December 13, 2013

Party perfect

'Tis the season... for many festive parties. I'm usually not a party person at all (my idea of a great weekend is being in bed with a good book), but this holiday season I've been itching to get out of the office and start spending quality time with friends who I don't work with!

Either that or working has driven me to drink...but I'd like to think the former.

Here are some outfits for some fabulous soirees:

Party Outfits

Art Deco Glam: Topshop dress ($130), ASOS earrings ($10), Natasha Couture box clutch ($38), Kate Spade shoes ($258)
Gunmetal Chic: Zara cropped top ($70), River Island skirt ($57), Forever 21 earrings and cuff ($5), Kate Spade clutch ($330), Jeffrey Campbell pumps ($150)
L(eopard)BD: Zara dress ($60), Zara heels ($50), Debenhams clutch ($30), Mango earrings ($28)

Art Deco Glam: I love this Gatsby-inspired dress that reflects the Gatsby obsession we've had all year but doesn't veer into costume territory. The box clutch and gold earrings are simple, chic, and don't distract from the embellishment on the dress. I love this pair of Kate Spade d'orsay flats - I chose flats because the dress is quite short, and I personally don't like wearing heels with super short dresses. Its subtle gold back is perfect for parties and to add some glam in everyday wear.

Gunmetal Chic: Oh for abs of steel!! I've seen this cropped top in person and it is beautiful. It's a little looser than most other cropped tops, so it's a little more classy. Paired with a high waisted grey skirt and a pair of hot red pumps, it's super on-trend and perfect for the holidays. I accessorized with an adorable Kate Spade clutch and a gorgeous gunmetal earring-cuff from Forever 21 -- it is insanely affordable and I think it just adds that perfect pop of grunge.

L(eopard)BD: Ah, the LBD. I like this one from Zara because it has a very sculptural shape on the body (click through to see the dress on a real person). And leopard is always the perfect accent. Topped with shoulder-dusting, over-the-top earrings (I mean, this is a party after all) and a pair of strappy gold sandals.

While I love all of these looks, the frank truth is that it's been freezing in the Bay Area lately (we had a frost warning last week!), so my version of a holiday look would probably be more in line with this outfit, but pairing it with some huge dangly earrings, black tights, and a pair of vertiginous black d'orsay pumps.

Happy holidays!

December 11, 2013

Four years with Dan

Dan and I celebrated our 4th year anniversary last week (!) which is one of the most astounding things ever. We went to benu and partook in some extremely delicious food. These grainy iPhone 4 pictures completely do not do it justice, but I wanted to share anyway because this was the best meal I've ever had.

It was a tasting menu with the most innovative, crazy dishes. My favorites are above: the lobster xiao long bao, the most delectable quail, and a melt-in-your-mouth beef dish. We ended the evening with a really lovely salted caramel mousse cake thing that was so crazy good. (This, by the way, was only 1/8th of everything we ate that night!)

The thing I loved most about benu was how so many of the dishes reminded me of home, but with a twist of something very special and definitely way more delicious. It was surprising and familiar at the very same time. And everything was impeccable -- from the service to all the little surprises.

I also really can't believe it's been four years -- long years of getting each other through college and finding jobs and finally settling down in the city. I am so lucky to have my best friend with me through this journey of growing up :)

December 9, 2013

One Outfit Monday: Asymmetrical Skirt

I've been looking for an asymmetrical hem skirt for the longest time -- something that was more exciting than a traditional pencil skirt but was not too over the top and inappropriate for the office. Behold -- this beauty from Vince Camuto, which checks all the right boxes and is affordable to boot!

OOM: Asymmetrical skirt

Mango bag ($100), Vince Camuto faux leather trim envelope skirt ($74), Uniqlo dark green silk shirt ($50), J.Crew Factory necklace ($20), Zara kitten heels ($80)

It looks awfully short in this picture, but on a human Nordstrom assures me it is only slightly over the knee. This can go with anything, really, that you would pair with a regular pencil skirt, so I paired it with my officewear basics, a silk shirt. I have this one from Uniqlo (and love it); it's such a deep mossy green. I would unbutton the top buttons and wear the necklace inside the collar, giving a pop of unexpected color.

