Thursday, January 31, 2008

What to Wear: Tricky Necklace

Amy has a necklace that she can't figure out what to wear with. Here is her request:
I've been a lurker on your blog and have loved the accessories you have put with your outfits from Forever21. I asked my cute husband for a few Christmas stocking stuffers from there, and let him just choose something that he thought I would like. He said that the selection wasn't that great at our store, but that he did his best. He's got great style, but I'm having a hard time coming up with what to wear with this necklace. I'm stumped. It's not normally something I would choose, but I really, really want to wear it - because it's from him and I love him! I'm 5'9", average build with broad shoulders, long legs, green eyes and shoulder-length, blondish-brown hair. Thank you in advance.
The necklace is mid-length and pearly; a tricky style to pull off. It definitely requires something with a collar and a v-neck styling. Here is my suggestion:

Necklace - Similar to Amy's.
Shirt - This type of collar is so flattering. I always feel very "Jane Austen" when wearing a similar top with my hair up and a chunky strand of pearls. Make sure that the sleeves are bit longer than cap to downsize wide shoulders. These look safe to me.
Jeans - Trouser jeans look great on casual Friday or when running around town. You could definitely pair this top with a pencil skirt for work or church.
Cardigan - With delicate details at the shoulder.
Shoes - Ankle strap wedges in black suede with a bow.
Bag - From Forever21 with a rope handle.
Bracelet - Floral bangle from Forever21.

Toss your favorite wool coat on top and you're ready to go!

Things I Love Today: Perfect Containers

We have a tiny kitchen, so everything needs to serve a dual purpose. The cookie drying rack is also a dish rack. The porcelain tart pan is also for baking fish and small chickens. The hand mixer serves as blender, mixer and food processor.

And leftovers get put in cheap dishes from Chinatown topped with foil. It's a good system until you have to take them somewhere! If I had more room, I would love a set of these glass containers from Martha. And at a little over a dollar a piece, you don't have to worry about giving them away.

What to Wear: Portland Weekend

The Pacific Northwest is the perfect place for a weekend trip. Here is Anne's request:
Since you do such great WTWs (and I loved your packing for Paris post, too), I have a question for you. I am going to spend a long weekend in Portland, Oregon at the end of February. Saturday night will be a fairly casual wedding at a McMenamins, for which I have an adorable b&w wrap dress and a bright blue cardigan for contrast. I need to know what to pack for the rest of the trip - tootling around Portland with the hipster kids in the rain on Friday and Saturday a.m. and a nice post-wedding brunch on Sunday morning.
This sounds like such a fun weekend. I'm jealous! Here's what I would take:

Puffer Vest - I love this vest from Target! I have it in red.
Jeans - From J.Crew in a nice dark wash.
Turtleneck - With a little extra flair at the wrists from Design History on super sale at Bluefly.
Rain Boots - Odds are that it will be raining when you are there. Nothing is warmer than a dry pair of boots! They're not very packable, but so well matched to this weekend.
Tote Bag - For shopping in eco style.

Sweater - On sale from J.Crew.
Shirt - For warmth.
Skirt - A bit of pattern from Banana Republic.
Ballet Flats - Comfy and cute for your big adventure. I had a pair of Jeffrey Campbell's in grey that I wore until they completely fell apart.
Clutch - Packable and fun!

Incidentally, I think this is what I would take with me to Norway. Portland and Norway, apparently the same in my mind. Have a great time in the Northwest!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Wedding Wednesday: China Reprieve?

All is not lost! I just realized that the price tag I had paired with my dream china is actually for the pattern to the left. The $465 Voiles by Puiforcat isn't what I like at all.

Now I just have to track down the real price for that china pattern. Keep your fingers crossed that it isn't even more expensive!

Update: YAY!!! It's a Gump's miracle! I called the second floor saleswoman and she looked up the price. Only $215 a setting! I'm ecstatic!

Update II: It's called Rêve Bleu from Royal Limoges and the only link I can find about it is from some Italian home magazine. (#4)

Wedding Wednesday: Registry Options

Has anyone used to manage their wedding registry? Supposedly, they let you combine your gift registries from different merchants into one online list. It's all free, except for a 5% fee they take on cash gifts.

Good idea? Bad experience? Where did you register?

Wedding Wednesday: Proof of Concept

My vision for the wedding invitations is pretty well sketched out now. I sent this "proof of concept" mock-up to Jordan and she gave it the go-ahead.

It's really rough, so now I'll need to go back and work out the details for the final version. The text has to be written, fonts need adjusting, the images need to be purchased, the flower design updated and the envelope liner found. Jordan shared a great resource for printed paper for the liners.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

To Do: Campaign

Rob and I were pretty active with the 2004 election. We walked precincts and got out the vote. I was chair of voter registration at one point and we painted the headquarter office one weekend...and the none of our candidates won and we got a little discouraged. So, I was nervous about volunteering tonight at the San Francisco for Obama office.

