Thursday, April 30, 2009

Party Recipe: 70's Baby Shower

I'm throwing a 70's themed baby shower this Saturday. Amber is a fun friend preparing for the arrival of twin boys this summer! Here are my plans for the luncheon:

Theme: It Takes Two to Make a Thing Go Right

Decorations - Lots of orange and green. Sunflowers on the table. 70's music on the stereo.

Drinks - Soda in glass bottles. Spiked punch in a fun vintage bowl that I have.

Food - Crudites with classic onion dip. Fondue with sourdough bread veggies and apples. Cupcakes aspiring to be as cute as these.

Dress - A polyester maxi dress I picked up last weekend at Forever 21 will be perfect for playing hostess.

Games - I have a couple easy activities in mind. Any suggestions?

Recipe: Artichokes

Thanks for sending in your requests for more information about artichokes. They're one my favorite things and so easy to prepare, too. Here are a few pointers:

Shopping for Artichokes - I can't think of a time I ever bought a bad artichoke. Even the frost damaged variety are delicious. Since they're usually sold at a set price per artichoke, I look for the biggest ones available (but not bigger than a softball). You do want to avoid artichokes that look bug-eaten, there might be more insects waiting inside.

Cooking Artichokes - So easy! You can steam, barbecue or pressure cook artichokes, but I simply boil them. Fill a pan with enough water to mostly cover the artichokes, add a lemon cut into a few pieces and a dash of olive oil. Cut the artichoke stems, leaving about 2 inches and cut the very top of the artichoke off. If you're being fancy, you can cut the thorns off the outside leaves with scissors. Boil large artichokes, stem down, for about 30-45 minutes. Test if they're ready by pulling midsized leaves out with tongs and sampling.

Eating Artichokes - Don't serve artichokes with wine, the mixture creates a weird sweet flavor. Pull the finished artichokes from the water and drain. Dip the leaves in your favorite toppings - mayonnaise, vinaigrette, lemon or butter are all classics - and eat! Use a large bowl for the spent leaves. When you get to the heart, scrape out the "fur" with a spoon and eat the rest. That's the prize!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wedding Wednesday: Rehearsal Dinner Idea

Our friend came over last night for her first-ever artichoke. It was a great little dinner party! We played a round of scrabble while everything cooked. I served ham and baked jacket potatoes along with the giant artichokes and three kinds of dip.

It got me thinking about how fun it would be to have an "artichoke boil" party. Sort of a California version of all those classic New England lobster boils and clambakes.

It could be a great idea for a rehearsal dinner in the spring. Just work with a caterer or helpful relative to boil up a huge amount of artichokes, make a few different dip choices, toast some sourdough bread and set the tables with butcher paper.

Wedding Wednesday: Mission Bay

I attended a conference yesterday at the new UCSF Mission Bay Center. It's a striking building with an emphasis on bold colors, squares and lots of light. Lunch was hosted out on the courtyard lawn...a nice space and perfect for a casual modern California wedding (certainly the prettiest gym/convention center I've ever been to).

Here are some photos of the facility in action. And it seems pretty affordable for being in the heart of the city. Jean worked for UCSF for a short while - I wonder if she could get a discount?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

To Do: Tweed Ride

Pull out your best blazer and bow tie: this Thursday is the second San Francisco Tweed Ride. We met the nice organizer at Critical Mass on Friday. It's inspired by a similar event in London.

I can't wait to get dressed to the nines in all my best tweed. One last hurrah before switching out my closet for summer.

Bargain Finder: Button Shirts

I bought two lovely little button down shirts similar to this at Forever 21 on Saturday for $14 each. One in navy gingham and the other in a pink and orange madras.

Nice with rolled up jeans and sneakers for the weekend or tucked into pencil skirt with a cardigan for weekdays at the office.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Recipe: Artichokes

A friend is coming for dinner this week - she's never had a real, live, genuine artichoke. The pickled variety in jars doesn't count. We're excited to introduce her to this California staple.

The only question is which dip? Balsamic vinaigrette, melted butter, lemon, mayonnaise or my current favorite: soy sauce with mayonnaise? (don't knock it until you've tried it) Maybe I'll present a selection for her to try.

Do you have a favorite artichoke dip?

Weekend Round-Up: Mileage

Whew...we did a lot of biking this weekend. It's great training for the tour, but -wow- am I tired.

