Monday, March 31, 2008

What to Wear: All New Shoes

Jennifer has a fun problem:
I know your list is super long {ed: it is, please wait at little longer to send your requests}, but I’m a desperate woman so I wanted to get in the queue. I recently had a baby (3 months ago). I’ve worked hard to regain my figure, and my old clothes fit again. However, my feet have grown from a size 8.5 to a size 9, and ALL OF MY SHOES ARE TOO TIGHT! I’ve heard this happens sometimes after a pregnancy. It’s weird and it’s permanent. Anyway, I need an entirely new shoe wardrobe. The main workhorses of my shoe wardrobe had been tall black boots and low heeled patent leather black pumps. I need to replace those staples, but I’m also wondering if you had to start all over with shoes… what are the essentials and which ones would you choose? I’d like the choices to be classic, so that all of my shoes won’t permanently date me to 2008.
For money-sense, let's choose all the classic pairs from one shop (shipping!) and from the sale section:

Flats - I couldn't get by without a good selection of flats in different colors. My steel gray and wine red pairs are favorites. This green pair would go well with jeans or skirts this spring.
Pumps - A classic black pump is the ideal power-shoe. There really isn't anything these can't be worn with. I like one with a bit of a thicker heel, to make your ankles extra slim.
Boots - I only buy pairs that are either flat or with a comfortable stacked heel, otherwise they'll never get worn. Supplement your tall pair with a flat set that can have jeans tucked in or be worn with casual skirts and dresses. You could hold off until next winter, but there are some good sales right now.
Sneakers - I like Pumas best, but you can rarely find them on sale. These bright chucks are fun for warmer months.

Have fun stocking up!

Cottage vs. Cottage

Who else watched the first part of Masterpiece Theater's Sense and Sensibility last night? It's up against stiff competition from Ang Lee's version with Emma Thompson that I've watched at least eight times.

So far, the TV version is a lot more detailed and realistic. The most striking change is the cottage. In Ang Lee's version, it was still pretty nice and set back from a calm marsh (I wrote about it here). The Masterpiece version is a lot more run down and right on the cold ocean...but I really love the shell decorations and watercolor painting details inside. Which cottage do you like better?

Weekend Round-Up: Country Slumber Party

This weekend was short and full of driving. It's fun to visit our country friends Rich and Molly but I wish they lived just a tiny bit closer.

On Friday night, Rob and I came home from work to pack for our trip. To bed early in order to wake up at 6:30 am the next morning and hop in the car. Five and some hours later, we made it to Weaverville. In the rush, I forgot both my cell phone and camera at home.

From there, we quickly said hello and hopped in the car to drive to Molly's parent's ranch in Hayfork. The family has lived and raised cattle there for over 100 years. The main house is a former creamery building that was relocated by horse-drawn carriage.

The baby shower started soon after we arrived. Rob went off with the boys to play rancher. I caught up with the aunties and "awwed" at the onsies. Her mother smartly asked everyone to bring a favorite children's book. It was fun to revisit some books I had as a kid.

After the guests left, the remaining family bundled up for a walk down to the river. It is still very much winter up there, very brisk. A big dinner of spaghetti and salad with the whole family. Red wine and Irish whiskey after dinner. At 10:30, they set up four beds in the living room for us and the aunties, put out the wood stove and said goodnight.

It got very cold during the night and at one point I scooted under a 50 pound feather bed to stay warm. At 7:30, we woke up to the fire being started and coffee on the stove. I had only been 20 degrees overnight! A big ranch breakfast of pancakes, home-raised sausage and eggs. We hung out for a bit and then hit the road at 11:00.

The cold that I had been so ferociously holding back in Hayfork surfaced with a vengeance once in the car. I slept most of the way. When we stopped briefly for lunch, I was completely out of it and left my purse behind in a place called "Olive City." (The restaurant is graciously mailing it back to me).

At home at 5:00, I instantly changed into satin pajamas for a nap, followed by a long bath. Rob brought me Enchanted to watch and even he admitted it was pretty good. I spent the rest of the evening calling back everyone who'd left me phone messages and scheduling the busy week ahead. Part 1 of Sense and Sensibility on PBS before going to bed.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Coveted: Expensive Purses

I know that technically I can afford some of these lovely handbags...but I could never actually bring myself to fork over the money. But, what if:

1. Kooba Katy Bag - $645.

2. Riverstones Bag - $248.

3. Vanessa Bruno Tote
- $628.

Bottega Veneta Hobo - $1,304 - Urban Outfitters made a knock off of this last season that I bought in white. Close in appearance, terrible horrible smelling.

How I'd love to have a shiny new purse...

Urban Girl Alamnac: Showers

This has been a pretty long week. I've had headaches, which I never get and if I do usually means that I'm coming down with a cold. Here's what I learned this week:
  • It makes me happy to see my back neighbor's garden in bloom for spring.
  • We have started mailing out save-the-dates. It is so official...people are going to start booking hotel rooms!
  • Cooking at home is healthier and cheaper than eating out.
  • We're lucky to have friends who will come across town for sushi and cake to celebrate Rob's birthday.
  • Buying a cool new stereo system will make you completely forget about TV.
  • Recession, boo.
  • I'm in love with my wedding china. It gets prettier each time I look at it.
  • Rob and I are getting to be pretty good in our music lesson. Our instructor wants us to play with him in a folk music festival.
  • This cold snap means it is last call to wear your favorite chunky winter sweaters!
  • I'm addicted to cell phone tetris.
  • I went to look at silk and vintage lace for my wedding dress at Britex last night, so fun.
We're off to Hayfork this weekend for Molly's baby shower. She's due in 10 days, I hope the baby doesn't choose to attend the party!

