Friday, November 30, 2007

Urban Girl Alamanac: Jet Lag

What a week. I can't believe I only returned from vacation mid-day on Tuesday. Here's what I learned this week:
  • Paris! Paris! Paris! What can I even say?
  • I hate traveling by plane. Not the flying itself, just all the other indignities.
  • Good idea to limit access to reading materials on a 14 hour flight if you're a major bookworm. I sandbagged myself by reading the Kite Runner and Eat, Pray, Love cover to cover on the way to Paris instead of sleeping.
  • Nothing is more comfortable than your own bed.
  • Jet lag is a great excuse for a myriad of troubles.
  • Felting is a fun, but wet, activity.
  • Happy birthday to my sister, Jean this week! Your package of French goodies should arrive on Monday.
  • I have a developing appreciation for Keri Russell. It started with her great curly hair management skills and reached full bloom when I found out that she does her own laundry at a laundromat, just like me!
  • 30 Rock was really good last night.
  • Yum. A sweet potato pie is at home waiting for me.
  • It's hard to start wearing color again after 10 days of black and gray.
The holiday frenzy seems to be here in full force. We have to take our Christmas card photo and start decorating this weekend!

Paris je t'aime: The Cluny

This will be the final post in my week of Francophilia. And it works nicely as a transition into the barrage of holiday posts that will inevitably begin on Monday.

Located in the Latin Quarter, the Cluny Museum houses a select collection of Renaissance art and artifacts. It would be easy to be overwhelmed by this particular period of history, but the museum does a good job of featuring only a few pieces for maximum appreciation. The unicorn tapestries are the most famous but I particularly liked the stained glass displays.

In a few dark rooms, they have a handful of stained glass panels lit from behind and at set at eye level for maximum appreciation. I really loved the expressions on the dogs, sheep and hens. In that setting each color and piece of glass shone brightly and it reminded me of Christmas.

Paris je t'aime: Onion Soup

It must be true what they say about French women not getting fat, I lost a few pounds of my own during the Paris trip. It must have been all the walking (and the expensive food prices) because it certainly wasn't my diet. Loads of bread, butter, cheese, pastries, nutella, whole milk, etc.

My first meal in France was a big bowl of onion soup with lots of melty gruyere and bread. I had it almost everyday from then on. It was the perfect remedy to the bitter cold weather.

I think I'll make onion soup for dinner sometime this weekend following the Williams-Sonoma recipe. I just need the fancy bowls to match!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

What to Wear: Parisian in November

As you might have noticed from my photos, my travel wardrobe for Paris pretty much revolved around black and gray. I'm glad I packed so dark because quite literally wearing any color at all immediately distinguishes you as a tourist. Everyone in Paris wears a strict uniform of black, gray, denim and maybe a little cream. The result is that even large crowds of people look remarkably color coordinated and elegant. If you want to dress like a true Parisian, here's a guideline:

Sweater -
Tunics and cowlnecks were both big.
Jeans - They seem to love the Gap in France, I think it's because they have better things than the US version.
Boots - Absolutely everyone wore boots everywhere. It was amazing how many boots they had for sale. The Frenchie-Payless store where I bought mine had at least 35 different styles for sale.
Coat - With lots of volume.
Scarf - Always a must have when it's that cold out.
Hat - They loved these floppy beret beanies.

Car Coat -
Every man in Paris seems to have a nice wool coat like this. Worn with the color flipped up in the back, of course.
Jeans - A nice mid-wash pair.
Sweater & Scarf - Navy blue...a pretty risque variation from black.
Pointy Shoes - This one seemed odd to me, but they really rocked it.
Baguette - It was adorable to see men "bringing home the bread" after work. No bag, just a napkin to carry it home.

Paris je t'aime: BHV

Near Hotel de Ville in Paris, there is an amazing department store called BHV. They have everything from tools to expensive handbags, to art supplies, to kitchen goods, toys and chandeliers. Each and every item is perfectly French in it's own special way. Basically, everything you'd need outfit your life in blissful Parisian style.

