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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Favorite Things 2009

Happy New Year, everyone!

I am full of pudding and cheer -- there probably won't be any champagne for me tonight, but that's okay! What I do have are some of the new things I discovered and adored in 2009...

- MAC Sugarshot eyeshadow: Naturally I was excited about the MAC SugarShock collection -- with a sweet treat-themed collection, including one of the first mint green nail polishes on the scene, how could I resist? I picked up several things, but the one that's definitely become a staple in my kit is Sugarshot, one I wouldn't have even considered initially. It's a very pale shimmer with a touch of pink; at first I thought, I don't need any more highlight shadows, I have enough. But Sugarshot really is one of the eyeshadows I reach for all the time. It gives my eyes a bit of lightness and a little bit more green, due to the pale pink cast, and is the perfect base to build up any other color scheme.

- Chanel Jade nail polish: I recently went to the Bloomingdales Chanel counter in San Francisco and was looking at the new spring collection (beautiful, must get ASAP), chatting with the sales girl, when I casually mentioned that I had gotten my hands on Jade. She said, "We never got it!" Apparently there were rumors that they were getting a couple, that Saks was getting some, but it never really showed up. I secured mine by ordering it as soon as I heard it was live at Chanel.com -- which meant I was in the middle of NYFW. I wore it for Thanksgiving and I love the cool green with the light shimmer. Gorgeous!

- Hermes Elixir de Merveilles perfume: I don't know how I was inspired to pick this up -- I believe it was a blog post, likely from the Beauty Addict -- but I ordered a small decant from The Perfumed Court and fell for it hard. It's a warm gourmand citrus that's a little unisexy, so of course I dig it. My brother gave me a $50 gift card to Sephora (nicely played, sir!), so I may have to put that towards a full bottle. (Surprisingly, I'm ambivalent towards the original Eau de Merveilles.)

- Bliss Vanilla Bergamot body butter: After the BlogHer '09 event, I continued my tradition of going and getting a massage and facial at Bliss SF. I slicked myself up with this sweet moisturizer, which is so good and rich that it lasts all day. Plus, it doesn't smell like a cupcake, which is all well and good, but a rich, grown-up vanilla that makes me want to eat my arm. My 2010 wish is that they start offering the new Body Butter Lite in Vanilla Bergamot, too.

Dior Addict Lip Glow- Dior Addict Lip Glow: You all know that I'm always in search of a wonderful, moisturizing, SPF-havin', tinted lip balm, right? Well, with Dior Addict Lip Glow for pink and Fresh Sugar Rose for red, I'm set. The search is over.

- Bliss Steep Clean Mattifying Moisturizer: This was another find (actually, a recommendation from my facialist) when I went to Bliss in July; a good-smelling, oil-controlling, night cream. I've always been battling my skin, but this latter half of the year? Skin's been doing great.

- Urban Decay Bourbon 24/7 pencil: I got this eye pencil with the Get Baked palette this summer, and it has quickly jumped to one of my favorites, especially when used in tandem with Sugarshot for a simple daytime look. As I said earlier this year, "you wouldn't think that I'd get excited over a brown eyeliner pencil, but it's really flipping pretty and lasts all day."

What were your favorite product discoveries in 2009? What are you looking to find in 2010? (Chanel counter, I'm coming for you...) Do you want to find something specific, or do you want to be surprised? Any beauty trends you're interested in trying in the new year?

Here's to a great new year!

image from sephora.com

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Winter break!

It's been pretty quiet around le blog -- what with the holidays and all, we've been running around and then collapsing. (Or maybe that's just me.) I made sure I got Kati's package out in the mail, got gifties for my family and my boy, visited family and friends, and tomorrow I go in and get my wisdom teeth pulled out. Boy howdy!

So while I'm recovering and lying around in my new Ugg moccasin slippers (they are so warm and nice) and cute pajamas, everyone else is going to have a glamorous and fun New Year's Eve. I'm settling in with all of the books I've been meaning to read for months, I've got apples going in the crockpot to turn into sweet soft applesauce, and I'm actually kind of looking forward to a nice long weekend... even if it's extra-long because there are teeth coming out of my face. I'll do my best to have my Favorite Things of 2009 up by the end of the year, but, well, I've never had my wisdom teeth out before, so I'm not sure how I'll be feeling...!

2009 has been an interesting year, with lots of good times and some sad and strange times. I can't say I'm sad that we're moving into a new year -- I know I feel ready!

Here's hoping for a great 2010!

image from zappos.com

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

WorkWear Daily: Life Is A Cabaret

Man, remember when I was a huge slacker and posted Polyvores of my work wardrobe almost every day? Now I actually have a job that gives me things to do, so I can't blog all day every day anymore! What a shock. There are still the odd days when I get dressed for work, look at myself in the mirror and think, "Damn girl, this outfit is KICK-ASS and deserves documentation in the form of a digital mock-up made from none of these actual wardrobe pieces." Luckily, we have Polyvore to do this for us, so check this awesome outfit out:

Obviously, the outfit I actually wore today is on the left--purple Gap cardigan, black scarf passed from my mother's closet to mine, black wool pencil skirt from J. Crew (on sale, heck yeah), slate grey tights, plain black pumps, and the piece de resistance, my new Rayya peacock hair clip from Charlotte Kruse. I sashayed out of the house feeling like a cabaret super rockstar bombshell, and arrived at work to cries of, "KAREN, WHAT IS THAT ON YOUR HEAD?"

Apparently the world is not ready for fabulous feathered fascinators and hairclips outside of indie gift markets. So, I considered what I would wear if I were actually a cabaret superstar a la Jane Avril or our not-so-secret imaginary best friend Dita von Teese. You can see the results--wiggle dresses, backseam stockings, embellished shoes for impromptu dance breaks a la A Band Aparte:

Is it weird to try to incorporate more theatricality and romance into your professional wardrobe? Could I do more without going completely overboard, all-out Anthrologie, liquid liner and feathered lashes every day, crazy super-vintage? Jeanne and I have been discussing how boring/bored we are with the current state of our wardrobes and how to inject some excitement. I think sticking to the basics we already have with a little investment or rediscovery of our more outlandish accessories could be a good kick in the pants, but sometimes a girl just needs a great big style overhaul.

I love the backseam tights, the lace, the drama, the tiny top hats, the sexy hip-swinging stride that my imaginary "cabaret style" above explores, but is it TOO costume-y? My default for professional outfits is turning towards the dress+tights+trench phase that marks me as a mid-twenty-something looking to expand her social life outside of checking her Blackberry for urgent work demands. I want to expand and explore my wardrobe for its theatricality and romance potential, not boredom and default fashion! I was so proud of my admittedly meager styling skills today and now look what's happened--I want to explode my closet with the sexy a la Miss Dita, who doesn't?

Holiday Gift Guide 2009: Last Minute Gifts!

Yes, as always, I am leaving the Last Minute Gift Guide until the last minute. (Really, I'm just procrastinating packing/cleaning now.)

I spent most of Sunday at the Renegade Craft Fair with Karen and my mom, who had never been to one of these Hip New Indie Craft Fairs, and she enjoyed it very much. Unfortunately for me, I've been in a weird "I don't want to buy anything, meh" funk the past couple of weeks, which means I didn't find anything at Renegade or at Bazaar Bizarre the week before. That's not to say that there wasn't awesome stuff at either place -- of course there was, and lots of it -- there was just so much that I couldn't find anything that really jumped out at me as a Must Have for anyone on my list.

I pushed myself through it Sunday evening (post-Renegade) and finished buying the presents I needed to buy in under two hours of dashing through the mall (including a detour to look/sigh at the Chanel spring collection, which I will totally be back for), but still. I cut it close this year.

If you're still in danger of cutting it too close, and if you're still looking for some ideas, I've (finally) got some ideas!

