Friday, September 28, 2007

What to Wear: Vermont Mum

I love getting requests that are more casual. Party dresses are fun, but it's nice to pick out basics once in a while. Here is Catherine's request:
I wonder if you can help me. I am a stay at home Mum of four boys and I live in Vermont. It is that time of year to clear out the summer clothes and start collecting a nice autumn/winter wardrobe. I need an everyday outfit that is practical yet stylish. I am 5’ 11” and a size 6-8. It has to be trousers {ed: I'm guessing this is the British trousers, meaning general pants}, and I was thinking of a long cardigan/jacket too. Any ideas?
Four boys in Vermont! Seeing as how my only experience with Vermont is watching the movie White Christmas, my sense that it has to do all with skiing, maple syrup and tap dancing may be a bit off. Here's my suggestion:

Sweater - A white basic from Old Navy made a little more stain resistant by the heather pattern.
Jeans - Designer jeans on sale for only $50.
Coat - A nice coat always dresses things up a bit. This is a not unreasonable $168 from Anthropologie.
Boots - Jeans tucked into boots instantly gives you a bit more polished look. This pair from J. Crew is a splurge.
Earrings - Pearl studs from Forever21.
Bag - A big, hard to stain or scratch, corduroy tote.
Truck - Because in my mind all Vermont children come equipped with wholesome wooden toys.

Catherine should be able to keep up with her boys and up with style in this simple outfit.

Urban Girl: What a Week

This was a long, strange week. The weather was moody: cold, hot and then back to cold. And it seems like that moodiness rubbed off on everyone else. Here's what I learned:
  • The San Francisco DMV isn't really that bad. Make an appointment online, go early in the morning and wear something cute.
  • It would help to study a bit for the driver's test. I almost didn't pass.
  • I spent a little too much on new clothes and shoes last weekend.
  • There was a fist fight in my office on Monday and a Marilyn Monroe impersonator on Wednesday. So surreal.
  • To make things more bizarre, I witnessed a car accident and a neighbor's eviction on Tuesday and another car accident on Wednesday.
  • These shoes are so amazingly comfortable.
  • Free champagne is the best champagne.
  • Rob has a cold and I have something chicken pox-like on my stomach.
  • A glass of hot spiced cider with a dash of butterscotch schnapps is a nice treat.
  • What to wear? Lots of dresses.
  • I'm not into any of the new shows this season. Bionic woman? eh.
  • I love this photo of fog rolling in over the city from SFist.
  • Our wedding date is tentatively back to October 4th & Fleet Week. It turned out that the 27th wasn't available.
  • I'm so excited that my friend Margaret is moving up to the Bay Area in a few weeks!
We have an office dinner to attend tonight. Rob has his NERT training tomorrow and his friend Rich is coming to town. Aside from those events, I think we'll just try to relax a bit this weekend.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

What to Wear: Formal Beach Wedding?

Beach weddings conjure up images of flowing, soft cotton colors. Formal weddings? Bold colors and structured. So what do you wear to a formal wedding at the beach? Here is Griselda's request:
I'm emailing you because I am in need of outfit advice for my husband's uncle's wedding coming up in late October in Southern California. It's going to be at the Ritz Carlton, on the beach, starting at 6pm, and evening attire is required (short dresses are fine). I don't really have anything appropriate, I think. I don't mind splurging a little, if I can somehow use it again.

A bit about myself: I'm 24 years old, living in CT now for a year (my husband and I are from CA originally), pretty short, 5'1'' and a quite curvy (usually a size 14-16) and I definitely need something with good bust support. My style is pretty classic, modern and generally comfortable. My biggest problem usually is finding comfortable shoes, I have flat feet which makes shoe shopping hard.

I'm not sure what evening attire really means. I'd like to be comfortable, cute and adult.
My solution? Formal wear in the soft colors of driftwood and beach glass. Something that won't look out of place on the beach and the dance floor.

Dress - I read that women with larger busts should go for a strapless dress as a way of balancing things out. But strapless dresses can be so annoying. This soft gray J.Crew dress has subtle straps to save you hours of tugging. Call them to ask for size help, I would guess ordering in petite one size up and tailoring it down would be best.
Shoes - These silver sandals are from Naturalizer for extra comfort.
Necklace - Glass bubbles on a silver chain are a delicate and interesting.
Pashmina - It can get cold on the beach at night.
Clutch - In woven silver from Forever 21.

A nice, soft updo and some subtle make-up will complete the look. Have fun, Griselda!

Birthday Wishlist: Spider Necklace

My birthday is still a healthy four weeks away, but I already have one thing picked out for my wishlist. This spider necklace from Betsey Johnson would be perfect for wearing around Halloween. The photo doesn't really do it full justice.