By the time Nicole and I got half way around the first floor, we were in near hysterics. By the time I got to the table linen department, I had a 50/50 chance of fainting. Nicole was particularly overwhelmed on the chandelier and lamp floor. We were almost shaking when we finally checked out and headed to the top floor cafeteria for a delicious lunch.

Because the exchange rate was so terrible, I limited my shopping to only the most inexpensive items. I mostly bought dishtowels and sets of Christmas cards in French. I also got a cute pair of gloves, a picture frame, a tablecloth, skinny candles and some toys to bring back home.

Paris je t'aime: Musee Rodin

I think my favorite thing in all of Paris is the Musee Rodin. Actually, not even the museum so much as the Hotel Biron estate that houses it. This exquisite property is where I would live if I had my choice of any place in the world. A large, sunny house with french doors and high ceilings surrounded by a garden in the center of Paris. Click here to see my 27 photos of the place.

The daydreaming came on fast and furious once I stepped through the gate: When I live there, I'll keep the statues and just insert furniture around them. No need to paint or remodel, the tarnished, worn-down-former-glory look suits me just fine. All I need are a few couches, a few beds, an enormous dining room table and fires in all the fireplaces.

My daily schedule will be to have breakfast in bed, followed by a quick jaunt to an art gallery job where you do nothing but tidy, chat and drink espresso. Back with fresh market supplies for lunch. After lunch a few hours of reading or art while Rob practices archery. Afternoon break to walk the dogs (2 French bulldogs, 2 Irish wolfhounds, 2 yorkies) around the property and pick flowers. Bath. Elaborate French dinner with friends and intellectuals by candlelight. Bed.

Le sigh.

As my mom said in response to all this: I was "born to the wrong century and social class."

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Paris je t'aime: Lingerie

The one splurge I afforded myself abroad was fancy lingerie. American options, at places like VS, are always way too big for my skinny frame. So it was wonderful in Paris to be surrounded by lovely frillies that actually fit.

Hands-down the most beautiful pieces were made by Princess Tam.Tam. I was obsessed with the brown and red holiday print satin, all of the bows and fun colors. This was also by far the most expensive option.

More affordable and still darling, Darjeeling is where I stocked up on embroidered bras, bottoms, teddy sets, slips and more. All decked in bows, lace and trimmings, of course. Neither store ships to the US, but that doesn't have to stop you from a little browser window shopping!

Ladies Activity Club: Felted Beads

We had the November Ladies Activity Club last night, hosted by Alison! She had already decorated her lovely apartment for the holidays and had a pot of cider on the stove, so it felt really festive. Snacks included homemade spinach dip, cookies, holiday breads and cinnamon olives.

For our activity, we made felted beads for holiday ornaments and decorations (somewhat along these instructions). I wish I had taken a photo of my final pieces drying this morning. They're going to make such a cute little garland! You can see all the party photos online here.

Vacation Round-Up: Eight Days in Paris

I'm feeling fully recovered today after attending the LAC party and getting a great night of sleep at home. Time to start the Paris posts! You can browse through all 263 my photos of Paris online here. Or I've created an abridged version of my favorite 40 available here.

I can't believe how much we managed to jam into such a short time in Paris! Basically, we had breakfast, did one activity, had lunch, another activity, got a snack, walked around, dinner, drinks and then to bed each day. For most of our trip, we stayed at the Saint-Louis Bastille hotel on Boulevard Richard Lenoir. The location was perfect and I loved having breakfast in the "catacombs" downstairs. Here's our itinerary for eight days:

Day 1: Arrive in the morning on Sunday and head out to see Sacre Cour, Montmartre and Parc de Monceau. Finish with drinks near the Arc de Triumph.

Day 2: Shop along the Champs-Elysees, have lunch at La Duree, explore Jardin Tulleries, see the water lilies at Musee L'Orangerie and finish with dinner in Montmartre.

Day 3: A rainy market day. Explore Bastille and Notre Dame (we tried to go to Sainte Chapelle and Musee d'Orsay this day, but they closed early with the strike)

Day 4: Tour the Paris opera and spend a long time at the Musee Rodin.

Day 5: Hotel de Ville, BHV department store, Luxembourg gardens.

Day 6: Visit the Cluny, then walk through the Latin Quarter to get to the Musee d'Orsay.