- If you're stuck at the computer and have absolutely no time to get out to the stores, there are plenty of websites, both small and big, that will send e-gift cards, and I've broken them into categories below. (All the links go straight to the gift certificate page -- you're welcome!):

Bath and Beauty

Bliss (good for either spa treatments or products!)

Fashion and Accessories

Dogeared Jewelry
Alice and Isa

Books and Miscellany

Powells (FYI: if you're sending an e-gift card, you have to sign up for a Powells.com account to purchase one. Your call if you want to or not; just giving you a heads up!)
Wicked Skatewear
Sin City Skates

- Don't forget to give experiences: for our holiday gift to each other, my roommate and I are going to split a bottle of wine and draft out a spring road trip up to Oregon (where we will kidnap Kati). Go to a nice local restaurant and purchase a gift certificate; I just redeemed one from (ahem) two Christmases ago. Tickets to events like sports, concerts, the ballet, etc., are also always a good idea.

- If you need stocking stuffers, your local Target or drugstore will have lots of little goodies. Walgreens has Sinful nail polish for $1.99 a bottle in a wide range of colors; I've spotted Essie and Seche Vite at Target and Bed Bath and Beyond. To finish off the nail goodies, pick up a cuticle oil pen (Sally Hansen makes one that's pretty nice), a tin of Burt's Bees lemon cuticle balm, or a nail file at the drugstore. Burt's Bees and Kiss My Lips both make tinted lip balms that are moisturizing and add color, and are easy and affordable.

- If you're honestly and truly stuck, I've always thought it would be nice to help set up an RSS reader for someone who doesn't know how -- if they love to cook, for example, you can spend time putting together a one-stop place for food blogs. You can both find good blogs together, and then they have something they'll use all of the time. If you need some jumping off points, we have all three of our blogrolls here. (We use Bloglines, but a lot of people love Google Reader!)

Have you finished all of your gift shopping? Or are you facing a last-minute excursion? (Good luck to you, if you are!)

image from blissworld.com

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday Gift Guide 2009: Media Madness!

I will admit: I am completely stuck on what to get most of the people on my list. Half is taken care of, and half I'm pretty much in the dark. Hoo boy. And so it's time to shuffle through the media list...

Just a reminder -- most of these links are Amazon affiliate links, so if you do choose to go through Amazon and make purchases through these links, we'll receive a small commission. That said, don't forget that most of your local places-to-buy-DVDs-and-CDs will likely have these too, may gift-wrap for you (hooray! I am not a fan of having to wrap stuff myself!), and will also gladly take your money. Plus then you don't have to deal with shipping stress if you buy local. It's totes your call, of course.


It looks like I'm having a very New York-based DVD theme here, but that's totally coincidental. I can't help that some very awesome shows take place in New York!

- Of course, the first on my list is Gossip Girl: The Complete Seasons 1 & 2. I still don't have Season 2 on DVD yet, and since GG is on winter hiatus until, like, March, now is a good time to hunker down and refresh yourself on seasons one and two.

- Another blog favorite (and another "gah, I am missing season two") is Mad Men, both Season One and Season Two.

- So maybe you want something a little shorter and sweeter and brilliantly funny? Then there's always 30 Rock: Seasons 1-3. (If you are a Mad Men fan, then remember: Jon Hamm appears in Season Three. Boy howdy!)

- Last year I recommended Flight of the Conchords, and so I am following that up by recommending Flight of the Conchords: Season 2. Unfortunately, the boys have announced that Season Two is the final FotC season for sure. Aw. We still love you.


I do think it's harder to pick out music for people, and so instead of making recommendations, I just have the albums that I've been digging in '09.

- While I haven't officially heard everything on Lady GaGa's The Fame Monster , I don't think anyone can argue that the original The Fame is pretty brilliant. Add in "Bad Romance", which refuses to get out of my head ever, and you're already golden.

- One of the albums that I will listen to straight-through without flipping around or skipping anything, is the Kills' Midnight Boom. Shout when you wanna get off the ride.

- Karen and Kati will laugh at me for my late boarding of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs train, but I am digging It's Blitz!. I cannot help it that I am not as versed in the ways of modern music as you guys.

- If you hadn't already guessed, we're all Glee fans here (of course we are). It shouldn't be a shock, due to the musical geek not so hidden inside of me, plus the obvious adoration we have for Jane Lynch. And so, I suggest Glee: The Music, Volume 1 and Volume 2 for indulging your inner Gleek, naturally. Go ahead, sing it out!

- While I said I wouldn't make recommendations, I have to make an exception for Pink Martini. If you can't figure out what to get your suave hipster guy friend, your tres chic would-be Parisienne friend, or your mom, Pink Martini's "Sympathique" is 100% classic and awesome. (For that hipster friend, it also comes in vinyl.) It's perfect for cocktail parties, for road trips, for vacuuming the house. I haven't picked up their newest album, "Splendor in the Grass", yet, but what I heard when I saw them this fall was excellent. Definitely "Sympathique" and "Hang On Little Tomato" should be on your radar, at the very least.

What's on your shopping list? Who's still on your shopping list?

image from pinkmartini.com
This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Holiday Gift Guide 2009: Accessories and Bling


Looking for some pretty shiny things to tuck into a little bag for your friends (or for yourself)? I know I have some jewelry coming my way, in that I picked out a piece or two I liked and that it will eventually find its way to me as a present. (That's how I got my full-sized L'Artisan perfume last year, too.) Still, can't say I don't love surprises!

Wendy Brandes for Francis Swear Rings- Ever have one of those days where you just want to say F@#! ? Wendy B. hears you with her legendary Wendy Brandes for Francis swear rings. (She also makes the convincing argument on her own blog, of course.) Or if you're a little bit more demure in your demeanor, there's the genteel but still sassy bowtie ring, also a Wendy Brandes for Francis piece. Still, you could buy your sailor-mouthed friend (you know you have one, and it is probably me) the cussin' rings. Just saying.

- Lately I've been going crazy for very small stud earrings; I have this paranoid fear of ripping my earlobes out by wearing heavy earrings. (I know, crazy, right? BUT IT HAPPENS.) Anyway, I've been wearing my pair of Dogeared Jewelry teeny tinies for... I want to say a few weeks now. I have the little Fearless skulls, to inspire myself to be, well, fearless. Roar. I also love the tiny anchors for Strength, too (plus they are tiny anchors, which is adorable and naughty-nautical).

- I also love the tiny alpha studs from Catbird NYC to itty bitty font-nerdy pieces. I want them so badly, I can't even tell you. They're just too rad. I don't even know what letters I want, I just know that I want them. (Updated with the correct link!)

- These lobelia bud earrings from Anthropologie remind me of the big rhinestone clip-on earrings I used to have in my dress-up jewelry box -- the screw-on kind. Ouch! But still, I love that aesthetic.

- I've got good news and bad news. The good news is that yellowgoat.etsy.com has gorgeous jewelry pieces, including a dapper gentleman shirt bangle (hey, wear it with the bow tie ring!) and the amazing taking off earrings. The bad news is that, as she's based in Hong Kong, she can no longer guarantee that items ordered to ship to the US can make it to you by Christmas. But that's okay -- presents are awesome at any time, right?


A few years ago, I was in Japan with my grandmother and her youngest sister, my great-aunt Akemi. We were on an otherwise lame and embarrassing bus tour (embarrassing in that I was the youngest and only non-Japanese person on the bus), when we stopped for an afternoon at a local mountain plum festival. The path wound up the mountain, with stands manned by the community selling locally grown tea, snacks, and crafts. Besides the vats of umeboshi and dried salted plums, a stand with hand-dyed silk and felted wool scarves caught my eye. I bought one of those shorter pull-through scarves with the hole in it and I still wear it today, I still love it and get compliments on it. Since then, I always get and give scarves as gifts, handmade or otherwise! You know you know someone who either needs to wear more scarves in the winter (men!) or always knows how to accessorize beautifully with one (you and your lady-friends!). Like these:

-The value-added Nuno felted scarf from Moscow-based Etsy seller JaneBoFelt comes with rose brooch in grey. I love how you can wear these shorter scarves in various ways and mix up your winter jackets or coats with a faux-collar effect.

