Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

I hate Halloween. I always have. I had the strange experience of growing up in a neighborhood where Halloween was a big deal, mostly because we were the nicest street in a relatively terrible area. Because of our "best of the worst" status, we got a lot of trick-or-treaters at our house. But, perhaps I have to preempt this story with the fact that I was born terrified of animals (stuffed and real, which is why my new found appreciation for animal heads is slightly shocking) and all people in costume. This plagued me most of my childhood during which time roller skating parties complete with "character" appearances were all the rage. I distinctly remember my grandma taking me to Roller Magic and me insisting that she not leave until she had spoken to the roller skating Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and told him that skating anywhere near me was not acceptable. So, with that as a point of reference, you can see why, regardless of all the complications of the bad neighborhood, Halloween has always been, shall we say, fraught. 

Anyway, I never really wanted to go trick-or-treating, but after one particularly violent year when a child was beaten and his candy stolen, I was all for my mom's plan of vacating the neighborhood until the storm of vampires, witches, and teenagers with pillow cases passed us by. Off we would go, every year, to my great aunts' house in a very remote country town where we would eat polenta, buttered noodles, and donuts. I am not sure why that was the menu, but it was. All my cousins would come. We wore costumes. We did not trick-or-treat. We would drive home after it became clear that everyone would have migrated back to there own corners of the neighborhood.

It's funny that I'm not sure why we started going to my great aunts' house. I don't know if it was because my mom thought the neighborhood wasn't safe, but I've always remembered it that way. Perhaps it was I who thought the neighborhood was unsafe because I thought that it was highly likely that princesses and teddy bears could wreck all sorts of irreparable harm on just about anyone.

Halloween for me has always been a night of demons and terrors. Mine just happened to look like Belle from Beauty and the Beast.

When people ask me if I'm dressing up this year, I always chuckle. Not a chance.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Killer Instinct

Anyone who knows me knows I am not an animal lover. J. hates when I tell people this openly because he says it makes me seem unlikeable. I must say it anyway. I particularly loathe when people say to me, "Wait, you don't like dogs? Do you like babies?" in a way that implies that because I don't care for pets, I, subsequently, would not care for other human beings. Not so, my friends. Not so. I take my stand today not to criticize those of you who love your furry friends, but to be clear that not everyone feels the same way on this matter (much as I suppose it would be possible for someone not to like babies, which I actually do find horrifying beyond belief).

All that being said, I, in no way, advocate the mistreatment or harm of any kind of animal. So, because most of these heads are made of paper (those that are not were probably found on the forest floor, right?), I think they are safe and would be the perfect addition to my beautiful chevron wall. I feel strange about my attraction to the faux animal head trend mostly because I think it would be weird to have any sort of animal paraphernalia in my home (as I said, I just don't like them--more on that tomorrow), but I am really drawn to this weird wall decor. I am afraid that J. will have a harder road to hoe with a wife who not only doesn't like cute little puppies, but hangs antlers on her wall. It's a tough life.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Monday Musings

I seems like everyone on the east coast is hunkering down for Tropical Storm Sandy or "Frankenstorm" as it has been named in honor of this weekend Halloween festivities. I find it slightly ironic that my mom was terrified about me moving to the west coat because of the earthquakes, but since I've moved, the east coast has experienced their own earthquake, and now they are facing a hurricane! Meanwhile, over here on the west coast, today was a sunny day in the seventies. In fact, the beach was beckoning. That being said, I did not answer the call. I hunkered down myself for a marathon of Homeland, a show I have heard a lot about, but hadn't seen. Wow. It's awesome. This weekend was exactly what I'd hoped it would be...filled with relaxation, lots of couch time, and nowhere in particular to be. Perfection.