To Do: 10 Must See Musicals

Okay, so I love musicals. It is pretty geeky and old fashioned of me...I just appreciate the concept of people bursting into song and dance in everyday situations.

We covered one of the best modern musicals earlier this week, Everyone Says I Love You. Here are some other favorites:

1. An American in Paris - The quintessential musical. Amazing music with an artsy edge. Leslie Caron is super darling. Gene Kelly is killer as a beatnik painter. Here's one favorite scene.

2. Guys and Dolls - Another musical with a bit of an edge, this time dealing with mobsters. I love the opening scene.

3. On the Town - There's no edge to this's pure sweet sap! Here's a clip.

4. Top Hat - Most Fred and Ginger movies are pretty identical. Lots of elegant sets, a meet cute and plenty of dancing. Swing Time is another favorite. Here's a clip.

5. White Christmas - Bing and Rosemary are supposed to be the stars, but I like Danny and Vera the best. Pure Christmas cheese.

6. Meet me in St. Louis - Easily one of my all time favorites. Judy Garland is incredible and I love the story. Watch'll cry. You might recognize this song.

7. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers - The plot of this one is more than bizarre. But the music is good. Howard Keel's baritone voice is incredible.

8. Singin' in the Rain - There's a reason why this film is so famous. It's a lot funnier that you'd expect. And then there's Gene Kelly again.

9. South Pacific - I actually like the Carnegie Hall version with Reba better than the movie. Rob heard the CD way too many times and it has recently mysteriously disappeared from the car.

10. The Philadelphia Story - This one isn't really a musical...but there is some singing involved. It's one of my absolute favorite Katherine Hepburn films. Here's one musical interlude. High Society is the same plot, but in color with Grace Kelley and Bing Crosby.

Did I skip your favorite?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

What to Wear: Cold Spring Day

My gosh, it is cold today. Our warm spring weather in San Francisco has disappeared. It even rained yesterday. Too far on the calendar to wear tweeds...too cold to wear spring brights, what's a girl to do? How about toss her current wardrobe and stock up on lovely new bargain pieces:

Sweater - In warm cashmere.
Pants - In classic gray garbadine.
Jacket - $40 from Target in that perfect yellow color.
Purse - From the Angie & Lola collection at Target.
Earrings - From Anthropologie.
Pumps - It has been embarrassingly long since I had a pedicure.
Scarf - From Forever21.

Note: For the time being, I am not going to be taking any new What to Wear requests. Just too darn busy with city living and wedding planning. I'll be trying to clear out the queue and still doing one now and then. Once things settle down, the WTW's will probably return. Thanks for understanding!

To Do: Wear Pants

I've recently decided that I hate, not all, but most pants. Which is odd because I have long, skinny legs and pants should work for me. But so, so many pairs really don't (I'm looking at you Banana Republic). And those wide leg pairs that are in style have this magic way of only ever looking good when you're not the one wearing them.

J.Crew's chinos are the one exception. Perfect cut, love the length and with those great slash pockets. I just ordered a pair in white earlier this week.

Enter "SHHH" to get 20% off an order of $175 or more.

Inspired: Everyone Says I Love You

I watched one of my favorite Woody Allen movies last night: Everyone Says I Love You. I am so crazy about this film. I wish I could just climb through the TV screen and live in the character's world. Since that isn't possible, here are a couple resolutions:
  1. Get very fancy apartment in New York.
  2. Listen to 1930's and 40's jazz standards all the time.
  3. Force all the children I know to perform musical routines that match their Halloween costumes.
  4. Go to Venice again.
  5. Spend Christmas at the Ritz in Paris.
  6. Have a big family.
  7. Host a Groucho Marx party with mandatory mustaches and eyebrows.
In case you haven't seen the movie: I recommend watching this clip, this clip or this clip immediately.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wedding Wednesday: First Registry Package

Just in time for Wedding Wednesday, I received my first place setting of china in the mail! Rob ordered this for my Valentine's Day gift.

In true Gump's fashion, each piece came meticulously wrapped in folded tissue paper and bubble wrap with circles of gray felt to protect from scratching. Those ladies in the wrapping basement really know what they're doing. And the gift card enclosed was printed up on a typewriter! I can't wait to bring it home and take glamour shots for our registry photos.

Now we just need to buy a china cabinet to house our new goodies. Any suggestions?

Wedding Wednesday: Map

There are all sorts of places you can have custom maps made for your wedding locations. Or you can save $200 and draw your own!

Our facility requires us to have our guests park offsite and then shuttle in. So it is a bit confusing. I drew this map a couple nights ago to help clarify. I scanned the original and "colored" it in PhotoShop. For our wedding website, the important locations link to detailed Google maps.

Wedding Wednesday: New Clothes

We were looking through my parents wedding and honeymoon photos last weekend. They got married here in the city and spend their honeymoon in Poland at a film festival.

One thing that I hadn't notice before was all the cute new clothes my mother had for the trip. This was the mid 70's. She left the reception in a gorgeous royal blue sheath dress and matching coat. On her honeymoon, she wore a red and white print dress (pictured). I wish she still had some of these clothes!