Things I Love Today: Free Champagne

If you were particularly clever, you could probably arrange to attend a free cocktail party every single night in San Francisco. There's always an event planner or PR person somewhere with a bottle of champagne and a clipboard.

Last night, Calie invited me to a Mont Blanc store opening reception co-sponsored by San Francisco Magazine (where her friend works). $700 pens? No, thank you. Delicious free appetizers each topped with little flakes of gold leaf? Yes, please!

As you can tell by the background in this photo, it was quite the society scene. At one point a very fancy, blonde septugenerian came over to compliment me on my high waisted white skirt ($30, Club Monaco) and said that she "bought two just like it at Prada this season." And that it is fortunate that the current weather is so nice because she just had to cancel her trip to her New York apartment.

I got her name, but have now forgotten it. I'll check the society pages next month to see who she is. It was an "up-among them" moment for sure!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

What to Wear: San Francisco Day & Night

San Francisco is such a fun city for visitors. Sandra is coming in October with a toddler and some big plans:
Here is my fashion dilemma. I used to be a corporate-y type person, then went back to grad school to study psychology and now am the mom of a toddler. In 3 weeks I will be in San Francisco at a conference where I will be the “partner’s” wife (it’s my husband’s conference). We have at least one “business casual” dinner plus sight seeing plus a dinner at Chez Panisse. During the day I will be running around the city with my 21 month old daughter and making the acquaintance of various playgrounds along the way.

What can I wear to the business casual dinners that would be wearable again in other situations? What can I wear during the day that would look hip but still be functional (i.e. Climbing up a slide after my daughter)? How do I look stylish and not just “mommy-ish”?

I am in desperate need for a fall jacket and some shoes.
Here are three outfits that can get Sandra through most anything in San Francisco:






















Golden Gate Park
Explore the city's biggest park in style.
Dress - Lovely cobalt color and on sale for only $50 from Anthropologie.
Sweater - A zipper cardigan from Forever21 should be warm enough for the day.
Shoes - Sneakers lend a casual tone to the outfit and will be perfect for exploring the city.
Bag - A classic black purse that goes with everything.

Chez Panisse
Transition to the evening in the same dress with different accessories.
Dress - Same dress, different tone.
Jacket - A little black coat worn unbuttoned.
Shoes - A serious pair of black pumps for $40 from Kenneth Cole.

Tartine Bakery Follow up the next morning with breakfast at the city's favorite bakery on 18th & Guerrero.
Jeans - San Francisco's official uniform.
Sweater - This sweet little red peacoat sweater will last you all fall and winter.
Tank - In basic black.
Sneakers - Simple converse.

Have fun, Sandra!

Passport Round-Up: DVF Dress

One my favorite scores from last weekend's shopping bonanza! This DVF Cassidy jersey wrap dress is simple enough for work and can easily be dressed up for dinner out or even a wedding. I wore it Monday with a black trench for my DMV appointment and photo.

The dress retails for $300+, I found it at Nordstrom rack for $125. The built in pockets are the best part.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Passport Round-Up: Gain Flats

Nicole and I both fell in love with these flats at Nordstrom Rack. She got a pair in gray and I bought a pair in purple for $39 each.

I've admired Nine West's Gain flats since I saw someone wearing a pair in green crocodile with jeans a few months back. The buckle is fun and they're comfortable. Perfect with wool trousers for fall!

What to Wear: Cleveland Wedding

Of all the requests I get, I am most consistently stumped by formal and semiformal weddings. Largely, because they're super rare out here in California. I just don't get how to do formal without looking like a bridesmaid or prom date. Here is Ann's request:
I am attending my cousin's wedding in Cleveland in early October. It will be a big, classic Catholic wedding, with a ceremony around noon, socializing at relatives' homes in the afternoon, and a semiformal dinner reception starting at 6:00.

I think I have something to wear for the ceremony, but I am at a loss for the reception. While I have a closet full of dresses, none of them seem quite right. I'm self-employed and would appreciate an outfit around $150.

I'm quite petite, at 5'0", with long brown hair and blue eyes. I wear a small size in dresses (usually 0) but I'm curvy, so I like classic and vintage-styled dresses, with a small waist and fuller skirt; and I gravitate towards styles with just a bit of something different or offbeat, like a 60s graphic print. No sleeve or length restrictions.

Incidentally, my boyfriend will be meeting my large extended family for the first time at this event, so there's all sorts of things going on and of course I'd like to look great!
Here's the new plan when it comes to semiformal weddings: A great dress is a great dress. Find one that looks like a million bucks on you and go with it. You'll be better off than if you try to cram your style into something taffeta:

Dress - From Anthropologie. The fabric is delicate enough and the pattern bold enough to work for this wedding. Plus, Ann will love to wear it other places for years to come.
Shoes - These very semiformal green pumps are on sale for $50 from Ann Taylor.
Bracelet - A $200 bracelet from MOMA isn't in the budget, but maybe Ann has some similar knock out piece already.
Earrings - Grey pearl studs, also not in the budget.