If you are trapped in the storm here are some ideas that might help to pass the time:

1. Play scrabble (or Scattergories, Monopoly, Boggle, or, if you are feeling a little more high energy, Taboo).
2. Cuddle someone while listening to the rain.
3. Read by candlelight.
4. Drink red wine (no chilling required!).
5. Meditate.
6. Have that long talk you've been meaning to have.
7. Build a fire.
8. Write a letter. Everyone loves getting letters. Real ones. On stationary.
9. Build a fort, crawl inside, and take a nap- a favorite activity of my brother's and mine when we were little.
10. If you do have television or a charged computer, watch Homeland!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Fabulous Friday

As someone who has spent the past year bemoaning the fact that I have no one to hang out with in San Francisco, I do appreciate the irony of this comment, but I have no social engagements this weekend (except that hot date with my couch), and I couldn't be happier. I see lots of lattes, late mornings, lounge pants, and lovely laziness. Sometimes there is nothing more fabulous than looking at a schedule filled with just that...nothing.

Hope you find a little time to do nothing this weekend. See you on Monday!

a little hammock and some fun text

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Paris! Oui! Oui!

If you've been reading, you know I'm coming up on a big birthday this year...and my mom is too. We have been planning to celebrate en Paris! I have been to Paris once on an amazing trip with my grandparents when I was in eighth grade, but I am quite certain that going back as adult will be markedly different! First and foremost, I can drink wine. Critical difference. I like to imagine (whether or not this becomes reality is quite irrelevant at this point in time) that this will be the luxury trip of a lifetime. With that in mind, I started poking around possible hotels. What I have found thus far makes my heart skip a beat. Check out these amazing Parisian boudoirs. Yes, don't mind if I do.

Hotel Therese: This is the most modest (and I mean that tongue-in-cheek), but I love the clean lines and modern feel.

Champs Elysees Plaza: Luxury and opulence. The funny part is the way they've styled the rooms in the photos. The unmade bed...the Chanel bags thrown casually in the corner...the fur throws...this place embodies hedonism (and exactly how I imagine this trip) at its best.

Saint James Paris: Speaking of opulence. There are no words.

Don't you worry! There's more where these came from. I'll keep you posted!

J.Crew Sale!

Just had to put this out there because J. Crew has added new styles to their sale and everything on sale is currently an additional 30% off. If you are a teacher or a student, go down to the store and get an addition 15% on top of the 30%! You cannot beat that. Shop quickly or these items will be gone!

Some of my faves:

I bought those t-strap flats over the weekend! Love them. Comment and tell me what you buy!

Nepotism 101

In case you are not familiar, Merriam Webster dictionary defines nepotism as "favoritism (as in appointment to a job) based on kinship."

So, I am not appointing anyone to a job, but I think today is the perfect day for a little nepotism.
Since I have a captive audience, I just have to draw your attention to this guy I know, who also happens to be my husband.

This creation of his (and his business partner) has been around for a few years now, and things are getting kind of serious, if you ask me. He is one of the brainiacs behind a great new social media company called Kullect. I am not sure that I'll truly do it justice in my descriptions, but it is a way to chronicle and organize your experiences. It is to the real world what Pinterest is to the internet. It's hot stuff.  These are some of my Kullections:
I love Pinterest as much as the next girl/blogger, but instead of sourcing things from the internet, Kullect gets you out into the real world, having experiences, and documenting not what you aspire to be or to have, but what you are already are and do. Check it out, and follow me! I think you'll like it.

Interested and want to read more? Check out these features in Xconomy and GigaOM.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What's On Your Vanity?

This vanity is courtesy of one Miss Sarah Ott. She and I worked together years ago at a summer job, and she is currently a law student in her final year at Ohio State University. Sarah has always been a stylish gal (which you could probably glean from that large and luxurious Hermes box there), so I am excited to feature her vanity this week!

Here are SKO's top pics:

My perfume is Missoni, and I believe they no longer make it.  This has created some stress in my life, and I might have an extensive perfume trial period ahead of me.

The nail polish is Essie in Clambake.  It is the best orange-red that I've found, but you have to do three coats or it looks thin. 

The mascara is Maybelline's Define-A-Lash.  I've tried fancier mascara, like DiorShow and Benefit's Badgal, but I really think this is the least clumpy.  The best part is that you can buy it at CVS.

Benefit's Ooh La Lift supposedly brightens the under-eye area.  I haven't hit the lovely dark under-eyes of finals week yet, but I do think it lightens the area in a nice, subtle way.

