Tuesday, August 30, 2011

late summer (noun):

American Apparel tank; Betsey Johnson bandeau;  wrap skirt from one of those random Tibetan stores; Express belt; Steve Madden sandals

Still not moving your furniture back into place (seriously?  Who do I think I am.  Get your act together, self) and being more than comfortable in a long, flow-y skirt.

Monday, August 29, 2011

while you can.


You know I'm never going to lead you astray, right?  I'm never going to try to feed you something that isn't delicious, and I'm not going to exaggerate and say THIS IS THE BEST THING YOU'LL EVER CONSUME!!!! when it's far from it.  I'm not going to lie to you.  I'm just trying to do you right.

That being said, the recipe I'm going to share with you today is so good I almost died.

It is so good that I ate it and made noises like, "MMMmmmmmMMmMMmMMmm."  It is hard for me to talk about it without falling over in ecstasy.  I want to orchestrate a symphony in this dish's honor.  I want to assign it a national holiday.  I think if I made a big enough vat of it and sent a bowlful to all of the world's leaders, we would achieve peace on Earth.

Summer Vegetable Quinoa
inspired by Joy the Baker and a meal I once ate at Blind Faith Cafe
serves 3

Quinoa is grain that you cook like rice, but that maintains a crunchier texture and a heartier taste.  I had a sack of it in my pantry, and wanted to incorporate some summer vegetables while I still had the chance.  The result is a grilled, sweet, creamy, salty and awesome meal.  Do yourself a favor and eat this as soon as physically possible.

1 cup quinoa (I used black, but any color - or a mixture - would work just fine)
1 large ear of sweet corn
1 medium zucchini
1 ripe avocado

2 tablespoons olive oil
the juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

crumbled, crispy bacon
good shredded parmesan

Cook the quinoa according to the instructions on the bag/box; different colors have a slight variation, but my black quinoa recommended boiling 1 cup in 1 3/4 cup water until most of the water was evaporated, and then reducing it to a simmer until it was all incorporated.  Fluff with a fork and set aside.

Do you have a barbecue?  I am jealous.  Cut the zucchini in half long-ways, and throw the pieces (flesh side down) and the ear of corn directly onto the grill.  If you live in a college apartment and the best you have is a stove, use tongs and grill it over the flame a la indoor s'mores.  Remove from heat when veggies have achieved a pretty char and are softer to touch.

Slice the corn kernels off of the cob and chop up the zucchini, tossing both into the quinoa.  Scoop out the insides of the avocado and give it a rough chop.  Mix this into the quinoa as well; the avocado will not keep its shape but meld together with the quinoa, giving it a creamier texture that will make you want to sing a song.

Serve quinoa in a bowl, garnished with a sprinkle (handful) of crumbled bacon and parmesan cheese.

Sit down for dinner with someone you like a lot on the furniture thats still in the middle of the room from when you painted.
Take a big bite.

Think about weeping with joy, but just smile instead.
Say, "Mmmmm."

Sunday, August 28, 2011

curried chicken salad.

Perhaps you have a huge container of 0% plain Chobani greek yogurt in your fridge, which you usually use in smoothies, but your blender is broken and you haven't purchased a new one yet.

Perhaps you do not like mayo because you think it's gloppy and bad, but you really would like to make some chicken salad.

Perhaps you want something quick for dinner because you are beat from rearranging and painting your living room.

Perhaps you and I have a lot more in common than we previously thought.

For a chicken salad with a kick of spice, yogurt for creaminess and tang, and a load of crunchy and sweet add-ins, please make this recipe today.

Curried Chicken Salad
serves four

For the bind:
1 cup plain greek yogurt
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoon yellow curry powder

For the mix:
2 large cooked chicken breasts, diced
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup currants

Add all of the bind ingredients to a large bowl.  Stir until combined.  Add mix ingredients, and fold together until evenly coated.

....and that's it.  Could a meal be any easier?  If you have any extra cooked chicken breasts on hand, the entire process takes five minutes.  Using plain greek yogurt (especially if you use a nonfat variety) is a healthy alternative to mayo, and also gives the salad a sort of tangy flavor that is really addictive.