-According to my preliminary research on Etsy, these short felted/brooched scarves are popular overseas right now. I love how handcrafted and super high-fashion the Morning Clouds scarf is! So elegant!

-For a smaller gift for the fashion-forward person in your life, Pixie Market has this fabulously pricy oversized leather prize-winner ribbon brooch. I love the racks of "I'M A WINNER" shiny ribbons at the party store, plus they are hilarious/great on blazers in lieu of your regular brooch. Your favorite mustache aficionado might like this mustache prize ribbon, which is flipping awesome. Personalized prize ribbons are fairly easy to make--I made some last year for my mother, she loved it--with some ribbon, buttons, and fabric scraps!

-I recently treated myself to a new work tote/laptop satchel to save myself from having to carry my work laptop bag plus my purse. Now, I have only one bag to lug back and forth to the office every day. Everyone can use a great leather bag, because everyone always has to carry around just too much crap every day. We have a secret love for the professorial/schoolgirl aesthetic, so this black peccary grain leather messenger is appealing right now.

images from wendybrandes.com and yellowgoat.etsy.com

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Holiday Gift Guide 2009: Bath and Beauty

Even though I do consider myself a beauty blogger, I find it can be difficult to pick out beauty-related presents for other people.

There are four people I'd say I've had good luck with: Kati, Karen, L., and my mom. Kati and Karen are fairly easy to buy for, and I've done pretty well by them in my little gifties. I gave L. Viva Glam V and VI a few years back, and I've had success buying Bare Minerals color kits for my mom, as well as a full-sized bottle of Jo Malone Blue Agave and Cacao cologne from the (dearly departed and much missed) Gloss.com. That's not even to mention the times my mom and I have teamed up and bestowed Jeanne-and-Mom-approved cologne onto my brother at Christmas. (He is probably the only twenty-something boy with Hermes and L'Artisan in his bathroom cabinet. We've done the girls in his life a huge favor.)

That said, I've had success with people I know in real life -- it's always a little harder to put together a gift guide for the Invisible Internet People out there, with their own likes and dislikes and favorite scents or refusal to wear scents. And again, unless you know someone really well, dropping a perfume or a lovely batch of bath and beauty products into their laps could be met with a "so, you think I smell bad?". Gift-giving is hard! Be nice to me! But these are some pretty rad things I've got here this year...

CB I Hate Perfume Gingerbread- First off, the 2009 CB I Hate Perfume Gingerbread is out! I have the 2 mL of the 2008 Gingerbread, which is probably one of my most favorite scents ever (it is, in fact, my jam.) It's only made once a year, and only available through December. If you want the 2 mL, it's available at cbihateperfume.com for $15, as well as the larger sizes for $75. Well worth it.

- But maybe you'd rather have a variety of small perfumes. I am a huge fan of the decants you can purchase from The Perfumed Court or The Posh Peasant. All of my experiences have been lovely, and the variety is stunning. You can search by note, by fragrance house, whatever you like. Lots of good stuff and at great prices. I am terrible at picking up either "big" samples (like Elixir des Merveilles -- I bought a decant without trying a sample first, and I love it) or "small" bottles (am I really going to need a big bottle of Shalimar? no, so a little decant will do).

- For glittery stocking stuffers, the Wizard of Ooh Ahz collection from China Glaze has returned! Not only does it have the classic Ruby Pumps, which is a fantastic holiday (or any day, really) pedicure, but lots of other sparkly colors. I'm very tempted by "Dorothy Who?" (blue!), "C-C-Courage" (purple!), and "Good Witch?" (pink!). All of them can be purchased at Head2ToeBeauty.com.

- While it's always hard to pick out make-up colors for others, I don't think you can go wrong with the NARS The Multiple Coffret at Sephora. It's three of the rockstar NARS Multiples -- Orgasm, Copacabana, and South Beach -- which are all fab colors. I know I have Orgasm (great for cheekbone highlighting) and Copacabana (great for cheeks and also brow highlight), and I believe Karen has South Beach, so we are already fans.

Tsumori Chisato for Shu Uemura- Shu Uemura and Tsumori Chisato (that's very odd to write, since technically it's "Uemura Shu and Tsumori Chisato" or "Shu Uemura and Chisato Tsumori") have collaborated on a gorgeous holiday collection featuring Tsumori's Lucky Cat illustrations and what look like universally-flattering palettes and lipsticks. I'm dying to get my, uh, paws on some of these pieces, especially the lipstick...

- It's holiday time at Lush, which means it's time for Snow Fairy! I know some Lushies wait for this time all year. There's shower gels, bath melts, solid perfumes, and gift sets available in this sweet pink limited edition concoction.

- Speaking of limited edition, Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab has released its Yule scents at their Limited Edition page. Or, if you have a Neil Gaiman fan on your shopping list, BPAL also offers scents inspired by Neil Gaiman's works, including Good Omens, the Newbury-winning Graveyard Book, and Stardust, with all proceeds going to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. But hurry -- BPAL has announced that you must order by midnight PST on Monday the 7th in order to get your scents in time for Christmas.

- Finally, here's a little something from one of my most favorite people on Twitter, Dita Von Teese. She's super-sweet and friendly, helping fans with pronounciations ("Loo-boo-tahn") and lipstick/foundation recommendations (MAC Russian Red, L'Oreal True Match in N1) as well as sharing her beauty secrets and favorites (her favorite fast food? In'n'Out Burger). And so when she tweeted that she has her own haircare line, I had to include it! After all, we do love her hair.

images from luckyscent.com and sephora.com

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Holiday Gift Guide 2009: Supporting Crafters and Other Good Deeds


I've mentioned before that I'm a knitter, and this year my mom asked me if I wanted any knitty things. Well, no, not really, I have a lot (probably too much, considering how little I knit now), but I got to thinking -- if you're thinking about buying gifts for a crafter, what do you get them? While my expertise is in knitting and most of my suggestions are gifts for knitters and fiber-y types, you can apply the basic ideas below to any DIY type.

- My first gift choice? Books! There are always great how-to books for any skill, be it knitting, scrapbooking, crocheting... the sky's the limit. Some of the knitting books that I'd recommend for any level are Scarf Style, which has a great variety of scarves, and the all-mighty Knitters Book of Finishing Techniques. That book will save your knitter a ton of heartache and teach a lot of important skills. (I actually asked for it, and got it, a few years ago, and it's still teaching me new things.) If I had to pick one knitting book that I'd want this year, though, it would definitely be Knockdown Knits, the roller derby knitting book. I totally could use a Jammer beanie while I'm ducking and dodging through commuters this winter...

- Knitters love yarn and needles and other goodies, yes. But if you're completely in the dark about what your knitter prefers (double-points? circulars? worsted? sockweight? cobweb? merino? tencel? bamboo? turbo?), you really can't go wrong with a yarn store gift certificate. kpixie.com is one great online yarn store, with a lot of cute knitting kits, as well as a variety of gift certificate options available. That said, I highly encourage you to check out your local yarn stores -- they may already know your knitter's likes and needs! Plus, there's no replacement for getting to feel the yarn in person... If you need some help finding a shop near you, Knitmap.com is a directory of yarn stores, and even has an iPhone app for the knitter in need of yarn or needles far away from the LYS (Local Yarn Store).

- Even if you're not sure what yarn or needles to buy, you can be assured that your knitter needs something to put said yarn and needles in, especially for carrying around to KIP (Knit in Public).