That got me thinking about my own honeymoon wardrobe. I need to find the perfect things to wear on our road trip around the west! So far, I have picked up that blue nightgown and this red jacket from J.Crew.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Happy Birthday Rob!

For your 34th birthday, my sweet, here are 34 things I like about you in no particular order:

1. Your excellent photography skills.
2. The way you say "aww" when you see something cute, like a puppy or a toddler falling over.
3. Your generosity.
4. Cute dresser.
5. That you wake up before me so I can sleep in 20 minutes each morning.
6. That you are a good friend to my friends.
7. Your mad ukulele skills.
8. Excellent shopping companion.
9. Thick, beautiful salt and pepper hair.
10. The way you walk.
11. You are a good and quick decision maker.
12. Dedication.
13. Excellent travel companion.
14. Gorgeous blue eyes.
15. You don't hold grudges.
16. A considerate host.
17. Your understanding of when to splurge and when to save.
18. Great rock climber.
19. A fun uncle to your four nephews.
20. Your hands.
21. Not a picky eater.
22. The way you are almost always singing something.
23. So brave when it comes to trying new things.
24. Your desire to defend and protect me.
25. You are so close to your college friends.
26. Archery. Who else would come up with that?
27. You push me to be a better person.
28. Always up for an adventure.
29. You encourage me to pursue my wishes, even if they are silly.
30. Your creativity.
31. Excellent taste in diamond engagement rings.
32. Much better than me at understanding what others are feeling.
33. That we are so different in some ways and you don't mind one bit.
34. Your general loveliness.

Happy Birthday!

Warning: Willow Cardigan

My other purchase at Anthropologie last Friday was this yellow Willow Cardigan. Isn't that color pretty? Unfortunately, the quality doesn't match the price.

The first one I tried on at the store had a moth hole on the front. So I got a different one, gave it a once over and took it home. But I discovered yesterday that this second sweater also has a moth hole. It's especially ironic because the brand name of the sweater just so happens to be "Moth." Too bad.

Sale Alert: Anthropologie

Sales at certain stores always mean certain things. When there is sale at J.Crew (when isn't it?) it means loading up on bright sweaters. Club Monaco is for discount trousers - and the coolest pair of long leather gloves for $20. Anthropologie? I head straight for the "comfort" rack loaded with frilly slips and soft nightgowns at big discounts.

I picked up this lovely blue number last Friday for half off. I'm tempted to save it for my honeymoon road trip trousseau...the pattern seems very "Americana."

Monday, March 24, 2008

Recipe: Smoked Salmon Puffs

I was put in charge of appetizers for Easter. Fortunately, the visiting guests had brought a big smoked salmon in a wood box from Washington and there was a box of puff pastry in the freezer. Here are the instructions:

Smoked Salmon Puffs (for 12 guests)

1 package of puff pastry (filo dough would probably work even better)
1 container of whipped cream cheese
10 ounces of really good smoked salmon
Bunch of fresh dill
Pepper, onion salt and paprika to taste.

Thaw the puff pastry and cut into small rectangles. Fold the pieces into a mini muffin pan. Or if you don't have one, use foil to make a regular muffin tin smaller as I did. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until evenly brown. Use the back of a knife to open up a hole the middle of the pastries when still warm. Mix the cream cheese with about 1/2 cup of chopped dill and spices to taste. Fill the puffs with a dollop of the cream cheese mix. Top with smoked salmon and dill sprigs. Best if served while the pastry is still warm, but not a must.

Weekend Round-up: Easter Parade

This was a quick and fun weekend. After shopping on Friday, I walked back to work and we hit the freeway around 6:00. Thankfully no traffic on the drive down to San Luis Obispo. We got in around 9:30.

Up pretty early on Saturday morning for a trip to Farmer's Market and breakfast at Budget Cafe. This is my parent's weekend ritual. Rob and peeled off after to visit Lightning Joe's Guitar Heaven in Arroyo Grande. Rob loved playing all the expensive ukulele's.

Back home in the afternoon, some family friends that were in the Peace Corps with my mother arrived for the weekend. We spent some time practicing music and looking at slides from Africa.

At 6:00, Rob and I drove out to Los Osos to see his sister and four nephews. Fueled by Easter Candy, they made an egg hunt for us, ate pizza and had a crazy frog techno dance party. Back around 8:30, we had dessert and talked around the dining room table until bed.

Up pretty early again on Sunday morning. Read the NY Times, made french toast with strawberries and decorated easter eggs with pastel crayons and dye. Rob and I went to Bishop's Peak to boulder for a bit. I had to wear my sister's old ridiculously huge skater shoes because I forgot my sneakers at home. All of California is in the middle of a greensplosion after the rainy winter; lots of buttercups and poppies.

To 7-11 for slurpees after climbing and then to the local market to stock up on Santa Barbara Salsa and Lompoc Tortilla Chips. Back at home, I made a pretty yellow centerpiece using wicker ducks and a smoked salmon puff appetizer. Easter dinner guests arrived at 4:00 and we had an egg hunt in the yard. Dinner of ham, yams, asparagus, fruit salad and sourdough rolls followed by excellent easter cake. Rob and I left at 7:30 and made it home through the deserted freeways at 11:30 last night. You can see more photos here.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Save the Date Cards

I'm off! Have a relaxing Easter weekend. Eat loads of ham for me.