Pile a spoonful on some toasted wheat bread with a few leaves of lettuce, use the salad like a dip with crackers, wrap it in a flatbread, or eat it straight from the bowl.  It's very yellow and very.  Very.  Good.

Friday, August 26, 2011

love today.

Some things that have made me happy this week.

Miranda July, a Berkeley native whom most people will recognize as the writer/director and star of The Future, is the artist behind Eleven Heavy Things, an exhibition that has been installed in both New York City and Los Angeles.  A series of interactive stone, fiberglass and steel sculptures (signs urge people to climb on and take pictures with them), the pieces are hilarious and sort of sad, which I think is Ms. July's forte.  Look at some of the sculptures here.

This hair dye tutorial which reminds me of my sister and also mermaids. Read the full how-to here.  

A website dedicated to displaying reader-submitted "pictures of pictures from the past in the present," Dear Photograph caused me to sit on my couch and cry for fifteen minutes.  Something about the line of a sidewalk staying exactly the same for fifty years, but the children who once rode their bikes there growing up, having their own children, and missing the father who was behind the camera that day...I just lost it.  I don't know.  See for yourself.

A Lyric A Day was a 2010 design project by Luke Beard (a Chicago designer who calls himself Lukes Beard on this website...like his beard did the art...probably why he's a designer and not a comedian) that was never completed.  Mr. Beard took one song lyric each day and "created art or took a picture inspired by that lyric."  I love looking through the archives for songs that I know, and am crossing my fingers that his promise of making prints available comes true so I can plaster his Jack's Mannequin (and probably this Florence + The Machine too, so pretty) piece up in my bedroom.  Look for your favorite song here.

I've spread out in a sunny corner of the living room in an attempt to finally get my recipes in some sort of sensical order, as they have been piled in a cardboard box under my printer for a whole year.  See Ina's little smiling face up on the left holding a platter of Eton Mess?  That's mah gurl.

Have a lovely Friday --- I'm gonna go lay out on the beach.
Life is hard hard hard.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

the opposite of ex-pat.

topshop opening lustlist
Topshop & Illustrated People; all pieces available at Topshop

Topshop, the British-based clothes retailer and design house that has historically teamed up with the likes of Kate Moss and Stella Vine, is planning to open its second U.S. flagship store on Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago on September 7th.

I have been dying about this since I first passed the storefront and its "Coming Soon!" sign sometime last winter.  I am one free, quick bus ride and two short weeks from a history-making ribbon cutting.

This is me attempting nonchalance in 2006 at a Topshop in London.  Notice the Abercrombie & Fitch cargo shorts that I got from the boy's section.  What a choice.  Holla at me, fifteen year olds.

I would describe Topshop as a higher quality H&M: mirroring topical runway trends in more accessible and affordable ways, creating collaborations with notable designers (did you see H&M’s with Lanvin last year?  Absurd), and having that subtle funky European slant -- but with a little steeper price tag.  It’s like Zara but trendier.  Or Abercrombie & Fitch without half naked men drenched in bad cologne.  So it's nothing like Abercrombie & Fitch.   

To celebrate this grand opening on the Magnificent Mile and in my heart, and to employ my new discovery of Polyvore (an online styling website which lets you create looks and inspiration billboards using pieces that are currently in stores), I have thrown together some of my favorite Fall pieces from Topshop.  Pretty simple stuff, but with detailing that makes it not just a classic gray sweater.  Arm cutouts.   You can’t beat that.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

knit and chipped.

Chloe K sweater; Champion sports bra; Rachel earrings; American Eagle shorts; Chuck Taylor Converse All Stars; Coach bag
Sometimes -- a word which here means "often" -- I wear neon sports bras with normal clothing and let the dayglo pink straps hang out.  Its lazy/functional/sort of a 1980's babysitter look, and today I ran with it.