A lot of this outfit will depend on your hair and makeup. A nice updo and some formal make-up will kick the outfit up to the appropriate level.

Passport Round-Up: COH Jeans

Along with my super discounted Joe's Jeans from Nordstrom Rack, I also bought a pair at Macy's with the Passport discount. I think they were Citizens of Humanity Ingrid #002 jeans in the Big Sur wash. The dark color is perfect (none of that weird "I sat in bleach" like Seven Jeans) and they have a flattering, low fit.

At $160, they're not cheap even with a big discount. But I really only buy one or two new pairs of jeans each year. They're so worth it.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Passport Round-Up: Wedges

Yikes, I just took a look at my credit card bill after this weekend's shopping marathon. I'm not going to be buying any new clothes for at least a couple weeks. In the meantime, I'm trying to find links to some of my favorite purchases.

These Easy Spirit suede wedges are so adorable and really, really comfortable. (Ignore the photo on their site, the gray color is perfect in person). Lovely with jeans. Even better with black tights and a skirt or dress.

Weekend Round-Up: Fall Follies

Even by my crazy standards, this was a jam-packed weekend. Nicole arrived in the city at 5:30, just as it started to rain (so much for my prediction that the storm had passed). We drove home and finished the last of the party prep. LAC guests arrived at 7:00. After drinks and food, we got down to the business of embroidery:











I think our neighbor across the back drive thought we were nuts! Who has a sewing bee on a Friday night in the city? Everyone's towels came out very well. Here's mine:











We had hot cider, it made it feel so much like fall. The party wrapped up before 10. Rob came home from his bachelor evening and we spent some time catching up before bed.

Up bright and early at 8am on Saturday. Rob headed off to his NERT class. Now raining quite hard, Nicole and I went to breakfast at Muddy Waters. We missed the bus by half a block and ended up taking a cab to Nordstrom rack instead. There, she found a white coat and a pair of flats. I raked it in with a DVF dress, a pair of Joe's Jeans and two pairs of flats.

Off to Macy's in another cab at 10:30. We started in the shoe section and thankfully ran into Calie (I forgot my cell and had planned to page her in the store). Together, we shopped five floors and enjoyed lunch in the basement:











I bought another dress, a pair of shoes, tights, bras and another pair of jeans. Completely worn out, we took the train home at 4:30. Nicole drove home shortly thereafter. I took advantage of the "guest bed" in the living room for an afternoon nap. Dinner of salad, watermelon, manchego and crackers.

Another cold, overcast day greeted us Sunday morning. At 9am, we took our laundry to the laundromat, grabbed a paper and had breakfast at Crepevine. We got a call about engagement photos while waiting for the clothes to dry. The plan was to meet the couple at Crissy Fields but the bridge was completely socked in fog and mist. So we moved the shoot to the newly renovated Palace of Fine Arts. The photos were a breeze despite the cold.

We finished in about an hour and drove straight from there to the Park Chalet. This atrium is the perfect place for lunch on a cold day. Rob and I shared a ham & asparagus pizza and a caramel apple.











After lunch, we walked over to the archery field for a few rounds. By now, the sun was starting to peek through the clouds and the weather was warming up.









We drove back home at 3:30. Rob ran some errands and I went for a pedicure. Back at home at 5:00, Peter called to invite us over for a BBQ at 6. We did a quick clean up and walked over to their house. It was great to catch up with Pete and hear the latest stories from his band, Scissors for Lefty. Herb chicken, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, parmesan carrots and a really good bottle of 2003 Justin syrah.











A nice end to a nice, and long, weekend!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Friday, September 21, 2007

Urban Girl Update: Stormy Skies

Summer is back in San Francisco after our brief winter preview. It's shaping up to be a very nice weekend. A nice relief after a busy week. Here's what I learned:
  • You can't just wear any old thing to an engagement photo shoot.
  • A big wind storm is sort of scary at four in the morning.
  • Opaque tights are a must for fall.
  • My wedding is almost exactly a year away. yikes!
  • Boots, pencil skirt, sweater - my favorite trio.
  • Wear a black shirt when learning calligraphy.
  • Trader Joe's has a really low price on baby artichokes.
  • Rob and I are secretly addicted to Beauty and the Geek.
  • When it doubt, take a jacket.
  • Changing the wedding date was less stressful than I anticipated.
  • A combo box from Truly Med on 16th is a little slice of heaven.
  • I like arranging with spider chrysanthemums.
  • Pushing yourself to climb harder because there is a girl your age who is crazy good at bouldering may seem like a good idea but could result in the loss of any sort of control over your arms for 24 hours.
  • I want to go to France wearing these clothes.
  • I can embroider a dishtowel with my initial and flowers in 30 minutes.
The table's all set for the LAC party tonight and Nicole is due to arrive in a few hours. Have a great weekend!