Day 7: Saturday shopping day! In Bastille boutiques, the big Les Halles mall and near the opera house.

Day 8: Sunday, most things are closed. Walk along the viaduct trail near Gare de Lyon. Go see the bird market on the Ile de la Cite and Sainte Chappelle. Walk along the Seine from Notre Dame to the Eiffle Tower to get one last wide angle view of the city.

Toss in a lot of cafe au laits and crepes in there and you pretty much have my vacation in a nutshell. I'll highlight some of my favorite things in the next few posts!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I'm back...barely!

Uggg....My flight back from Paris didn't go so smoothly. A storm in Philadelphia, refueling in Baltimore and overnight in New Jersey have translated into me arriving about 18 hours late. It could have been much worse though; I barely managed to grab the last seat on the morning flight and wouldn't have been able to fly out until four.

I've got a ton of things to do, so the Paris update will have to be delayed. Basically: best city in world. Love the food. Love the museums. Love the metro strike that let me metro for free. Love the shopping, despite the terrible exchange rate. Details TK.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I'm Back on November 27th

To Do: While I'm Away

Nicole is ready to fly out this afternoon and I'm following her tomorrow morning. We'll all be in Paris by Sunday! A last minute check of the weather report shows a drop in temperature. It looks like we're in for 40's to 20's instead of 60's to 40's like last week. Time to switch out some of my lighter layers for warmer sweaters.

In case you're bored while I'm away, I've come up with ten suggested francophile activities for EmilyStyle readers:

1. Watch. French movie marathon. Rent Amelie, Gigi and an American in Paris.
2. Sketch - Tap into your creative side with the purchase of a Paris sketchbook.
3. Cook - French onion soup. Mmmm...a perfect warm and hearty recipe for a fall night.
4. Relax - With a lavender candle or bubble bath.
5. Shop - From La Redoute for inexpensive styles straight from France.
6. Wear - All black a la Audrey in Funny Face.
7. Craft - Make those holiday honeycomb candles that are a tradition in France.
8. Listen - To Serge Gainsbourg and Carla Bruni.
9. Drink - French 75 cocktails. One of my favorites!
10. Read - Hotel Bemelmans, a delightful illustrated book by the creator of Madeline.

Coveted: Pewter Ceramic Bowl

Leave it to Gump's to find absolute perfect things for crazy prices. My latest obsession from their holiday offering is this ceramic and pewter bowl for $375. In the catalog, it's shown full of onions and with matching pewter flatware. Lovely!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Wedding: The Caterer

While I haven't been keeping up with my itemized, excell to-do list, I have managed to sign the "big two" contracts. We signed with the Sausalito Woman's Club earlier this month after changing our date. And I just signed the caterer agreement this morning. About 60% of our budget is now accounted for!

We're going with Alta Cuisine, who catered my cousin's wedding last month. The food is tasty, affordable and they're extremely professional. Their responsiveness put them in the lead over delicious, but too hippie-dippie, Back-to-Earth Catering.

Our menu starts with three passed appetizers: gorgonzola stuffed mushrooms, sesame-crusted seared ahi tuna and bison skewers. A bartender will work our spread of local wines, punch and microbrews. From there, everyone will sit down to a plated spinach salad. That gets cleared and the family style dishes come out. We're serving wine poached salmon, apple-stuffed pork tenderloin, baby potatoes and asparagus.

After dinner, the caterer is providing a fruit sauce and a fresh fruit spread to accompany the Carnegie Deli cheesecakes I'll order. Plus, coffee and tea.

Whew! Now that these two big decisions are done, it's on to the next round. When I get back from Paris, I need to book the parking shuttle, work with Jordan on the invites, get my antique lace dress washed, and book a florist for the bouquets and corsages. 10 months to go!