The burgundy bag from Mango is such a steal, and dark greens and reds paired together always look so festive without being too Christmassy. Black tights, d'orsay kitten heels (too many trends in one shoe? Never!), and a camel coat would complete the look.

For beauty, I would wear my hair in a low pony tail and wear lashings of mascara with a berry stained lip. I love the Revlon Kissable Lip Balm Stains for an easy tint.

December 6, 2013

On the Reading List: November 2013

I haven’t featured a reading list on the blog in some time, and have recently been inspired by these books. Since graduating college, I did a total about-turn and exclusively read young adult fiction about vampires (though not of the sparkly variety – I haven’t gone completely off the bend) and dystopic worlds, but have recently started gravitating back towards the kinds of books I used to read in college. When I’m stressed, tired, or upset about something, there’s really nothing better than curling up with a good book, a lit candle, and some tea.

Here are three books that have inspired me this month:

Grace: A Memoir, by Grace Coddington: I’ve wanted to read this for ages, ever since I watched The September Issue and found out soon after that she was going to publish a book. It’s so interesting to read something written by someone you so admire for their keen, artistic eye, and all the people and influences that have shaped that vision. Really easy read.

Wild, by Cheryl Strayed: After I tweeted about a short story she published and read all her Dear Sugar articles, this became a must-read for me. I cried, in the best way possible, in the way you do when people write words that touch that special nerve in your heart, where you feel so connected with the humanity of world, and you are just so endlessly inspired by situations and people that are described. What I meant to say in that roundabout way is: read it. This is a beautiful memoir.

The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman: Haven’t read much of Neil Gaiman in recent years (American Gods remains a firm favorite though), but I was really drawn to this novel when I saw it on the shelves. Beautifully illustrated, just an all-round wonderful Gaiman novel.

What’s next on my list? Alexa Chung’s It (my haircut was inspired by hers!), Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch (which my colleague got me for Christmas!), and perhaps the extremely daunting list of 100 best books compiled by editors of the New York Times.

December 2, 2013

One Outfit Monday: Turtleneck and Leather

I've been totally obsessed with this outfit for the past 2 weeks or so. It's gotten to a point where I actually braved the crowds this weekend at Union Square and waded into the mess of Zara and H&M for the express purpose of purchasing these items. I ended not being able to find the H&M sweater, and settled for one from Zara instead.

It's going to be a beautiful day when my skirt arrives in the mail and I can finally wear this in person.

OOM: Oversized turtleneck + leather

H&M turtleneck sweater ($35), Zara pleather skirt ($60), ASOS earrings ($11), Modcloth shoes ($60) Dorothy Perkins bag ($100)

I actually don't even know why I'm so into this look. I love the contrast of slouchy (top) with sleek (skirt), am really into the houndstooth print of that d'orsay flat, and think that the burgundy bag and gold earrings add some quiet chic to the entire look.

Happy Monday!

November 29, 2013

Coats perfect for Fall

I don't know what it is this season - I think it may be the sigh of relief that comes with knowing where you're going to be next year, and that yes, it is going to be cold - but I'm completely obsessed with buying coats. They just take a look to the next level and SF is freezing all the time, so a warm coat you love is such a staple. I've been wearing an army green parka from Old Navy for the past year or so, and it's pretty casual and cool on a lot of outfits, but doesn't exactly scream professional. That was fine when I was a student, but now I've been gravitating towards slightly oversized, boyfriend coats. With a popped collar, a la the ever-chic Alexa Chung.

Below, some coats I'e been obsessing over:

Fall coats

SheInside houndstooth coat ($39) I had already bought my coat this season before I saw it and literally could not get it out of my mind. Houndstooth, oversized, boxy. This coat is perfection. If you're into the black and white but need something a little sooner (or are skeptical of Chinese websites like that, which was a huge barrier to purchase for me too), this Mango coat at $150 is also another great option.

Zara mustard wool coat ($119) Mustard in my book is a neutral. Love the shape and totally in love with the color.

Forever 21 contrast sleeve down jacket ($55) This is one chic down jacket! I love the contrast sleeves and how it's like an updated version of the varsity jacket for a girl who needs to be warm and/or wear this to work. The length, the muted palette, the downright awesomeness at an incredible price makes this a winner.