I just learned how to use eyeliner very recently (I am twenty-six, so that's a little embarrassing), and this Bobbi Brown long-wear eye pencil in Jet is the only thing I've tried.  So far, so good!

I don't wear eyeshadow on a daily basis, but when I go out, I like this Urban Decay eyeshadow.  The pinky-gold shade adds pop, and the best part is that this shade is called X. 

Like Meredith, I am also a big Bobbi Brown fan - it's easy to use if you want a natural look.  I love her blush in Nude Pink, which is bright, but not overwhelming on my fair skin.

I'm in the market for a new bronzer that works with fair skin and that will get me through the Ohio winter without looking too ghostly pale.  Any recommendations?
               Note: Sarah, I would try Laguna (Nars), Bobbi Brown, or Mac

Finally, I love Kiehl's moisturizers.  I use the Ultra Facial Moisturizer every day.  I've been using the Abyssine Eye Cream for a several years, and I'm not sure if it's preventing crows feet, but it does work well as an eye make-up remover.

Oh and, Burt's Beeswax chapstick, always and forever. 

Thank, Sarah, for sharing with us! 

Would you like to share your vanity? Shoot me an email at

Monday, October 22, 2012

Monday Musings

This weekend took me on a little jaunt to the district (Washington DC) where J. and I visited my sister for her Parents Weekend. My parents met us there for some family fun, and the period of time between my last visit with my parents and this weekend marked the longest I have ever gone without seeing my mother! Two whole months! A little pathetic? Perhaps, but I'm over believing that growing up means growing away. Such a crock of nonsense.

The weekend was what J. deemed "A Whitehouse Family Adventure."
There was some of this...and then a little of this face...followed up by much of this.

Yes, that is one way to sum it up. 

Any adventure with my family inevitably involves lots of eating, lots of shopping, and probably a few spontaneous outbreaks of tears. What I learned is that the desire for attention experienced by two girls, ten years apart, who have both not seen their mother in a long time can result in gladiatorial style competition. It got messy for a minute there.

That being said, girls can always come together over some good shopping, and that we did. By the end of the day on Saturday, we needed some family retail therapy. We had spent many hours in the Newseum (our one cultural excursion of the weekend) where I left convinced that humanity was doomed. This conclusion came about after watching a number of videos on 9/11 and looking at the gallery of Pulitzer Prize winning photos. Talk about a sobering experience. There is a quotation up in the exhibit that says that good pictures make you laugh, cry, and think. There was thinking and crying, but where were the laughs, people? I must have missed those. We followed up that near suicide provoking experience with a glass of wine and another tiff over something, and frankly I hadn't had a good night sleep since the preceding Tuesday, so I was a little off my rocker. What better than being buried in an armchair full of overpriced jacket liners to cure what ails?

On the subject of shopping, the best shopping of the weekend was definitely at TJ Maxx. Have you ever been to one of their stores that has a "Runway" section? I hadn't either. Bananas. I literally looked like a cracked out maniac pushing a shopping cart piled high above my sight line muttering something about Vince sweaters and leather bustiers. Now that was some serious family bonding.

We capped off a family filled weekend of fun with a dinner back in SF with my brother who was in town from Manhattan. The last five days were a whirlwind, and any given moment of the extended weekend might have looked like mayhem and chaos to the casual outside observer, but this is how we love one another, and I wouldn't have it any other way. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fabulous Friday

Shut up. I got my first fan letter. Well, it was an email, but it was perfect. I actually got a little teary when I read it. On Tuesday I was watching the stats on my blog, and I was feeling like I was plateauing. There have been times in this process where my numbers have actually dropped. Then they come back again. And then they even out. I know that this is all par for the course. But, juggling this and work sometimes feels like a lot. On those days, I am desperate to see growth. I want to know that I am reaching people, people who are reading and getting me and my voice. Frankly, there is a not a lot of feedback in the beginning. But, I've read about people who have "made it" and they all said that, at the start, their main readers were a few loyal family members and friends. I do not want to undervalue how much the support means from those people who have reached out via Facebook and email to let me know that they're reading and enjoying the blog. And, at the same time, I long for the day when my little box of subscribers is full and comments are flowing like water. As I was thinking about that and feeling just slightly discouraged, I opened up my email to the most lovely letter from someone who had come across the blog and wanted to encourage me.