It turned out to be such a great experience! There were over 50 volunteers there making calls. Ranging in ages from 8 to 80; all different races and backgrounds. They ran out of phones and chairs at one point and people were making calls on their cell phones while sitting on the ground. It was so inspiring.

I hope you get out there to support your candidate, too!

What to Wear: Academia Interviews

Ugg...Job interviews are so stressful. Picking out what to wear just adds another nuisance to the whole process. Here is Katherine's request:
I'm a newly married graduate student finishing up my last semester before it's time to get a big girl job. Being both newly married and a graduate student, clothing is not priority when it comes to spending money. I will, however, be going on many job interviews this spring until I find the "perfect" one. I want to find the perfect outfit that will help me get the job!

I'm finishing a Master's in Student Affairs in Higher Education (basically working with students at universities), but I want to work in the professional/ medical/ law/ business school arena. Most of the people who work with grad students are older, but I'm pretty confident that I'd make a quick learner. I'm also looking into jobs in just about every field relating to event planning, career counseling, career placement, and anything else that piques my interest. Looking for jobs is definitely a challenge! :)

I'm a little on the young side for my field of work and want to appear professional (and older) when I go for my job interviews. I'm tall (5'10") and usually wear a size 8. I have trouble finding pants that are long enough for me. I'd love your help!
Dressing for interviews is tough because you're not sure of what kind of person you'll need to impress. It is best to dress a little more conservatively than normal, especially in the post graduate academia sphere.

Jacket - Invest in a versatile and flattering jacket. J.Crew has a lot of options on sale right now. This $130 choice works with trousers, skirts, dresses and jeans.
Pants - It is easy to knock Express, but some of my best trousers are from there. BCBG and Club Monaco are also really good options for affordable suiting in tall styles.
Shirt - Subtle grey stripes from Gap.
Shoes - These grey suede pumps are so gorgeous. They would work with skirts or pants.
Belt - Skinny in platinum. Wear this over sweaters with jeans later.
Portfolio - Skip the traditional briefcase for something a little more modern.
Reading Glasses - From Anthropologie.
Earrings - Because you're a smarty pants who wears earrings from The Met designed in the 1st century AD.

Katherine should also get a pencil skirt and a nice sweater to help expand this outfit into a whole wardrobe.

Recipe: French Onion Soup

I decided to make french onion soup last night in between laundromat trips. My grandmother loved this soup and I had it almost everyday during the last trip to Paris.

Step one is to thinly slice four red onions and four leeks. Wearing swim goggles during this step looks totally ridiculous...but then so does getting all weepy over a pile of onions. I used chicken broth instead of beef and red wine because that's all I had. Next time, I'll caramelize the onions for more like 50-60 minutes instead of 30 minutes.

I served the finished soup with stale bread and gruyère broiled on the top and a big green salad on the side. This would be a perfect Valentine's Day dinner, just be sure to make the soup a couple days ahead of time so your entire house doesn't smell like onion for your romantic evening.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Send Happy Thoughts

I just mailed the lace sheath of my antique wedding dress down to Los Angeles for cleaning. Tracy was nice enough to take the satin lining out this weekend for me so it could be sent off. Dropping it off at the post office felt like sending a friend into surgery. I'm so nervous about it arriving safely and making it through the cleaning process.

Everyone, send happy thoughts to my great grandmother's dress!

Weekend Round-Up: Operation Girlie Weekend

Operation girlie weekend was supposed to launch on Friday night. But we got roped into watching Rambo with co-workers. The payback for last weekend's country fried road trip to Weaverville started on Saturday morning instead! Two days to subject Rob to all my favorite girlie activities.

First on the agenda: Gump's! We took the subway downtown to my favorite department store to look at things for our wedding registry. Rob and I both fell instantly in love with one china pattern...unfortunately $465 a setting. Maybe we could just register for the pattern's dessert plates along with something more affordable?

After Gump's, we went to the Garden Room at the Palace Hotel for a fancy lunch. The "sunny" faux glass ceiling is perfect for counteracting a cold winter storm. I had the dungeness crab salad and Rob had a steak, crab cake and asparagus dish. Heaven!

We walked up to Macy's after lunch to look at more china. Unbeknownst to me, this was the registry weekend downtown and Macy's was packed with brides attending a special event. We snuck in with the pack and grabbed free gift bags before making an exit. Free whisks! We also stopped in at Crate and Barrel, where I picked up the Real Simple wedding guide.

Loaded with free wedding goodies, we went to see Juno at the Metreon. Loved it! Afterwards, Rob needed something from the downtown Cole Hardware store. This counts for the girlie weekend because I love city hardware stores. The density! The fact they have jammed everything you need to build a house into 1,500 square feet! The ancient brickwork ceiling and sense of impending earthquake danger!

Back at home around 5:00, Rob and I had a simple dinner and worked on a 750-piece puzzle of the Eiffel Tower we bought downtown. I love doing puzzles, especially at breakneck speed (which tends to drive my family nuts). We finished it just in time to watch Northanger Abbey on PBS.

