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Friday, November 30, 2007

The Fashion of Gossip Girl Part One: Blair Waldorf

Oh Gossip Girl! You continue to delight me with your delightfulness. Every week is full of good/appropriate music, cute clothing, and DRAMA. Since these are three of the things I like the best, it's no surprise that this is my new favorite show. Leighton Meester is absolutely amazing as Blair, and she carries off the old-timey over the top fashions they put her in without blinking.

Exhibit one: Blair gussies up her school uniform in Victor, Victola.

There is so much going on here! I adore the red headband/bow (and headbands and pearls are definitely Blair's signature pieces. I've posted before about my love for headbands, is it any surprise I love Blair so much?) and the striped blouse is cute. The blazer is over-the-top, but somehow it works on her. (Plus, Chuck's business formal suit? Smoking. They look so much like a power couple here I cannot stand it.)

Exhibit two: Veil to Sunglasses in Seventeen Candles

Again with the adorable headbands. Only Blair would (and could) wear a tiny veil on a headband to confessional. But her power suit blends effortlessly for a confessional veil to a sunglasses power walk to the jewelers. And the the shoes! Oh the shoes! Leighton Meester is hardly short at 5'4" (imdb.com) but these shoes put her at eye level with Chuck and the rest of the amazonian ladies of Gossip Girl. And Hello, they are adorable.

Exhibit three: Flashback Blair's Thanksgiving Dress in Blair Waldorf Must Pie!

Blair had style, even at barely 16. When I'd just turned 16, I was running around in over-sized teeshirts and cutoffs. Granted, I was studying abroad on a tropical island during mid-summer, but still. Adorable dress here on Blair, and shows that Blair can still look fab in a simple outfit without a ton of accessories. I seriously covet the dress.

Exhibit four: Blair's tights

In order: White patterned tights from Victor, Victola, red from Hi, Society, black patterned tights from Blair Waldorf Must Pie!, blue from an upcoming episode, black patterned tights from Seventeen Candles.

Nothing can spice up an otherwise boring outfit faster than fun tights. I love the brightly colored ones for an instant punch, and the patterned ones are a subtle way to spice up an otherwise plain jane outfit.

Exhibit five: matching lips to clothing

White, black and pink dress and pink lips from Bad News Blair and red and white floral and red lips from Poison Ivy.

Normally I'm not a huge fan of matchy matchy, but Blair is matching her lips to one of the colors in her printed dresses and it is working so well. And the adorable red clutch and studded bracelet to young it up a tiny bit? Delightful.

Blair Waldorf: My kind of girl, accessorizing with headbands and coffee cups.

Stay tuned for part two next week, when we discuss everyone's favorite blonde glamazon, Serena.

screencaps from youknowyouloveme.org.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

We're not plastic bags!

Have you heard the news? As of last Tuesday, a new ordinance has been passed in San Francisco banning large grocery stores from giving customers plastic bags. (Please don't hassle our friends working retail about plastic bags, however -- the ordinance allows retail stores and small groceries to continue to hand them out.)

So why not invest in some cute tote bags for your grocery shopping? They're much sturdier and cuter than a paper bag, and you can certainly get your money's worth out of them the more you use them.

One of my favorites I've seen is this adorable bok choy tote bag from the Emily Carr Institute student shop. I also love the persimmon one. It's great that these totes include pockets so you don't have to dig for your keys or wallet -- the unfortunate side effect of using a tote bag for a purse.

From Karmaloop.com, this adorable bag with a bear folds into a pouch so you can tuck it into your bag and have it ready when you need it; I know I have a tendency to forget my tote bag, only to realize it when I'm standing in the check-out line.

Or, okay, maybe you still want one of the Anya Hindmarch I'm Not a Plastic Bag bags. Well, they've been sold out for months, you guys, and honestly? I've seen a couple in person, in Tokyo and in San Francisco, and they're really not as cute in person as they look in the photos. However, this tote, which looks an awful lot like the original UK bag, is pretty adorable AND it has the text directly embroidered on -- a nice touch!