To Do: Macy's Passport Sale

I'm swamped today! But not too busy to remind you that the Macy's Passport Sale is coming up tomorrow in the Bay Area. Combined with the fall sale, you can save 60-70% on almost everything in the store. If you have any need to buy clothes, shoes or housewares, this is really a can't-miss sale!

My friend, Nicole, and I will be there bright and early tomorrow morning with comfortable shoes on and emergency snacks in our bags. See you there!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Wedding: Crisis Averted

There are many reasons why I'm glad I have 12+ months to plan the wedding. One of the best is that I get to have a test run this fall.

It could have been a fiasco. I forgot that the date I originally chose for the wedding - October 4, 2008 - just so happens to be Fleet Week in San Francisco (here's my description from last year). Along with huge crowds of tourists and sailors, there would have been fighter jets booming over our wedding. It would have been like getting married in Beirut!

Luckily, I saw a poster for Fleet Week last night and realized the potential problem. We're likely on for September 27, 2008 instead. It's a better date anyway, my sister and I were both born on the 27th.

PS: Rob just suggested that we celebrate our -1 anniversary next week. Isn't he wonderful?

Party Recipe: LAC Anniversary

This week has flown by. It's Thursday and time to get serious about tomorrow's Ladies Activity Club anniversary party. My notepad order arrived on Tuesday, they look great! And I've designed a little embroidery stitch guide to pass out as well. Let's see what else needs to be done:
Decorations
- Make a yellow, blue and white bouquet for the table tonight.
- Set the table with a white tablecloth.
- Put out tea lights.
- Tie notepads with ribbon.

Activity
- Pull out extra embroidery hoops purchased a few weeks ago.
- Buy simple dishtowels at Ross for embroidering.
- Pull out embroidery floss and needles.
- Do a demo towel if I have time.

Food
- Chocolate covered cashews (thanks Skye!)
- Mini quiches
- Veggie platter with dip Mini artichokes
- Cookies
- Cheese plate with crackers

Drinks
- Wine (thanks Nicole!)
- Hot apple cider in my silver heated urn
- Juice & soda
I can't wait for tomorrow!

Things I Love Today: Cold Snap

A storm is blowing through the bay area right now. It started on Tuesday night with winds at four in the morning. We have a 40% chance of rain today. As much as I resent the sudden gain, then loss, of our Indian summer, it has been sort of nice to have winter preview.

Last night, we turned on the radiator for the first time in months. This morning, I'm wearing my favorite vintage boots (really similar to the anthro pair from yesterday), a skirt, sweater and scarf. A breakfast of tea and toast seems downright cozy.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What to Wear: France and Italy in Fall

Traveling during the fall and winter can be so lovely. Sure, you have to pack some extra layers. But you're rewarded with fewer crowds and a more authentic experience. Rob and I went to Italy in January once. It was freezing and magnificent. Here is Sarah's request:
I loved your post from April about what to pack for a trip to Europe, and was wondering if you would do an update for current style trends and weather. I am going to Provence, Florence, and Rome for the first two weeks of October. I will be mostly wine tasting, a little touristy stuff and a one day cooking class. In Italy, it will be all typical sightseeing. Would love your thoughts!





















Sweater - Just like the J.Crew version, but cheaper!
Chinos - A pair of pants you can dress up and down, plus light enough to wash in the sink if needed.
Dress - Forever 21 has a ton of these fun, easy to pack dresses. This particular $20 model seems so perfect for wine tasting in Provence (with a tank).
Cardigan - Great with the trousers, dress, jeans, etc.
Skirt - Pleated velvet from La Redoute, with pockets!
Sneakers - A must have. As a bonus, these pumas are super light and easy to pack.
Flats - A pair that can work with pants or skirts. Broken in before you leave.
Boots - These aren't at all rational, packable or affordable...but still. Wouldn't you love to have them on vacation with you?
Earrings - Pearl studs go with everything.
Bag - Big enough to carry your guide book and camera. Cheap enough that you don't need to fret about it.
Headband - Because you will get tired of trying to do your hair everyday. And because I think that is the perfect traveling-in-Europe hairstyle.

I would also take this snap sweater, a great pair of dark jeans, some t-shirts and a blazer or light coat. This is one of my favorite WTW's! Enjoy your trip, Sarah!

Things I Love Today: Arch

I love finding an incredible new store in San Francisco. Today's discovery is Arch on 18th and Missouri. This art supply/drafting store is so amazing.

There's a cute little boston terrier named Otto who "works" there. They have all sorts of fantastic art and paper supplies, even those little model trees that I am now obsessed with buying and putting on my desk.