On Friday, our friend Jackie came out from Davis. Critical Mass was on her list of 30-things to do before turning 30 and we were glad to help. We joined up with the other bike riders by the Ferry Building at six. I was impressed with the ride - especially after previously hearing so many bad stories. Everyone was polite, the onlookers cheered us on and the motorcycle police escorts were amazing. There was one lovely moment where we rode through a small street in Chinatown and it was completely silent except for the chiming of a few hundred bike bells.

Home at eight, chilled to the bone. A quick round of hot toddies before dinner at the Ethiopian place up the street. To bed early in preparation for our ride the next day.

Up the next morning and out the door on bikes for breakfast at Velo Rouge cafe. We needed a big meal before our serious ride. Over the Golden Gate Bridge, around the steep Headlands Route, and then around Paradise Loop. 55 fast miles and about 3,000 feet in climbing in five hours.

We met Margaret back at the house and devoured a cold watermelon. Cleaned up, the three of us girls took the subway downtown and shopped for a few hours. I got a great collection of summer tops at Forever 21. Jackie peeled off for a dinner engagement. Margaret and I took the train back home and made nachos for dinner with Rob. We watched Twilight, which is a messed up movie (young women of the world: please don't go into the woods alone with creepy stalkers, even if their skin does sparkle like diamonds) but was good for laughs. To bed after SNL.

Up the next morning, we made coffee and oatmeal with Jackie. Margaret came over and we got on the bikes again for Sunday Streets. We rode up and down the embarcadero, crowded with kids on bikes and tourists. Lunch out on the patio at Taylor's Refresher.

We rode home around the ballpark and stopped at Sports Basement on the way. Back at home we recovered with tea, lemon cupcakes and a little bit of Lego Batman. In the evening, Rob's friend Rich came over for dinner. Ethiopian for the second time, lucky me!

Altogether, we probably did a total of 75 miles over the weekend...wowzer.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Things I Love Today: Bohemia

I woke up feeling very "spendy" this morning. The best way to combat that is to share what I'm coveting with you. Our lovely fog is back in the city and I'm learning toward vintage, bohemian style for the weekend.

My Baby Just Cares for Me - Nat King Cole's jazzy version. I've listened to it six times already today.
Glasses - I loved when Diane Keaton wore Harry's glasses in Something's Gotta Give. Also, might be related to my latest blog obsession Nerd Boyfriend.
Cafe Au Lait - With cinnamon toast.
Grey Stationary - A classic.
Grape Hyacinth - My favorite of all the spring blooms. I love how these smell. I wonder if they have them at the flower market?
Cadillac - Nevermind that I only drive a few times a month and only have one, tiny parking space. I'm infatuated today with the idea of driving all over the city in a gigantic car with gloves on, Vertigo style.

What to Wear: Campaign Trail

Hande is the lovely author of Mercimek and is about to embark on a politically-charged summer:
I’ve posted plenty of comments on your blog and even e-mailed you a few times, but I have an actual What to Wear request this time! I am a real-life political wife. My husband is an elected official in our county, and it’s a campaign year for us. That means a summer of knocking on doors and going to events and meeting all kinds of people.

My usual uniform has been a pair of wide-leg black pants, a brightly colored top, and comfortable sandals, but I am so inspired by Michelle Obama this year! I’m 32 years old, brunette, 6’ tall, size 12-14, and wear size 11 shoes. Can you recommend something that will be comfy on those summer afternoons of walking and standing, yet stylish like our First Lady?
I was talking with a friend recently about how everyone - including myself - has gone wild for belts ever since Michelle moved into the White House. She's a great fashion role model, especially for another woman in politics. Here's are some mix and match pieces for you:

Dress - It doesn't get much easier or more comfortable than a classic shirt dress. This navy version from Liz Claiborn is on sale. Plus, it's machine washable!
Belt - Braided belts are extra versatile and this one is a steal at $14 from JC Penney's.
Cardigan - While you're there pick up this easy cardigan in tropical green for under $20.
Tank - A basic layering piece from Old Navy.
Jeans - Trouser cut jeans will be polished but still casual. Spend a little more on these if you find the perfect pair.
Shoes - A pair of cute red (red shoes go with almost anything) comfort flats in size 11.
Earrings - A gift from your husband as a thank you for all the hard work you're going to put in this summer. *wink*
Sunblock - You're going to need it. This spray version is easy to apply and reapply.