A quick search on Etsy for "knitting needle roll" brings up lots and lots of options, and I found some cute ones! This black and white double-pointed needle organizer from knitonebeadtwo.etsy.com keeps those tricky needles in place -- I can't tell you how many multiple sets I've bought because one of the five has gone a-wandering. lenabrowndesigns.etsy.com has many options for needle rolls, including this 30 pocket (whoa) needle holder -- it also doubles as a paint (or make-up!!) brush roll for any painters or make-up artists on your list. And if you want a coordinating set, the knitting needle traveler and DPN Manager from thesilverpumpkin.etsy.com come in a sweet matching bird print.

And to carry around the yarn and needles... well, anything can be a knitting tote, technically, but there are bags designed with knitters in mind! I love the Scoot Scoot tote from roseknits.etsy.com -- you think I could fit my make-up in there? Maybe not all of it, but at least my travel stuff...
If you want to keep a big project in one place, the large knit project bag from yarnplaycafe.etsy.com will keep it tidy and adorable. For truly serious knitting, the knitting bag with yarn dispenser from debdonnellydesigns.etsy.com keeps yarn contained and organized -- many a knitter has dealt with a major yarn barf at least once.

Plus, when you buy off of Etsy, you're supporting an independent artist and handmade work, which will always make your crafter happy, too. It's amazing what you can find; I only scratched the surface for knitting goods!

- If you honestly and truly are really stuck, and your knitter has everything ever made for knitting ever and really doesn't need anything else ever and is begging you to "please don't give me any more yarn, I don't need any more", give your knitter a share or a whole Knitting Basket from Heifer International. This gift provides four wool-producing animals -- two sheep and two llama -- to be raised for their wool to be turned into not just yarn and knitted/woven goods, but income and hope.

- Finally, if you've got a crafter on your list, odds are that YOU'LL be getting something handmade back. And if you do, the best gift you can give your crafter is to appreciate it fully and truly. For real.


I am an aspiring crafter, as in, I always start project or have great ideas and never complete them. It's a common problem. My favorite part of the Japanese bookstore outside of the fashion magazines is always the new craft books section, where they always have THE CUTEST IDEAS EVER. I've always liked getting books as presents, they are always useful and not so invasive as more personal gifts like jewelry or clothing.

- Amazon can provide your lucky giftee with a whole package of Japanese-style craft books, all part of the Kyuuto! Japanese Crafts! series. There is Amigurumi, Woolly Embroidery (too cute!), Lacy Crochet, and Lacy Crochet that are so cute I could just eat them up. I saw a Japanese book of Scandinavian felt crafts at Fancy Tiger Craft in Denver earlier this year, Etsy seller FeltCafe has a copy for sale if you are as completely enraptured by that combination of greatness as I am!

- Although I may not be pumping out the craft projects myself, I do always recommend those looking for philanthropic causes to donate to check out our locally founded Kiva.org, where you can find small business owners in developing countries who need microloans. Many of these entrepreneurs are women working on collectives, on clothing, crafts, and cottage industries. The great thing about funding microloans through Kiva is that you get a 100% return on your money at the end of the loan cycle. I recommended Kiva to my father, who in turn took the proposal to his company for a company-wide microfinance program through the website, and now he maintains a whole portfolio of charitable loans he's cycled through for over a year, with 100% returns!

- Another resource that benefits crafty entrepreneurs is Global Girlfriend, an online shop with profiles of the craftswomen. Each item benefits the specific collective or group of women, be they victims of domestic violence, sex trafficking. Talk about value added! Who wants a random thing from the mall when you can say your tote bag (I like the funky recycled plastic market totes!) is helping women living in poverty in India?

images from amazon.com and roseknits.etsy.com

This post features Amazon affiliate links.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Holiday Gift Guide 2009: The Preview!

Renegade Craft Fair San FranciscoIt was some time in early November when I caught wind that holiday gift guides were already being written, and I said to myself, psssh, that's so early. Until I realized that last year, *we* were writing gift guides in early November. Oops! This is the trap I always set for myself, isn't it. And now that it's time to start bringing out the Charlie Brown Christmas tree and the Frasier Fir candle, it's starting to look like it's gift guide time for real!

So here is a warm-up as you're emptying the fridge of your last Thanksgiving leftovers (I still have a big yogurt container full of sweet potatoes)...

- First off, you can find all of our past gift guides at the 'gift guide' category here on the blog. I think they're still good!
- Secondly, I do want to disclose that if we're linking to a book or a DVD or any other Amazon.com item, we are likely using an Amazon affiliation link. If you choose to click through and make a purchase using one of our Amazon affiliate links, we will receive a small percentage from the sale. That said, I highly encourage you to support your local bookstores!
- Finally, here are the dates and links to the awesome Renegade Craft Fair Holiday Sales and Bazaar Bizarres that will be going on in the next three weekends, for your indie shopping pleasure:

Saturday, December 5th and Sunday, December 6th:
Chicago: Renegade Craft Fair Holiday Sale at Pulaski Park Fieldhouse

Sunday, December 6th:
Boston: Bazaar Bizarre at BCA Cyclorama

Saturday, December 12th and Sunday, December 13th:
San Francisco: Bazaar Bizarre at San Francisco County Fair Building, Golden Gate Park
Cleveland: Bazaar Bizarre at 78th Street Studios

Saturday, December 19th and Sunday, December 20th:
San Francisco: Renegade Craft Fair Holiday Sale at Herbst Pavilion, Fort Mason

Stay tuned! We'll have more gift guides coming up!

image from renegadecraft.com

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Thanksgiving Outfit... for Eatin'!

About a week ago, I was discussing what I was thinking about to wear for Thanksgiving with Karen, and, well, this is verbatim:

Jeanne: I want to write a post on Thanksgiving fashion and "eatin' dresses"
Karen: Oh, yes, you must.
I made that mistake one year.
Jeanne: Because my feeling is that I should wear a dress to eat lots of food, but -- EXACTLY
Thus the dilemma: I don't have fancy pants that I would feel comfortable eating a full meal in (in fact, I may not even have fancy pants), and for some reason I feel weird wearing pants to family events. I also don't like wearing dresses with bare legs for family events unless it's the middle of summer, and, well, Thanksgiving is not in the middle of summer. And when you're sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner, the last thing you want to think about is the waistband of your tights getting tighter and tighter around your stomach. (Let's not get into the "I'm spending the morning cooking in my pajamas because this food needs to be done, dang it, I don't have TIME to shower and get cute if you all want to EAT" situation.)

I've planned for the "eatin' dress" before -- dresses with little to no pressure on the stomach. (The phrase comes from Margaret Cho's Notorious C.H.O. -- "you go home, you put on your eatin' dress, and then you eat the couch.") But I have yet to deal with the eatin' plus covering my legs conundrum.

And so when I was browsing through one of my favorite boutiques on Friday, I realized -- ah hah, over the knee socks! I'd meant to pick some up at some point, but obviously didn't make it a priority until I swung through Japantown and realized I could buy socks at Amiko. Of course! And thus I now have a pair of over-the-knees to cover my shins and bruised kneecaps, but not press on my turkey-full tummy.

Of course, instead of actually focusing on packing, I made a Polyvore of my outfit:


It's not an exact copy of my dress -- mine is more of a spaghetti-strap baby doll, but it's still black and white buffalo plaid, and I'm still going to wear it over a pink long-sleeve top with the OTK socks and flats. (I wish I had Repetto flats, but no, I'll be wearing the Volatile Harp flats as pictured in my ballerina outfit.)

Jewelry and make-up will be simple -- my standard small silver jewelry, which lately has been just a single necklace and tiny skull studs, both from Dogeared Jewelry. The necklace is particularly important to me on Thanksgiving, as it's a daily reminder of my late grandma, who passed not long after Thanksgiving '05. Since I'll be busy eating, I'll probably go with a tinted lip balm like Fresh Sugar Rose instead of lipstick so I don't have to keep retouching -- I can just keep eating! And if I have time, I'd like to paint my nails with Chanel nail polish in "Jade" for an interesting contrast, but who knows if I'll get the chance...!