I slept in on Sunday morning until Rob brought me the Sunday New York Times. We spent the morning reading with coffee and baked apples.

At 11, I took Rob for his first ever pedicure! He was a bit undecided about it:

It started to rain when we drove over to the Legion of Honor. It was packed with people trying to see the Marie-Antoinette exhibit. Maybe it was the crowds but I wasn't that impressed. After the museum, we went to lunch at an old burger place on Clement Street called Bill's that is decorated with chandeliers and replicates of presidential china. We went by Guitar Center on the way home to ask about amplifying my acoustic bass.

Margaret came up from the peninsula at 5:30 to borrow a laptop, talk wedding planning and get dinner. We went for Ethiopian at a place up the street. What a perfect way to end the perfect girlie weekend! There are a couple more photos to see online here.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Urban Girl Alamanac: Flood Advisory

When will it stop raining? I'm getting tired of bundling up like an eskimo. And since I haven't been motivated to do my daily walk to the grocery store, we've been stuck eating bean tacos. Here's what I learned this week:
  • Designing my own wedding invitations is going better than I thought it would.
  • The club ladies have some great recipe ideas.
  • How on earth did the producers of Moment of Truth manage to make it sooo boring? I could only watch a couple minutes before turning off the TV.
  • It's fun to watch California freak out when it snows.
  • For some odd reason, I've only needed 5 hours of sleep each night this week.
  • Pinto beans require more seasoning than black beans.
  • Turtleneck + dress + tights + boots = warmth.
  • I discovered how to make envelope liners.
  • Say hello to the newest LAC chapter in Avondale, Florida! We're up to five by my count.
  • "Bliss on Toast" is my new favorite saying.
This weather has put a damper on our weekend plans. It was my plan to have a super girly weekend with Rob to make up for last weekend's adventures. Going to Gump's, shopping for china, getting pedicures, watching Juno and having a candlelit dinner. We'll see if we can even manage to leave the house. Have a great weekend!

What to Wear: Plaid Pencil Skirt

It is so stormy and cold this week! As a California girl used to mild winters, I'm struggling with how to look cute and stay warm. My latest trick has been to throw a turtleneck under a dress with opaque tights. Here is Carla's request:
I really enjoy reading your blog--you do everything with such aplomb {ed:bonus points for use of "aplomb"} and style! I have a what-to-wear request. I have a skirt very similar to the one in this photo except without the bow. The plaid has a very thin stripe of dark turquoise, though it's not very noticeable more than a foot or two away. I have black and brown boots and tights that I can wear with this (depending on what you recommend), so I'm really looking for different tops to wear--mostly for work, but if you have more casual looks in mind, that would be great, too! I just can't seem to think of anything but brown or white, which is getting really boring. I'm 5'9'', size 10, with a (shall we say) ample chest, so v-necks are better than turtlenecks or crewnecks. I have blond hair and blue eyes. Thanks in advance for your help!
I love this skirt! Plaid is adorable for winter.

Skirt - Plaid pencil skirt with bow sash on sale for $168. When I showed Rob this last night he said "that goes with everything."
Sweater - Any sort of jewel tone would be lovely with the plaid. Choose bright shades to help bring you into spring. This magenta cashmere top is on sale for $69 from Gap. Turquoise, to match the threading, would also be a great choice. Without the bow on the skirt, you can wear it tucked or untucked.
Boots - The beauty of plaid is that both brown and black boots would work. I would pair this top with nude fishnets instead of black tights.
Earrings - Vintage inspired pearl clusters play up the classic silhouette.
Coat - On sale for $129 from La Redoute in versatile chocolate brown.
Purse - Bronze metallic handbag from Kenneth Cole for $80.

Professional and sharp for work!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Introducing Bijou!

I'm proud to introduce a new addition to the family: Bijou! My sister and her boyfriend recently adopted this "Plott Hound" out in North Carolina. It is hard to believe my baby sister is becoming a home owner and a dog owner this month.

What a cutie! She definitely works the glamor shot.

Ladies Activity Club: Cookbooks

The January LAC party was held on Tuesday night this week. We kicked off the New Year with our own club cookbook. The Junior League has nothing on us now!

Casey and Jessie teamed up to host twelve of us for a chili and cornbread dinner followed by a recipe exchange. Each club member brought 15 copies of two of their favorite recipes, one sweet and one savory. Each person passed them around while detailing why they were special.

Once they were all passed out, we worked on binding our new recipe books with paper and ribbon. Each person's final cookbook was a little different. You can see more photos from the party here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Wedding Wednesday: RSVP Cards

Last year someone posted a fantastic idea for RSVP cards (I apologize that I've forgotten who). Instead of traditional "check here" style RSVP cards, the couple printed an open box in the shape of a dialog bubble for their guests to creatively fill in.