Good luck with the campaign!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Help? Ice Cream Sandwiches

My original plan for Saturday's dessert was homemade it's-its. Apparently, I don't know how to make ice cream sandwiches though. I tried to do everything right but the ice cream still melted all over the freezer. What am I missing here?

So instead, I boxed up the remaining cookies in some bakery boxes I found at Cost Plus a while back and called them favors. Even as a yet another one of my failed baking experiments, they were quite pretty.

Peninsula Ladies Activity Club: Scrapbooking

Two LAC parties in one week, lucky me! I drove down to San Mateo last night for the second party of the Peninsula Ladies Activity Club. Allison hosted us for a night of scrapbooking.

{I took photos but my camera weirdly deleted them...I might need a new memory card? Something is up. This lovely photo is from reebob one of the owners of Rare Device}

I brought some of the photos from the wedding and turned them into Mother's Day cards using all the fun supplies provided. For snacks, Margaret helped to make tapas including tortilla espanola, bocadillos with chorizo and sangria.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

Earth Day 2009: stuck sweaty in a record-breaking April heat wave in San Francisco. How apropo.

Let's see, how have we done this year? We've cut back almost all our driving in exchange for walking and biking. Switched from salmon and ahi tuna to mackerel and tilapia. Grown dedicated to our reusable Trader Joe's grocery bags. Stuck to dishtowels instead of paper towels and started hanging our laundry to dry. Enjoyed nature. We do okay, could do better.

Do you have an "eco-resolution" for the year ahead?

These photos of hearts in nature are from my February photo project.

Ladies Activity Club: Pillow Bee

Tracy and Bille hosted us for a sewing project last night at Tracy's lovely home. She and a roommate have been working on renovating a huge three bedroom Victorian flat in Hayes Valley for over a year now.

Aside from being a great remodeler, Tracy is also an incredible seamstress. She's the one who made the new lining for my wedding dress. She works in the industry and had huge stacks of sample fabric for us to use to make throw pillows.

Unfortunately, the heat wave was in full force during the party. But it didn't slow us down from learning how to measure, cut, sew and surge our own pillows. Along with the project supplies, our hostesses offered everyone a spread of lemonade, crudites with hummus, clementine oranges, cheese and crackers, grapes, lemon cookies and brownie pudding.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Recipe: Cioppino

Saturday's party was so fun. I really should host a 1906 earthquake anniversary party every year! We've created our own traditions: no electricity, a table set with candles in odd glass containers and chandelier crystals, lots of wine and good conversations about disaster preparedness (more entertaining than you might think!)

From this year forward, cioppino will be our official main course. It was delicious! And not that hard to make:

Cioppino for Eight

2 large cans of the highest quality chopped tomatoes
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 box of stock
1 bottle of clam juice
Fresh taragon
Fresh parsley
Fresh rosemary
2 cups of red wine
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1 dungeness crab, cooked, cracked and cleaned (they do it for free at Safeway)
1 pound of shelled, frozen, uncooked shrimp
1 pound of frozen jumbo scallops
1 1/2 pounds of white fish, cut down to two inch cubes. I used basa which was on sale.
1 small fillet of salmon, cut down to two inch cubes
If you like clams and mussels, add those too.

Heat the olive oil in the bottom of a large pan. Add garlic and herbs until softened. Add the tomatoes, stock and wine. Cook down and season to taste. You can make this base ahead of time and refrigerate.

About 10 minutes before serving, heat the tomato base to a low boil. Dump in the frozen shrimp and scallops and fish cubes. Heat until just cooked. Add the crab and serve with a big loaf of warm buttered sourdough bread.

This was the perfect amount for serving "seconds" to most of the table. I followed it with a simple strawberry shortcake. You can see all my photos from the party in this set.

To Do: Picnic Dinner at the Beach

92 degrees in April? Just another record breaking heat wave in a city full of heat-adverse residents. If you're going to have to melt during the day, you may as well make the most of the mild evenings.

