Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What to Wear: Stay at Home Mom

Sometimes, dressing well can be surprisingly simple. It's often just a matter of getting a few nice things and knowing what looks good on yourself. Here is Ashley's question:
I am a stay at home mom of a two year old little girl so I feel completely out of the loop as far as fashion is concerned! I really do try to stay abreast and your blog has been one of my tools to do so.

Here is my delimma: Since I had my little girl I have lived in Bozeman, Montana and Springfield, Missouri. Both places are, of course, not the fashion capitals of the world and frankly people could care less about what the trends are. But, now we are moving back to my home town near Atlanta, Georgia and I will be going and doing a lot more things than I have the last two years. I will be back with all my old friends and family, most of whom are pretty stylish people. I really want to look like a pulled together, hip mom. I have been scouring the web for cute outfits and pieces and I have found several things that I like, but I am having a really hard time putting together outfits. I really have to many questions to even begin to ask.

Would it be possible for you to help me put together a couple of outfits with mix and
match pieces for a mom of a toddler who wants to look like she has a life outside of mommyhood? I am definitely working on a budget and would really appreciate affordable pieces, so that I could actually buy them. I am thinking along the lines of Target and Forever 21. I am 5'2" and 107lbs. I have blonde hair and blue eyes and pretty fair skin. I know this is a tall order, but I know all the stay at home moms out there would really appreciate your help!
My recommended formula is pretty basic: comfy/cute shoes + well fitting pants/jeans + top + jacket/coat + jewelry = classy mom. Throw in a dress or two and you're set. Look at Angelina Jolie, she wears jeans and black t-shirts all the time. I've mixed a couple "trendy" pieces in here, but they're not as important as the basics:

Jeans - Old Navy has some cute looking pairs.
Shirt - I think I saw someone wearing this today, with the sash belted in the back. A black button up shirt has got to be the easiest way to look polished.
Blazer - I love the bold, but muted, plaid of this blazer from La Redoute.
Sneakers - These slip on chucks are so chic to me.
Dress - A simple sweater dress is easy to throw on with tights for a lunch with friends or other event.
Boots - A simple pair of boots from Target really elevate the knit dress.
Purse - From Forever21.

Starting to build your wardrobe with black and grey will make it easier once you feel more comfortable and want to add colors. Or you can play with adding bright jewelry and accessories as a start.

Recipe: Spooky Antipasto Plate

Last night's party prep went really well. We cooked and cleaned, stopping only briefly for the 5.6 magnitude earthquake. The chili and caramel apples came out perfectly and I have almost everything ready.

My favorite thing so far is the "spooky" antipasto plate. I found some great ingredients at Safeway for the tray:

Cacciatore Salame - There's something sinister about these small salame sausages. They look like mummy fingers.
Red Windsor Cheese - Wine soaked cheddar has a veiny, purple appearance.
Cornichons - Warty little pickles.
Pickled Onions - They look like eyeballs.
Concord Grapes - I don't know if I can find these, but they'd be perfect.
This would be fun to make even if you're just planning to stay home on the couch tonight!

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What to Wear: Christmas Card Photo

Holiday card photo season is here already? Drats! I need to get hustling on my card idea. Here is Catherine's request:
We are taking pictures for our holiday card and I am trying to come up with the perfect outfit. We don't want to do anything where we are matching or anything like that. My idea was to keep it casual and do jeans and sweaters, but I am having a hard time finding the right sweater. I was thinking of a red sweater just to be festive, but I want something unique. I have looked at all my usual place (J.Crew, Anthropologie, Nordstroms, etc.) and haven't come up with anything that I am satisfied with, PLEASE HELP!!
I had the perfect thing in mind from a couple years ago. I still regret not buying this Joie toggle sweater. It also came in red and would have been perfect for this, albeit painfully over $200. Here's a more affordable option:

Sweater- Gorgeous plum color with unique sleeves and on sale! Great with a simple dark pair of jeans but even better with something a bit more dressed up.
Skirt - Basic black skirt.
Tights - Black tights.
Boots - I love, love, love these boots. The black skirt, black tights, brown boots thing is hot right now and adds a little something extra to the outfit. Early, extravagant Christmas present to yourself?
Earrings - Festive little drops.

Get the hubby to wear a nice sweater (navy or oatmeal would be great) with jeans or slacks, and you're set!

Party Recipe: Halloween Dinner

I'm finally getting around to planning the menu for tomorrow's Halloween/birthday party. Here is the plan:
Meat and Cheese Platter - I wish I had time to run to ferry building for some goodies, maybe I'll walk to the neighborhood cheese market instead.
Pumpkin Seeds - I'll give them a quick roast in the oven and a little seasoning.
Cocktails - I'll come up with something red/orange and fruity and give it a cute name. I will not carve tiny faces into green olives.
"Decomposed" Salad - Thanks Kitchen Therapy!
Vegetarian Chili - My own recipe is close to this. I'll add fresh jalepenos and kidney beans. A buffet of toppings (cheese, sour cream, cilantro, olives, corn chips) on the side.
Cheddar Corn Bread - Recipe from Williams-Sonoma.
Caramel Lady Apples - A mini version of the classic recipe.
Pumpkin Pie - I might just buy one at the store ;)
Tonight, we'll clean the house and get it ready for the housekeeper, make the flower arrangements, cook the vegetarian chili, count out dishes, iron napkins and get everything set for tomorrow.