I'm leaving you with a photo of our assembled save the date cards. I just put them together last night. Jordan and Paul did an incredible job with the letterpress. I couldn't stop staring at them!

What to Wear: New for Spring

I'm taking off early today to go shopping with a friend. Along with testing bridesmaid dresses, I am cautiously allowing myself to stock up on a couple new basics for spring. It seems that every time I've even thought about shopping in the last six months, I've come home with an expensive dress. Not exactly good for my savings regiment. Here's what is on my list:

White Trousers - To replace my old favorites.
Black Trousers - I haven't had a good pair of these in years.
Ruffled Tops - So fresh for spring in both neutrals and bright patterns.
Bag - My navy Nine West bargain bag is falling apart. Time for something new.

What are you stocking up on for spring?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Things I Love Today: Limonata

Mmm....San Pellegrino Limonata is the perfect spring drink. It is sparkly and a little tart. Similar to the cold, bright weather we've been having this week. The can's design alone makes me happy.

And when the weather warms up, I think it would make an excellent alternative to margarita mix. Add a squeeze of lime and a salted rim and you're in business.

Party Recipe: Sorbian Easter Eggs

We had our March Ladies Activity Club party last Tuesday. Yvonne, who move to the US from Germany a couple years ago, taught everyone how to make traditional Sorbian easter eggs. (Click here to read some humorously translated instructions.)

Basically, you melt beeswax in a spoon over a candle, dip feather brushes or pins into the wax and apply patterns to your egg. In between dying sessions, you add more wax to lock in the various colors. When you're done, melt off the wax over a candle to see the finished results.

I was rushing and only half paying attention to the instructions (as is my wont when it comes to LAC craft projects) and my eggs came out pretty well. You can view more photos from the party here.

Happy Engagement Anniversary

Today is a special day. It is the first day of spring, Mr. Rogers' Sweater Day and Persian New Year and it is also the anniversary of Rob's proposal! He popped the question in fire while we were on a beach vacation in North Carolina. You can read the story here.

Rob is amazing. He's taught me to be so brave, to rock climb, to learn an instrument, to go camping, to ride a tandem bike, to relax and just be myself. He's the best camp counselor for life you could ask for! Together we make a great team.

In six months (on fall equinox as a random coincidence), it will be official!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wedding Wednesday: Gocco Envelope Liners

Thank heavens for Gocco! Jordan introduced me to this nifty Japaneses screen printing system a while back. When I couldn't find the right paper anywhere for envelope liners I decided to make it myself. This was my first time using the machine I bought six months ago.

The dover flower pattern is from I enlarged it with Illustrator and reshaped it to fit the Gocco screen size. You have to get your graphic photocopied on an old non-laser machine in order to make the screen burning work. I mixed my color using yellow, mustard and white ink. Once you get everything prepped, it is so easy to print. I made about 120 sheets of this pattern in an hour. Three prints fit nicely along one end of a standard printer paper.

Once the prints had dried overnight, I used PaperSource's envelope liner template to cut them out. Each sheet made two liners for a 4 bar envelope. I just need to glue them into the finished envelopes and voila! Here's a photo of my liners at the different stages.

For a total cost of around $15, I now have lovely custom envelopes. I'm going to use the Gocco again for all the other wedding bits: bird seed packages, table cards, thank you notes, etc.

More Gocco details: Click here for a tutorial. Or here to buy one of your own. Or here for ink and supplies.

Wedding Wednesday: More Road Trip!

I've come up with a tentative itinerary for the honeymoon. Knowing pretty much nothing about this part of the country, it is a guesstimate. I want our trip to be an adventure, not too well planned. But some of the major stops and hotels need to figured out in advance.

With this plan, we have five full days of driving and four half driving days out of a total 22. A friend with connections is going to set us up with some great discounts to the Sundance Resort. And I have fancy relatives in Santa Fe that might be visited.

Wedding Wednesday: More Bridesmaid Dresses!

I woke up this morning in a minor panic realizing that it is nearly April and that means that it is almost June and that in turn is so close to September. My rule for these little "attacks" is to immediately channel it into planning action. It usually dissipates as soon as I get to business.

Today, more bridesmaid dress options. I'm having a hard time visualizing what would be a good compliment to my vintage lace dress. I have three bridesmaids, each with very different skin tones and shapes. And I'd prefer to have it cost under $250, which should be reasonable...right?

1. Nanette Lepore Etched Dress $290 - My current favorite. I love Nanette.
2. J.Crew wrap Dress $140. I think it would be more flattering in person.
3. Vince Clip Dot Dress $285. Cute but basic.
4. J.Crew Mirabelle Dress $395. Obviously, very pretty...but $400?!
5. Saffron Step Dress $138. I love the color but it's a too casual.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"Your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams"

I'm not trying to change your vote. It's just that everyone should watch this speech. There's a transcript here.