Rob and I packed up our dinner on the bikes and rode to Ocean Beach after work. Chicken salad with mixed greens, pretzel chips, an orange and a mini bottle of champagne. The beach and park were both packed to the brim. (with extra bongos thanks to it also being 4/20)

Weirdly, the heat wave is only going to last through today. We're on for 50 degree rainy weather this weekend. Global warming is really messing with my wardrobe.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Weekend Round-Up: Summer Nights

Amazing weekend! Rob and I spent our break enjoying the very warm weather and spending time with friends.

On Friday, we met Matt at the gym after work. After about an hour of climbing, we jumped in his car for dinner in his north beach neighborhood. Unfortunately, there was some sort of movie crew blocking off the streets and taking all the parking spots.

On to plan B, we picked up Amber and drove out to the beach for dinner at Park Chalet. I'd never been to this favorite spot at night. A jazz trio, lots of cute families and tasty food. It was great to catch up with both of them as they prepare for the arrival of twin boys this summer. They drove us home around 11.

Saturday morning, Rob left early for his citywide NERT drill. I spent the morning cleaning, shopping and cooking for the evening's party. Going to the market for an eight person dinner party by yourself is okay, carrying home everything you bought on foot is not great. Rob was back just in time to help a bit before walking up to Jill & Peter's place. They gave us a ride out to our friend's thesis art show and back. I spent the rest of the afternoon prepping for the party and had everything done an hour before the party was set to start. Love that!

Our guests arrived at seven and launched straight into the first set of earthquake trivia challenges with Rob. I went around and lit all the candles as the sun was setting. I love this photo Rob snagged with his phone.

I'll do a more detailed post about the party later. Suffice to say, I was so pleased with how everything turned out and had an amazing time.

After eating our fill of salad, cioppino, sourdough bread and strawberry shortcake, we sat around the pretty candlelit table and talked until late in the evening.

The next morning I begrudgingly got up around nine and helped Rob with a bit of the tidying. The weather was far too warm to stay indoors, so we hopped on the bike and rode our favorite breakfast cafe. From there, we rode over the bridge and down to Kirby Cove (warning: may not want to try this on your bike, it's a very steep gravel road). This beautiful little beach is tucked away under the Golden Gate Bridge. I spent a long time wading in the water and spotting starfish.

We had to climb all the way back up the road and over to Point Bonita before turning back home for a total of 22 miles. Lots of rest and chores in the afternoon. It was too hot to do much of anything else in our non-air conditioned city.

Margaret came over at five to hang out. We went for dinner at Chow - it was too warm to cook. The streets were full of sunburned city residents returning from days in the park. It finally was starting to cool off while we made chicken salad for the next day, washed dishes from the party and had ice cream floats.

Inspired: Ray LaMontagne

I'm wild about Ray LaMontagne. I listened to Gossip in the Grain all weekend while prepping for the party. This acoustic cover of Gnars Barkley's Crazy is great.

Friday, April 17, 2009

To Do: Mark your Calendars

My facial last night was so, so nice. I was unsure about going to Red Door, but apparently the place is the fountain of youth. Best facial ever.

My aestheticism - Chelle - worked wonders, figured out what was going wrong with my routine (daily exfoliation - too much for my dry, sensitive skin) and managed to make my "marionette lines" completely disappear. It's not too late to book a $50 appointment: spa week goes through Sunday.

Here are a couple other San Francisco events to put on your calendar:

Macy's Flower Show Plant Sale - Take home some of the lovely potted flowers that were used to decorate Macy's. The discounted flowers are on sale this Sunday and go to benefit Union Square park.

Sunday Streets - Big street closures on Sunday open up the city for walking and biking during the summer. Embarcadero from the ballpark to Aquatic park will be closed on April 26th.

Castro Farmer's Market - We finally get our own farmer's market. Visit Noe Street on Wednesday evenings starting April 29th through October.

Bay to Breakers - Walk across the city with 70,000 people in all kinds of crazy costumes and/or states of undress on May 17th.

Mountain Play - Marin's annual summer picnic, hike, and play starts May 24th. We went last year to see The Wizard of Oz.

What to Wear: European Dash

Here's a special rush request:
My husband and I will be traveling to London, Paris, and a wedding in a French chateau (a little over 2 weeks total). He would be happy to wear sloppy old t-shirts and jeans and Chuck Taylors the whole time, but I want to look as stylish as usual (if not more).

Difficulty: we're flying standby and can only take 1 carry-on bag each. Double difficulty: did I mention the wedding in the chateau (which will be populated by beautiful French and Portuguese people)?