And, as always, don't forget Etsy.com for searching for great handmade totes -- I've got one that I adore. For an adorable fall tote bag, I really like this one in corduroy. Corduroy's been my thing lately; I had a hankering for skinny cords all spring and summer long, strangely enough. If you're more partial to denim than corduroy, though, she's got an equally cute one in raw denim.

Tote bags are a great way to make a statement; not only are you helping by carrying your own bags and sparing the use of another plastic or paper (because really, is paper all that much better?) bag, you have another way to show your style, too.

images from http://www.ecistudioshop.ca/shop/ and www.karmaloop.com

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Science Fair for November 19th-25th

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! As I sit here drinking my gingerbread latte, I'm happily browsing the online sales for you guys while mulling over us being the top goggle result for "emo liquid black eyeliner." This is just extra spice on the spice cake that is my paid holiday, which means I have time to get this holiday-shopping themed Science Fair out to you guys today! It's a little early this week so you can start making your shopping game plan up. (Secretly, I am going to be too busy eating turkey and watching Ugly Betty with my family to be posting this on the weekend, but let's keep that between us.)

But first, a few non-shopping related links here to report:
-I've been watching too much Friday Night Lights lately, so this Wall Street Journal article about woman football coach in Texas was interesting.

-Angela Kinsey is expecting. Congrats Angela! (Toby's going to be an uncle!) Is it sad that my next thought is "I hope her character winds up pregnant with Dwight's love child on the show"? Probably.

-And to segue right into the shopping, on Things I've Bought That I Love, link two! Mindy Kaling continues to strike, buy stuff; we continue to love her.

Now a couple of my favorite places to online shop are having some deals:

-threadless.com has their $10 holiday sale going on through Dec. 16th. I never fail to get compliments on my threadless shirts. Especially from dudes. Just saying.

-Stila has some cute stuff left in their warehouse sale, and free shipping on orders over $50.

-sephora.com has free shipping on orders over $50 as well, and 3 free samples with any order. One of them that you can choose is a sample of Napoleon Perdis Auto-Pilot primer, which I use (and swear by. This stuff is amazing.)

And undoubtedly, more sales are going to be popping up over the weekend and on into the season. Also be sure and check on your favorite deals for Black Friday to see if the stores are offering them online as well, that way you don't even have to leave the house.

-Lastly, here's the ship by dates for Christmas from the post office. Get your cards out by the 20th and get your parcels into the post office by the 22nd!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Oh, that's right, readers.

I'd just like to say, YEAH IT IS. Thank you, internet.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!
I don't know what that turkey is doing to the poor woman's behind, but she is being wonderfully coy about it.

What are you making for Turkey Day? This year, it's just a dinner for four people of three generations at my house, and I'm making brined turkey breasts, rosemary potatoes, pan-roasted brussels sprouts with pancetta, roasted beets with orange champagne vinegar, and pumpkin flan for dessert. Sure, it's a little non-traditional, but my family's never gotten excited about pulling a baggie of gizzards and giblets out of a turkey's ass.

Pardon my crudeness. It's almost vacation time.

images from criticsrant.com and dovercards.com.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Office is Closed

So hopefully everyone who's reading this already knows that the WGA (Writer's Guild Association) is on strike now. If you don't, I'll let the (always hilarious) writers of the Office sum up the strike a little bit for you guys:

What does this mean for us, the average TV viewer? Well, unless it's resolved soon, (which is unlikely,) it means a shortened TV season and not much for me to blog about. (I'm going to have to find other things to blog about, quelle horror! I have a couple of blog ideas, but TV blogging is my staple blog topic here!) However, it's also really important for the writers to be striking and for their voices to be heard. Before the strike happened, I had no idea that writers weren't getting compensated for their work on the shows that were aired on the internet. The shows on network sites all have ads embedded in them, so of course I assumed that everyone on the crew was paid fairly. And according to the writers, this is not the case.