Things I Love Today: Passport Cover

Rob and I tore through the apartment last night in search of my passport. No luck. I have no idea where it could be. It's frustrating because I'm about to go to Paris and also because I love all the fancy stamps and visas that my old passport contains.

I have five days to find it before my appointment downtown with the urgent passport office. Maybe if my passport had a cute gold and pink Kate Spade cover it wouldn't get lost.

Monday, October 29, 2007

What to Wear: Bridesmaid

I've never been a bridesmaid but would love to be one day. From my understanding, it doesn't always come with the best wardrobe ;). Here is Elizabeth's request:
My brother is getting married in December in Seattle. My soon-to-be-sister-in-law has made me one of her "bridesmaids" (although I'm married) and I will be wearing this skirt. She has asked that we find a long sleeve (or 3/4 length), black, solid top and black shoes. The weather will somewhat chilly in Seattle that time of year so if I could find some closed-toed shoes that had heels and a little "funk" to them, it would be perfect. It can't have a plunging neckline (but V-neck or something would be great). I'm 5'8", wear a size 7 1/2 in shoes and a Medium top. Any ideas? Thanks!!!!
Honestly, this skirt is not my favorite thing in the world. It's not the worst, but I wish it was a couple inches longer. Maybe it is in person. Either way, I think Elizabeth can make it work:

Skirt - Their recommendation to wear this with a bustier makes me want to cry.
Sweater - A basic black cashmere v-neck will be a great addition to your wardrobe for years to come. It's a splurge, but you deserve it. If you want a shirt instead of a sweater, this is my recommendation from Anthropologie.
Shoes - Something with a peep toe wold help break up all that leg. In a closed toe shoe, this pair has a lower heel, a little bow and patent flair.
Earrings - A nice little counterbalance.

Have fun in Seattle!

Bonjour Paris!

It's official! I've booked my plane ticket to Paris and back at the end of November. I couldn't sleep last night - like a kid from the Disneyland commercial - with Bonjour Paris stuck in my head:

Thanks to everyone who shared the Italy tips previously. A last minute schedule change meant 8 days in Paris and two in Champagne instead. So exciting! Now, I just need to remember where I hid my passport.

Weekend Round-Up: Happy Trails

Yosemite in late October is really so incredible! We had a fantastic time this weekend.

On Friday, we drove up after work. Getting a little lost, we arrived at our campsite around 10:30 pm and quickly set everything up. A quick drink with friends around the fire and then off to bed.

We woke up before 8:00 am the next morning. We had to pack up our gear to change campsites and decided to have breakfast in Yosemite Lodge with friends. We snuck in pink champagne and orange juice for mimosas. By 10, all our friends from Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento and Weaverville had trickled in. It was great to catch up. A big group went climbing and the rest of us drove over to the start of Four Mile Trail around noon.

This hike was more than strenuous. 4.6 miles and 3,200 feet in elevation gain. The start was beautiful, with lots of yellow, orange and pink leaves. The rest was tough. At mile four, we were pretty much over it.

Rob, Seth and Amy decided to run to the top and try to hitch a ride down from Glacier Point. The rest of us turned back and quickly learned that the descent was not going to be a picnic either. Rob ran back down from the top and caught up with us about halfway down. At the bottom, we soaked our sore toes in the Merced River. Seth and Amy made it down about a half hour later on foot. We drove back to the campsite at 5:30, exhausted

Dinner, drinks and lots of fun around the campfire. Everyone was sweet about my birthday. A friend of ours who is a Bulgarian climber convinced us to have our honeymoon there after I convinced him to sing the national anthem. At 10:30, we turned in and it started rain a bit.

Breakfast with the group the next morning. The rain had cleared a lot of the SoCal smoke out of the valley and it was gorgeous out. Too wet to climb, we walked the Mirror Lake trail instead. Much flatter but still hard on my sore legs. Amazing fall colors and vistas. At one point we crossed the dry lake as a shortcut and discovered a bear camp. I managed to step in bear poop, a first.

At 1, we parted ways and drove to Groveland for lunch at a really tasty Mexican restaurant. From there it was straight back to the city. Much needed showers and unpacking at home. You can see all my photos from the weekend, including a ton of leaf shoots, here.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Urban Girl Almanac: 28

Our car is packed to the brim and we'll soon be Yosemite bound. This trip is part of a twice-a-year tradition with Rob and his old climbing/college buddies. I'm so excited to see all our friends and the valley lit up with fall colors. Here's what I learned this week:
  • Burmese food is amazing.
  • A "cobb" salad with turkey bacon, bleu cheese and black olives is delishious for dinner on a hot night.
  • I wore dresses three times this week, pretty good.
  • The whole process of selling a car stinks, except for the getting money part.
  • My unconscious purple clothing phase has moved to a blue and black clothing phase.
  • Kid Nation. I'm obsessed.
  • Need a dip for Halloween?
  • I've somehow gotten incredibly strong these past few weeks. Has Pink Cornflake turned me into some sort of superhero?
  • I want Robshaw linens so badly it hurts.
  • Mmmm...ahi tuna fish tacos with cheese, cabbage, lettuce and salsa on blackened corn tortillas.
  • Birthday Tartine bakery lemon tarts are the best.
  • Birthday vent-free fireplaces from Rob are also the best.
  • A loose french braid is my new favorite hairstyle.
Have a great weekend!