He: 32, but a boyish 32, 6'2", fair with dark hair and a very sweet (and not gross) potbelly. Will not sacrifice comfort for style. Enjoys wearing blazers over t-shirts. Has only 2 pairs of shoes. Entire wardrobe is black, denim, and earth tones. This trip will be his first time out of the US.

Me: 29, 5'11", size 12-14 and a little chesty, also fair (we are the ghost twins), right now brunette, but usually red-headed. Mostly wears flats so as not to tower over the husband. Prefer not to wear pink, generally wear mostly neutrals with a pop of color.

The one bag thing is really killing me, because I know the weather will be somewhat unpredictable, and because I have a hard time wearing the same thing day in and day out. PLUS dressing for a French wedding in a chateau is very intimidating!

Amy (from Texas)

For most of your trip, pack a pair of jeans you love (preferably a dark, straight leg pair) and lot of solid colored layering tees. Use scarves and belts to make your outfit different each day. Wear your heaviest shoes and coat on the flight to make room in your bag. Now for the fun part:

Dress - From what I read online, you'll need something you can wear all day and with enough coverage to wear in a church. Hats also seem to be prevalent, but I think you can skip. Depending on your schedule, it might be fun to buy your dress in London or Paris. It would be a fantastic souvenir. For example: Tara Jarmon has some beautiful dresses. If that would be too stressful, I like this simple gray dress J.Crew.
Jacket - To cover up in the church or in case it gets cold. Very Carla Bruni.
Necklace - A pretty piece of jewelry you bought at a Paris flea market. Like this one, but maybe not $200.
Shoes - Ridiculously cute frenchie flats with a big teal ribbon.
Clutch - From my favorite Etsy seller: Red Ruby Rose.

Suit - Unfortunately, my research showed that a suit will probably be necessary at the wedding. Luckily, this stylish option from J.Crew is on sale. If it turns out that the suit isn't required - go with sturdy gray trousers that can be worn at the wedding and then with other, less formal clothes on the rest of your trip.
Shirt - A blue dress shirt in a tone to match your outfit. Try to find one that is wrinkle resistant for easier care.
Tie - A very appealing basic tie from J.Crew.
Shoes - European men wear their dress shoes with a longer toe. These Kenneth Cole oxfords will fit in well on either continent.

I'd love for our European readers to chime in with their suggestions for Amy and her husband!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Party Recipe: Earthquake Commemoration

The first year we lived in San Francisco was also the 1906 earthquake centennial. The whole city planned commemorations, documentary specials and other events. And Rob and I had our first earthquake blackout party. Macabre? A little. But also a nice way to celebrate our fair city's resilience.

This year, the earthquake anniversary is on Saturday and we're having another party with friends. Here's the recipe:

Appetizer: Mixed "sundries" including nuts and dried fruit.

Dinner: A big pot of cioppino will be the star of the show (light on the clams and mussels, heavy on the crab). The hearty stew originated with San Francisco's Portuguese fishermen. Sourdough bread and a green salad on the side.

Dessert: Irish coffee, another San Francisco classic. Layered trifle with strawberries will be very "geology."

Decoration: A plain table set with a white tablecloth, silver flatware and lots of candles. No electricity allowed.

To Do: Spa Week

I nearly forgot all about spa week this year! The annual promotion makes discounted $50 massage and facial treatments available at spas all across the country. I went last year, too.

I called yesterday and managed to book a cancellation for a facial tonight. It's been a long and outdoorsy winter, my skin could definitely use a polish.

PS: Be sure to visit Katie's blog for a fun blogger-to-blogger interview.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wedding Wednesday: Love in the Mist

I used love-in-the-mist picked from my parent's garden for last weekend's Easter centerpieces. I always forget just how lovely these wispy, delicate flowers are. They'd be a perfect mix with classic white blooms for a romantic wedding.

These brilliant examples are from Saipua and Housemartin. (oh, and here too!)

Wedding Wednesday: Great Aunt

This photo is of my great aunt's wedding (grandmother's sister, is that right?). They had a ceremony and reception at home in Minneapolis over Christmas 1944. My famously elegant great grandmother, the original owner of the dress, is holding court on the left.