What to Wear: Creative Office

My office is in the Design District, so I'm surrounded by well dressed interior decorators all day long. I love their uniform of expensive jeans and boutique pieces. Here is Ms. Brown's request:
I've been following your blog for a couple months now and love your What to Wear advice. I'll be starting a new job in a couple weeks in a casual creative (event planning) office with only 2 people - myself and the business owner. What would be your suggestions - I'm coming from a 3000 employee office/corporate world environment.
How fun! You don't have to throw out your suits, but you shouldn't plan on wearing the pieces together for a while. It's time to go "casual creative." Explore with color or with volume. BCBG's spring collection is super inspiring, but pretty expensive. Let's do it on the cheap:

Jeans - A wide leg trouser pair. Fancy enough for the office and durable when you're out in the "field".
Top - From Urban Outfitters.
Jacket - A close approximation in cut from Forever21 for $30.
Handbag - Invest a bit in a sharp looking, brand neutral handbag.
Wedges - My easy spirit wedges are the only heels I can actually walk to work in. It's amazing.

Good luck with your new job!

To Do: Origami Easter Eggs

How is it possible that Easter is coming up on Sunday?! Time to get crafty if you're hosting brunch this year.

One of my favorite Easter activities is Martha's origami paper eggs. They're quite easy to make and the results look impressive. Especially if you use patterns in one color palate. They'd be great as place markers.

Tip: You can cut down your prep-time dramatically by using plastic eggs instead of hand-blown eggs. No one will know the difference.

Monday, March 17, 2008

What to Wear: Euro Office

The trick to dressing for work is avoiding monotony. It's too easy to get stuck in a rut of outfits each week. Here is Anja's request:
It's been 3 weeks since I started working as an assistant to a CEO of a subsidiary of a Dutch company. Because we're recently starting from scratch here in Germany, we'll be going on a 2-day business trip to the Netherlands as soon as possible to learn about how things are done there and transfer them home.

I already started building some kind of basic wardrobe with a black pencil skirt + jacket as well as the same thing in grey. I try to mix and match with blouses, sweaters, cardigans, pants and accessories. As I really want to make a good first impressions those two days and it needs to be something that I can wear on the plane and the whole day, I would love to hear your advice. I'm tall (6,1"), wear a size 6/8(?), have fair skin and dark blond hair.
Ps.: If it's not too much to ask for, could you perhaps find sources that ship to/are situated in Europe?
It's important to look really sharp when you're traveling on business. It makes you feel more confident!

Dress - A simple black and blue sheath dress is so versatile. Choose a fabric that won't wrinkle when you sit.
Shoes - Boots would be cute but hard to get on and off for airport security. Go with a tall pair of stacked heel pumps.
Trench - A sharp trench makes a big opening statement.
Bag - Leather slouch tote from TopShop.
Ring - Shiny black enamel.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I studied abroad in Dublin for 6 months in college. St. Patrick's Day is always a time for me to reflect on just how much fun I had in Ireland. I took my classes at a beautiful historic building called Earlsfort Terrace, spent my evenings in pubs and theaters, walked home to the smell of peat fires and brewing barley, explored the city like it was going out of style. Yay Ireland!

In case you forgot your green, you might want to dash out and buy a pair of these Nine West flats on sale for $50. Adorable with a pair of jeans and a white sweater for hitting the pubs for a bit of craic tonight.

Weekend Round-Up: Charity

This is one of those weekend's where I'm not quite sure how we fit it all in.

On Friday, Rob and I walked to the climbing gym with a friend for a quick bouldering session. Afterwards, we grabbed some street tacos from the Toyanese truck. From there, we walked ten blocks up to Valencia Street for some cones at Bombay Ice Cream. One each of jasmine tea, rose petal and black sesame flavors. And then back down six blocks to see a friend perform in a fundraiser for his capoeira team at the lovely ODC Dance Center. It's sort of impossibly hard shirtless cartwheel fighting. Back at home around 9, I went nuts making envelope liners on my Gocco printer.

Saturday morning we left the house early in an effort to beat the crowds at the de Young Museum. No such luck! We browsed the first floor arrangements, had breakfast in the cafe and then went through the top galleries. Some of the bouquets we're really amazing. It seems that the trends now are succulents, thin metal wire and folded leaves.

Quick dash across town after the museum to run an errand at Guitar Center. On the way back home we got stuck in some of the traffic from the St. Patrick's Day Parade. I made spicy egg tacos for lunch (trying to get a lot of blown eggs ready for this week's LAC party) and we watched the end of Vertigo. Quick run to the hardware store for supplies to fix the dining room table leg.

At 5:00, we drove down to Daly City for the Bowl the Planet fundraiser. One of our friends had put together a team. I bowled a 115 and ended up spending $108 on the silent auction. All together it was an excellent event. Back home around 9, I cut out some of the envelope liners and realized a gross miscalculation (100 guests does not equal 100 invitations, duh).

Slept in for a long time on Sunday morning and then only emerged in my pajamas for a jam session and breakfast of eggs, sausage, toast and coffee. Our version of Blue Skies is sounding pretty good! At 1:00, we took the subway downtown. Virgin Records was having a $10 sale and we picked out some great music. Heart and AC/DC for me, Muddy Waters and Patsy Cline for Rob.

We walked over to Macy's for lunch in the basement while reading the liner notes on our new CD's. The flower show this year seemed to have a smaller budget than last year's but it was still pretty impressive. I liked their use of olive and lemon trees. After Macy's, we walked up to the Embarcadero Center to watch Girls Rock, a documentary about a rock and roll camp for girls.