What to Wear: Paris in November

I've started packing for Paris and I'm getting excited for the trip! Because I'm only going to 10 days, I have space to pack a great mix of cute pieces. Here's what I've got so far based on a black, gray, burgundy and brown color scheme:
2 cardigans
2 turtlenecks
2 pullover sweaters
1 silk blouse
4 skirts
2 pairs of jeans
1 pair of wool trousers
1 pair of brown boots
1 pair of red flats
1 pair of silver flats
1 black wool coat
scarf and gloves
assortment of tights & socks
assortment of tanks and tees
1 wide black belt
Chanel No. 5
unlined journal
colored pencils
glue stick
New Yorker
I'm planning to wear the boots, a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, a cardigan and the coat on the flight over. In Paris, I'm hoping it will be warm enough to wear skirts with sweaters and opaque tights almost everyday.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

What to Wear: White House Party

This request is a biggie:
I have an opportunity to go to a White House Christmas party for the first and probably only time with a cute new boy I'm seeing. I need to look fabulous for him as well as for everyone else who will be there. It's not until the 7th or so of December but he only asked me last week so I do feel a little rushed.

I checked out some pictures of the event online from last year and Laura Bush is wearing a nice suit. I don't think it's black tie because all the men were in suits. And it looks like different people dress up to different standards. I saw a picture of a girl in a shiny blouse and black pants so it's sort of confusing. I have a dress in mind. I think it's just the staff party but's the White House. :)

As for budget...hmm... I hadn't really thought of one but I do know that I'd like to be able to wear it again and in different settings...something that would serve me for a good couple of years. Maybe $300. If I loved it and it made me look more beautiful than life itself, well I might consider spending more.

I'm about 5'5" and wear a size 8. Since it's December I'd like it to have sleeves and be at least mid knee length. I have reddish brown hair and green eyes. Something with color would be nice but I can do black very well...but I have a lot of black.
I've put together three different options for Stephanie depending on the direction she wants to take.

Dress - I love this delicately sequined sheath for this "office" party. In a setting where you are surrounded by suits, this is a festive, flattering and clever choice for $178.
Tights - Black opaque tights from Hue.
Shoes - Classic black heels.

Dress - It's not my favorite thing ever, but it will be attractive and super appropriate. Plus, pockets; always nice to have at an event with networking potential. $265.
Shoes - Satin peep toes with a bow and a vintage flair.

Dress - In the movie version, this is what the heroine would wear. Stephanie would be an absolute knock-out in this $278 blue satin dress with her red hair and green eyes. Pair it with a little jacket if you're worried about being cold.
Shoes - Sequined silver pumps.

Pair your pick of the three with a clutch, earrings and other accessories. And don't forget to live it up!

Things I Love Today: Three's Company

My friend, Nicole, has been living with us for the past four weeks. I thought it would be best to keep it under wraps until now.

Basically, her jerk boyfriend just decided to call it quits one Tuesday. That's after three years together, a home purchase and the recent booking of a European holiday (hence, my last minute Paris trip). His decision appears to be motivated by a combination of immaturity and a young French woman interning at his company. What a...there are too many mean adjectives to choose from.

Devastated, she moved into our dining room and has been commuting back and forth to Napa. I've never really thought of myself as a particularly good friend; I'm not great about calling or remembering birthdays. So it's kind of nice to know that I come through when it matters most.

Together, the three of us have been a happy little urban family. It's been fun for Rob and I to teach Nicole about city living. She's already learned how to use the laundromat, walk to the grocery store, take the subway, host dinner parties, camp in Yosemite with climbers and go to the neighborhood bookstore. Getting her to try Ethiopian food is the next challenge. We joke that she's our 27-year old "daughter."

Nicole has been doing a little better each day. We even went out last Saturday to the bars with another single friend and Nicole caught the eye of a few handsome gentlemen. I was honestly a little worried about the arrangement at first. But it has turned out to be a strange kind of wonderful.

Packing for Paris

I haven't really started packing for Paris yet, but I do have a plan. I'm going to go with a black/gray/burgundy color scheme so that everything will easily match. I'm taking a black wool coat, opaque tights, warm sweaters, etc. More details will come soon.

I'm also taking my new favorite shoes. I bought these Me Too flats at Nordstrom on sale last weekend. They have a super comfortable rubber sole and I love the classic shape.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I'm Back...and Almost Gone Again

Whew. Three days of pure, unadulterated conference exhibit room boredom. I'm so glad to be back at home where I can do things like go outside, wear jeans, avoid talking to strangers and relax.