Famous for the Internet!

Apartment Therapy: The Kitchen has posted a fun menu idea specifically for my Halloween Party next Wednesday. I'm honored and more than a little grateful. I haven't even started thinking about what I'm going to cook.

You can read their whole Halloween menu post online here!

What to Wear:

Lisa has a big event coming up! It's a chance for the mom of three to get a killer dress, buy some basics and reconnect with the fashion world:
I've been invited to a wedding in Chicago in mid-November where I'll see old high school friends that I haven't seen in many years. I live in Utah and have three little kids. Although I used to have a good dressy wardrobe, once my daughter was born and I chose to stay at home, my wardrobe has been creeping more and more to the "jeans, cute and simple tops, and cute, casual shoes". I have nothing to wear to this wedding! It's a big, Catholic wedding in the mid-afternoon and then a reception that evening.

I'm 5'4ish and wear a size 4 or 6. I would love your advice on a new outfit for the wedding that wouldn't break the bank but would look good for other occasions as well. I need sleeves - short or long (it doesn't matter). My husband will wear a really nice solid black or black pin-striped suit.
I could really use a "nice event" outfit and mix and match pieces for everyday wear.
A couple "keeper" pieces are the foundation for this simple but stylish wardrobe for Lisa:

Dress - So perfect for this event. This dress easily transitions between the day ceremony and the evening reception. Super flattering and in a great fashiony print.
Trench - A wool and cashmere lined trench on sale for $129. This is the kind of coat that will instantly glam up anything you wear with it.
Jeans - Not your typical "mom" jeans.
Sweater - Kind of expensive for an Old Navy sweater, but undeniably nice.
Shoes - Basic black pumps from a good brand with a low price.
Earrings - Basic studs from Forever21.
Clutch - Also from Forever21.

Have fun in Chicago, Lisa!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Coveted: Robshaw Linens

I sold my car yesterday. I'm relieved and a little sad. We're back to being a one-car family and I'm back to being a convertible-sports-car-less girl.

The money from the sale is quite literally burning a hole in my pocket. I'm going to move it into my high yield savings account later today to save for wedding expenses. But until then, I'm going to daydream about spending it all on John Robshaw linens and bedding.

Especially, the java bedding set, the mindano bedding, the tablecloths and the delightful parrot crib set. Okay, especially all of it. Maybe I'll put a link to this site on my registry as a way to quell my coveting.

Recipe: Squash Dip

The October Ladies Activity Club party was Tuesday night. Christine hosted us for a fun (and wonderfully messy) lesson in making caramel apples.

Along with the confection craft, she served up this winter squash dip from Martha with my favorite pumpernickel pretzels. Really tasty!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What to Wear: Blue and Black

All the rules about not wearing black and brown or black and blue together have been thrown out the window this season. How fun! Here is Sarah's request:
I found this super cute skirt for $12 at target but I have no clue what to wear with it. Ideas?
Here's one way to wear this skirt to work:

Skirt - Sarah's own, from Target
Sweater - A basic from La Redoute for $24.
Shoes - Flats with a little flair from Kenneth Cole. You could also rock black tights if it didn't make you feel too "goth."
Jacket - A white coat from Urban Outfitters. This isn't my favorite, but there aren't that many to choose from it seems.
Bag - From Kenneth Cole on sale.
Earrings - Silver leaves top the whole thing off.

Bargain Finder: Puffy Vest

It feels funny to post about down vests in the middle of a heat wave, but so be it. I've been looking for a puffy vest for a while now. All the options I'd found were too puffy for my skinny arms. I looked like a fun sized candy bar with toothpicks stuck in the sides.

Target's Merona puffer vest is just right. The photo doesn't really do it justice. Not too puffy and with a knit trim for a little extra flair. Plus, only $24.95.

I have the vest in red. My friend, Jill, has it in teal and shares my enthusiasm. Perfect with a pair of jeans and a long sleeved tee for weekend adventures.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Things I Love Today: Sharpies

As an early birthday present to myself, I bought a 24-pack of Sharpies at Target last weekend. Is there anything in this world quite as nice as a new set of markers?

Like a good rock climber, I promptly "claimed" my new markers with a piece of orange duct tape around the end of each pen. Oh, the funny things Rob has taught me!