Zara cape ($189) This cape breaks my heart, you guys. I can't afford a $190 cape, as much as I love the leather detailing and the very fact that it is a cape. I've wanted one for so long and never took the plunge but this is calling to me, like a siren into its warm capey goodness. This is a cheaper alternative in tweed from Dorothy Perkins at a more acceptable $79, but the heart wants what the heart wants.

Uniqlo burgundy funnel coat ($100) I have this, I love this, I feel like a J Crew model in this (without the cray J Crew price). Unexpectedly super warm and I love hiding my face in the tall collar. This deep shade of burgundy is also such a nice added color without being too in-your-face and it's just so grown up and perfect for the office.

SheInside mint coat ($50) Pastel coats have been really big this season and I love this pale shade of mint. The slightly oversized shape cancels out any prissiness from the mint color, and this would also be great for transitioning into the spring.

I think these are some great, fresh coat options (I mean, how many black pea coats can one own?) (the answer in my case is: none. Oops.) perfect for the Fall or, if you live in the Bay, perfect for all year round.

November 27, 2013

Favorite brunch places in San Francisco (at the moment)

Daniel and I have a tiny little brunch addiction. We've only gone out to brunch every weekend since I started getting weekends off again, and that's usually our only stop out of bed that day. I know.

We are super into Asian Fusion cuisine, and brunch is no exception. I love the traditional goodness of brunch at a French bakery, but sometimes you just need to explore a little. Here are 3 places that have not disappointed:

This place is in the Marina, and Dan frogmarched me in here when we went because there are so many distracting brunch places in the area. Blackwood serves Thai/American fusion, and oh my word, their eggs benedict are to die for. I can't remember which benedict I got, but it had a Thai chili hollandaise sauce and it was all kinds of spicy deliciousness.

Image via their online ordering system

The next time I go, I will be trying out their millionaire's bacon, and the BW Stone Pot, which is like Bibimbap on crack, seriously. It is all sizzling hot pot goodness, and Dan almost stole a fellow diner's meal off their table when he saw it arrive.

It would be nice to say I'm joking, but friends who know Dan in real life... you know I can't.

Four words: spam and cheese waffles.

Take a moment to imagine the awesomeness of that combination. It is truly magical - Grindz serves Hawaiian-inspired meals (hence the presence of spam in 75% of their menu), and the waffles are incredibly light, fluffy, and darn delicious when doused with their accompanying organic maple syrup.

Everything on the menu looks to die for, but unfortunately I can't recommend the spam musubi -- I thought that the rice/ spam ratio was a little uneven in favor of the rice, and couldn't really taste much flavor compared to the awesomeness of the waffles. In the future I'll be getting the chicken and waffles combo. Predicting it will be a mind blowing brunch moment.

Possibly the best part about this place is that they are located right next to a Goodwill, where I scored a pair of brown leather oxfords for a mere $8. Shopping + food = magic.

Sweet Maple
The wait for this place on weekends is insane. Good thing they serve coffee and this delicious strawberry-orange-lemon water while you wait, and provide you with a huge range of magazines to peruse. Sweet Maple is pretty large, and we got a seat fairly quickly.

The highlight of this meal was the millionaire's bacon:

It's basically thick slabs of bacon fried in maple syrup and chili flakes and it is DIVINE. Above is a image of Dan's meal, which is a heart attack waiting to happen. Deep fried french toast, sunny side up eggs, and 2 slices of millionaire's bacon. I had the Hass benedict, which was a delicious bacon, avocado and chipotle hollandaise sauce benedict. Oh my word - so good.

Any other brunch places we should check out in SF?

November 25, 2013

One Outfit Monday: Thanksgiving Traveling

Right now as I'm writing this, I'm sitting in my living room overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and feeling very overwhelmed. Thanksgiving is such a weird event to me - I've only celebrated it for the last 4 years and it is in no way a celebration with my family (currently scattered around the world in London, LA, Singapore, and me in SF). One of the unexpected pains of being so far away from home is never remembering the last time my family was all together in person.

There is so much to be grateful for this year, I know. This was simultaneously the worst year and the best year of my life, and I find that I'm still struggling to find myself in the middle of this crazy. I'd thought that the minute I signed my job offer I could let out a sigh of relief but that doesn't seem to be the case.