Of course, not for long. I'll do laundry tonight and then start packing for Paris. I leave on Saturday, but I'll try to squeeze in a few what to wear requests before I go!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Be Right Back

I'm away on business in San Diego and will return on Wednesday. See ya!

Friday, November 09, 2007

To Do: Beeswax Candles

I've received a couple questions about my beeswax candle project from last year (thanks for the shout out Jordan!) That was such a fun and easy craft for the holidays. Here are step by step instructions:

1. Order a set of honeycomb sheets from Knorr Beeswax. You have to order a minimum of 20 sheets and it comes with some wick. I ordered the "natural" color and would recommend getting extra wick if you're making small candles.

2. When you have your supplies, take out a sheet of the wax and cut it down to the size you want. Cutting works best if you first fold it along the honeycomb pattern.

3. For the small 4" candles I made, fold the sheet in half and cut. From that square, fold and cut it into 4 equal squares, about 4" each.

4. Cut a piece of wick so that it is a 1/4 of an inch longer than the wax. Line it up on the edge and fold over the first "row" of honeycomb tightly on the wick.

5. From there, roll up the rest of the candle fairly loosely. Once you're finished, push down the edge of the wax to seal the candle.

Six or eight of these small candles makes a great gift! I combined them with honey bubble bath from L'Occitane and a bee cookie cutter. Experiment with different sizes too. A traditional taper starts as a piece of wax 4"x8". As a plus, the wax smells great and will make your house smell really festive for the holidays. Even with making a lot of candles and having friends make them too, you'll still have quite a few sheets of wax left over.

To Do: Free Museums

Bay Area readers: Prepare yourself for free admission to 12 downtown museums all day tomorrow. Grab some comfy shoes and a cliff bar and get ready to get smart.

The Free 4 All is the perfect chance to see the Museum of African Diaspora or the Museum of Craft and Folk Art. SFMOMA, the Academy of Sciences, the Cartoon Art Museum and more are all free tomorrow. Here are the details.

PS: I'm spoiling you with a lot of posts today to make up for the fact that I'll be gone Monday and Tuesday.

What to Wear: Shoe Challenged

Jessica struggles with finding shoes for a couple reasons:
I was hoping you could help me out with a wardrobe problem of mine. I would love to get some new, winter friendly shoes (I have about a ton of ballet flats, but they leave my feet frozen!). I've been going to stores and wanting to buy some great boots, ankle boots, etc. but I can't seem to find much of anything that is right. I need some things to wear with jeans, skirts, dresses, slacks, etc. Here's where I run into trouble: I am 5'5", a size 6, wear a size 11 shoe (so anything remotely chunky is out of the question), and due to foot injuries I can only wear flat shoes. My budget isn't gigantic (I'm a newlywed college student!), but I really need something.
A couple tips before we get started: Payless is a great source for affordable shoes in sizes above 11. And don't forget that you can wear trouser socks with those flats for extra warmth. I understand the injury situation, I have had to wear flats and wedges ever since my back problems started. Here's my suggestion:

Boots - J.Crew goes up to a size 12 online. A sturdy pair of flat boots will serve you well for many years. It's an investment (Christmas present?), but one that pays off. Great with skirts, pants, tucked in jeans. Try them on in person and compare with boots at Nordstrom, Target, etc to find your perfect pair.
Sweater - From Old Navy. I have this sweater.
Tank - Mine has silver beads around the neckline for a little extra flair.
Jeans - A nice dark pair.
Bag - From Nine West on sale.
Earrings - Little beaded drops from Anthropologie for $28.

Stay warm out there Jessica!

Things I Love Today: Squash Pasta

YUM! I absolutely loved this recipe for pappardelle with squash mushrooms and spinach last night! I made it with pumpkin and fettucini instead.

Like a really fresh variation on butternut squash ravioli. It was perfect for a cold evening in fall and not that hard to make. The dash of truffle oil makes it extra tasty.

PS: Thanks for all the nice comments recently, you guys are awesome :)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Recipe: Drab Day Dinner

I'm having a "blah" day today. It's really cold and overcast. I'm not particularly fond of my outfit. My curly hair has gone flat in the back and frizy on top. Snarky anonymous commenters persist. Skipped lunch. Tough projects at work. Etc.