As someone who hopes to be a published writer someday, obviously the issue of not getting compensated fairly for your job hits close to home. I doubt any writer will tell you glamorous tales of how much they make sitting at home writing in their pajamas with unwashed hair all day, because the fact of the matter is that most writers don't actually earn that much (unless you are J.K. Rowling, and that's another story). So this issue of how much the TV writers are earning is a serious one for me.

As a lover of TV, I hope the strike is resolved soon; but as a writer, I hope they keep striking for all of us. Fair compensation is only fair.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Science Fair for November 12th-18th

This week is a rather domestically-themed Science Fair, all baking soda and vinegar. A little home economics never hurt anyone:

-From Baking Bites, curried wheat bread for those who are inclined to bake their own bread on those cold winter nights. I am not one of those blessed with yeast bread making skills, but HOT-DAMN that looks like some delicious sandwich bread.
-From How About Orange..., the cutest, geek-chic-iest DIY pencil cup ever made with felt and an empty soup can.
-Sew, Mama, Sew! is posting a list of great handmade gift ideas, with examples of adorable fabrics and how-tos. This week is all about coasters, the one household item my grandmother swears by besides her sixty-year-old rice cooker. Having just come into about twelve pounds of fabulously great chinoiserie and jacquard household fabric samples myself, I'm tempted to use my Thanksgiving food coma to make piles of matching coasters and placemats for gifts. Which member of my familly would enjoy chinoiserie placemats and coasters, I cannot say. The wee owl applique is just too cute, I might make it and keep it!
-Maki at JustHungry/JustBento makes fluffy cushions of whole wheat pita bread at home, using a pillowcase and a frying pan. Oh, yum.
-Chowhounds say, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle your bacon fat! Personally, I love bacon but hate having to deal with the fat popping and congealing everywhere (like my belly), so I try to tear off as much of it as I can before frying it in a pan. A little bird called the Food Network keeps telling me that cooking bacon strips on a rack in the oven works pretty well, maybe that'll be my new trick.
-Finally, since we're all amped for Thanksgiving, the New York Times has a whole page devoted to the meal and its various accoutrements. I am immensely happy to see brussels sprouts with pancetta on their list of recipes, because my goodness! Those much-maligned little cabbages have never tasted so good, believe it.

Now for me to indugle in a bit of Miss Marple thanks to PBS, despite never being an Agatha Christie fan I do love the made-for-TV versions. So many great British actors! So many TOTALLY AWESOME period hats and costumes! The big country estates, the old-lady chic, all of it is great.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Science Fair for November 5th - 11th

In case you haven't noticed, we're ramping up our posting! Part of that is introducing a new feature, "Science Fair", where we share some of our favorite links of the week.


- From Catwalk Queen, the promo video for Erin Fetherston's Target collection. I love the looks on the girls when they're riding their bike in the beginning.
- From Now Smell This, a peek at CB I Hate Perfume's newest fragrances. Ooooh, gingerbread. Ooooh, grown-up Demeter perfume. For more, read the fantastic journal entry on the new Gingerbread fragrance and dessert fragrances in general.
- Are you reading The Soap Bar? It's a blog based on reviewing independent hand-made soaps, written by Jo of Product Body. If I knew how to make soap, I would definitely hope to enter the contest she's hosting. What are these perfume oils, hmmmm?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

It's true!

Reuters, New York: Most American women remain uncommitted on a choice of a presidential candidate, but nearly one in four say they are more interested in the 2008 race than usual because a woman is running.