Birthday Wishlist

I was hesitating to post a gift "wishlist" this year. I did last year and then got a bunch of presents from people who don't normally send them and felt a bit bad about the whole thing. But just in case you were wondering what I might like, here are a few ideas:
  • Dark Chocolate Molasses Chips - My favorite candy from See's.
  • Jewelry - Really, I'm a fan of most any jewelry. This set of 6 bangles from the Smithsonian seem particularly nice and reasonable.
  • Black Cardigan - It's something I really need.
  • Flowers - A bouquet of Glamis Castle (Auslevel) roses.
  • Glasses - This one is kind of strange, but I've been coveting Jack Nicholson's glasses from Something's Got to Give lately. I have no idea wear I'd go with a pair of man's tortoise shell reading glasses...I'll figure that part out later.
I can't believe my birthday is coming up this weekend already. What a fast year this has been!

What to Wear: Summer Dresses in the Fall

I've got something of an addiction to black opaque tights. Every morning, I want to wear black tights with a dress or skirt. It's a great way to transition between the seasons. Here is Anne's request:
How do I wear this dress?? It is by Plenty Tracy Reese – it’s made out of a very soft cotton and silk material that has a little bit of sheen but is not too shiny. I’m not very good at accessorizing or adjusting things for different seasons – this dress seems a little spring and summery to me, so how could I wear it in fall and winter? I figure there has to be something more interesting than the plain cream cardigan or pashmina that I have.

I’m having the same issue with a dress I just bought at Forever21 – it’s a burgundy red tank dress with bubble hem and empire waist – the weather is not so appropriate for it now by itself, but is it possible to wear these kinds of dresses over a long sleeve top or with tights? I see these looks in magazines all the time and it looks very cute, but on me it looks a little silly so I’m wondering if I am choosing the wrong things. Or maybe I don’t know how to dress for my body type (five feet tall, small chest but with a wide ribcage and shoulders – I inherited my dad’s short stocky soccer body.)
This dress has a great color palate for summer and fall. As a first step, I would consider having the bubble hem switched to a more timeless, flexible straight hem by your local tailor. As for wearing a shirt underneath, that's tricky and would probably require some sort of bodysuit top and that just brings up all sorts of bad junior high memories. A little clever layering on top and you can wear the dress for a couple more months.

Dress - Anne's own.
Sweater - A navy cardigan really plays well off the brown and cream dress.
Belt - A wide belt will help to keep everything together and feeling tailored.
Shoes - A brown heel with a little flair and lot of substance.
Tights - Nude fishnets are my secret weapon. They don't have the va-voom of regular fishnets or the stodginess of regular hosiery. A little extra warmth!
Earrings - From Forever21.
Clutch - Grey fabric wristlett from Etsy.

If it got really cold, you could even do this with boots and a cropped jacket over a sweater.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Italy Ideas?

It's shaping up that I may go to Italy with my friend Nicole at the end of November. It's a spur of the moment trip and we haven't had much time to plan.

My first two trips to Italy were backpacking in college during the Lira days. My last trip was with Rob, we were poor and arrived the day of the Euro switch. Now, Italy is on the Euro and probably a lot different than I remember.

Anyway, I'd love some recommendations for places to stay, visit or see. Both Nicole and I have already done the grand tour; Rome, Venice, Florence, Sienna, Verona, Milan, etc. We'll be flying out of Rome and there for about a week and a half. Suggestions?

Weekend Round-Up: Burma & More

This was a fun, if busy, little weekend. On Friday night, Rob and I walked home in the rain, dried off for a bit and then went to Paul's art gallery opening. His urban landscapes are my personal favorites. Such great talent! It was great to see Jordan and Rebecca there, too.

Jean and Trent arrived from Davis early on Saturday morning. We had coffee and eggs before driving out to the archery range. While shooting, we met a nice father and son duo who told us all about the joys of wild boar hunting. Around noon, we all walked over to Park Chalet. Onion strings, mediterranean pizza and ahi tuna tartar and a pitcher of Octoberfest to share.

After lunch, we drove to Crissy Field to watch the dogs swim and joggers jog. Back home at 3:30, I met with someone who wants to buy my car, FINALLY! That evening, we all piled into the Fit again to drive out to the Richmond. (They really should sponsor me, my life feels like one giant commercial for the car).

Jean's friend Jill met us for dinner at Burma Superstar. The long wait for a table was so worth it. The food was incredible! Sort of a weird mix of Indian and Thai food but at the same time completely unique. The samusa soup, tea leaf salad and the ginger, lime, beer spritzer were particularly good. YUM!!

We drove Jean and Trent to the airport after dinner. A little early for their 11pm flight, we went to the Target in San Bruno. This is a luxury for us since there isn't one close to the city. I picked up some great things for the Halloween party. At 9:30, Rob and I dropped Jean and Trent off and headed home. On our way, we decided to find the actual world's crookedest street, Vermont St. in Portero Hill (Seriously. Honda, you should call me).

Up early again on Sunday morning, this time to drive to Napa to help Nicole move. The two of us were pretty unskilled in the moving arts but managed to load everything into the truck and unload it in her storage unit in about three hours. To reward our hard labor, we had a fancy lunch in Napa complete with gourmet banana cream pie.