Back home at 5:30 to practice a couple songs. The friend who is sewing my wedding dress came over to look at it now that it is back from the cleaners. We planned a fabric shopping trip for the next week.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Urban Girl Almanac: Busy Body

Another week loaded with work activities. I like going out for fancy dinners for free...but I also like my apartment and food that isn't saturated with cream and butter. Here's what I learned this week:
  • is so cool. I'm going to broke buying new music.
  • Taxes. Yuck.
  • I'm really good at making vegetarian chili.
  • I got my wedding dress back from the cleaners, the save the date cards are printed and my guest list is nearly finalized. Stress is still fairly high.
  • I'd like to go to Chez Spencer once a week.
  • Kennedy's Irish Pub and Curry House is fun.
  • Carrots and bell peppers with hummus make for a pretty tasty light dinner.
  • This piece of fiction from the last New Yorker is a must read for any blogger who occasionally worries about being a shill.
  • My new DVF dress is awesome.
  • Still loving Freaks and Geeks, I'm going to be so sad when I finish the last disc.
  • Google image search led me to discover yet another cool blog: Rainy Days and Sundays. She took this week's city photo.
A rainstorm has come to town, making our indoor plans for the weekend pretty convenient. We're going to the gym and to a capoeira fundraiser tonight. On Saturday, I want to go to the de Young for breakfast and to see Bouquets to Art. That evening we have a bowling fundraiser. Saturday, I want to go to Macy's to see those flowers.

What to Wear: Beach Bridesmaid

I haven't been so lucky to attend a beach wedding, but they seem so lovely. Heather has a request:
My best friend is getting married at the beginning of May, on the beach, in Santa Cruz. I am a CA native, but no longer reside there. My issue with wedding attire is that I am a bridesmaid, but my friend was pretty lax about what we all chose to wear (what with it being a beach wedding) as long as we chose a dress in espresso. I chose this dress from J.Crew.
When I chose it, the picture was more formal looking and I am appalled at how informal it is. Even thought it is a beach wedding, the bride's dress is very formal and I think the other girls are choosing the strapless or halter option. I chose mine because I thought it would make a good spring/summer dress. Is there a way to dress this up with accessories/shoes? I would like flats because the ceremony will be on the beach. The reception will not be at the beach, however, so maybe a different shoe option for that would be a good idea?
Dressing up the dress shouldn't be too hard. It is all about accessories and panache:

Dress - From J.Crew.
Beach Shoes- Ask your bride if these would be okay. The flip flop style is good for the beach and the heels give them a tiny bit of dressiness when you're not sinking in the sand. Also, some brides want you to go barefoot? A good pedicure is a must.
Reception Shoes - Switch into these gold sandals with brown and blue beads along the toe after the service.
Bracelet - A gold cuff has an elegant, beachy style.
Earrings - I think button style earrings are more formal than a dangly pair, especially when you wear your hair up.
Bag - In blue satin to match the shoe details and on sale.

Have fun on your trip!

Inspired: Vertigo

I'm halfway through Hitchcock's Vertigo. It's especially fun because it's set with such great detail in San Francisco. All my favorites are featured: the Legion of Honor, Mission Dolores & the Golden Gate Bridge.

The 1958 apartments are also a delight. I really like Midge's mid-century pad. It would be perfectly respectable on Apartment Therapy today. And you have to love the concept of sitting by a picture window in Nob Hill and illustrating frilly lingerie all day.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

What to Wear: China

Rob and I went to China a few years ago. We absolutely loved it: the delicious food, charming people and extremely favorable exchange rate (pack light and buy a suitcase there to home full of clothes and other goodies).
I have a what to pack question. My mother & I are taking a trip to China (Shanghai and Hangzhou) in early April to visit my brother, who is in Hangzhou teaching English. We'll spend some time in both cities exploring, sight-seeing and shopping. I expect the majority of the trip will require casual clothes and the temperature to be in the 50's.

I'm 5'2" size 0-2, medium build. I'd like some outfit ideas that incorporate layers and minimal wrinkling and maximum portability. I'd like to look put together but still be comfortable and not draw too much attention to myself (though as a redhead in China, that may not be possible!).
Blending in is going to be pretty impossible. Maybe you'll get away with it in Shanghai, but not outside the major cities. The attention is usually really friendly though, go with it. A pair of jeans and basic sweaters are always good, I'd also take these:

Jacket - It can be really cold. It was snowy on the Great Wall when we were there in March. This medium weight jacket should be enough for most days.
Sweater - Red is a lucky color in China...and you'll look great in photos outside of colorful temples.
Pants - It's always nice to have something other than jeans. Casual slacks can be dressed up or down.
Shoes - Honestly, these Me Too flats are so comfortable. Their marketing rep needs to send me a few free pairs for all this publicity recently.
Bracelet - With tiny bamboo details.
Bag - In red from Target.

Enjoy your trip!

To Do: Macy's Flower Show

It's already time for the Macy's flower show again? This year has gone really fast! The theme of the show in San Francisco is A Mosaic of Spain. It starts Friday and runs through the end of the month. There are also flower events this weekend in New York and Chicago.

They always go way over top for the show. Last year was Indian themed (pictured) and the year before that was Italian villa gardens.

Restaurant Review: Waterbar

Another day, another business dinner. We went to Waterbar (which unfortunately sounds a lot like Waterboard) last night for a nine o'clock dinner reservation.