Dinner with visiting Margaret tonight is what I'm looking forward to. Here's what I want to make for this drab fall day:

Mixed Green Salad - In a giant wood bowl with my favorite balsamic dressing and some apple slices.
Pappardelle with Squash, Mushrooms and Spinach - I'll use this recipe as a starting point. Switch in fresh spinach, add shallots, lemon juice and truffle oil.
Apple Galette - Yum.

I'm feeling better already!

Things I Love Today: Jane Austen Font

Free Jane Austen font. So incredibly cool. I'm stupefied about the awesomeness of being able to type in Jane's handwriting. Having a major graphic designer geek out session.

What to Wear: Conservative Job

The real world! How exciting. Here is Val's request:
I just graduated from college in May & took the whole summer off to take a break & relax. Next month I'm going to start a position with a very conservative company & I have no idea what to wear! I've never had to dress up for a job before so I'm almost starting from scratch. I basically can't wear most of my clothes! I want to look professional, but not have to wear slacks & a collared shirt everyday. Also, do you know of a really good/comfortable pair of black heeled shoes that's also cute? I know this may be a lot to ask, but I don't know what to wear! Please help me!

p.s. I don't mind spending more money on staple pieces like shoes or a blazer, but please keep in mind that I'm a recent graduate so I don't have too much money to spend!! I'm going to have to start paying for my loan soon!
My suggestion is to invest in a nice three piece suit to get yourself started. Find something where you're comfortable wearing the skirt, blazer and pants in combination and with other pieces. The tops can be a lot less expensive if you have a good base to start:

Suit - This trio is wool crepe from J.Crew in dark grey. It's on sale but still not cheap. Try Club Monaco (and even maybe Express) for other great options. You could wear the blazer with tweed pants, other skirts or trouser jeans. And the pants and skirt with almost any top.
Turtleneck - My new favorite from Forever21.
Ruffled Shirt - So fun. Pair with a cardigan on top during the colder months.
Cardigan - Always great for the office. From Old Navy.
Sweater - White cableknit is a warm way to dress for the office in the winter.
Shoes - These black pumps from Naturalizer are going to be super comfortable. The twist detail and patent finish keeps them looking young.

Good luck with your new job Val!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Best Plan Ever!

I had to go downtown to pick up my new passport today. Usually, this is quite the trek. By bus, easily an hour and a half. By car, about an hour to drive, find parking, pay for parking, drive back and find parking at work. By taxi, at least 30 minutes and $14.

So Rob devised a plan to take our tandem bike from work to the passport office and back. We rocketed downtown, grabbed the passport and got back to work in about 15 minutes! I felt just like a bike messenger. So awesome!

As a side note, have you seen the design of the new passports? It is beyond patriotic, like something you'd find on a commemorative plate not a government document. Every page has a different pastoral scene (buffalos, cowboys, bears, etc) and a quote about freedom. The back is the view of America from the moon.

Don't get me wrong, I love America to my's just going to be a bit awkward to flash a four inch, glittering bald eagle at the Paris customs desk. I don't think they'll be amused.

Things I Love Today: Forever21 Sweaters

Forever21 really impressed me last Sunday. Sure, they always have a couple cute things at crazy low prices. But this time I fell for quite a few of their sweaters and dresses. Here's a couple things I recommend:

Black Cardigan - I didn't buy this, but I did get something similar. Over a pair of wide leg slacks with a big handbag, this is shape is perfect for fall.
Purple Turtleneck - This looks so great with a pair of jeans and some bright gold jewelry. It's a little brighter in person. I wore it on Monday with white trousers.
Empire Sweater - Love the color and want to try it with a leather belt and a pencil skirt.

Have you discovered any great Forever21 finds lately? Do share!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

What to Wear: Black and Cream, part II

Remember the cream and black bridesmaid we helped a couple weeks ago? It continues:
My brother in law is getting married in Seattle in December. The siblings have been asked to wear black and/or cream. There are lots of black dresses out there, but none of them seem to call to me. I love a classic dress with a little something unexpected or retro looking. I need something modest - with sleeves and knee length or a little longer; even very long, if it is flattering. Also, it could be a skirt and top.