The also have a gift area that pretty much has the coolest things ever. Little wooden figures, totes, books, sculptures, soaps...everything. And you get a free tote bag with your purchase! To boot, they're located across from a tofu/bean sprout factory and the whole street smells really good.

To Do: Learn Calligraphy

I had a wave of wedding panic last night. It was brought on by the reappearance of a couple whose very lavish, very expensive wedding we are going to photograph in May. My little, homegrown wedding ideas suddenly seemed to be very dinky compared to their upcoming grand affair.

I've learned that when wedding panic strikes, it's best to take some action. One thing on my excel planning to-do list is to try calligraphy.

So I busted out my pen (from an LAC party) and a bottle of ink and gave it a shot. First off, it's really hard. Second, sort of relaxing too! I'm not terrible at it. There's a slight chance that this could work for our invitations.

It was interesting to discover that there's a real reason for cursive handwriting. You need the swooshes to stop ink from splattering all over the place. I had never really considered that before.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What to Wear: New York Reception

Hitting exactly the right tone at someone else's wedding is so tricky. You can sort of guess at what they're going for from the invitation and location. But there's always a risk you'll be the girl in the sundress amidst a sea of formal black. Here is Andrea's request:
I was wondering if you could help me with an event I have to go to the first weekend of November in NYC. A co-worker of my husband's is having a "downtown" party celebrating after his wedding at town hall with cocktails and another ceremony. It will probably be chilly at that time in NYC. I want something put together under $150.

I am a mom of 4, and it's rare I get to go out and do these kind of things. I'd kind of like to "wow" my husband with something I wouldn't normally wear. What I "normally wear" is black, but if you find something in black-ISH with a cool accessory or something?


I have olive skin and blue eyes and dark brown hair. So...I don't really know what my "colors" are, but maybe my coloring will help. I am also thin with no boobs so no busty stuff. *grin*
What a fun challenge! My mental image for this event is a combination of the wedding scene from Love Actually and a Sex in the City episode. I envision great food and a crowd that keeps an eye on fashion. Here's my pick for Andrea:

Dress - This little purple jersey number isn't much to write home about on it's own. It's simple enough to wear with a turtleneck underneath to work. But with a few right accessories, it shines beyond it's $44 price tag.
Jacket - Herringbone is chic as a cover up for this winter event. And only $24 from Forever21. Alternatively, a basic black trench would be great.
Tights - Black opaque tights make this outfit a bit trendier and perfect for winter. Also a great combination with a teal or dark blue dress.
Clutch - You can find versions of this season's hottest clutch for upward of $300. Fortunately, this version is only $60 and no one will know the difference.
Shoes - Grey suede pumps with a convertible mary jane strap are just killer with tights for winter.
Bracelets - Some simple angular bangles.
Earrings - These pyramid studs are another hot trend and they are just right with this outfit.

Enjoy the event Andrea! Each of these pieces would be a great addition to your wardrobe for the next couple months.

Things I Love Today: Hand Mask

Back of the hand skin is not usually very appealing. Hands have been places, done things. Mine are a little freckled, a little wrinkled, muscled from climbing, with a scar on the right from a neighborhood cat and on the left from an upholstering accident with my 1980 volkswagen rabbit.

This softening mask from L'Occitane is truly a miracle solution for hands. I bought it on a whim during their last sale and am hooked.

Just rub it on like lotion, let it dry and rub off. Voila! Smooth, less elephant-looking hands. It's the little things, right?

Things I Love Today: Crazy Fork

Rob and I went to an estate sale last Sunday on our block. The building used to be a dry cleaner's (established in the 1890's according to the sign) downstairs and an apartment for the couple upstairs. They must have done pretty well in the cleaning business according to the large collection of art, china and silver for sale.

In one of the misc. silver bins, I found this fantastic, spring loaded serving fork. Spear something on the end and then press the back of the handle to push it back off again.

Perfect for serving carved meats and other foods likely to get stuck on the fork. And the best part is that I bought it for only $2!

Monday, September 17, 2007

What to Wear: Engagement Photos

Engagement photos are a great way for a photographer to rehearse with couple. They resulting pictures are also a good way to introduce yourself to relatives who might not have seen you in a while. Picking the perfect outfit for your shoot can be tricky, though. Here is Kerry's question:
My fiancé and I are having our engagement pictures taken in Boston at the end of the month...and I have no idea what we should wear! Our photographer suggested we coordinate, but not match. She also mentioned that patterns (even pinstripes on a men’s shirt) or very bright colors are distracting and should be avoided. And finally, pants are probably best, as skirts and dresses will limit the poses to a few standing up shots.

I’d love to see something fun and flirty, but comfortable and classic at the same time. Since Boston can get a bit cold by then, long sleeves or layers would be great. Comfortable shoes are a must, as we’ll be running around the city for a couple hours. We’re both pretty casual people (I live for j.crew), so I want to make sure the photos still look like us, but in the best possible way. Also, nothing too trendy...I don’t want anyone to look at the pictures and know exactly when they were taken.