Not only is it exciting and engaging now because Hillary is running, but seriously? It's because she has a real chance at winning that Democratic nomination and it's absolutely thrilling. I cannot WAIT for November 2008!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Hints for Health and Vigor, #3

3. Don't diet crazily.

I know we all want to lose weight. Some of us have been told by our doctors that maybe, our BMI is slightly high and indicates a slight risk of health problems, so we could work on shedding a few pounds. Let's say for clarity's sake that that person was me. I've worn a size 12 since about the seventh grade, gained the obligatory Freshman 15 in college, lost it during a particularly stressful and walking-heavy time in Tokyo, then gained a nice bulky Senior 20 upon my repatriation. Now, I'm lifting weights, doing cardio and Pilates, eating fresh, locally grown fruits and veggies, but I'm still thirty pounds over my ideal weight, and my BMI is 27. That shit is bananas.

So, I've tried Weight Watchers, counting the points and everything, I lost a few pounds but didn't have the stamina to continue doing it. The meetings are excruciatingly boring and full of older people who look at you accusingly, as if just because you're young and energetic means you should be able to lose weight in a flash. I tried the Apple Diet, which involves eating an apple before every meal--the idea is good, but after about two days of it you get absolutely sick of apples. My mother, a trained water aerobics instructor and personal trainer who has also hit a plateau in her post-menopausal efforts to lose the good ol' spare tire, is a fan of the Japanese brown-rice-hijiki-tororo-konnyaku diet.

On to the helpful hints and interesting stories!
Tips for a healthier Thanksgiving meal.
Atkins, South Beach, and Ornish diets are bad for heart health, try fasting regularly like the Mormons, says University of Maryland study.
It's better to be fit and fat, those few extra pounds won't kill you.

Cute teeny-bopper tops on the cheap

It's tough out there for a girl shopping on a budget. Add to that the heinously overpriced, lowest-quality clothing on sale in every supposedly affordably-priced chain store (I'm looking at you, Macy's) and it's getting to be near impossible to find something that isn't made of synthetic material and a complete waste of your hard-earned dollar. This is where stores like H&M, Forever 21, Alloy, and Delia's come in. Sure, they're cheap, but the quality is consistent and if you look hard, you can find some real gems to add to a diverse wardrobe. You can rely on them for the basics, much like Target--while Kohl's, I've found, is pretty crappy. What follows below are some of my picks from the online clearance racks at Delia's and Alloy, both brands that I remember from my own teenage years, though I was never actually a juniors-sized girl. Juniors tanks and tees in larger sizes are great for working out in due to their length and prevention of the pants-riding-down, shirt-riding-up problem. These are all pretty cute, cheap, and not overtly juniors-y, all tops for now since I always seem to be lacking the perfect blouse for a plain pair of pants or a patterned skirt!

Alloy white eyelet top with bow, $17.99: Cute, right? The tiny cap sleeves have great potential to make the slimmest arms look sort of massive, but the cut and detail with the eyelet and all would look nice for the office, under a navy tailored suit. The color looks a bit dingy compared to the bright white background, unfortunately, but that's no fault of this humble blog.

Delia's scoop-neck pink and brown "Victorian" jersey top, $22.50: This top looks like chocolate and strawberry ice cream, and I can't resist the curlicue pattern--it looks like a network of chandeliers in profile. Raglan sleeves make a girl look big across the shoulders, but the scoop neck gives you a nice staging area for, say, dramatic gold necklace or cameo.

I've always been a little disappointed in Aeropostale's giant logo-laden sweatpants-in-class scheme, but I suppose for a school-approved juniors-oriented brand, their stuff is acceptable. The weather is getting colder, so it's time to start thinking about layering...I've always liked a hoodie under a collared jacket or coat. I have a 3 Dot Cotton navy blue heather hoodie that's survived many a layered day for the past six years, bless it, but perhaps I need something new: Aeropostale's polka-dot zip-front hoodie in (questionably) taupe, $19.99: This "taupe" nonsense looks more like a normal old brown with pleasingly Fall-oriented dots. Also comes in an ice-cream white with black, blue, and yellow dots, which begs the question, do teenagers these days read Ray Bradbury ("The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit")?