What are you planning on wearing for Thanksgiving? Is it a holiday that you like to dress up for, or are you more concerned with getting the meal out on the table? Either way, here's to a good one for us all!

image from polyvore.com

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Antiques Extravaganza

Lately, I've had a lot of success shopping for vintage. Either I have a good eye for this stuff or I am just focusing my shopping adventures on retro/vintage style, because in the last month, I have managed to find about five times as much great vintage clothing/accessories as I ever have before in my adult life. Having a mother who collects vintage aprons and hats (1920s-1960s, she does not discriminate) certainly helps, and a long-standing fascination with interior design, architecture, fashion history, and obviously, independent fashion businesses does not hurt! Great antique stores seem to find me and want to show me their hidden gems.

Since I've traveled back and forth amongst the East Coast, California, and Tokyo, Japan frequently over the last few years, I've got a pretty solid list of great antique/vintage clothing stores I always love to hit up. It's really like a treasure hunt, first finding the shop, then digging through its wares to find what really calls to you. In my mind, when I visit all of these fabulous stores, I make up a eidetic encyclopedia of the types/eras of design I particularly appreciate--a cheap way to educate yourself on design possibilities for fashion and home.

So, to share with all of you lovely readers, I've created an easy Google map featuring my most favorite places in the world.

View Favorite Antique Stores, Periodic Elements of Style in a larger map It may stretch across thousands of miles, but each place is close to my heart!

-Halltree Antiques, Salinas, CA:
When I used to drive from Silicon Valley to get back to school in Monterey almost every weekend, I HAD to stop at Halltree to check out their vendors' furniture, vintage jewelry, and great collection of weird little knick-knacks. If you're into it, they have loads of vintage embroidered linens and tablecloths. I've personally found awesome 1940s-1950s sewing patterns for a pittance, including a 1950s young lady's 4-H dress pattern that I promptly made for my college graduation. Downtown Salinas itself is dying, sadly, but has great historical significance for you fans of Steinbeck, including the National Steinbeck Museum.

-The Garment District, Cambridge, MA

A local favorite, hidden just beyond the edge of MIT's campus and a brisk walk away from the Kendall T-stop on the red line. The basement is their dollar-per-pound extravaganza, freshman year of college I found a huge black velvet vintage overcoat there that I still wear today. According to my sources (aka my cousin who was in Boston recently), the dollar price is now more like $1.25. Upstairs at the Garment District is a veritable cornucopia of 1970s vintage, used denim, and cheap/schlocky clubwear that college girls go crazy for. It's really more of a go-to place for frat party and Halloween costumes, but the odd gem can be found with a sharp eye.

-The Globe Antiques & Cafe, Mishuku, Tokyo, Japan

When I lived in Tokyo, for the first six months I rented a room in an apartment outside of Shibuya, one stop away on the subway and a twenty-minute bus ride from that glorious hub of humanity. Walking around the rather boring but quiet residential neighborhood of Ikejiri-Oohashi, I discovered the fabulous Globe Antiques and Cafe. It quickly became my go-to spot for reading on the weekend (despite being bilingual and spending all my time reading in Japanese for my schoolwork, I desperately missed reading English books) and perusing their stock of antique farm tables, lighting fixtures, and prints. They are inspired by Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, of course, and managed to create a veritable English countryside oasis in one of the world's most hectic cities. If you visit the cafe, get one of their homemade mango and white chocolate muffins for me. All of the furniture in the cafe is rotating inventory in the shop, so it's all on sale.

-Shimokitazawa, Tokyo

If you ever wonder where all of the U.S.'s great vintage clothing has gone, this is where it ends up. Shimokitazawa is a twenty-minute train ride west from Shinjuku and Shibuya, and the absolute mecca for Tokyo's hipster scene. There are underground bars with live music from Japan's up and coming rock bands, jazz and wine bars, indie art galleries, and the best vintage clothing stores you'll ever experience...if you are a size 00-6, max. Tons of polyester, crazy colorblocked 1980s sweaters, and acid-wash jeans to be found here. I spent many evenings pounding the pavement here as a young, spry 19-year-old and shopped my little heart out in the accessories shops. When I went back last year, more foreigners had discovered my little corner of heaven in Tokyo but there was still a very hush-hush, don't-let-the-tourists-in vibe about the place.

-Junkees Antiques & Clothing Exchange, Reno, NV

A more recent discovery from my roadtrip to Reno from California (Grandma loves playing those slot machines!), Junkees is turning into a real Reno institution since business at the casinos is way down. Its owner Jessica just published the inaugural issue of Reno Style Magazine, which does a great job of styling outfits with affordable options and vintage/thrifted items. Junkees itself is half antiques mall, half used clothing store, and they only accept good quality, non-stinky clothes! Can you imagine a fashionable thrift store with clothes that don't smell of BO and death? I found a great 1940s black dress, a funky vintage sexy-secretary blouse with a very Pop Art flower pattern, and a nearly new 1950s beaded wool cardigan that is going to get a lot of use this winter.

-Vintage Playclothes, Studio City, CA

We've linked to the glorious fashion paradise that is Vintage Playclothes before, and as you may know, it is the go-to store for Hollywood TV and movie wardrobe departments, including the costume designers of Mad Men and The Closer. They even had a party for the Mad Men third season premiere, could you die? Being a modern-sized woman, I've always had trouble finding the lovely vintage clothes my daintier friends could, but Vintage Playclothes has up to size 16 for women. Everything is well curated and very organized. I saw a black and white oversize houndstooth coat from Playclothes in the second to last episode of Mad Men!

-Addison Antiques, Palo Alto, CA

A bit pricier than your average warehouse-sized antiques mall, Addison Antiques caters to the quirky tastes of suburbia. A lot of their vendors' stalls don't change much, while others are continuously turning over and bringing in new, fascinating little items. I've seen a Napoleonic Maltese military hat with medals and huge feathers, Civil War compasses, and bought a sequined bow pin with pearl accent and a freaky little broken babydoll head with a hole in it.

-Reincarnation Vintage Clothing, Pacific Grove, CA
There was a time in my life when sleepy little Victorian fishing town Pacific Grove, California, was the most exciting place to visit. Reincarnation is just a half a block away from Lighthouse Avenue in what is Pacific Grove's historic, residential downtown district, hidden in a row of small restaurants. The owner is a chain-smoking lady who will hand you armfuls of things to try on and accessories to match. Reincarnation has a great selection of truly unique vintage bags and dresses in particular, I still wear two cotton day dresses that are tres Peggy from Mad Men (are we sensing a theme here?), and picked up a crazy straw bag with an owl made entirely of sequins on it. FABULOUS.

-Fabulous Fanny's, New York City, NY

Which brings us across the country to the East Village's notoriously funky vintage glasses destination, Fabulous Fanny's. It's basically the world's greatest closet of amazing vintage glasses from the 1920s through the 1980s, if you want fly sunglasses like all the hip kids are wearing or pearl-inlaid cats-eye frames. It's wall to wall, floor to ceiling glasses, HEAVENLY. Miss C. and I visited one afternoon and while crowded, it's definitely worth it. I must have tried on every pair of frames in the store, and I walked out with a pair of robin's-egg blue cat's-eyes with gold and pearl inlay, and sides that look like birds' wings. They'll even direct you to their preferred optometrist to get your new glasses set with prescription lenses within the same day.

-Housing Works Thrift Shop, New York City, NY
These local non-profit thrift shops are all over the city and are known for celebrities and socialites donating their gently used high fashion goods to benefit low-income housing in NYC. The Upper East Side location on E. 77th Street is particularly fetching, the interior design of the store is pretty much like an Anthropologie, with window displays to match. They always have the greatest furniture and vintage luggage, plus your standard fancy business clothes on the racks!