I drove home through the orange and yellow vineyards at 5:30. Crossing the bridge at 6:00, San Francisco was shrouded in a bright pink sunset. I was so happy to be back in this necco wafer city!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Party Recipe: Halloween Dinner

I'm going to throw a dinner party to celebrate my birthday on Halloween! I've just finished asking around about availability and, to my surprise, a bunch of people are in for the celebration. I'm so excited!

Now, I need to think about what I'm actually going to do for decorations, food, drinks, etc. I want the food to be good, not just spooky or all about pumpkins. And decor? I think I'll turn to that antique halloween party book my mom gave me.

The tough question is: costumes or not? I'm leaning toward not. It's a little awkward to sit at a table in your best getup. But it would be fun to walk around Castro after dinner together. Maybe having everyone come dressed up in black and orange would be a good compromise?

Things I Love Today: Fall Perfume

Mmm...what a nice rainy morning! Rob and I walked to work in the mist wrapped in tweed and cableknit. It feels so much like fall!

Time to switch from my summer perfumes to muskier, warmer perfumes. I'm wearing Bonny Doon's Upland Cologne today. A great scent along the lines of baked apples and pine forests. It reminds me each time I wear it of adventures up in the Santa Cruz mountains with my friend Sarah.

I'm also tempted to buy L'Occitane's new Cedar Eau de Parfum. It's a bright, crisp scent. Meant for men, both really, but who cares!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

What to Wear: Turtlenecks

I love the brisk, fall weather we're having in San Francisco right now. It's finally cold enough (and non-pink cornflake) enough to wear tweed and other fun layers. Here is Marissa's question about a fall favorite:
Here's a question for you! I know you love turtlenecks and we are upon turtleneck season. Could you put together an outfit with turtlenecks for your readers ?
I am built like you and almost always cold (October through April) so I love turtlenecks. I need to restock in them this season and need some ideas...
Turtlnecks are great with anything (jeans, pencil skirts, trousers, mini skirts with tights, etc) but really shine when paired with something that has a little volume. A full skirt, wide leg pants, a swing jumper are all great counterbalances to a sleek turtleneck. Here's one outfit for the office:

Turtleneck - Brown cashmere from Bluefly. I'm tempted to buy this myself and wear it everyday until April.
- A delicate piece from Anthropologie that can work any season. Wear tights for extra warmth.
Coat - From Target. I know it's not proper, but I like having a bit of skirt peaking out beneath a coat.
Boots - I'm on the hunt for a perfect, comfortable boot with a soft rounded toe and a stacked heel. This pair comes darn close and is a relatively cheap $174.
Bag - On sale from Kenneth Cole.
Scarf - From Old Navy with fun pom-poms.
Earrings - Estate diamond and coral studs...why not!

Stay warm out there Marissa!

Weekend Round-Up: Rustic Life

I feel like I've been away for months, not days! Let's see...on Friday we picked up my parents, sister and Trent in the rain and went for Ethiopian food down the street. After our early dinner, we felt inspired and drove across the city for Irish coffees at the Buena Vista. Trent, Rob and I shared a table with a nice couple from North Carolina. My parents and sister shared a table with some fun San Francisco locals.

The next morning was a bit of a blur as we prepared for the wedding in our one bedroom apartment full with five people. Somehow, we managed to shower, polish silver and have a breakfast of blueberry pancakes before leaving at 10:30. My cousin's wedding in Sausalito was lovely and it was nice to see so many relatives. After the wedding, we went back to my parent's B&B on Guerrero to relax and share a pizza.

We left for Inverness on Saturday morning. Jean, in training for a marathon, ran from our house to Sausalito where we picked her up and proceeded north. My brother, Joe, and his son were already at the house on top of the hill when we arrived.

This vacation house
was just absolutely lovely and perfect. A huge living and dining room centered around a wood burning stove. 180 degree views down the hill of the estuary and rolling hills. Our three days in the woods consisted of:
  • Reading - At least a full novel each.
  • Enjoying the fire - Rob loved chopping wood for the old stove.
  • Hiking - On Drake's Beach and along the Inverness Ridge Trail behind the house.
  • Cooking - Spaghetti, omelets, popcorn, pomegranates, oysters.
  • Drinking - Coffee, cocoa, lots of good red wine & beer.
  • Communing with nature - We discovered the glories of pine needle tea and homemade cougar spears.
  • Hot tubbing - In that red tub with the great view.
We came back Wednesday morning in the rain. It was sunny and brisk in San Francisco. The city looked so welcoming and romantic. Rob and I spent the afternoon in our neighborhood, walking around and eating pumpkin ice cream.

You can see the rest of my photos from Tomales Bay here (Warning, they're mostly of the road to the house since my camera ran out of battery shortly thereafter)

Friday, October 12, 2007

See ya

I'll be back on Thursday. Have a great weekend!