I've seen a lot of these rough-edged elastic-gathered empire waist tops around lately, and even though I'm not a big fan of low-cut tops, Forever 21's navy blue embroidered satin top is kind of cute.A border print is always rather fetching, am I right?

For a little more whimsy at work this fall, what do you think of a sweater vest? Classical nerdy-chic, and this one has hearts! Sweetheart sweatervest, $25 at Forever 21's "Heritage 1981" brand:You couldn't pass muster with that vest in a particularly suited-up office place, but I'm of the party that encourages a little romance in the sea of black and white boxy boredom. Well, in theory, at least.

And now, I will count my laugh lines, feel old, and watch some classic Westerns. It's a blessing that juniors clothing is supplied in bigger sizes these days since the teen-oriented design market is a lot more adventurous than boring old-lady clothing. Sure, the sleeves might be longer, shoulders narrower, body length closer to tunic, but you can't beat the price and the cuteness factor is nearly overwhelming. Desperate times call for desperate measures, as they say, so when you're hard-up for wardrobe-reviving items at prices that are actually representative of what the garments cost the manufacturers, take a look in the juniors section. Beware, though--don't overbuy in juniors if you're over the age of seventeen or you'll look like you're trying to regain your lost teenage years, and never wear mini-skirts.

images from alloy.com, delias.com, aeropostale.com and forever21.com.

My new pet!

Behold, dear readers, the Hasbro i-Dog!
How cute is that little guy? I was at Kohl's the other day trying to find work-ready clothing (an abysmal failure, a post for another day) and spotted him on a shelf with his buddies, the i-CY:
The i-Cat:

And the strangest member of the iPod accessory animal kingdom, the i-FISH:
It looks like some sort of X-Filesian deep ice-core dwelling space exoskeleton creature, by way of the Sanrio smile factory. I wonder does it bend its little tail to the music or just flash its creepy head-lights?

I'm not entirely sure about whether or not the i-Dog has different "modes" of rocking out to techno, punk, and classical, but it's already shown a pleasantly varied array of lights and movement to Broken Social Scene, Devotchka, the Most Serene Republic, the Andrews Sisters, and Feist. Aww, it just started waving its head back and forth to Rihanna. For a little plastic dog that can fit in the palm of your hand with a speaker the size of a postage stamp, the i-Dog puts out pretty good sound--not professional grade, and certainly not enough to provide ambiance for a loud party, but it'll do for little ol' me. The only complaint I have is that the motors that turn the i-Dog's head make a slightly annoying whirring sound, but it moves to the beat! So cute! That and I kind of wish the thing had eyes...eyeless dog = slightly creepy, flashing lights or no. It even whines like a real dog when your iPod DIES RANDOMLY after every few songs!

Still, I think I will keep him and call him Durango.

images from hasbro.com.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Tea-Braised Chicken

In my effort to eat healthily and lose weight this year, I've started logging my daily caloric intake using the CalorieKing Nutrition and Exercise Manager. It's worked okay so far, I think the best part is the fact that the program forces me to get at least thirty minutes of exercise every day or else I DON'T GET TWO CHECKS, and failure is not an option for me. Sure, I'm not REALLY losing weight, but I'm tracking my weight and calories daily and every little bit helps. That and the weekly cardio-kickboxing PLUS mat pilates twice a week WITH strength training and elliptical machine time invested, I don't need any thinspiration crushing my weight-loss spirit these days.

ANYWAY. Chicken!
This recipe came from three very delicious, very different inspiratory meals. Braising, as you may know, involves meat cooking in liquid until it's all soft and shreddy, much like what you get from a slow cooker. I love that kind of thing, as Delicious Inspiratory Meal #1 reminded me the other day: Hawaiian pork lau lau, slow cooked in ti and and soft, fragrant taro leaves until absolutely buttery. If it weren't covered in chunks of pork fat, I'd eat it every day with Best Foods macaroni salad and Japanese rice.