I only have a small photo of that design but it has kick started all sorts of fun brainstorming. Wouldn't the completed cards be a fun keepsake for your wedding album?

Wedding Wednesday: White on White

One idea for the invitation is to run the letterpress design with no ink, so the pattern will just be imprinted deeply in the paper with no color. Here is an example.

I did a quick mock-up of this last night using a dover peony clip art I found and oak leaves I had from a previous design. The peony would be imprinted lines only and the oak leaves would be a full stamp. It's not perfect, but it is a pretty good start. Click on the photo to enlarge if you'd like.

The challenge is how to incorporate this all ivory design to match the yellow stage design I'm working on for the RSVP and save the date notes. Yellow envelope? Yellow ribbon tied around the invitation? Yellow border around the frame of the invite?

Wedding Wednesday: Invitations

My goal for Wedding Wednesday this week is to get a handle on the invitation design. I'm a good graphic designer, but I get nervous when doing projects for myself. I can be a very tough client!

I have some ideas in mind and keep finding new inspiration. Daisy Chain posted a link to this French reception menu from 1919 and my head literally exploded. Isn't that gorgeous! Alphonsine was one lucky bride.

I isolated the orange blossom design last night (click here to get the large size). It is too low res for print but could work in an email invitation to a bridal shower.

If you've seen an example of letterpress design you love recently, pass on the link! I'm specifically looking for designs with flowers. I'm not used to the 3D nature of letterpress and need some ideas.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Coveted: Antique Ribbon Cabinet

This ribbon display case comes from the Trinity County Museum and is originally from the old Morris Hardware Store in Weaverville.

Wouldn't you love to have one of these at home for yourself? There is an antique ribbon cabinet for sale in New York for only $4,500.

What to Wear: La Paz

A Mexican vacation sounds like just the thing to combat these rainy coastal winter days. Lisa is lucky to be going to La Paz soon:
My husband and are I heading to La Paz, Mexico in early February for a belated 10 year wedding anniversary. This will be our first trip without kiddos in 3 ½ years. Part of the trip will be spent hanging out in the city of La Paz, the other half will be spent out in kayaks/camping with an outdoor adventure group. I wondered if you have any good resources for purchasing warm weather clothing in the middle of winter and maybe some suggestions for basics to bring with us for traveling and while we are on vacation.
I checked the weather report and it looks like the weather is in the 60's and 70's right now. Hopefully, it will be a little warmer next month. Here is an outfit that can work either way:

Bikini - Bathing suit as bra is a colorful way to switch to vacation mode. I like this blue and red pattern from Old Navy.
Shirt - C&C California makes super comfy tees. I also like to wear a long sleeved tee over my bikini when kayaking to prevent my shoulders and chest from sunburn.
Khakis - Gap does know their khakis. Find a pair that is loose and soft.
Sweater - To wear at night or on colder days.
Flip Flops - Old Navy's new design looks promising.
Sunglasses - Aviators seem ideal for Baja.
Tote Bag - Made of recycled sails for style and sea-cred.
Book - Steinbeck's The Pearl is set in La Paz.

Have fun on your trip!

Weekend Round-up: Gone Country

Our annual trip to "the weave" was an adventure, as always! In the last three days, I visited a Wal-Mart and a Kmart, learned how to shoot a gun and almost got snowed in. Yee haw! You can see all my photos from the weekend online.

Margaret came to the city on Friday night and we went to the climbing gym before a great dinner at Woodhouse Fish Company (I recommend the crab and cheddar roll). We tucked in fairly early.

Early departure on Saturday morning. The five hour drive north goes fairly quickly. We stop in at a Wal-Mart in Redbluff for allergy medicine and a Kmart in Redding for an errand. I quickly hijacked that visit to stock up on some fun Martha goodies. We make it over to snowy Weaverville around 1:00 and catch up with Rich and Molly while changing into boots and long-johns. She's an ag teacher at the high school in Hayfork and he is in charge of IT for the high school in Weaverville. Their baby is due in April.

We walk down from their house to the Trinity County Museum in old town. It's nicely done with lots of Chinese and Victorian artifacts. Well worth visiting if you have some reason to be in those neck of the woods. From there we go to dinner at the fancy restaurant in town. It's crowded with parents from an elementary school basketball tournament. Rob has buffalo meatloaf and we all enjoy ourselves!

Everyone sleeps in on Sunday morning, it is nice and toasty with the iron stove going. When we finally motivate, it is to walk down to town for breakfast at Mama Lamma. (Located between Eureka and Redding, Weaverville is a mix of ranchers and hippies). After breakfast, shooting!

*Note: I've always been firmly pro-gun control and pro-non-lethal self defense. But also really, really scared of guns. I decided this was a good opportunity to conquer my fear and learn how to be safe. *

The guys gave Margaret and me a thorough lesson in technique and safety before we drove out to the range. It's just a little wood shack in the middle of nowhere. Margaret was good straight away and I didn't do too bad either. We had more fun when we switched from paper targets to tin cans. Overall, I was proud of myself. We managed to look cute, too:

Back at their house, we warmed up a bit by the stove with Molly who had stayed behind. The guys went to buy fuel for the stove heater while us girls went antique shopping in town. It's nice that they live just a few blocks from the main street. Back home after a couple of hours.