What to Wear: Morton Salt Girl Costume

Halloween is coming up so fast! Which also means that my birthday is right around the corner. Wow, time is really flying. Here is Christina's Halloween request:

Hi! I read your blog regularly. Could you please help me? I want to be the Morton's Salt Girl this year and was wondering how you would go about assembling her baby doll, long sleeve yellow dress with lavender umbrella, white tights, and yellow mary jane flats. Would you go the DIY route? Buy something and paint/dye it yellow? I'm kind of lost as to how to find this yellow dress as yellow does not seem to be abundant this season! I'm very short and could fit children's clothes.
Yikes! A yellow long sleeved dress is pretty hard to find in October. I looked pretty much everywhere. This vintage dress option could work if you sew on a ribbon sash. This dress from Bluefly also sort of works, but it's expensive for a costume. Shopbop has one option that's even more expensive. It would be pretty easy to sew one for yourself, but who has the time? I was about to toss the yellow dress requirement and go for this instead when I found something that will work:

Dress - Find a yellow dress with long sleeves and swing style, like this yellow dress from Zara. If you want you can add a high waisted sash.
Tights - White tights from DNKY.
Shoes - I can't take credit for these. Christine found a great source for yellow chinese slippers on her own.
Wig - A blonde bob wig. This would also be cute with a more "yellow" bob or a blue wig.
Umbrella - You can spray paint the inside lavender and the handle yellow. $15 from a wedding site.
Salt - Make your own giant salt jar out of a coffee can or oatmeal box. Stash candy inside.

What a fun costume idea!

Urban Girl Almanac: Roomies

This has been a very full week. It's been so fun having Nicole as our roommate. Now we have two more roommates: my sister and her boyfriend visiting from North Carolina. It's a full house in our one-bedroom apartment and I'm loving it:
  • Tanning really does help with pink cornflake (pityriasis rosea). My rash is so much better.
  • I ate seafood four days in a row this week.
  • Our housekeeper taking great care to make Nicole's air-mattress-bed in the dinning room was the cutest thing ever.
  • Sweet potato chips are easy to make and really tasty.
  • Still loving Pushing Daisies. I want to marry it and have little half-Pushing Daisies, half-human babies.
  • I'm not prepared for this rainstorm we're currently having.
  • Trader Joe's sells a really good beet, chicken and feta salad.
  • My dermatologist eats at the same sushi restaurant as we do.
  • Don't wear a short skirt and tights when it is pouring down rain outside.
  • San Francisco! Where else can you go to a diner at 10pm for banana splits and be joined by zombies.
All this rain has me fixated only on being back in bed with a good book. Preferably wearing satin pajamas and a giant, soft sweater. Hopefully the rain will stop before Ethiopian food tonight with my parents. The big wedding is tomorrow and then off to Inverness through Wednesday.

Wedding Planning: Wine

Visiting with Nicole has made me feel a lot better about wedding planning. She's been a bridesmaid a bunch of times and is good at calling me out when I'm being too cheap (Yes, I want a perfect wedding. No, I'd rather not have to spend money on any of it). She helped me decide to have a fresh fruit and chocolate spread along with our cake, probably carnegie deli cheesecakes.

She's also a great bridesmaid because her viticulture industry contacts will translate into big discounts on our wine. We did the math and estimate needing two cases of white, two cases of red and a case of sparkling rose. For our white, I'll probably go with Bale Lane Sauvignion Blanc from St. Clement. It has a delicious fragrance and a nice dry, smooth flavor.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

What to Wear: India

McKay is about to embark of a big adventure and needs shoes that are up to the task:
I really enjoyed your post on what to wear sightseeing in Europe in October. I’d love to get your suggestions for my trip – 3 weeks in India in November! I will have a short stay in Mumbai, but for the most part will be based in Delhi with some overnight trips to Agra and Jaipur thrown in. We’re sightseeing and probably walking quite a lot. Packing light is key. Thoughts? I’d especially appreciate some shoe suggestions – I’m not a huge wearer of sneakers for everyday, but I think I’m going to need something really comfy for all the walking we’ll be doing.

It will be dry, and the averages that time of year for Delhi are: Average High 82° F - Average Low 55° F. My main concern is shoes – I don’t want to spend money on something I won’t wear once I get back, but at the same time, I want to make sure my feet are comfortable. So something that I can wear without socks, but that is still really comfy? I’m really a flip-flop girl all summer long, but I don’t think shoes that open are a good idea in such an unsanitary environment.
As much as I wish it was possible to pack trunks and trunks of beautiful clothes for a trip straight out of "A Passage to India" it sadly isn't. Here's a good basic wardrobe that is grounded in reality but still a little romantic:

Boots - A pair of boots isn't really that easy to pack, but I think they'd be perfect for almost any city trek you have in mind. Stylish worn over or under jeans and good with skirts too. Easy to wash off. This pair is cheap enough so that you can throw them away before returning home if needed. You'll have to wear socks with these, of course.
Sneakers - In my book, you can't really beat puma for shoes that work well in urban situations and for long hikes. They're pricey but tend to last forever. No socks needed.
Ballet Flats - You can wear them with almost anything, even for a fancy night out if needed. Very easy to pack and disposable at $15.
Dress - Because it is nice to have a dress when you travel. I have this dress in green and it is comfortable and impossible to wrinkle.
Jeans - Always a travel must have.
Shirt - This would be the time to wear a bright yellow and orange color palate.
Scarf - Purchased in India.
Earrings & Bracelet - From Cost Plus, although I recommend buying your accessories over there.
Sunglasses - Aviator style.