I want to be able to wear it again, so nothing too formal. Just needs to be the right colors for the pictures. I need to buy some black boots as well and will likely take your advice on the Nordstrom healed boots you posted recently. I am 5'7" with medium length dark brown hair and wear a size 2 or 4. Thanks for your great style skills!

I can't quite decide if this is a cute idea or something a bit too oppressive. Is this common? Making your relatives dress according to a wedding color scheme? is my recommendation:

Dress - Don't tell anyone, but there's a bit of blue in there too. This $168 dress is flowy, flattering and perfect for a winter wedding in Seattle. (PS: link isn't working well, look under "graphic prints")
Boots - I think this is the pair she's talking about. I want to buy these for myself.
Earrings - Pretty pair from Etsy for $6.50.
Gift - You have to wrap it in cream and black of course.

I really want to see photos from this crazy event!

Book Report: Our Hearts Were Young & Gay

This whole last minute trip to Paris has me feeling incredibly nostalgic. Both for my Euro-backpacking days in college and for all the books I've read about traveling in Paris. In particular, I feel just like Cornelia from Our Hearts Were Young and Gay.

Originally published in 1942, it details the true European adventures of college-graduates Cornelia and Emily in the 1920's. The book hilariously chronicles the false-pretension and comic-foibles of being a young woman abroad. I laugh out loud every time I read it.

Part of the excitement is that I'm planning to meet Sara and her parents for tea at the famous macaroon bakery, Laduree, one day. How continental!

Monday, November 05, 2007

What to Wear: Red Shoes

A good pair of red shoes can be a very powerful thing. Here is Elizabeth's request:
I’m in the market for a pair of red heels- something in the $100-150 range (or less). Patent, regular leather, peep toe, closed toe- I’m open to anything that is red and has a medium heel. Everything I’ve seen is either way out of budget, or is too cheap and plastic looking. If you’re interested, I’d love a post about any red heels you think are stylish and perfect for spicing up a fall/winter outfit!
I have a pair of burgundy/red patent flats that I've been wearing with jeans, skirts, etc. for a few weeks. There are a ton of great red shoes out there right now, especially in darker colored patent leather. I found a five options for Elizabeth:

1. Anthropologie - Red heels with an ankle strap and a vintage feel. These could be great for someone with a fun, feminine style. $88. $68.
2. Bandolino - This slightly conservative pump can go from work to party and right back. I love the darker red color. $69.
3. Sofft - An affordable, comfortable, red patent leather pump that is decently cute? Lovely! $89.
4. Jeffrey Campbell - The heel is a little high, but JC makes the most comfortable shoes in my experience. Love the dark color, wide heel and flirty strap. $74.
5. Target - On the other end of the color and price spectrum, but still darn adorable! $29.

Weekend Round-Up: Home Again

Another fun, busy weekend! On Friday, Rob and I went to the climbing gym with Matt after work. I got a sudden burst of energy and started climbing really tough boulder routes. My arms still hurt. At 6:30, we went across the street for delicious tacos from the El Toyanese wagon. Walked back home through the mission and had a quiet evening at home.

On Saturday, I woke up fairly early to attend a fun event with Jordan. Back home at 1:30, Rob and I went for a round of archery in Golden Gate Park. It was blazing hot, but thankfully with some ocean breeze.

Home again for a quick rest before a ride on our tandem bike to the beach and back; about 10 miles. I love racing other bikes and seeing how fast we can go. We returned home around 6:00 and had a huge dinner at Burgermeister down the street.

An extra hour on Sunday morning meant all the more time to enjoy the Sunday paper in bed with coffee, grapefruit and scrambled eggs. At 11:00, Rob and I drove across town to pick up Matt & Amber. Another gorgeous day, perfect for kayaking in Sausalito! We paddled for an hour and had lunch at a Mexican restaurant.

Back at home (spotting the pattern?) I rested for a bit and then went shopping downtown. Just a quick, cheapie trip to Forever21, Old Navy and H&M. I found some really great tops and sweaters. I'm having fun with all the dark jewel tones in style this season.

Home one last time at 6:00 for much needed laundry (5 loads!) and relaxation.