A little bit about us... I’m 25, 5’8”, with a slim-to-average athletic build. I have darker blonde hair, blue eyes, and a fair complexion. And I love pink! Especially the fuchsia that is so popular this fall. He is 27, 5’10”, with an average build. He has light brown hair, bluish gray eyes and a light-medium skin tone.
Their photographer's tips are dead on. Really, all you need is two perfect structured tops to pair with your favorite jeans and in-closet basics. Go for timeless, classic pieces that will look good in color or black and white:

Her
Blazer - A timeless wool jacket from J.Crew.
Shirt - A bright fuchsia top, her favorite.
Jeans - A nice darker wash in the ever-popular Socialite cut.
Flats - For running around in bushes and other great scenery.
Earrings - Pearl drops.

Him
Sweater - This grey Gap sweater is a great match with the jacket.
Tee - To bring out his blue eyes.
Jeans - Rob loves Old Navy jeans.
Shoes - These Diesel sneaks are way cool!

Have fun with your shoot! When you get the photos back, study them a bit to see which poses and angles will work best for your wedding pics.

Weekend Round-Up: On the Bay

Awesome weekend! Really one of the best yet.

Things started off pretty slowly on Friday night. Rob and some co-workers went to the indoor shooting range, Jackson Arms, after work and I went home to relax. We had great green chili nachos for dinner with our leftovers.

Saturday morning, we woke early for a coffee and oatmeal breakfast. At 10:30, Calie and Kevin (aka: our new best friends) picked us up for our sailing excursion. We drove over the bridge to Alameda where Kevin's Moore 24 is docked. He's quite the sailor and often races his boat. Pretty soon, we were off and sailing toward the open bay. You can see all my photos from the sail here.









The weather was perfect; breezy and sunny and there were a lot of boats out enjoying the day. Around 1:00, we docked near the ballpark for a picnic lunch that Calie had prepared. The were lots of pelicans out as we sailed back to the harbor with the wind behind us.

We arrived back at the dock around 4:00 and watched in amazement at the delicate process of putting the boat back on it's trailer. It was so, so nice of Calie & Kevin to take us out for the day! I've promised to have them over to dinner anytime in exchange for another trip!

Back at home, Rob and I were both pretty worn out. I could barely get off the couch. Rob was kind enough to run to the market for a roast chicken and a movie. We watched Snakes on a Plane (not as bad as I thought it might be) and then turned in early to read in bed.

Sunday morning, we woke up to a foggy city. Rob ran out for a paper while I made a breakfast feast of coffee, turkey bacon, watermelon and oatmeal. Once I had finished the paper cover-to-cover, Matt called to invite us out for some climbing. Rob and I walked down to the Mission and climbed for two hours. Delicious El Toyanese wagon tacos eaten on the sidewalk for lunch.

On the way back home, I stopped at a cheap produce market in the mission for supplies. Nectarines, grapes, tortillas, cheese, onions, enchilada sauce, radishes, poblano chiles and more for only $16! I did some chores for the rest of the afternoon. Including sorting through the photos from the last wedding Rob photographed:











We also visited an estate sale up the block. It's sort of morbid, but I love exploring these long-occupied San Francisco apartments. I'll post later about my great $2 find. Around 6:00, I used the remaining roast chicken and the new produce to make a big pan of enchiladas. My cousin came over around 9:30 to pick up her engagement photos. I went to bed after watching a bit of the Emmys.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Urban Girl Almanac: Busy Bee

Between work, fun and wedding planning, this was one very busy week. It's also been a super productive week, so it was worth it.
  • Monday night dinner out with friends is a lovely little luxury.
  • My wedding dress seamstress, Tracy, is going to rock!
  • Fresh chilis are the best.
  • My living furniture has a secret night job...it appears on the set of Chelsea Lately. A dubious distinction, but still. I had a fun little daydream about it taking the subway to the studio.
  • I wore a dress to work three days this week, good job me.
  • Pet peeve: People who brag about staying late to work and also happen to get in late. Yeah, 10 am to 7pm...real impressive eight hours there.
  • I could watch 30 Rock all day, every day.
  • What to wear? Eggplant, apparently.
  • I saw someone commuting to work on a unicycle this week.
  • Caterer tastings are fun. And also sort of heinously similar to performance reviews at work.
  • We were treated to the best sunset while driving back over the bridge last night. Click on the photo to get a closer look of this gorgeous city.
  • That leftover green chili is going to make some awesome nachos for dinner tonight.
  • New song obsession: Scar That Never Heals by Jeremy Fisher.
We're going sailing tomorrow morning. I can't wait! Expect many photos on Monday. Have a great weekend!