"Famous" bloggers probably get these letters all the time. I have never gotten one. I've had a few comments on the blog here and there that have been terrific, but this was a full blown email detailing what I'm doing well. I have often mused on the subject of timing, and this was another one of those divine interventions. I can't thank you enough, Jen (check out her blog: The Elizabeth Letter), and I will keep doing what I'm doing because I know it is reaching and speaking to someone (and not just someone who is related to me and therefore ethically obligated to read what I write).

As if that weren't good enough, one of my absolute favorite bloggers of all time left a comment on a post. So, this week was pretty dang fabulous. I am going to rock on with my bad self and celebrate my baby successes! Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Okay, dear readers, I need your help! I am a huge fan of Rent The Runway. I have used their services for a few events I've been to, and I think they have a terrific business model, amazing customer service, and a wonderful selection of dresses and jewelry! The next event on the wedding calendar for my brother's day is a bridal shower in Connecticut, hosted by my mom, the weekend after Thanksgiving, and I have been browsing dresses to decide what to wear. I am looking for something appropriate to the season, festive, and figure flattering. These are my top contenders:

I can't make this decision alone! Which dress is the one for me?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Bachelorette Party Recap

So I am sure you are all waiting with baited breath to find out how the bachelorette party went! It was terrific. We had the most gorgeous weather, which is wonderfully rare, and we had lovely company to boot. My sister was instagramming up a storm, so here are some clips from the weekend.

Things started in San Francisco. I put together a spread of "heavy apps" for our Friday night kick off. We had way too much cheese. Way too much. It wasn't natural. But, if you are going to have cheese, you must also have fig jam and good honey.

Please excuse those horrible blinds. Another home improvement project that hasn't been attended to as of yet. They haunt my dreams.

On Saturday, we set off in our white limo (don't even get me started--one of the seats was covered in duct tape--not the limo ride of bachelorette fantasies) and headed to Taft Street Winery, which had a wonderful collection of very drinkable wines although it wasn't actually a vineyard. They also have a bocce court!

The bottom six photos are all from Iron Horse Vineyard, which was STUNNING. Really amazingly beautiful. Look at that limo under the palms! And this place apparently provides a lot of wine to the Supreme Court, so they are legit. They have three different tasting flights, two of which are sparkling. Yum. The vibe is very laid back, and there is a terrific picnic area where we ate more...cheese. Are you sensing a theme here? While some gals like hot strippers and lots of shots, we like cheese.

We finished off Saturday night with a cheese-lite dinner at Beretta in the Mission. Another amazing discovery of the weekend: Uber. Do you know about Uber? It has the potential to be a money pit and, to make matters worse, it is terrifyingly conveninet and made me feel like a celebrity. If you have an addictive personality, do not download this app.

There was, of course, the requisite late night on Saturday, but we were generally quite a tame bunch. The bacehlorette herself got hit on by some very rich men from Dubai (a must at any good bachelorette party), we watched a couple on a date snort coke off a table before showing one another pictures of their children, and we took a ride in a "cab" with a man who may or may not have been under the influence. My type of party. I had a great time, the bride-to-be seemed to have a great time, she wore a tiara and boa, we ate our weight in cheese, and we drank good wine. I think means the weekend was smashing success.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Want or Need