We started a game of Monopoly that quickly turned into a battle royale. So much so that we played until after 8....until after all the restaurants in town close. We managed to get a table at the Nugget Diner only by having Rob run ahead before they closed at 8:30. Greasy spoon fare and a video back at home before bed.

We woke up Sunday morning to falling snow! Not in the plan for driving home in our tiny Honda Fit with no chains, but very pretty. Rich made us all breakfast and we sat around the stove. At 9:30, Rob, Rich and I went back to the shooting range in his big red truck for one more practice. I got a couple really good shots in.

We returned to the house to pack up and watch it snow even harder. If it had started sticking, we wouldn't have been able to make it back to Redding. Lunch at a sandwich place called Trinideli and lots of hugs goodbye. Next time we see our friends, they'll be parents!

We bought chains on our way out of town just in case and hit the road. It was gorgeous with all the snow covered trees and the roads were thankfully fairly dry. We drove home, in and out of rain all the way. Getting back to a soaked San Francisco around 6:30. The country is nice, but I love the city!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Urban Girl Almanac: City Mouse

This has been a good week. The sun is out and we're headed into a three day weekend. Here's what I learned this week:
  • I ♥ Jane Austen.
  • Riding the tandem bike is much faster, dorkier, than walking to work.
  • Pretzel chips with hummus is the best snack.
  • I climbed my first ever 10d this week! Yay!
  • Ancient jewelry designs endure. I have a pair of etruscan design earrings that I bought when I was a horribly unstylish 13 year old and still wear.
  • I've recently discovered the joy of Freaks and Geeks.
  • La Redoute is running a great sale on French basics right now.
  • Keeping cans of various beans in the cabinet helps with last minute meals.
  • Spending a couple hours at the hair salon getting color and a blow out is a great treat.
  • I simply do not have the caffeine tolerance required for drinking a tall morning latte without turning into Tyrone Biggums.
  • Staying out until 3am on a school night isn't so bad in moderation.
  • I hereby vow to never watch another scary movie filmed in "hand held camcorder" style.
Margaret, Rob and I are off on a road trip tomorrow morning! The car is packed with Cheeze-its and mix CDs for the 5 hour trek up Weaverville. Our adorable country mouse friends, Rich and Molly, live there and have a baby arriving in the spring. You may remember Weaverville from last year's trip and the wedding before that. Should be another funny adventure!

Movie Report: Cloverfield

If you're thinking to yourself: "Hmm, I really liked the Blair Witch Project a few years ago....if only the camera work in that film could have been 30% more shaky" then Cloverfield is the right choice for you.

The movie was almost rendered completely unwatchable by the floppy hand-held style. A lot of people seated in the front of the theater got up and stood toward the back the whole time instead as to not get seasick. Aside from a couple funny pieces of dialog, there isn't much else worth reporting about this film. It was all stress and no substance.

The one highlight of our late evening was when we met up in a bar nearby before the show. We accidentally ran into the tail end of a MacWorld cocktail party. Some of the best people watching I've ever seen: Warlocks! Three women being desperately courted by 10 geeks! IT managers in a variety of shapes! A guy with a live WiFi webcam strapped to his hat! It was endlessly amusing.

What to Wear: Working from Home Mother

It sounds like Jacinda has her hand's more than full with a baby and a home business:
I had a baby 7 months ago and although I am almost back down to my pre-preg weight, my shape has changed a bit and I haven't really found a look that matches my mommy lifestyle. We live in San Diego and I run a small Marketing/Branding/Graphic Design shop from home. I would describe my taste as classic/sporty with a funky twist. I have been wearing empire waistlines to hide my new tummy but that really just emphasizes my new thighs and hides my thinest part which is still my waist.

Really my only restriction is that it must be wash and wear. Babies are soooo messy. I like deals (who doesn't) but would probably go up to $150-$200 for a special piece. For pants I wont spend much because I plan to be a skinny minnie again by Summer and don't want to be stuck with $200 fat jeans. : ) What do you suggest?
Machine washable, affordable, artistic and's not too hard when you start to focus on the key items:

Jeans - A well fitting pair can do wonders for your wardrobe and self-esteem. The difference between price ranges is often just how easy it will be to find a flattering pair (and sometimes how quickly they stretch out or how much the dye rubs off on your hands). Personally, I'd rather pay an extra $100 just not to have to try on a million pairs to get one I like. See if you can find a discount designer pair at Nordstrom Rack or Marshall's. Don't forget to try places like J.Crew (pictured) and Old Navy just in case, too.
Shirt - Basic wash and wear t-shirts are easy for taking care of baby and can be easily dressed up when clients call. This tank style tee has a super flattering cut.
Jacket - Glam it up with a little jacket that can be easily tossed on for business or errands. I love the bright green and nautical inspiration of this machine washable choice.
Flats - A cute patterned pair of metallic flats adds extra flair. This pewter cut-out pair is from Target.
Jewelry - A statement piece of jewelry can make you look creative and put together. These earrings are best worn when there aren't little hands around to tug.
Bag - Big enough to carry all your work and baby needs.
Goose - This certified organic baby toy could not be cuter!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

To Do: Cloverfield?