Before dinner, Rob and I went with Margaret to a 5 C's (The Claremont Colleges) meet-up at an Irish bar/Indian restaurant in North Beach called Kennedy's Irish Pub & Curry House. It was a great time and we had the best Russian cab driver on our way to our second destination. I wasn't that into it. It has a great view of the Bay Bridge and some giant fish tanks in the middle of the room. Beyond that, it seemed like "Red Lobster goes to Vegas." Overpriced, over-hyped, crowded. I had the cured tuna (way too salty) and half a wood-fire roasted crab. My myer lemon creme brulee wasn't worth the calories.

If you want good seafood in San Francisco, I recommend Catch or Woodhouse Fish Company instead.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Wedding Wednesday: Shoes

Aimee needs help finding shoes for her lovely wedding dress:
I'm getting married this summer in my parent's backyard. I'm having a heck-of-a time finding shoes that will work in the grass! I can't wear stilettos or I'll sink into the grass. I've been looking for a cute sandal/strappy pair of white or neutral/tan wedges, but am not having the best luck. I've attached a photo of my dress (the length won't be as short as pictured ... mine will just sweep the ground). Any suggestions?
I found a couple of choices for Aimee:

1. Strive Wedges - These a conventional choice, but not thrilling.
2. Jewel Wedges - A round toe pump with a white bow and a wedge has a fun vintage feel.
3. Hali Wedges - This is an unorthodox choice with a lower heel, but I think they're very pretty with the ivory dress.
4. Harrow Wedges - These would look great with a french pedicure and have a slightly lower heel for comfort.

Wedding Wednesday: Road Trip!

Rob and I spent a significant portion of the last few weeks researching countless honeymoon options. Eventually it all boiled down to quantity vs. cost. We could do 6-9 days in an exotic locale with our costs starting at $8,000 or 20+ days for the same price or less in the good ol' states.

That's right: we've made a date today to see the USA in our Chevrolet Honda Fit!

America is such a good value compared to the rest of the places we were looking at, so we have a lot more flexibility and time. The plan is to spend three weeks driving around, riding our tandem bike, maybe camping a bit and staying in fancy historic hotels. Maybe we'll even stay in a tipi like this.

Yellowstone, Zion, the Grand Canyon and Santa Fe are on the list so far. I've only ever been to seven states, so it should be a big adventure.

Restaurant Review: Chez Spencer

I'm officially in love with Chez Spencer. It's my new favorite restuarant in the city.

We were seated last night in the well-heated garden patio outside the main restaurant. This area features French park chairs, vintage benches with striped cushions, potted plants and paper wrapped candles. It was so cozy and low key; the atmosphere was just perfect!

Our waiter was super French, you could barely understand what he said, and super formal with a long white apron with a towel around his arm. Everything came to the table on a little tray: the excellent wine, incredible rolls, amazing roasted garlic soup and delicious seared scallops. We finished the meal with a chocolate cake, apple tart and cheese plate.

This is a perfect place to take your parents, to celebrate an elegant friend's birthday or to have a romantic tete-a-tete. The prices are a bit steep, but if you're paying for yourself you could easily just get a bowl of soup, a glass of wine and an appetizer as your dinner. It's an ideal secret garden hidden in the city.

Oh, and because it is Wedding Wednesday, this would be an absolutely amazing place to have a reception dinner for 40 guests.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

To Do: Chez Spencer

I'm so excited! I get to go to Chez Spencer tonight for business. I pass this tiny French bistro everyday on my walk back and forth to work. It's terribly fancy and expensive.

It's a treat because Rob and I are in the middle of a week of cutting back. Between taxes, the wedding and the recession gobbling up our net worth, we thought it would be good to slow our spending. We cooked at home for all but one meal last weekend and have brown-bagged our lunch so far this week.

It's been nice...but in that limited way that things that are good for you are wheat bread or weight lifting.

What to Wear: Teacher

Is it possible to get through spring without starting to hate your wardrobe? I find the cure is to pull out all your least favorites and host a clothing swap with some friends. Here is Adrienne's request:
I'm an elementary school teacher living near Seattle. I'm 25 years old, 5''9" and a size 4/6 with shoulder length wavy brown hair (to set the scene :) ). I've become disenchanted with my current school wardrobe and am looking forward to spring! I'm relatively new to teaching so my budget makes it so that anything I buy for work needs to translate over to my everyday wardrobe. I'm looking for some classy/fun pieces to create a youthful spring wardrobe. I love skirts, but I've been eyeing some J.Crew capris lately. Can you create a fashion miracle with a few mix and match pieces that will be wearable for work and play that also meet my weather requirements?
In my imagination, I'd wear all sorts of pencil skirts and pumps if I were a teacher. But I'm not and that's not very rooted in reality. Here's what I recommend:

Dress - It doesn't get much easier than a dress. Especially one in a tempera paint resistant print. Just throw it on and you're ready for school looking perky and put together. This looks extra cute in the photo on the model and they have a sale for $20 off a purchase over $100 right now. The quality from Boden is worth the slightly higher price.
Jacket - Take advantage of J.Crew's sales to stock up on basics. This would be really nice with jeans, too.
Shoes - I love these super comfortable flats. They pass as more formal than their rubber soles would indicate.
Earrings - From Anthropologie.

Things I Love Today: Bilboa Dress

This is my latest DVF dress acquisition: the Bilboa in a lovely olive green. They still have the dress, in white only, at Bloomingdale's. It was half off from a consignment shop with the tag still on. I'm hoping that the weather reports are right about it being cold and rainy later this week so I can wear it to work.

