to keep up with the latest in the music scene. The occasional hour of MTV and mix-CD from friends in graduate school only go so far!

Enter Paste Magazine, each issue of this music magazine includes a mix CD with a variety of the latest and greatest songs. It's like having a friend in the music industry tasked with sending you a list of favorites each month.

What to Wear: Irish Wedding

(Oops. I forgot my camera at home, so the weekend round-up will have to wait until tonight.)

Even simple things can be a challenge when you are in a foreign country. Learning how to grocery shop, mind your manners or even boil water can tricky when you are away from home. Imagine attending a wedding in a foreign country, like Kristina:
I’m over in sunny London (well it is today!) and I have been ‘seeing’ someone only for a few months now but he has invited me to a family wedding over in Ireland. I’m a bit nervous as it is, as I’ve only been dating him a while so I need to feel comfortable but still want to make a good impression.

I have this Ted Baker dress that I have already bought & these Nine West shoes. Bearing in mind the Irish weather, as it can be quite unpredictable, would like to have something to cover my shoulders and would also like some pretty accessories as I’ve recently become quite girly (aged 25!). To make matters worse, I have no idea what type of wedding this will be & the boy isn’t very forthcoming with information… Any fabulous ideas?
What an adventure! It sounds like Kristina will have to be prepared for almost anything. Luckily, the dress and shoes she already has are a great start:

Sweater - Go with a girly blue cardigan. It's a fresher match than pink with black and white. I had originally picked out a more traditional one from J.Crew in baby blue, but she probably doesn't have that in London. This version is from Topshop with cute ruched sleeves.
Earrings - You can't get much more girly than diamond and pearl drops! This faux pair is from Harrods.
Clutch - In silver from Topshop.

Have a great time at this wedding, Kristina!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Urban Girl Alamanac: Snooze

Another busy week in the city. It hasn't gotten much quieter in our apartment, but Rob and I have figured out a method to get some sleep despite it all. It is amazing what eight hours of rest can do for you!
  • Earplugs + a waterfall noise CD on repeat + exercise to exhaustion = sleep!
  • The History Boys was a strange movie.
  • Make that a crafty Amish child genius with a really good prescription for Ritalin. What were they thinking when they put that the sock monkey project would take a kid one hour? I've invested about six hours, and it's still not all the way done. (Although, it is really pretty adorable).
  • I love the is such a great way to connect with people.
  • I dislike the internet...couldn't I be using all this time I spend blogging to do something else? Something that would make me a better person? Something like third world dentistry? Bulgarian history?
  • Jeeze, wedding planning can be stressful. I'm trying to book our venue a healthy sixteen months out and still feel rushed.
  • I'm convinced Live Trace works by magic elves.
  • Shopping without borders rocks!
  • Apartment hunting is a fun way to check out previously un-explored neighborhoods.
Rob and I leave for San Luis Obispo tonight. I can't wait to visit with his sister's family, eat loads of good Mexican food and get a couple nights of uninterrupted sleep at my parent's house!