All you really need on top of this is some more shirts, a fleece jacket and an extra pair of pants. Enjoy your adventure, McKay!


My family is starting to arrive in San Francisco today for the big event this weekend. My cousin is getting married, the first family wedding in a long time.

On Sunday, we're going to drive up to Inverness to stay in a rental house through Wednesday. Our little arts and crafts "cottage" recently sold for $1.6 million dollars and borders up to Point Reyes national park. Sounds just right!

Knowing us, the weekend will be full of long walks, reading, eating, happy hours, more reading and some board games. I can't wait!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What to Wear: A Coat with this Purse

It rained last night and is really starting to feel like fall here in the city. It's time to unpack my coats and scarfs! Here is a request from Tiffany:
I've been looking in stores and online for a new coat for fall and winter. I need something wooly and warm for under $200. My red peacoat had to be retired last year, and I haven't found anything that I love. I just bought this bag for the new season, but I'm at a loss for the right coat to wear with it. I could always get a different bag if I found the right coat, but I'm pretty fond of the bag. I'm also quite short (5'2") and petite if you can take that into consideration. By the way, the bag is much more mustard/golden than the picture shows.
My biggest problem with finding a coat is always that they're too large. Even a smaller size is usually too big. I've rounded up a few options for Tiffany:

Kenneth Cole - I love the unique olive green color of this wool coat. It looks really warm too! It will pull out the green accents from the purse stripes.

Ann Taylor - This sweet little brown trench will go with almost everything and will be impossible to get dirty, a plus for someone with little kids. A belted trench is a great way to dress up any outfit. It's not exactly warm and wooly though.

Anthropologie - Corduroy with a fun ruffled collar and handy pockets in the front. This a little more feminine and fun. Corduroy is pretty warm. If it's too long you can have it hemmed.

La Redoute - This French catalog has some of the best wool coats at incredible prices. My only qualm is that they usually don't go down past a size 4 and they're very true to size.

Stay warm out there, Tiffany!

Wedding: Ostrich Feather Fans

"Hey Emily" you might say. "Where can I find some giant ostrich feather fans? Like the ones used by nightclub floor shows and in old musicals?"

I'm so glad you asked :) I've found that is the best source for such items.

It's going to be an interesting wedding, indeed!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Things I Love Today: Pumpkin Seeds

Our Safeway market just replaced all the stone fruit with apples and pears last week. They're selling pumpkins outside. Pumpkin gelato is at Whole Foods. It's definitely October.

I could eat pumpkin bread, ice cream, pie and lattes all day long. As a healthier alternative, I bought a $2 bag of pumpkin seeds at Trader Joe's to keep at my desk. I love eating them whole and knowing that they're full of amino acids. Maybe I'll take some home and roast them in the oven to get that just-baked experience!

What to Wear: Oral Exam

I'm so happy that it is fall. Layers are back and I can't wait to unpack my tweeds. Here is Amanda's request:
I’m an engineering grad student and have a “prelim exam” coming up where I present my research to a panel of faculty members, some of whom I’ve never even met. (Bonus: This is the part where they decide if I’m good enough to stay in the program.) What would be a stylish and confidence boosting outfit which still gives off a professional/scholarly vibe? Preferably one with flats, since I’ll be standing for an hour.

Not that my wardrobe will end up being the main focus of this presentation, but I still want to look good. If it matters: Light brown shoulder length hair, 5’9” ish and I normally wear glasses with maroon frames.
As soon as I read this I had visions of corduroy jackets with elbow patches and argyle sweaters. A full costume of academia! Fortunately, I stepped it back to something that will still be young and fresh for Amanda:

Sweater - Click the link to see this sweater on the model, it's darker and lovelier. I think a little cleavage is fine. You can pair it with a cami for extra coverage.
Pants - Basic brown trousers will get you through a lot things like this. I think pants are a better choice than a skirt or dress for this crowd.
Necklace - My biology-grad-student-sister is wild about Moma's DNA strand necklace. It's geeky and attractive.
Shoes - Wedges give you comfort for all that standing and a little height for confidence.
Folder - From See Jane Work.
Trench - Not pictured. Nothing makes me feel more confident than a sturdy trench.

It's feminine, authoritative and a youthful. Perfect for a smart student like Amanda!

First Time for Everthing: Tanning

I told Nicole about my Pink Cornflake diagnosis (What we will henceforth call Pityriasis Rosea. More descriptive, easier to spell, funnier) last night. Her ears perked up when I mentioned that my doctor recommended tanning as a treatment. She used to tan in college, before modern medicine and I convinced her to stop. I'd never tanned before, in the sun or in a salon.

One quick Google search later and we were in the lobby of Tan Bella down the block. Being San Francisco, this was of course a deluxe tanning spa unlike any other. The owner put us through a 20 minute lecture on the science of tanning and the benefit of low UVB machines before we could even start.

I did 8 minutes in the high pressure bed standing up, trying not to fall over from the disorienting towel wrapped around my face and goggle combo. With the purple lights and the heavy fans I felt like I was either being microwaved or sent into orbit Nicole went for 12 minutes in the lie-down machine.