Rug Hunt: Black and White

Our original rug in our SF apartment was a black and white woven mat passed down from a family friend who had picked it up in Bali (pictured here). It was great but eventually wore out and had to be replaced. Our current rug is a boring Pier One jute job. It's seen better days and I have a bad case of new rug fever.

I'd love to find another easy to clean black and white rug for the room. So far, this Cost Plus rug the closet I've found and it's too small. I need a 5x8. Any hot leads?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

What to Wear: Connecticut Reunion

Connecticut in October...how exciting and perfect for all sorts of J.Crew. Here's Eliza's request:
On Columbus Day weekend, I will be attending my 5 year high school reunion. I went to a preppy all-girls school in Connecticut. I might as well mention that I am being forced to attend the reunion weekend by a friend of mine that doesn't want to go alone. (Basically I would rather stick pins in my eyes than go)

It will be 3 days of me seeing people that I haven't seen in a while, so I would really like to look just a little bit more fabulous than normal. The weekend will involve at least 2 day events and 2 evening events.

About me: I am 5'8", about a size 14 (10 on top). I have a pretty preppy/classic style (a friend of mine says I dress a bit like a librarian).

I would definitely love any advice that you can give to me. While I would love to not have to spend my life savings on these outfits, I could justify certain expenses it if I can wear them again later.
For two days, you really just need two killer dresses and two great pant outfits. Here's an example of "lux librarian" to get her started:

Evening
Dress - Dark eggplant color is flattering and will help you stand out from everyone wearing black. Plus, the structure on top is great for a curvier figure and it's only $89.
Pumps - A platform pump with a solid heel accentuates thin ankles.
Clutch - In gray alligator.
Ring - A bold enamel cocktail ring is a great conversation piece with this outfit.
Earrings - These anthro drops tie it all together for $10. (Link isn't working, they're called Gelee Hoops)

Day
Jacket - In dark blue corduroy.
Top - A pretty, empire waist jersey top.
Pants - You could do this with jeans or tweed trousers, whichever is most appropriate.
Sneakers - These charcoal canvas slip ons will be perfect for campus.
Tote - From Urban Outfitters.
Glasses - From Vera Wang.

Each element here can certainly be worn again. The dress would be great with boots and a jacket for work. The jersey top could be fantastic with a skirt and those kicky pumps.

Things I Love Today: Fresh Peppers

I love cooking with fresh chili peppers. I love the process of cleaning out the seeds, the smell of roasting them on a gas range until the outside is black, the extra kick they give to food...the whole thing. I guess it is a part of my southern California "heritage."

Making green chili last night with jalapeños brought out the best of my chili love. My resolution for the next few days is to make as many dishes as I can with fresh peppers. Maybe I'll make roasted squash and poblano enchiladas again. Some fresh ceviche sounds good. Cheddar jalapeño bread? Or stuff poblanos with beans, cheese and other goodies and roast them in the oven.

What's your favorite fresh chili recipe?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Inspired: Red Pot

It's overcast and gray outside today. I'm not sure what I'm going to cook for dinner when we walk back home from the gym...but I do know that I wish it was being cooked in this cast iron Martha Stewart (half off!) pot.

Hmmm...spicy arroz con pollo? Vegetarian chili? Green chili stew? I can't decide.

PS: I made the green chili last night. With turkey instead of pork, a little extra spice and kidney beans for some color. It was so tasty!

Whole Foods Spa?

Today's the grand opening of a new Whole Foods near my office in Portrero Hill. Rob and I braved the crowds at lunch (largely for the free samples and tote bag).

The strangest part of the experience was the spa menu handed to me halfway through. Whole Foods has a spa? Massages, facials, waxing...produce?

Has anyone been? Details to share?

Things I Love Today: The DMV?

I've had a really good experience with the DMV! Isn't that weird?

I need to renew my driver's license next month and also change my listed address. Doing both at the same time isn't a part of the DMV's online protocol. After going around in web circles for a few minutes, I called their customer service department. To my surprise, someone answered right away. After explaining my issue, she said she'd mail me the right form asap. How pleasant!

The very next day, I get a letter from the DMV in the mail with my address handwritten on the front. The very best part: hearts dotting the i's in my name. Now that's service!

PS: Don't forget to enter to win free shoes. My friend Nicole entered last week and already received her pair!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

What to Wear: Full Skirt

Ah, Fall! I'm already feeling your pressure on my wardrobe. Which is inconvenient since it's actually summer here in San Francisco. At least I can count on it always being suitably cold here at night for my thick sweaters. Here's a request from Sharmyn:
Here is my dilemma. My husband bought me a beautiful skirt from Anthropologie a few months ago. It is an ivory toile with pintucks at the top and battenburg lace insets. It also has a slight bustle in the back with a ribbon. It is sort of like this Blanca skirt but more formal and very feminine.