How did I get sucked in to this one? A midnight showing of scary film Cloverfield downtown tonight?

I'm told that is the combination of Blair Witch Project and Godzilla...lovely. At least it isn't an alien film. I'll let you know tomorrow how it goes.

What to Wear: NYC Internship

New York, New York, what a wonderful town! How exciting it must be for Leigh to intern there this winter:
I'm going to be huffing it around New York City for a month. I've gotten an internship in a notable photographer's studio (not fashion photography, in case you're wondering). I'm a college student without a work wardrobe. How can I keep it relatively simple, professional, comfortable and maintain a bit quirkiness at the same time? note: If it helps I'm into both the tailored "men's wear" look and anything retro in general.
I'm wearing a variation of this outfit myself today:

Jacket - I have this and like to wear it unbuttoned. It has a really modern structural quality that way, you'll have to use your imagination. Also, note that I'm a size 2 and I bought a large. Tulle's sizing is wack.
Sweater - A basic v-neck in heather grey.
Trousers - At $500 these are gorgeous and really just for inspiration. Find a great pair of black slacks, consignment stores often have theory pairs on super discount.
Shoes - Red flats add color to this outfit and are great for walking all over the city.
Purse - From Urban Outfitters for only $58.
Necklace - Also from Urban Outfitters.
Sunglasses - So you can be a tough rocker like me!

Keep up the good work!

In the Event of January Blues/Mean Reds

I've thankfully recovered from my phase of being mad/sad/grump last week. I think it is January itself that really promotes this sort of bad attitude. Just in case some of you are suffering from a bit of seasonal agitation disorder, I propose inspiration in Bret's Angry Dance from Flight of the Conchords:

(PS: If angry dancing isn't your thing...I've also found that snapping a pencil in half can be immensely satisfying. Or there is always the three day weekend ahead to focus on.)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wedding Wednesday: Magnolia Kits

The Illustrious Lindsay came through with a great recommendation for the paper flower garland!

These magnolia kits from Paper Source make 16" flowers. Perfect for adding a bit of structure and uniformity when combined with more diverse tissue and origami paper blossoms. Thank you, Lindsay (and have fun in Hawaii)!

Wedding Wednesday: Flowers in Your Hair

A couple small heirloom roses tucked in behind your ear. It doesn't get much more romantic than that for wedding day hair!

Using silk flowers is supposed to be easier and more durable, but there is something special about using the real thing. I'm going to ask my florist for the bouquets to save a couple extra tea roses for my hair. If they fall out during the reception, so be it.

Wedding Wednesday: Paper Garland

I tore a copy of this Simple Silhouettes photo from a bridal magazine last month. It's not the dress I like (although it is nice) but the paper garland in the background. I've been trying to brainstorm ideas for decorating the stage that will be a centerpiece of our reception and variety show (here are fun photos of the stage in action).

I love the idea of a paper flower, umbrella and banner swag to hang on one side of the stage. If you have a chance to see the print ad, take a closer look at the details in the paper.

Wedding Wednesday: Votive Holders

Plain glass votive holders would be fine for our tables. But I love the idea of something with a tiny bit more flair. I was looking for rustic thick glass votive holders, with no luck yet, when I remembered Jamali Garden. I bought my centerpiece vases from this supply company in New York.

I like this design in smoke, these in white frost or this design in amber.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Inspired: Dash and Albert

Confession time: I am a rug-hater. I get that rugs look nice and fill in a room. But I hate cleaning them. I hate shopping for them. And I definitely hate paying exorbitant prices for them when they will indisputably be stained and ready to toss after a year or so.

Dash and Albert may turn me around! Their inexpensive woven rugs (think $150 for 6x9) are colorful, casual and all around perfect. And I'm in love with this slightly more expensive wool chocolate and white rug. I'm ordering a catalog today!

What to Wear: Changing Sizes

Fluctuating body types require a flexible wardrobe that can change with your waistline. Here is Lisa's request:
I have a what to wear for you. I'm in my thirties, attending college to finish up a long delayed degree in Art History. For the last 9 months, I've been attending classes only, no work. I am now re-entering the work place, however, during that time I was living off a school loan and lost about 10 pounds (size 6). These are pounds that I will gain back because apparently those were responsible for my curves (size 8-10).