I don't have much of a tan today, my skin is sort of light pink all over. But my rash is a little better and slightly less itchy! I'll go back once more this week and see what happens.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Mystery Rash Revealed

Drum roll please...My dermatologist has diagnosed me with a textbook case of Pityriasis Rosea (Good guess Meghann). It's a skin rash in a "Christmas tree" pattern from neck to thighs. It only itches in 25% of cases, lucky me. The exact cause isn't known, but it is supposed to be related to chicken pox. It isn't caused by an allergic reaction or fungus and it isn't contagious.

Here's the kicker: it can last up to 12 weeks and there is no real treatment. Avoiding heat, taking oatmeal baths and getting some sun can help. The only good news is that you usually only get it once.

I'm celebrating the diagnosis tonight with Nicole, Rob and two delicious-looking dungeness crabs. I just found out that the fish counter will clean and crack the crabs for free.

(Note: I just discovered that Pityriasis Rosea is latin for "pink wheat bran." SICK.)

Wedding: Centerpieces

I am going to save so much money by doing my own centerpieces for the wedding. Being a rather frugal bride, this makes me incredibly happy!

Nicole and I did a trial run of flower arranging on Saturday. Armed with $40 of flowers, we made three gorgeous centerpieces. White dahlias and yellow roses are matched with other yellow, green, brown and white fillers in a copper footed bowl.

The resulting arrangement achieves the perfect loose but structured, yellow but not too "perky" mix I was looking for. I think they will be stunning in the arts and crafts interior of our venue. We refrigerated one to make sure it would last overnight, but even the arrangements left in the sun looked fine the next evening.

I made an illustrated shopping list we can take to the flower market with us next September. This is the fun part of wedding planning!

Weekend Round-Up: Wedding Run Through

A weekend full of friends and perfect weather, you can't beat that! Nicole arrived at 6:00 from Napa and picked us up at work. We got her settled in and then walked over to Haight for dinner at Magnolia. The rosebud beer - made with grapes and flowers - is really tasty.

After a long wait, we shared a dinner of onion rings, a club sandwich and a fennel sausage pizza. So healthy, I know! After dinner, we walked down to the Panhandle for a housewarming party of a friend of a friend. After a bit, we caught a cab back home.

Saturday morning, we got up fairly early to drive to the wholesale flower mart. Nicole and I walked through the booths and found the perfect blend of flowers to make our trial-run wedding centerpieces.

Back at home, we made $40 worth of flowers into three huge arrangements. I'll show you photos of the gorgeous final results in a separate post. At 1:00, Margaret arrived from San Luis Obispo. All three girls loaded into the Fit and drove over to Sausalito. Our first stop was Fish, a fun little seafood restaurant right on the water. The prices are high, but it's easy to split entrees.

The Blue Angels started flying at 3:30, right when our ceremony would have been if we didn't move the wedding date. The Woman's Club was busy getting ready for a wedding, so we couldn't drop by to scope it out. It took forever to drive back home. Between fleet week and the blues festival, this is the craziest weekend in San Francisco. I'm so glad we're changing our date!

Back at home, we hung out for a while before going out to a fondue dinner at The Matterhorn. The four of us finished two enormous pots of cheese. We tried to go to a bar after dinner but the city was too crazy with sailors and tourists. We luckily managed to find a cab back home. Our glamorous day ended with watching an episode of the very addictive show, Kid Nation.

Everyone got up around 9:00 on Sunday. We decided to walk down Market Street to a restaurant I've passed a thousand times. It's Tops is a tiny little diner established in the 1950's. I loved everything about it: the soda fountain, the small booths, the fact that one cook and one waitress run the whole place. It felt so much like the Miramar's old railroad cafe. We chowed down on pancakes, bacon and potato scrambles.

After breakfast, we decided to go on an "expedition" to find the mysterious slides of San Francisco. With only a vague sense of direction, we walked from Market Street through Dolores Park to Noe Valley (2.5 miles). On 24th street we stopped in at Phoenix Books to ask for help. The clerk hadn't heard of the slides but a nice Irish man called a friend who had been there. Armed with directions and a map, we walked over the hill to Eureka Heights (1.5 miles).

The slides on Seward Street are so fun once you find them! Two long cement slides so steep that you actually catch air halfway down. Here are some photos of us at the slides:

From the slides, we walked back home through the Castro Street Fair. A total of 5 miles walked!

Sandwiches at home with another episode of Kid Nation. Margaret left at 3:00 to drive back home. Nicole and I did some chores around the house and organized my collection of antique linens.

Eventually, we went to the market for dinner supplies. Shrimp tacos and apple crisp finished off our very busy weekend! You can see all my photos online here.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Things I Love Today: Pushing Daisies

Everyone and their cousin seems to have already weighed in on this show, but I'll add my two cents. Pushing Daisies: it's adorable. Like Amelie and Lemony Snicket combined. Really darling. Lee Pace is sweet and an excellent blusher.

If you didn't catch it last week, you can watch it online here.