-Lee Alex Decor, Denver, CO
One of my recent discoveries in Denver on my trip there this past August, Lee Alex Decor is a quiet little treasure trove of midcentury interior design greatness. Immediately upon walking into this shop in an up and coming Williamsburg-esque Baker neighborhood, you face a wall full of every kind of bar and martini-related item your little heart could desire. (Friend of the blog Miss C. was over the moon since they had highball glasses with both medieval knights and card suits on them.) They have a steady Flickr stream (link above) and Twitter feed with all new merchandise and nifty furniture finds you can check out if you don't make it to Denver very often!

-Janakos & Company, Burlingame, CA
A perennial favorite of my boss', Janakos is more of a museum-type store for those of us of more modest means. Excellently curated, with items on display ranging from Art Deco vases to full rows of antique movie theatre seats (oh, be still my heart!!) and Bauhaus-inspired bent wood furniture from midcentury European designers. On weekends, they hold estate and junk sales in an old storefront next door with some interesting, if overpriced, pieces--check out the pins and antique necklace pieces if you stop by. I've picked up cuckoo costume jewelry for a song there. It's dusty, but if you dig with an eye for DIY remakes and design value, you'll find something you love.

-Antiques Unlimited, San Carlos, CA
This is one of those neighborhood places that's been around forever, yet I only just stopped by last week after an afternoon of outdoor skate practice with Jeanne in Belmont. Don't be deterred by the freaky mannequins modeling the vintage clothes in the crazy front window, I nearly jumped out of my skin when I walked straight into the giant African mask section myself. Antiques Unlimited has a condition that all sellers must only have items that are pre-1950s, so my search for tiki items for Miss C. was futile--I did find a couple of fabulous vendors chock full of luxurious furs, vintage skirt-suits, and HATS GALORE. Etsy's Booty Vintage (a.k.a. Anna Newman) had some cards there, although I didn't see any patterns. I found an incredible navy and cream polka-dot skirt suit from the 1950s in perfect condition, it fits like a glove if anything, double-breasted lapel with self-covered buttons...you'd better believe I took one look at the beauty and said, COME TO MOMMA!

Speaking of suits, I love incorporating vintage pieces into my daily wardrobe for work in particular--it breaks up the monotony of black pants, solid top, heels that is so easy to fall into. I came close to pairing the navy and cream polka-dot suit jacket with a pair of wide leg navy/grey herringbone slacks for work the other day, but one look in the mirror had me hearing Tim Gunn say it was "too much look." I say unless you are going full-on retro/vintage in your hair, makeup, eyewear, shoes, whole hog femme fatale, keep your vintage pieces as the highlight to your wardrobe basics.

Jeanne's advice is to shop for accessories, as the old solid real leather handbags, hats, bracelets, and rings, which always a great deal for the quality and style. For years, I watched other girls buying armfuls at Haight Ashbury thrift shops in smoking jealousy, and it's taken me this long to find the few styles, fashion trends, and shops that will suit my taste and fit/size. I know for a fact that you just can't find the quality in beading on a pure wool, made in the U.S.A. cardigan at Macy's like the one I found at Junkee's in Reno. It's a hunt to find the best and brightest of previous generations, but if we don't preserve and celebrate vintage fashion, who will?

(I promise to do a couple of outfit shots with my various vintage scores soon! Keep your eyes peeled, darlings.) Where do you go for a truly unique, fabulous vintage treasure? What do you keep an eye out for at random estate sales in your neighborhood? I am a sucker for ornate Victorian keys and straw/Bakelite handled bags...oh, sweetness! There is a big Art Deco show coming up at the Concourse Exhibition Center in San Francisco, December 5-6th, maybe we'll see you all there!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Where's our Uniqlo?

Here's a question I've been pondering lately, especially after returning home from New York in September: Why doesn't San Francisco have a Uniqlo?

Here's my reasoning (beyond the fact that I love Uniqlo and don't want to have to get on a plane for my favorite skinny jeans, or have to beg New Yorker friends to buy pants for me):

- San Francisco is full of denim fanatics -- we have Self Edge in the Mission, and just digging around Yelp for a tailor, I found people talking up and down about finding good tailors for their fancy jeans. While, obviously, Uniqlo isn't the same as Self Edge (I'm sure there are people gasping and clutching their denim-covered pearls that I would even mention the two in the same sentence), it could be a good way for people to work their way up into Japanese-style denim. Plus, they'll hem your pants for you at Uniqlo, which means you don't have to go searching through Yelp for a tailor who will keep the original hem when they shorten your jeans. (I am not one of those people.)

- Right now, San Francisco's Japantown is having a boom period -- with the new New People World mall, which features fashion boutiques Baby The Stars Shine Bright and Black Peace Now, Japantown is more of a shopping draw than before. Of course, they don't need to put Uniqlo in Japantown; they could easily put it in the Union Square area along with H&M/Zara/Mango etc. And, frankly, Uniqlo's much more accessible, affordable, and wearable Japanese fashion than BTSSB or BPN.

- Technically, when you get down to it? San Francisco is closer to Japan than New York is. They wouldn't have to ship things as far. Basic logistics, yo.

- San Francisco does have a lot of retail real estate open, along with people who need jobs. I would die of joy if we had a big giant Uniqlo in the Virgin Records building... but I'd die of joy no matter where it would be in the city.

- We had to wait forever for H&M to come to SF, so why not get Uniqlo sooner? We've been very patient with the rollouts. So come on. It's our turn.

In the meantime, Uniqlo's got an online store for their HEATTECH products, so you can buy camisoles, 3/4 length tops, turtlenecks, and leggings online, then check out through PayPal. Fair warning, they charge in yen and the exchange rate is pretty lousy. Alas.

Other than that, all I can do is look at the Uniqlo explorer and shake my fist that I don't live in New York... while my wallet breathes a sigh of relief that I don't live in New York. Or that Uniqlo doesn't have a full online store.

Seriously, though -- where's our Uniqlo? Are there any stores that you wish were in your town? I know that if there were a Sephora in my college town, my years there would have been very different...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Another favorite pair of earrings for fall!

sofiamasri.etsy.com earringsI have a pair of earrings that I've been wearing on a regular basis -- to the office, out to dinner, and even when I met Tim Gunn in July! I'd planned out my outfit so it was perfect, and the earrings from sofiamasri.etsy.com were the final touch.

I picked up my earrings at the Renegade Craft Fair this summer; I walked by and saw these bright, darling, unusual glazed-ceramic earrings, and knew I had to have a pair. Apparently I wasn't the only one -- she was so popular she ran out of business cards! I have a little handwritten tag with her Etsy site.

Mine are the Dahlia dangle earrings, as pictured here, but instead of the lovely coral color, I have "blueberry" glazed ones. (Aren't those beautiful? They remind me of Wedgwood plates...) Really, though, there are so many pairs I'd like to have...!

I like to wear them with pink, grey, white, and black tops -- the periwinkle really pops against a pink or raspberry. Considering that I've realized just how much of my wardrobe is pink, grey, white, black, or blue... I'm wearing these earrings a lot! I think this week's count is four or five days I've worn them, including out to a fancy French dinner on Saturday for Meeting The Parents for the Boyfriend's Birthday.

What are you reaching for over and over again this fall?

image from sofiamasri.etsy.com

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Deodorant Soap That Doesn't Stink

This is embarrassing, but I am 90% sure that many of you share this problem. I'll be damned if I can't find a deodorant or antibacterial bar soap in the drugstore that doesn't already smell like rank body odor. (Clogged pores from sweating+bacteria=B.O.)