Right now, all of my pants and skirts hang loose and most will not work with a belt. So I need to buy a few things to get by in the transition, what do you think I should buy?
I will probably be in another semi-casual job, so if they can also double duty as off-duty clothes, all the better.
The simple solution is a wrap dress! The more complicated answer lies in the fun voluminous silhouettes that are in style this season. Here are two suggestions, one for each:

Dress - Wrap dresses are so flexible. On a thin frame, wrap it tightly. Once your curves are back, the dress will really show them off. This choice from La Redoute for $44 is good for winter with boots or in spring with bright pumps.
Boots - From Nine West on sale for only $74!
Sweater Tunic - Wear with skinny black jeans now or with tailored trousers later. A low slung belt adds some definition.
Flats - With metal buckles.
Purse - Black pleated leather.
Earrings - From Forever 21.

Chic and flexible!

Inspired: French Politicians

I just love this photo from the Sunday Times in an article on French politics. Look at how impeccably they're all dressed for this little espresso break/photo shoot. Because of this shot, I am now forced to buy a cute trench from La Redoute. Drats.

Monday, January 14, 2008

To Do: Complete Jane Austen

Honestly, when I first read about this in the Sunday Times I was so excited I almost fell out of bed. For the next two months, PSB's Masterpiece Theater is running the "complete Jane Austen."

It starts this week with Persuasion and will include airings of Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park, Miss Austen Regrets (a new bio pic), Pride and Prejudice (the 4 hour Colin Firth version), Emma and Sense and Sensibility. I'm in heaven!

What to Wear: Super Bowl Party

I love a good Super Bowl party. Especially a Super Bowl party with onion dip and that excellent combination of a block of cream cheese and a jar of salsa. Here is Melissa's request:
Help! Super Bowl is just around the corner - and I have a good-looking date... the problem is what to wear!! I want to look cute - but nothing too dressy but at the same time not just a T-shirt and jeans.....I am 5'6 and wear a 4/6 - brown hair and brown eyes.. Any ideas??
Sport enough to hang with the guys. Cute enough to schmooze with the other lady guests at the party. Done!

Cardigan - A casual little number from Forever21.
Long sleeved tee - In the color of the team you're cheering for.
Jeans - A bootcut pair.
Sneakers- In case there is a halftime game of flag football on the lawn calling your name.
Purse - To match the sweater.
Headband - With a fun kimono fabric print.

Have fun at the party!

Weekend Round-Up: Riding and Relaxing

This was a nicely balanced weekend. Friday, after work, we went to the climbing gym for one last wear-out of the week. Back at home we ordered a big pizza and watch the last of the Flight of the Conchords.

The sun was finally out again on Saturday morning. Perfect for a long bike ride! We got out the tandem and went for a lovely 20 mile ride around the coast of the city. First down to China Basin, a neighborhood that is quickly going from empty lots to fancy office building. From there we rode past the circus and the ballpark, past the farmers market at the ferry building and the tourists at fisherman's wharf. We encountered our first hills in Fort Mason and the Presidio, tough going!

Finally, all the way to Sutro Park (my favorite) where we sat and watched the big waves along ocean beach. Then back on the bike to ride a couple more miles home through Golden Gate Park. We could barely walk once we finally got off the bikes.

Back at home we zonked. A couple hot baths and a bit of Lego Star Wars, the easiest and most fun video game! At 5:45, we headed out again. This time for three miles on foot to a dinner party at my cousin's apartment. Great vegetarian food, wine and conversation. We walked back home around 10:30.

Sunday morning was pure lazy. I stayed in bed until after 11 with the Sunday paper and a coffee. Showered and dressed only to run some errands in the neighborhood and get nachos at a taqueria. Back at home, I devoted myself to preparing blog posts for the week ahead, designing a site for the Ladies Activity Club and writing an 18-page manual for starting your own LAC that will be for sale on the site soon.

It felt really good to get so much done! And I finished just in time to watch Persuasion on PBS.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Urban Girl Alamanac: Tough Week

I hope I don't have another difficult week like this one for a long while. Bad weather, drama at work, neighbor being loud, more drama at work....ugh. Here's what I learned:
  • I can survive a full week without a car in the city during the worst storm of the past decade.
  • I love George Elliot.
  • Canceling the cable TV has resulted in watching more international news, getting more sleep, reading more and doing more fun things outside the apartment. Pretty good!
  • Mmmm...homemade chicken soup with mushrooms and white beans.
  • My resolutions to be thicker skinned/more tough are definitely works in progress at this point.
  • Blog readers make for the best cheering squad.
  • I'm obsessed with the Flight of the Conchords.
  • A new healthy grocer has opened up in the neighborhood. I love the way the city is constantly being reinvented.
  • Wedding Wednesdays seems to work
  • I need to be better about standing up for myself.
  • A family friend sent me a pair of fantastic red cowboy boots!
  • Rob's so great. He did the laundry and brought me Chinese food when I was feeling down last night.
  • I'm going to the climbing gym three times this week?
The sun is coming out as I speak and the weekend is supposed to be bright and clear. Plus, we're invited to a dinner party at my cousin's! Things are looking up.