For another day of cleaning and organizing, I dug out my 7th grade Chucks.  Veritable antiques, they've got middle school inside jokes scrawled in pen on the instep and some paint splatter souvenirs from my first year of college build crew requirement.

I rediscovered this crossbody Coach bag while cleaning out my closet and have since realized that it meets all of my late summer purse needs (neutral, light color, holds a lot without being massive).  My great aunt gave it to me when I met her two years ago in Osaka, Japan.  She could speak only a handful of English words (beer, New York City and Central Park...literally that's it) and drank like a fish when we went out to dinner.  She was unbelievable.  She brought purses for both my sister and me -- because apparently you bring presents when meeting your sister's grandchildren from America? -- and had tucked a little silk cherry blossom handkerchief into each of them.  We were floored.

I think we thanked her for 27 straight minutes.

She said, "Beer."

in terms of days, we're at the dog's tail.

Its late summer and I’m back in Chicagoland, really seriously thinking about unpacking and actually eating half of a full-sized watermelon every day.  With a spoon.  And when no one is looking I slurp up the dripping watermelon juice. 

Don’t waste a drop of summer, kids.

My apartment is undergoing its yearly pre-school-year cleanse, and while my brain is all aflutter with painting plans that may or may not come to fruition, I’ve satiated the organizational monster that dwells inside of me by going full-tilt Neat Freak on my closet.

Beautiful clothing storage makes me sigh with happiness, and not only because I am a crazy person who enjoys order.  I think that compartmentalized and clean closets facilitate style experimentation, and also make getting dressed more fun.  When you can clearly see (and easily reach) your entire wardrobe at one time, you will find yourself pairing items that you’d never even considered wearing together, layering pieces in new ways, and perhaps even discovering things you’d forgotten about because they were smashed between two big grandpa sweaters.  That happens to me all the time.  I love grandpa sweaters. 

My closet is a far cry from Carrie Bradshaw’s in terms of space, so my challenge was to make every square inch count.  With the help of some woven basket beauties from World Market and a bunch of extra hangers (I no longer embrace the doubling up of items per hanger.  14 tank tops on one piece of wire?!  Enough was enough), I have found a method that will be as easy to keep up as it is on the eyes. 

Granted, the rest of my room looks like it recently suffered an explosive attack.  I am choosing to blame this on the giant fan I’m using to keep the Midwest August at bay. 

That's all.  I will be in my closet admiring my shoe shelf if you need me.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Thursday, August 18, 2011

flowers at night.

Just exploring Butchart Gardens in Victoria at dusk.
Silence + Noise dress; Vans
Have you been there?  Literally gorgeous.  Mrs. Butchart hung upside down from a crane to put seeds in all the crevices of her husband's rock quarry.  Do you hear what I'm saying?  The lady HUNG UPSIDE DOWN FOR FLOWERS.

Mrs. Butchart for president.

I will need to wear this dress again and take detailed pictures for you because the front is also wonderful.  Really great pleating at the waist and the teeniest amount of bubble skirt action which I usually detest, but for this it somehow works.

Also you may notice that I've skipped the heels and instead I've got my Vans on but they look like sneakers.

I do not know every word to this song, no I do NOT.

I'm watching this video for the first time though, and these girls/grillz are killing me.
Mrs. Butchart would never allow for this kind of behavior, I'm sure of it.

and boarded the plane.

H&M romper; Betsey Johnson silk belt; Calvin Klein pearls; Steve Madden pumps
Thank the Lord Jesus Christ for rompers.  They might be the perfect clothing item.  The ease of a dress, the comfort and movability of shorts - and its not a skort! - so plusses all around.  Also sometimes you can find them in black silk at H&M, and there is only one left, and its your perfect size, but its ripped at the shoulder, so you get it for very few dollars.  And that's what happened to me.  So I had my mom sew it up and then I wore it to cruise formal night #2.  Amen.

Sweet waist-ruching details / Wearing the only necklace I brought with me as a pearly cuff / My senior ball shoes that I am head over blue suede heels about.

Makes me think about this song which is my favorite song and I am not at all embarrassed to tell you that.