Regular drugstore bar soaps billed as deodorant/disinfectant just don't smell CLEAN to me, they all have that distinctive smell that says, "YES I TOOK A SHOWER THIS MORNING, WHY DO YOU ASK?" After trying out all different kinds of bar soaps for the last few years, many samples thanks to various family members' and my own stays in nice hotels with tiny bars of fancy-schmancy soaps, I still haven't found a bar soap that will both get rid of body odor, keep me feeling clean, and doesn't completely melt after two minutes sitting on my shower rack.

My body odor is not the problem here. Obviously, I smell like roses and baby-soft skin all of the time, because I am A LADY. I do, however, work out hard and play hard, often coming home from a plain ol' workday pretty smelly from stress-sweat. I think you get the picture. Add to that some of those random clothing items that seem to hold on to stink for dear life despite washings with extra-strength detergent, it's a miracle I am ever sweet-smelling at all.

The drugstore alternatives have been exhausted after a decade long search (remember puberty? THE STENCH OF IT!). They get rid of odor, but leave you smelling like a Manly Man who does Manly Man Things and Smells of Great Manliness all day long. I've heard good things about castile soap, but you have to take great pains to dilute it lest you burn your delicate skin with the soap's intensity. Dainty "spa"-ish soaps, the kind you also see at the drugstore and little gift shops, with the lavender buds in them--also all Lush soaps--absolutely disintegrate when exposed to water. You just can't leave those sitting in the shower, or in a soapdish, it's A MESS. I've tried the DHC for Men little round soap, which works great. It is, however, completely translucent and DISAPPEARS in the bathroom. Ridiculous. Your beauty/bath bar soaps with the skin-softening and claims of moisturizing smell lovely and feel great but I think they leave residue on your skin and have zero deodorizing power.

So, we turn once again to our friends at Etsy, where there is a preponderance of artisan soapmakers, for a solution. I started out looking for soaps with natural antibacterial properties, like the ever-present peppermint, tea tree oil, anything that was not a harsh chemical. I don't want to leave my skin all scaly and dry because of my overzealous washing. Smelling nice is a good criteria as well--despite those lavender fancy soaps, I still want to smell lovely and clean, like old-fashioned soap.

-Etsy seller LuckyLather has a sandalwood bergamot shea butter bar soap that purports to heal stretch marks (you know you have them, I sure do). I love the smell of real sandalwood, like antique Japanese carved fans in lacquer boxes, but I'm not sure if it's MY scent. Sandalwood oil is a natural antiseptic, according to LuckyLather! We are big, big fans of bergamot around here, so that is mighty tempting.

-Lobos from Alabama has an intriguing deodorant soap with sea salt and rosemary, which makes me think of yummy Christmas roasts. I am also taken in by the dachshund backdrop in those photos! To my great embarrassment, about 60% of my search results for "deodorant soap" on Etsy came up with DOG SHAMPOOS. Obviously dogs get dirty and smelly, but I AM A HUMAN PERSON.

-CrowleyManor's "Into the Woods" bar soap smells like the forest after a rain, much like the wild white sage and pine-needle tea Jeanne and I split a bag of from the San Francisco Ferry Building farmer's market last year. (It tasted like Christmas and falling snow, only hot--the holidays are on my mind today!)

-The Visions of Violet soaps by SonataSoap look like huge chunks of taffy or vanilla mousse--I'd be hard pressed not to try a bite in my half-waking state during morning showers! Yum. I love the fragrance of violets, it reminds me of young ladies with their bobbed hair and perfume atomizers getting ready to go out for a night of dancing with their young gentlemen callers in the 1920s. Little did you know, I am also an old fuddy-duddy lady stuck in the body of a twentysomething internet addict.

-Did I not just mention the lavender-bud-filled soaps? Here's another one, lavender tangerine dream handmade by Etsy seller DrBubbles! According to expert DrBubbles, this soap is so effective it will remove icky kitchen smells (garlic and ginger, anyone?) from your hands. That should take care of any gym odors, for sure!

-Another soap in danger of sleep-chewing in the shower is this chocolate cinnamon number, oh MOMMA. Have you seen those cupcake soaps that look so real you just want to take a bite out of them? This is the grown-up version, so you can smell like Mexican hot chocolate all day long, YUM.

-For a more unisex scent, Etsy seller mamabird has a bar that smells of oak leaves and acorns, perfect for fall. I think this would be a great alternative to the drugstore's strong-smelling manly man deodorant soaps, leaving behind just a faint trail of fall scents that isn't overpowering.

What do you think? Have you had any success with artisan soaps outside of the drugstore? Are there any drugstore-available (i.e. mass-market) soaps you think do the job?

Sweetheart soap ad from Found in Mom's Basement.

Friday, November 06, 2009

The oh-so-frightening... fanny pack.

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably saw this charming yet terrifying tweet in mid-October:

Twitter: Fanny Pack

How did I come to such a conclusion?

I was walking home for the day and thinking about going out skating -- since Karen and I are in roller derby training, I need to be out on my skates as often as possible. But, I said to myself, my skating gear doesn't have any pockets to hold my keys. My purse is an across-the-body strap (as I did ultimately find a new bag), which means it would swerve and bang around on my legs and hip while I skated; forget a traditional shoulder strap bag that would just fall off or need me to hold it to my body with my upper arm.

Thus, I needed an extra exterior pocket that would strap to my body without getting in the way of my motion or weighing me down too much. All it needs to hold would be my keys, my phone, and my ID/some cash.

Which means: yes, I needed a fanny pack.

American Apparel Shiny Denim Fanny PackHilariously, I knew exactly where to purchase a fanny pack, which was to go directly to American Apparel. I bought the shiny denim fanny pack in black, as pictured here. It's not super-shiny, alas, but it does its job, which is to strap around my waist and hold my keys.

I decided to take a look and see what I could find on Etsy in terms of adorable fanny packs, but found the selection to be rather more sparse when searching through for "fanny pack". Turns out the term we're using these days is "hip pouch". I see what you did there!

- jennyndesign.etsy.com features the "Traveler" bag in various styles and fabrics, including houndstooth (yay, houndstooth!).
- maytreeark.etsy.com has a super-cute and streamlined pouch called the "Hipshack", in fabrics like pinstripe denim. Love it!
- I totally love the Fancypack by carrotcake.etsy.com. It's what Lady GaGa would wear, uh, every day, but especially when skating. They're seriously awesome and I totally want one.
- The ruffled waist bag from kinies.etsy.com is another sweet ruffly option. I have to admit, I also really like it as a bustle, a la Susie Bubble's "bum bag" post. (I'm not sure how comfortable it would be if I, you know, fell on it, but...)

Have you ever had the realization that you might have to sacrifice fashion for function? What did you end up doing? And -- do you think you would wear a fanny pack in public? Considering the cute ones I've found, I don't think it's such a bad thing after all!

images from twitter.com and store.americanapparel.net

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Happy Halloween! A Duo of Costumes

Alas, the promised stegosaurus costume did not come to pass (my mom has promised that she will help me for next year), but I love Halloween so much that I felt the need to dress up a couple different ways anyway!

Saturday, Day:

This is a true "from the closet" costume -- I already had the leotard and tights, and actually went to ballet class in this outfit (except in my real Sansha ballet shoes). The black flats are Volatile Harp. The skirt is from H&M. I originally bought it for going out dancing (not ballet dancing) in, but never actually wore it until today. Hooray for having ruffly tutu-esque skirts in the closet!

Bonus: the tights are convertible, which means they have a reinforced opening at the ball of the foot to wear the tights footless or full-foot. I might have to get some more of these in black...