What to Wear: Winter Essentials

Winter in California really starts in January, so it is appropriate that I'm just now getting around to Jenifer's request:
I am wondering what you consider to be the essential pieces to any wardrobe for the winter. I work full time and I like to be a little dressy but I don't wear suits or anything. I wear skirts a lot and wonder what your recommendations are as far as skirts, blazers, sweaters, dresses, and pants are for a working wardrobe that can also be worn on the weekend. I also seem to have trouble accessorizing. I love to wear jeans on the weekend so I'd like to purchase blazers and sweaters that can be worn with jeans as well as skirts and dressier pants.
I love essentials! You'll always have something to wear if you have the following around:

Pencil skirt - Perfect with pumps for work or kicky boots on the weekend.
Trousers - I love Club Monaco pants for work.
Wrap Dress - A dress with long sleeves is perfect with opaque tights and boots in the winter. You can often find DVF dresses at Nordstrom Rack on sale.
Sweaters - Lots and lots of sweaters. I wear nothing but sweaters all winter long it seems. Long sleeved tees are useful for layering underneath.
Light Jackets - Little cover ups are great at work and with jeans on the weekend.
Jeans - A straight leg pair is good tucked into boots or keeping out of the puddles with flats.
Coat - A black wool coat goes with everything.
Flat Boots - Warm and comfy.
Flats -I love a pair of red flats. Great with pants or with opaque tights.

Throw in some gloves, scarves, a cute handbag, some more sweaters and you're basically set for the winter!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

What to Wear: Rock Climbing

Thanks for all the nice notes. I'm feeling a bit better. Looking forward to a hot bath and relaxing tonight. In addition to being grumpy, I'm also way sore from being at the gym too many times this week. Maya is a fellow climber looking for style tips:
I'm a big fan of your blog and always find your posts inspirational. One of my new year's resolutions is to improve my rock climbing skills, meaning it's time to invest in some gear! It seems like you're an avid climber, so I was wondering if you could lend some recommendations on gear that you like (harness, shoes, etc.) and a cute, but practical climbing outfit. Most of my climbing will take place indoors at a gym, but I plan on doing outdoor climbs once I hone my skills.
The key advice is to never wear shorts rock climbing. Shorts + harness = bad things happening. Here is my recommendation for Maya:

Tank - Climbing gives you a really toned back and arms. Show them off with a flattering tank.
Pants - Stretchy, yoga-type pants are my favorite. You'll protect your knees from scrapes and avoid the horrible shorts disaster. Really good climbers usually prefer jeans. Dark colors help you look cool and intense when you're covered in chalk by the end of the night.
Shoes - I got a pair of these last year. Very sticky with a great edge for those teeny pieces. And remarkably comfortable too. (For non-climbers: these shoes are meant to be really tight and painful; having a smaller foot means being able to cram it into smaller cracks. Think foot binding/point shoes.)
Jacket - For staying warm in between climbs.
Harness - I can't really recommend one model over another, this is Rob's domain. Go to REI and try them on to see which is best for you.
Chalk Bag - Sometimes you can find them with cute fabric patterns in the store.
Tape - For the occasional time that you rip off a piece of a finger mid-climb.
Lotion - L'Occitane shea butter cream really helps to repair the damage to your hands post climb.

Maya will be one stylish rope gun!


I've got a case of the mean blues (or reds, as Audrey would say) today. I'm in a raging bad mood for a host of reasons.

One of which is royally dumb: because I got a raise. But it was less than the raise that others got and I now I feel bad about my corporate value, ability to work well with others, etc. I'm not feeling pleasant or bloggerie just yet.

I promise I'll get over it and return to posting shortly. After all, this isn't the sort of thing a tough rocker-type would be upset about.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Things I Love Today: Candlelit Ceremonies

There's not much that's more romantic than a wedding ceremony lit only by candles. Rob's cousin had her wedding in a tiny church with no electricity. It was tough on the wedding photographers (us) but so cozy and special for everyone else.

Our wedding will be outside in the afternoon, so I'm passing on this idea. Maybe for renewing our vows 10 years down the road!

Bridesmaid Dress Inspiration

I'm only having three bridesmaids, so finding dresses should be pretty easy. J.Crew, Anthropologie, even Nordstrom's all have affordable and cute options. Here are some dresses that could work for bridesmaids:

Camilla Dress - I kind of love the "orange peel" color online, not sure how I would feel about it in person. Don't you think J.Crew stores should stock at least one of each of their formal dresses so you could at least see them in person before spending $250 online?
Ivory Sophia Dress - Paired with yellow sashes.
Rain in Spain Shift - Really vintage with a cute, cut out back.
Taffeta Party Dress - Only $68.
Gryphon Tank Dress - Such a rich yellow color! I think this is my favorite choice, but is jersey not wedding appropriate?
Calypso Dress - Satin wrap dress would be universally flattering and with a 1940's feel.