Delicious Inspiratory Meal #2 was a batch of tea eggs I made a few weeks ago, saving almost all of the delectably pungent star anise cooking liquid to reuse someday soon. Every summer during my last two years of high school, I always went to the same Chinese teahouse--Lucy's--with my mother at least once a week to have lunch, drink "Oriental Beauty" tea, and do the daily newspaper crossword puzzle. The service was terrible, they always got our orders wrong, there were little pink ceramic pigs all over the place for no good reason, and it smelled overwhelmingly of sugar and flowers, but it was our girl time together and we always finished the paper AND the crossword puzzle. Victory, of course, was the best part, but Lucy's daily lunch special was pretty great. Garlicky, salty mustard greens, hot white rice, curried tofu or chicken, and TEA EGGS. I have craved them ever since Lucy's tragically closed when I was in college, oh yum.

Delicious Inspiratory Meal #3 comes from the above cookbook on cooking with tea that I picked up in Japan this summer. In it, the author uses various Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and British teas to flavor an impressive variety of dishes from salads to soups to stir-fries. Burmese fermented tea leaf salad, corn chai potage, oolong tea and almond-crusted fish and chips are all recipes on my list to try very soon, considering the bulk of loose leaf teas and tea bags I need to use up before I move apartments in late December.

Thus was born my tea-braised chicken. Take the following ingredients and place them in a deep-ish frying pan or a medium saucepan, so the liquid covers at least ninety percent of the chicken:

1 boneless skinless chicken breast, flattened or sliced in half lengthwise
liquid leftover from 1 recipe for tea eggs
1 star anise
1/2 cup white wine
1 chicken bouillon cube
1/4 tsp black pepper or Japanese sansho pepper
1 tbsp ground or fresh ginger

1. Bring all of the ingredients to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for at least twenty minutes until the chicken is done and can be shredded with a fork.
2. Serve over salad with Asian dressing, in fried rice, in a Vietnamese-style sandwich on French bread.

Enjoy! I wish I had photos, but my sad wee single chicken breast looks rather inconsequential in a leftover plastic container. Ah, well. Leave a comment if you try it!

image from allabout.co.jp.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Extra sugar, extra salt! Extra oil and MSG!

I have a weakness for body washes. I rotate them around depending on my mood and the weather -- one can't smell like honeysuckle in the fall or like spiced apple cider in June, after all.

My favorite is the Philosophy 3-in-1 shampoo-body wash-bubble bath. I've never used it as a shampoo (I think it would be too harsh for every day use, but if you're traveling and need it in a pinch, I guess it would work), and sometimes it's a bit underwhelming as a bubble bath when you want Big Foofy Bubbles, but it's a great body wash. It's very fragrant in the shower, but doesn't make you smell like food all day, either.

Food, you say? That's right -- pretty much all of Philosophy's 3-in-1s are based on foods or drinks (margarita-scented! heck yeah!), with the exception of the ones that match their in-house fragrances (Amazing Grace, Pure Grace, etc.). The three I have are Vanilla Birthday Cake, Spiced Apple Cider (just back in stock, as it's a limited edition for fall/winter!), and Red Velvet Cake (special edition for Valentine's Day, but also available in a gift set). Heck, I think I bought Grapefruit this summer, but haven't even used it yet! (I used Red Flower's Thai Honeysuckle body wash all summer.)

Because I cycle through them, I've yet to finish off a bottle. That's not going to stop me from debating which one I want to get for this winter, though. Pumpkin Pie or Gingerbread (which only comes in a gift set, alas), I wonder... Or maybe Carrot Cake, which benefits charity. Hmmm. Smelling delicious and helping a good cause *is* awfully tempting, but I already have so many body washes, and one more on the way already... I will have to think about this.

Philosophy products are available at Sephora.com, Beauty.com, and Philosophy.com, as well as Nordstroms and brick-and-mortar Sephora.

image from sephora.com

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