I really, really love it and want to wear it but I just can't figure out what kind of top to put with it. Tucked, untucked, blousy, tailored, jacket, twin set I would love to see what kind of things you come up with. My only stipulations are that I can't wear sleeveless or a plunging neckline.
The key to wearing a fuller skirt is to have something a little tighter and shorter on top. Belted jackets, turtlenecks, sweaters, really a ton of things can work. Here's one option for fall:

Skirt - Why does this Anthropologie link work but no others? I've probably just jinxed it.
Sweater - LOVE this. Want to marry it and wear it every day.
Boots - Nice little boots that don't cost a fortune.
Bag - From Forever21 believe it or not.
Headband - Tortoise is just right with this combo.
Bracelet - I have a version of this! Very delicate.

So cute! I love this outfit and hopefully so will Sharmyn.

Bargain Finder: Little jacket

I recently bought a black jacket almost exactly like this Forever21 version. It's great worn open over a solid colored dress with a long necklace and heels. A nice way to keep wearing those sleeveless dresses once it starts getting colder!

PS: I'm wearing it today with a green dress and it is actually the same jacket, just in black.

Things I Love Today: Monday Night Out

Rob and I planned a last minute dinner out with friends yesterday afternoon. After work, we dashed home, dropped off the car and walked down to 18th and Dolores for dinner at Delfina.

This bustling little neighborhood is home to foodie-favorites Tartine Bakery, Bi-Rite Market and Bi-Rite Creamery. We arrived a little early, allowing some time to take photos of the busy street:











Dinner was great! Peter brought a bottle of wine to share and we started with the calamari salad. That was followed by a shared bowl of spaghetti, roast chicken for Rob and tuna for me. I finished with a huge dish of mocha profiteroles for dessert.

Our bellies were full and the city was filled with a semi-warm breeze on our walk back home. A perfect San Francisco evening!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Fall Shopping Must Haves

I browsed through the latest issue of Harper's Bazaar at the nail spa on Sunday and got a major case of fall fever. Here's what's on my must buy list for the next couple weeks:
  • A pair of black tweed lined wide leg trousers. Think Hepburn.
  • Bright colored low heels and flats for work.
  • A great new pair of jeans.
  • A fun red (more toward raspberry) coat.
  • Lots of tights.
  • A go with anything velvet blazer (gray).
  • High waisted pencil skirt.
  • Black, stacked heel boots.
  • Voluminous tops.
  • A perfect navy handbag. (Sort of like this?)
What's on your fall must-have list?

Things I Love Today: LAC Notepads

Every year, I like to make a "gift" for the LAC anniversary party. Last year, it was white pencils marked with our club name. This year, notepads!

I just finished the print order for these yellow and blue notepads (the yellow isn't so "mustardy" in real life). I can't wait to see how they come out when I get them next week!

Weekend Round-Up: The Doomed Paint Job that Wasn't

Hooray! This was my first paint project that wasn't a complete disaster! And it fit neatly into the rest of my weekend plans.

Friday night, Rob and I met Matt at the climbing gym. We roped up for an hour or so and I did a 10b onsight! Back at home at 7-ish to rest up for a couple hours. At 9:30, we took the subway downtown to watch You Go First at the Fringe Festival. The theater was super tiny - about 20 seats - but the improv was pretty impressive. Back home on the train at 11:30.

Rob left early the next morning for his first Neighborhood Emergency Responder Training session. After a little breakfast, I walked down to the Ace Hardware to buy painting supplies. I carried home one gallon each of Caraway Seed and Grassland satin paint and got to work. At 3:30, I had finished the first coat of both the top and bottom colors. And didn't even step in the paint!









Rob arrived home shortly thereafter and we walked down to Portrero Hill for a friend's BBQ at Il Pirata. Two pigs were on the grill and the beer was flowing. It was nice to hang out with our co-workers.











Sunday morning, Rob and I both woke up rather early. After a quick coffee and poppy seed cake breakfast, we painted the second coat. Finished at 11:00, I went for an hour long pedicure at Dolci. A couple of paint touch-ups (still no stepping in the paint!) before making a healthy bok choy and shitake udon lunch.

At 3:00, we drove out to the park for a round of disc golf with Matt. I did a little better this time, not quite as much hunting in the bushes for lost discs. The sun was starting to set on our way back home and it felt like the official start of fall. Rob and I rewarded our productive weekend with a really delicious dinner at Burgermeister.

Back at home, I somehow mustered the energy to put most of the living room back together while watching 30 Rock on DVD. Liz Lemon forever! Here's the before and here's the latest after:











Tonight, I'll hang our art and take a real "after" photo. So far, I'm really happy with how it's come out. The yellow/green colors remind me of avocados, classic french parlors and Mexico...somehow all at the same time :)