Sorry these posts are such a long time coming!  I thought I left my camera charger on the ship, but when I finally got around to unpacking (...yesterday...yikes), there it was at the bottom of my bag in a heap of clothing.  Sort of like my life. Anyway.  I'm back.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

poppin my collar as i glide.

American Eagle button down; vintage Andrew Gellar pumps; Cargo lipstick in Satori

The other fitted blue button down, with its sleeves rolled up and no jewelry to detract from its splendor.  I think fitted blue button downs were what this Alaskan cruise line meant by “smart casual.”  I let this one hang out over a black body con skirt with an exposed back zipper and felt altogether pleased with my life choices.

Not everybody is down with second hand shoes, but when they are magenta 80’s cut kitten heels, the correct answer is YES.  Notice how far up the foot the toe box is cut.  Absolutely no chance of toe cleavage =  standard retro shoe design.  My mom has red pumps cut like this from when she was a workerwoman in Oakland.  She carried them in her briefcase on BART and changed out of her Nikes once she got to the office.  My mom is a badass.  She has awesome shoe taste that probably warrants its own post.  Unfortunately I cannot steal any of her footwear because she is a shrimp person with baby-sized feet.  She thanks God every night for this fact. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

raise your waist.

Sparkle & Fade sweater; Kimchi Blue trousers; Jeffrey Campbell wedges; Calvin Klein pearls
This is me mimicking fashiontoast’s Rumi circa sometime last month.  My mustard-colored silk trousers have a bit more of a paperbag waist than hers do (and thus necessitate some serious sweater tuckage), but otherwise it’s a pretty good copy, don’t you think?  I had planned on posing sideways to even further the likeness, but then I remembered that I have a beak growing out of my face that looks, if possible, even more birdlike from the side.

fashiontoast is one of the style blogs that I check on the daily (along with Cupcakes and Cashmere).   Model/blogger Rumi’s closet makes me salivate, and her travels make me gnaw at my arm in jealousy.  So fashiontoast turns me into a sort of rabid dog or something.   Also just looking at her makes me think about never ever ever eating again, but that’s a different story.  Her wispy run-on blurbs set beneath magazine-worthy street-style photography are reminiscent of both her endless limbs and almost too perfectly tousled tresses.  Ugh.  Some girls have it all.

And some girls go white water rafting in Juneau in RUBBER PANTS.
I think we both know who came out on top in this one.

Monday, August 8, 2011

please look at the yellow cone on the right.

Betsey Johnson dress; Silence and Noise blazer; Classiques Entier heels; random carnation from the cabin guy

The last cruise ship formal night I attended was in 2003, and it was on the Disney Cruise to the Bahamas.  My mom picked out my outfit.  It was a pink taffeta dress with rhinestone spaghetti straps, and if you know anything about me as a twelve year old, you are shocked to learn this.  Pink was not my jam.  Dresses were not my jam.  What is taffeta? 

No you may not see a picture, I shredded them ALL.

Fast forward eight years: ruffles, and mesh, and a complimentary boutonniere on the lapel of my boxy silk blazer.  Still a little pink, but in a much more manageable and less itchy capacity. 


You may notice a pattern when it comes to pictures taken on the deck of this ship.  Hint: It’s the wind.

Free People sweater; CND Nail Polish in Raspberry Parfait
Also I just have to say a few things.  I’m sorry.

It is my second day on this cruise.  Cruises are bizarre.  Cruises are wonderful, but they are bizarre.

People never stop eating.  All hours of the day and night, vacationers are flocking to the restaurants and the buffets and the cafes and the BARS my GOD, doing their darndest to perhaps even MAKE money off this cruise by gorging themselves on steak and shrimp cocktail and caramelized pear crepes.  I have so many feelings about this constant state of consumption.  It can’t be good for anyone.  It can’t be good for the (few) children.  It can’t be good for the (MANY) old people.  And because I can get cookies and milk delivered to my stateroom literally 24/7, it is definitely not good for me.  This blog very well may take a turn for the muumuu.  Please stay tuned.