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Monday Musings

I have never hired someone to come into my house and provide a service. I like to do things myself. I am a cleaning fanatic, and I have lived under the assumption that no one can clean quite like I can clean, and, therefore, clean I must. This past week provided the exception. Especially harried from business at work and the upcoming bachelorette party, I arrived at a restaurant in the Richmond last week to meet my dad for dinner. On this particular evening I had also been driving, which I loathe doing in the city because I can never find parking. That night was no exception. I pulled over to the curb, too exasperated to continue to look, and let J. take the wheel. (J. later told me I was behaving like a diva. Me? Never.)  In the restaurant, my dad could tell that I was feeling slightly manic and overwhelmed, and I starting ranting about how the apartment was a disaster because of the painting, and the laundry was piling up, and I was sure that J. and I were engaging in a silent battle of wills about which one of us would empty the dishwasher, so the plates were also piling up, and I was tired.  I must insert here that I am well aware of the fact that I do not have any children, so this could be way worse, but I essentially work two jobs. My real job keeps me busy enough, and this blog is the equivalent of a second job in the time I try to devote to it. Some days, I just feel stretched thin. Anyway, this is a long way to get around to my real story, which is that my dad told me to hire a cleaning person to come in so that I could focus on work. It was as if heaven opened and shined warm rays of calm on me, and the word of the gods was "Hire Natural Maidens" (because if a deity wanted to endorse a cleaning company, I think that Natural Maidens would be an apropos choice). And who am I to argue with that? So, I did.

My maiden was accommodating enough to come within 24 hours. The moment I let the lovely women into my apartment, I suddenly felt that I should work alongside her. I starting fussing around looking for things to do because I didn't want her to think that I was just sitting around while she was cleaning up my mess. (She did comment that I was particularly tidy.) The whole time she was in my apartment I experienced a weird guilty feeling over having someone do something for me that I could do myself--even if having that person do it buys me the time to do the other things I really need to be doing. Its felt so indulgent (and not quite in the good way a facial feels indulgent). She did a terrific job, but upon further inspection, I have concluded that I was right all along. No one can clean quite like I can clean.

I have updates to come on the party, the chevron wall, and everything in between. In the meantime, get this week started right. Happy Monday.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Fabulous Friday: It's Party Time!

Today marks the beginning of my future sister-in-law's bachelorette weekend! I am lucky enough that her bridal party (with the exception of two ladies who work abroad) have managed to get away for a weekend in "the" city west coast style (they all think that "the" city is New York. I will educate them). I am hosting them at my house (hence the painting that occurred last weekend, which I will fill you in on next week), and tonight we are having a relaxed evening filled with food and drinks and revelry before we catch our limo to wine country tomorrow. You can't have a real bachlorette party without the appearance of a gaudy white limo in some form or another, so I've made the necessary arrangements.

Having a sibling get married is an interesting thing. I am, so far, the only one of my siblings to get married, and I am the oldest of four. When I got married, I didn't think much about how my siblings felt about it. I knew that they loved my husband, and we all got along famously. But, I do remember a time (when we were all so much younger) that my brother (the one who is about to get married) acted strange and distant around my husband. Both (weirdly) have the same name, participated in the same sports (because we were all in high school, this actually mattered), and had a number of the same interests. I thought much of my brother's early reticence stemmed from competition. Now that I am watching my brother get ready to get married, I see that there is something else at play. There is a subtle, lingering fear that perhaps I am losing a member of my family, an anxiety that someone else, someone not related to me (yet), will know my friend, my sibling, better than I do, will have more access to his life than I ever will. That can be a hard feeling to articulate.  I'm not sure if my brother ever felt that way about me, but he might have.

I also, personally, think that we (whoever that royal we is) don't carve out a lot of space to reflect on that emotion, which is, essentially, a feeling of loss. We don't talk about that, and we don't really mourn it either. And I'm not insinuating that every marriage also requires a subsequent period of mourning. But, I think it should be okay to acknowledge that I'll miss my brother because things will be different. That doesn't mean that they won't be good, but they will be different, and there is no getting around that.

Luckily, I have grown to love his fiancee. She is a wonderful woman and, more importantly, a wonderful woman for him. In fact, I think that they are fabulous for each other, and I believe (I want to go as far as saying "I know") that theirs will be a good and happy life.  I wanted to host this party for her because I look forward to having her as my sister. She will have a part of my brother that I never will again, but I can have her as a part of my life, and that is a great thing. So let the fabulous celebrations commence!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Coat Attack

I am having a coat moment. I am literally obsessing over coats this year. This is probably because San Francisco eternally demands a good jacket. These are on my wish list...