Friday and Saturday Night:

Halloween: Andy and Edie
I spent the evening on Friday and Saturday as Edie Sedgwick, along with the boyfriend, who I strong-armed into being Andy Warhol. His outfit is entirely from Crossroads (except for the striped shirt, which is American Apparel), while mine, again, is H&M. They're selling these sequined shirt/tunic/dresses (I want to say it's too short to be a dress, but we all know how these things go...) right now in several different colors for Holiday, and I knew as soon as I saw it that I had to have it. (I think there was some self-talk of "oh please please please let it come in black YES please please please let it be in my size YES OKAY DONE YES AWESOME" as I went through the rack.) The tights are also H&M, while the earrings are Aldo. (I actually bought three pairs of shoulder-duster earrings, because I just kept finding better and better ones; the Aldo ones were the ultimate winners.)

I also had a coat, of course, because Edie needs a coat, and because San Francisco needs a coat:

I took the made-over coat from my closet, and added a fake fur collar from Claire's Accessories with safety pins. I didn't want to get a full fake fur coat, because of the expense ($80 at H&M, no thanks) and because I wasn't sure how often I'd actually wear it. And then there's the whole "even if you buy fake fur you support the aesthetic appeal of fur" thing... anyway. It was easier and cheaper this way, the coat was still plenty warm, and the point came across!

Because so much of what really makes Edie Sedgwick style is above the neck, I've written up the whole Edie look over at Periodic Beauty Reviews, including the perfume I chose to wear as Edie. Because perfume choices are important!

What did you dress up as for Halloween? I love to hear what other people did, since one of my favorite parts of Halloween is seeing everyone's creative costumes! We saw an awesome Dovima With Elephants, which I thought was extremely clever. In fact we were walking through the Avedon exhibit, I said, "gosh, wouldn't it be awesome to be Dovima With Elephants? But no one would get it..." only to see a Dovima with a large stuffed elephant later that night. Whoever you are, anonymous Dovima, you're fabulous!

images from periodicstyle.blogspot.com and flickr.com/sfmoma

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What's Your Jam? for October 28th

Recently I started going to aerobics class at least once a week -- it's Mondays and Wednesdays, but I've only been going to Mondays on a regular basis (oops). My roommate, K., was talking up the class for weeks, telling me how awesome it is, and I dragged my heels for far too long.

Our instructor, M., is full of energy and personality with a CD booklet of remixes for working out, and if a particular song comes up, she'll shout mid-call-outs, "This is my JAM!"

So I've been thinking about what's my jam lately -- things that are rocking my world, things that make me happy, that sort of thing.

My jams for today:

- My aerobics class (of course), for making me get up, get out, and get active. I'm already seeing and feeling a difference in my body, which is awesome.

- Halloween! I'm always excited for Halloween, as you all know, but this year I'm planning on going as a stegosaurus, even though in my mind's eye of imagining my costume, I keep picturing myself as The Atrox. (Not as a lovely nymph, but hey.) I may also do a second costume, which is always exciting, because I've been invited to a Fancy Grown-Up Halloween party at a local museum, so perhaps my stomping around as a dinosaur would not be appreciated.

- The Ruth Reichl recipes for spaghetti carbonara and Aunt Birdie's potato salad. Delicious and easy! The worst part for me, seriously, was peeling the potatoes after boiling (instead of before). That and the onion chopping, which made me cry like crazy.

- CB I Hate Perfume in "Gingerbread". It's limited edition and only comes out at the holidays, so I'm still using last year's. It's the only thing I've been wearing to work lately (besides, you know, clothes) since it's warm, a little spicy, a little baked good-y, and doesn't punch people in the nose.

- Winona of Daddy Likey. I don't think I need to explain why she's the jam, but if you need a little nudge, you can read my Closet Confidential review on BlogHer.

What's your jam today?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Help Me Help My Hair!

It's my turn to ask you lovely readers your fabulous fashion-y opinions on my life--now, it's all about hair. I have a haircut scheduled for this Saturday at two o'clock at a new salon nearby with a stylist I've never seen before. It's a nice salon, Aveda-related, very swanky. I am pretty blase about cutting my hair, usually, I've gone pixie-short for many years and generally keep it at a chin-length bob or shorter. I do not cry over haircuts (there's no crying in beauty, ladies). I hate having longer hair on the back of my neck, and the longest it's ever been was in about the eighth grade, when my otherwise well-meaning friends convinced me to let it grow long like theirs and I ended up wearing my hair in two braids on my shoulders for the next year.

So, I need your help. I haven't had a haircut since August and it's time to jump into the dizzying waters of fashionable, ladylike haircuttery feet-first again. Despite my previous forays into Japanese straightening perms and many head-burns on the straightening iron, I am just not feeling the straight style lately. I have fairly curly hair that's only gotten curlier as I've gotten older (and more used to caring for it), so this time, I want a cute, retro-licious bob that will really work with my curls. Thus, I have made you all a gallery to peruse and tell me what you think!

First, my actual hair, on a recent evening when it was somewhat tame:

As you can see, I am no friend of the "just blow-dry it straight!" cabal that all hairstylists seem to be members of. I just can't do it, it does not work on my hair, it doesn't stay nice and straight and smooth.

My hair preferences: as mentioned above, the length in the back is really getting to me, and I have a lot of bottom layers that need to be taken up about two inches. I have a low hairline at the nape of my neck, so even though I love to have a cut that is cropped close at the neck, I hate to have to shave the back of my neck--it makes me feel like Neanderthal Woman of the Cave People. In the winter, it is nice to have a full head of hair to keep you warm, but I am very active and want something easy to care for, easy to keep away from my sweaty face when I go roller skating, running, or do pilates.

I love a 1930s bob, but when I try to pull that off I look like the daughter from Gosford Park:
When my various styling endeavors do work, I have big, lovely sausage curls and you know I love that Gothic lolita look to pieces. I have a larger forehead and a squared-off hairline in front, so bangs look fab and work really well on me. With my new black and white glasses (Face a Face!), I could go either super-dramatic and severe, or soft and classic, which can run to the frumpy side on me. I tried getting a straight-across, heavy fringe (love having bangs, but it is a huge hassle with curly hair) with curly rest-of-hair and it just looked funny, not romantic and gamine and chic at all.

Here are my ideas:
1. Keep the growing-out side-swept bang, which is at a length where the locks will curl nicely off to the side with a little help from a bobby pin, and get the bob shaped in a 1940s-ish style, to be slicked down and smoothed out to look fab, a la Mlle. von Teese--
How does she get her hair that deliciously black and that shiny? It's like staring at the dark of the moon, my goodness. Note: I am also thinking about going a shade darker than my natural medium brown color for a little change of pace.

2. Trim the bangs so they are wispy and side-swept, like the lovely Rachael McAdams below. Keep the curls controlled (ha!) so they are big and fancy:
I do like this look, and could probably achieve it with some work on a good day. She is the cutest, after all.

3. Go short, for a shape halfway between a pixie and a bob. This is something I've asked a stylist to do for me before, but I think it confuses them to no end. Ideally, it would look like this sans grey chunk in the bangs:

4. Go pixie-short, a la Mia Farrow in Rosemary's Baby. Jeanne did this a while ago and she works it like a pro, having very delicate features and excellent bone structure. As you can see above, I have a strong jawline and a pentagonal face. The last time I rocked the pixie hardcore was in high school and a little in college. It would be easy to manage, a bit severe but I feel like I could really be ready for a big, drastic change.

5. Just get a trim to clean up my layers and try another salon, if I don't like this new one, for a relaxer/straight perm treatment redux. This way, I could go back to the stick-straight Louise Brooks bob with bangs that I rocked for the first eleven years of my life. I know it's a good look for me and I find myself inevitably attracted to it. The problem--after going through the five-hour Japanese straightening perm in New York and it only lasting three months, I am hesitant to put my hair through another protein-damaging chemical-burning texture-altering process. I do love that style, though, I feel like an effortless fashionista without all of the hot flat-irons and the sad attempts at blow-drying my hair straight with a round brush.

What's a girl to do? I am in need of a major style change, something professionally acceptable but cute, fun, and flattering! Help!

Photos by Karen, others from www.latest-hair-styles.com.

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