The voice of Jason, our “Cruise Director,” periodically blasts from the intercoms and everyone stops what they are doing to listen.  My sister has said the phrase, “I think I’m in a horror movie,” more than once.  Imagine frozen people all over a ship receiving instructions.  Yessss Jason, we are you servantsssss Jason, the weather in Juneau is 68 degreeeees, we shall do your every biddinggggg Jason, Tai Chi on deck 9 at noooooon, all hail Jason.

Tomorrow is our first “formal night.”  Not only am I curious to see what I am going to wear (since none of the clothing I brought is particularly more fancy than anything else), I am also thrilled at the prospect of seeing hundreds of senior citizens in opera-worthy attire.  Grandparents.  Taking.  Prom pictures.  I might not be able to sleep.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

getting your sea legs.

American Apparel leotard; Silence and Noise studded skirt; YAYA jacket; Classiques Entier heels

Some serious struggles on deck as our ship pulled away from the United States coastline.

Yesterday, while exploring during our first few hours onboard, we wandered into the “Technology Classroom” (reason you know this cruise is full of old people #1: they offer free classes about how to work your own computer).  The resident techspert launched into an overview of all of the things she could teach even us, a bunch of “computer-savvy teenagers.  How old are you all, anyway?” she asked.  And when I said twenty, she was legitimately shocked. “OH.  Well.  You will.  Um.  Age nicely.”

Just for that, lady, I’m wearing a leotard to dinner.  I may look “smart casual” as per the dress code when I’m wearing this awesome sherbert-colored cotton bomber, but when I take if off and reveal the deep scoop back, I hope you will think, ok fine.  She at least looks old enough to vote. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

chamber of commerce.

The kind of weekend in Seattle that makes people seriously consider moving there.

A quick stop to be with family before boarding a boat.  

Thursday, August 4, 2011

the bronx is up and the battery's down.

Street vender t-shirt; American Eagle cutoffs; Anthropologie tights; Tory Burch flats

The day I turned twelve, my dad informed me that it was the beginning of the end.  The day I turned twelve meant that there were a mere 365 days until the day I turned thirteen, and that meant being a teenager.  And being a teenager meant I would no longer be his.  Teenagers, he told me, roll their eyes at everything their fathers do, don’t laugh at their jokes (What did zero say to eight?  “Nice belt!”), and especially don’t want to talk to them about anything.  Teenagers are awful.

He proceeded to reveal a large envelope from behind his back.  It was a birthday present, but really, it was a celebration that I wasn’t a teenager yet.

The day I turned twelve, my dad gave me a homemade coupon for a three-day trip – just him and me – to anywhere in the country I wanted to go. The printed sheet had clip art pictures of airplanes in each corner (my mother’s doing, I knew), and was singlehandedly the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life.  This gift existed, and would for my sister when she turned twelve, he explained, so that he could have as much time with us as possible before we started thinking that parental hang-out sessions were the lamest.   Before teenagerdom.  So, he said, where do you want to go?

It wasn’t even a question in my mind.  NEW YORK CITY, I said passionately, and nearly fainted.

I kept everything from that long weekend in the Big Apple, and still have it in a box in my closet.  The wax paper bag that once held steaming hot Nuts 4 Nuts; the napkin from the French restaurant where we convinced the waitstaff it was my birthday that very day and they proceeded to write “Happy Birthday” in sauce on the sides of all of my plates; the pamphlet a stranger handed me as we stood crying at Ground Zero; the program from the first show I ever saw on Broadway (it was Hairspray - did you not read yesterday’s post title?).  It was a whirlwind of everything ever.  It was sensory overload.  I was a small person and it was a big city and I thought maybe it could swallow me and I wasn’t exactly sure I would mind if it did.  I have been back to New York a few times since then, and fallen more in love with the city with each visit, but it will never be as magical as it was that three day weekend with my dad.  I don’t think anything will be.  

This shirt is a relic from that trip, and nearly nine years later, yellowed and faded, its message is still true.

 Listen.  Teenagerdom came and went, and my dad is still the man.