Be Right Back

I'm waiting in line for my new passport this morning. Back soon!

Friday, November 02, 2007

What to Wear: Sale Shoes

We've all been find something on super discount and buy it. No matter that you don't have a clue what to wear it with or how it fits into your wardrobe. Here is Genevieve's request:
I am new to SF and happened across your blog accidentally and I love it. I was hoping you could help me with something. I bought these shoes on super sale a few weeks ago. The problem I am having is what to wear with them. The color I have is steel luster, which reads a little bit more lavender in real life than it does on the internet.

I am 5'4", a size 10 and I do not have any particular event to go to. I was just hoping for some help on how to wear these well and if you could provide options, that would be great. Thank you for your time! I really appreciate it!
In San Francisco, there's always an event somewhere requiring a nice dress. Opera? Dinner out? Ballet? Party? Gallery opening? You'll have plenty of opportunities to get dolled up:

Shoes - I learned my multiplication tables for a pair of scalloped heels similar to this ;)
Dress - This is one of those dresses that demands a woman with curves. My toothpick frame would look ridiculous. Genevieve will be fab.
Jacket - Adorable from Forever 21. That neckline is infinitely flattering. And at $22, you don't really need to worry about leaving it behind somewhere.
Clutch - So convenient when you're balancing drinks and appetizers.
Earrings - Fun, big "rock" earrings from Forever21.

You might also be able to do the shoes with tweed trousers, but they're a wee bit on the fancy side. You'd have to see how it worked in person.

Things I Love Today: Pea Soup Mornings

San Francisco was shrouded in pea soup fog this morning. For a city known for its fog, this low lying mist is actually a pretty rare variety. I loved walking to work in a little bubble, only able to see a half block in any direction.

A new Paste CD, a ham and cheese croissant and a cup of decaf coffee...perfection for a Friday morning in November!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

What to Wear: Society Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is just around the corner it seems. Usually, this entails a delicious meal with Rob's parent's and a visit with the goats on their little farm. This year, I'm in for croissants and the Champs-Elysees. Nicki's in for something different:
My aunt and uncle are having the family over to their house on Belvedere Island for a very early (2pm) Thanksgiving dinner- very swank. The invitation says come dressed in "festive fall attire." I am a little unsure about what this means - my aunt dresses rather outlandishly {ed: she sent photos, think Ivana Trump/Donatella Versace}, so with her we really never know. Could you help me put together an outfit that is dressy and sophisticated? I am blond, blue eyed, with a slightly ruddy complexion, so oranges aren't the best for me, and reds that are more maroon usually look good. I am 5'1" and a size 10. Any ideas you have would be great!
So tricky! Since the event is early in the day, I'm going to guess that it's not formal or semi-formal. Here is an outfit that can cover all the other bases:

Dress - Such a nice soft brown color. This flattering little number is from Tahari for a little society-paper-cred. It's something you could wear again.
Sweater - A cropped cardigan from Anthro. The structure is interesting and fun. If the party is more formal than you expect, toss the sweater and wear the dress on its own.
Shoes - I have a feeling that heels are a must for this crowd. This pair is a gorgeous dark red color, almost the same as a $300 alternative.
Clutch - $12 from Target. Distantly related to this $360 cousin.
Earrings - Garnet studs from Etsy for $12.
Brooch - Fall leaves in enamel. Looks much more exotic than its $12 price tag.

I recommend wearing your hair up, brushing on some bronzer and doing a soft, dark brown smoky eye. I hope this works for you Nicki!

Party Round-Up

Last night was so fun! I left the office early and was hit by a flash of Martha-inspiration to "haunt" the house. Using black construction paper, I made masks or mustaches for all the portraits in the house. I replaced all our books on display with "scary" titles. Spooked up the bathroom, the front door, etc. The place looked so cute by the time guests were arriving.

The wine-soaked cheese was a big hit, as was Frankenstein-chili with choice of 10 toppings. A couple people said that chili and cornbread was a Halloween tradition in their families, how fun! We finished it off with caramel apples and a really good carrot cake from Trader Joe's.

We gave out coke-bottle glasses from Target as favors and for excellent photo opportunities. You can see all my photos from the party online here.