I would really like ANYTHING from the Emerson Fry fall line. Her styles are gorgeous, and I am particularly enamored of her coats. 
EF 1- EF 2
I might need to make a trip to the country, where I will certainly need to dress the part, and that may or may not involve toggles. 
Club Monaco - Madewell 
There is always a place in my closet for a classic trench. This one has such fun inside it's buttoned up exterior!
Kate Spade

Sometimes you need something short. That leather jacket is fierce! Love the color.
Club Monaco - Tibi
These make me feel warm and cozy just looking at them.
Max Mara - J. Crew (This one is calling my name.)

Do you see your future coat on this list?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What's On Your Vanity?

House Beautiful does a feature called "What's On Your Vanity?" which asks women what their essential products are, and, because the magazine, obviously, has an interior decor focus, there is usually some mention of the very lovely vanity itself. While I don't care as much about the actual vanity in this case, I love this feature when reading the mag, and figured why not borrow it (i.e. rip it off) and start a little version on the blog? I haven't written about beauty products in quite some time, so as of today, I am starting my own, "What's On Your Vanity?" series. I can't wait to get a sneak peak at the contents of people's "vanities" (and if that means your medicine cabinet, cardboard box, milk crate, or bone inlaid dresser, it's all good!).

To start off, let's check out what I'm using these days. And, I happen to be in the market for some new make-up, so I will probably have to update this soon! (By the way, my photography skills leave a lot to be desired. I am using my phone, so let's cut a girl a break, shall we?) You can see that I clearly gravitate towards Bobbi Brown products. So does Kate Middleton. Need I say more?

Bobbi Brown 4 Pan Palette: Desert Pink Blush, Pale Pink Blush, Apricot Blush, and Ash Shimmer Wash Eye Shadow
I am a blush fanatic. I honestly think it makes you look awake and pretty in a way that little else can. That being said, I am always on the lookout for the perfect color. Sometimes I blend these shades. I have heard a criticism of Bobbi Brown make-up that the colors are not saturated enough, but I like that I can build them to the perfect finish. The Ash color of this eye shadow is not in production any more, and I actually use it to fill in my brows because it is soft and matches my eyebrows well.

Lancome Dual Finish Versatile Powder Makeup in Matte Porcelaine D'Ivoire I
Must have a compact with me at all times for red patches (aka emergence of adult acne). This is a really nice option. The coverage is enough that it does its job, but it doesn't look cakey. 

Nars Bronzer in Laguna
I hate bronzers with shimmer, so this is my go to. My only complaint is that I go through this stuff like water!

Bobbi Brown Tinted Eye Brightener in Light Bisque 
Great for under-eye coverage.

Bobbi Brown Tinted Moisturizer (SPF 15 and Oil Free ) in Light Tint
This is a new purchase, and I really like it. Again, the coverage is buildable. You won't get full coverage with this, but I don't want to look too made up, and I love that I don't have to worry about a separate step for sunscreen. 

Bobbi Brown Lash Glamour Extreme Lengthening Mascara in Black
Love the way this lengthens and separates lashes and still makes them look real and not clumpy. 

Bobbi Brown Long Wear Eye Pencil in Jet
I am a recent convert to eye-liner. I rarely wore it in the past, but because I am so light, a little eye-liner makes a big difference. This really stays put. I had a lighter color the first time I bought it, and I think I prefer that for everyday wear. The "Jet," as the name implies, is really dark.

Sephora Eye Shadow in California Blonde N. 10
My sister introduced me to this color, which I bought to use as a highlight shade under my brow, but I like it all over the eyelid on days when I don't really want much make-up. (Plus, the name is fitting, right?)

Bobbi Brown Desert Twilight Eye Palette
This palette has a nice range of shades from very subtle to sparkly, and it also comes with a dark shade that can be used as an eye-liner.

Clinque Almost Lipstick in Black Honey
My mom always used to wear this when I was a little girl, and now it is back with a vengeance! This looks black in the tube, but is a universally flattering shade and completely on trend for fall.

Anyone else want to share? Send me an email or post a comment to get your vanity featured on the blog!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming... give you a little visual inspiration. I think I'm having a tumblr moment.

1. 2 . 3 . 4 . 5 . 6 . 7 . 8 . 9 . 10 . 11 . 12