Aren't they adorable? If you click on the photo you can see that they're holding hands. My mother always comments that they look so "pleased with each other" - which is just right.

That's the same amazing lace dress I wore at my wedding and that Jean will wear at her wedding.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Recipe: Asparagus Prosciutto Appetizer

These were so easy and tasty! If you like bacon, you'll love crispy prosciutto.

Asparagus Prosciutto Appetizer
1 bundle of thin asparagus spears
1 package of herbed goat cheese
1 package of lean prosciutto

Cut the asparagus down to an even length - about the size of a pencil. Strip the prosciutto into two slices (it should naturally be split down the middle). Spread a dab of goat cheese on the prosciutto. Wrap the strip - cheese in- evenly around the asparagus leaving a few inches free at the end.

Place the spears on a baking sheet or pan and put under the broiler for about 10 minutes, or until the prosciutto browns. Serve warm or room temperature.

Weekend Round-Up: Easter

It was nice to take a quick dash down to San Luis Obispo for the holiday weekend. Rob and I left work a little early and picked up Margaret at work on our way south. We made it home at 9:30, had a beer and caught up with my parents before bed.

On Saturday morning, we went to Farmer's Market to shop for the weekend, for a walk with the dog by the lake and to breakfast at the local diner. Back at home, we quickly changed and hopped on the bike. We picked up Shane and then went together to get Margaret for our ride. Despite the warm weather, there were high winds and it was very challenging to make it out to Morro Bay.

We warmed up at my favorite little seafood shack by the water and then rode back toward home. Much nicer with the wind at our backs on the empty country roads. All this late rain has resulted in amazing displays of poppies and lupine.

Back at home, we had just enough time to shower before Rob's sister and her family came over for pizza and egg dyeing. The secret to great Easter eggs: use bright oil pastel crayons to draw on the egg before dyeing. It was great to spend some time with those great kiddos. In the evening, we worked to fix my parent's computer.

The next morning, we had waffles with fresh strawberries before church. It was fun to see all the old familiar faces at our little church - we have a handful of 90+ year-olds in the congregation.

Back home we quickly went to work to prepare for Easter supper. I made some pretty blue and yellow flower arrangements for the table, wrapped asparagus with goat cheese and prosciutto for the appetizer, and prepared spring greens - pea shoots and broccoli blossoms - for the salad:

Guests started arriving at 2:00 and we had an egg hunt shortly after. Rob hid the eggs for the rest of us to find:

We had a great meal with lots of talk about the economy. At six, Margaret came by and we packed up to head back to the city. We made it home at 10:30 and crashed into bed.

Inspired: Paris Roubaix

We watched the Paris Roubaix bike race last night at a friend's place. What a feat to do all those miles on cobblestone in a single day!

As always, one of my favorite things about these races is the local scenery. I feel like I went on vacation in the North of France for a few hours.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Be Right Back

Rob and I got back to the city late last night after a nice Easter weekend down south. I need some time to catch up. Look for a full recap tomorrow morning!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Party Recipe: Seder

I had such a great time at the seder last night. Meg and David did an amazing job with cooking, decorating and preparing readings.

I read the time wrong on the invitation, so Rob and I accidentally showed up a half hour early. Yikes! Luckily, we're good helpers. We made up for our mistake by helping to make flower arrangements, set the table and open wine bottles.

Once everyone arrived at the proper time, Meg led us through the readings and different rituals. That was followed by a hearty dinner of matzo ball soup, a giant roast, baby potatoes, asparagus and potato kugel. We finished the readings and shared homemade chocolate chip macaroons for dessert.

What to Wear: Graduate School

Katie is about to embark on a big city adventure:

Here's the scoop: May 26th, I start my Masters in Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy from Columbia University. I grew up in New Mexico, went to college in San Diego, put in some urban/euro time in Berlin, and am now back in New Mexico.

All of my jobs since undergrad have involved fieldwork, meaning jeans and hiking boots. Needless to say, I love the outdoors, am rather low maintenance, and have a pretty down to earth style (adore Keri Russell and that post of yours). Jeans, solid shirts, and fun, unique accessories have been my non-work tune. However, I'd like to think that I'm not totally inept at whipping up some decent outfits, but I need "looking cute and grown-up style endurance" as opposed to the occasional chance I get to wear something other than field clothes. I've got a few nice pieces, but they are more geared towards winter. In the summer, I've tended to just run around in flip flops or a long sleeve shirt to fend off the sun.