This dress joins my pink and black number from 2006 and my Casidy dress from 2007. One a year on super discount? Sounds good to me!

To Do: Bouquets to Art

Last night was the Bouquets to Art gala at the de Young. If you missed that event *wink*, don't fret! You have through Saturday the 15th to see the floral displays.

The museum is open until 5:15 everyday. Members can go from 6-8pm on Wednesday (that's me!) and they're also open until 8:45 on Friday. If you don't work, you can also go for a special afternoon tea or lecture during the day. You can see some of last year's arrangements here.

Monday, March 10, 2008

What to Wear: Israel and Egypt

Liz is a high schooler headed off on a big adventure:
For spring break this year, I will be spending two weeks in Israel and a few days in Egypt. I'm 17 years old, but I don't like dressing like a teenager. I recently gained 30 lbs, so I am 5' 2 and 160 lbs. I'm struggling to find clothes that fit my new silhouette well. I love dresses, skirts, and cardigans, but nothing tight or above my knee. I'll be all over Israel, and I'd like clothes that can go from one climate zone to another. As far as shoes go, I love flats, but nothing patent leather. I have not a clue how to dress in Egypt. I'd like to respect local standards but still look good. The hardest part is finding a swimsuit. I can't wear bikinis anymore, and I need a suit with plenty of support on top.
How exciting! There are some good tips for dressing in Cairo online here. I've got a few recommendations that I would take along with the basic tees & tanks:

Tunic - I love a light linen tunic when it is hot out. They keep you cool without the danger of sunburn. I'd bring a couple in different colors. La Redoute is very true to size. You can wear it with jeans when it is cooler or you need coverage, or with shorts when it isn't.
Shirt - This light white top is cool and comfortable. The belt will help define your waist.
Bathing Suit - A simple black one-piece with a halter for good support. You should try on a lot to find one you really like.
Dress - I saw someone today wearing a long dress like this with a collared shirt tied over the top. It's covered but still very summery.
Pants - Linen has been keeping the middle east cool since 3,000 B.C. That's a track record!
Sandals - They're sandals but with a little more protection from the elements. Plus, cute with skirts and dresses. Comfortable because they're Clarks.
Necklace - Play with inexpensive accessories, you are 17 after all! Forever 21 has some cute bold necklaces and I'm sure you will find a lot of cute pieces on your trip.
Bag - A light fabric tote.

How exciting for Liz!

Rock Star: My New Bass

Saturday's trip to Guitar Center resulted in spending way too much money, as such trips always do. I went in to get an amp for my acoustic bass and left with an entirely new set-up. I've been practicing on an electric bass at my lesson each week and it was time to get one of my own.

Say hello to the Epiphone Viola! And its friends the acoustic amp and the skull and bones strap. The guitar is based off a vintage design by Hofner called the "Beatle Bass" that Paul McCartney uses.

It is one of the most beautiful things I've ever owned!

Weekend Round Up: Notes

This was a luxuriously lazy weekend. At the end of last week being so packed with restaurants and bars, I was honestly ready to skip eating out for the next month.

On Friday, we met Matt at the climbing gym and did a lot of bouldering. I was exhausted when we left at 7:00. Dinner at home of a big salad with meyer lemon vinaigrette and a plate of toasted chick peas. We watched disc two of Freaks and Geeks which had thankfully reappeared at the video store.

Saturday morning was our traditional breakfast of french-press coffee and thick, hippie-style oatmeal. We headed out at 10:30 to investigate buying an amp before a jam session at Matt's around noon. The tiny instrument shop in our neighborhood, Peacock Music, didn't have what I needed so we drove up to Guitar Center. I hate this place on the weekends, it's unbearably loud with 20-something men doing their best rock star riffs. An hour later, I walked out with a new electric bass and all sorts of accoutrements.

We should have had a roadie to help us unpack all our gear at Matt & Amber's place. With Rob on uke, Matt on electric guitar and me on bass, we rocked out for two hours while drinking super spicy bloody mary's. Amber and I made a trip to fancy consignment shop, Cris, where I found a really lovely olive green DVF dress. At 5:30, we dropped them off in North Beach and went home to do some cleaning.

Margaret arrived around eight for dinner. We had drinks at the apartment and then went to Home around the corner. We got a nice table on the patio by the fireplace around 9:00. Between the three of us we ordered two salads (a caesar and the tasty iceberg wedge) along with a mushroom risotto and Neiman Ranch pork chop (Rob said it was the best he'd ever had):

Note the lovely shiner.

After dinner, we were craving Peeps and discovered the dangers of having a 24-hour grocery store down the street during Easter candy season:

We got to bed around 12:30 and woke up the next morning at 7:15, actually 6:15, due to some daylight savings confusion. Tea and coffee with Margaret before she had to leave at 8:30 for work (she works at Therapy in the South Bay). I returned to bed after she left, starting to feel sore from climbing on Friday. Rob brought me the Sunday Times and I didn't re-emerge until 11:30.

We did a much needed big re-stocking trip to the grocery store around noon with granny cart. Whole wheat turkey sandwiches with pears and carrots for lunch. A long jam session in the afternoon to help break in the bass. Dust in the Wind is our latest hit (you have to watch the video just for the ridiculously bad hair).

Much needed laundromat run in the afternoon along with some dish washing and linen changing. We had planned a bike ride but were both too sore from Friday. I made spicy vegetarian chili for dinner.