SO, what the heck is a girl to do for a) my first day of grad school (plus it's Ivy League. Yikes!), b) New York, and c) an urban summer. Talk about a few things foreign.

I've got blonde hair, blue eyes, and olive coloring; I'm 24 years old, 5'5", size 6, pretty straight-waisted and pretty intimidated by Manhattan and grad school, let alone the combination. You've seen Sabrina, right, original or remake? Where she goes off for a year and comes back fabulous, stylish, and that much wiser? Adored that film growing up. Well, my style certainly matured after living in Europe for a year, where I picked up most of those nice winter-y pieces, but I didn't come back quite as chic as Miss Hepburn and just haven't had much practice at dressing like a grown up. That's where you come in!

Would you come up with a first day of school outfit that incorporates some good staples to wear into the season? Or cover some must-have pieces instead? Outfits for the first week have to be totally pre-meditated and in my suitcase as I'll be at out of town the weekends before and after I start (for a graduation and wedding, both in NM. Yes, May=hectic). Oh right, and I'd be more than happy to make some solid investments for long-term pieces but am on a budget. No fashion stimulus package from this kid.

Doesn't she sound like such a great person? If she were moving to San Francisco, I would totally invite her over for a welcome-to-the-city slice of cake:

Blazer - In super versatile dark denim from Club Monaco. A classic piece that you can wear with tons of things for many years.
Dress - A little black dress with a little draping detail. When it is cold, throw a long sleeved shirt underneath and wear tights with boots. When it is hot, pair it with a pair of sandals and some sunblock.
Necklace - Wearing your favorite hometown turquoise will be interpreted as boldly independent and stylish.
Scarf - Always helps me feel polished.
Shoes - Wedges from Kenneth Cole are professional with a fun twist thanks to the ankle strap. They'll be comfortable but you'll probably want to toss a pair of flip flops or flats in your purse for long hauls.
Sunglasses - Aviators.
Purse - From Urban Outfitters. Big enough to carry your books and pens.

Focus on classics as you build your wardrobe. Add a good pair of jeans, a great pair of trousers, a pencil skirt, a versatile belt, a white blouse and some colorful pieces and you'll be ready for anything the city throws at you.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

To Do: Passover

I am so, so excited because we've been invited to a passover seder tonight. What an honor! I haven't been to a seder in years.

I've been feeling very overwhelmed, overworked, etc this week. This party should be a perfect chance to unwind and relax with friends.

Things I Love Today: Ikea Umbrella

My new beach umbrella! The Ramso comes in four different colors for $15 each. The red version is SPF 25. I can't wait to try it out.

Hmmm. I really might need that new bikini to match. Add a chair, a New Yorker and a nice sunny day...

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Wedding Wednesday: Inspired Inverness

It must be the rainy weather this week - I'm loving cozy Northern California weddings. I especially like photos of weddings at Manka's Inverness Lodge - unfortunately closed right now due to a fire.

Look at those beeswax tapers! And the fireplace! And the pier! Mossy and cozy. I could go for a hot toddy up north today.

Wedding Wednesday: Orange Blossoms

It used to be a tradition for brides to wear orange blossoms in their hair. The delicate flowers and bright scent must have been lovely - and imagine the flood of memories each time you walked near a citrus tree.

Prince Albert even designed a gold orange blossom brooch as a gift for Queen Victoria when they got engaged. Just a bit of trivia I ran across while researching a project.

For a modern interpretation, take a peek at this gorgeous bouquet with orange blossoms, garden roses and peonies.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Food: It's-It

The It's-It. Quintessential San Francisco summer treat. You are seriously missing out if you haven't had one of these ice cream sandwiches before. Two cinnamon-y, salty oatmeal cookies, ice cream and a crisp chocolate coating.

They come in vanilla, mint, chocolate and cappuccino. Each one more delicious than the last. Not sold yet? Look at this photo. It is dangerous that the corner market across the street carries the full variety.

Things I Love Today: Ikea Glasses

These little svalka glasses from Ikea are my new favorite thing. Small, simple and sturdy.

Rob and I bought three sets last weekend. We've already used them to serve wine (so "continental") and juice. I think they'd be amazing with layered trifle
for dessert or even planted with succulents.