Anyhow, for those of you lucky enough to have family to travel to this Thanksgiving, here's an outfit for you!

Thanksgiving Traveling

SheInside sweater ($37), TOMS shoes ($75), Uniqlo Urban Fleece pants ($30), Herschel weekender bag ($80)

I am obsessed with this SheInside sweater - it's so adorable for the holidays!! Just a quick review of my recent SheInside purchases (1 sweater and 1 coat): I had read reviews online that said that SheInside sucked because they never could track their packages and their packages came super late. This was not the case for me at all. I received my items in the mail less than 2 weeks after placing my order, and I had a tracking number that I could refer to online. The quality isn't fantastic (I mean, my coat was under $40 so designer quality is not to be expected by any means), specifically the sleeve length, which was much shorter than measured/ expected.

TOMS shoes are so comfy and perfect for the plane because they are so easy to get in and out of. My pet peeve about plane travel is all those people who wear these complicated contraptions, like knee high boots with no zippers. Seriously. The gate check no longer comes as a surprise.

These Uniqlo pants are sadly now only available online and in New York, and I wasn't able to get my hands on them before they were shipped out of the SF store. But they are so soft and drape beautifully. Highly recommend.

Dan just bought this Herschel weekender bag and it is so adorable!! It can be used as a duffel or rolled as luggage and is so incredibly versatile and great for traveling. I am tempted to get one for myself.

Happy Monday!

November 22, 2013

Tips for buying + selling at Crossroads Trading

One of my favorite places to shop at is Crossroads Trading Co, which is a store where you can purchase secondhand clothes at a steep discount and sell your old clothes to them for store credit or cash. Especially with holiday season coming up and all the party dresses that you need to get, I think Crossroads is a great alternative to duking it out at a regular retail store and possibly wearing the same thing as someone else at a party!

Firstly: is shopping at Crossroads worth it?

Scored at Crossroads

The answer is an resounding YES. The above are some of my favorite scores at Crossroads -- a pair of J Crew black patent Valentina pumps ($30), Reed Krakoff grey shift dress ($45), Marc by Marc navy songbird dress ($75 with tags on !!), Sam Edelman Petty booties ($32), Madewell silk skirt ($35).

My one big tip for shopping at Crossroads is always head for the designer rack. They usually have a designated rack by the check out counter, and they also always hang their best stuff around the store - I found all the apparel above hanging, and you always manage to score better deals because people tend to sieve through the racks before they look up. Designer/ contemporary at Crossroads is always so much more worth it than regular stuff from H&M or Gap because the percentage of the original price you pay is so much lower! I have never seen anything above $100 for even designer apparel.

For selling at Crossroads, my major tip is to actually shop the store. I've had best success when I like many items in the store; it means that you have similar taste to the buyers and they'll be more likely to buy your stuff. Every store is different - I love both stores in Berkeley, but I know that the store on Shattuck is usually more likely to take my stuff, because the store on College offers higher end merchandise.

The best part about being a Crossroads shopper is how down right virtuous I feel after shopping there - I usually sell clothes for store credit, and it feels like I'm exchanging clothes for better ones, especially stuff that I've outgrown.

I feel like I'm reliving the glory days of Crossroads shopping! Haven't found my to-go Crossroads here in the city yet. Any recommendations, or any great buys you've gotten from Crossroads?

November 20, 2013

Mushrooms: a love story

I mean when you find yourself saying things like, "All Trader Joe's needed to give me was crimini mushrooms. They had ONE JOB..."

You know you have a problem. Of the first world, mushroom variety.

In my defense, crimini mushrooms (the brown ones, y'all) work the best for a recipe I've been using all week for a simple and easy dinner for one. Inspired by a post on A Cup Of Jo, I've taken the already simple recipe and made it even more simple by using up weird ingredients I have in my fridge.

Roasted Mushrooms for even the cooking-challenged

5-6 sliced mushrooms (preferably crimini, but white works fine)
2 cloves of garlic, minced (or if you're like me, 2 tea spoons of pre-minced garlic)
1.5 tbsp of butter, cubed
Black pepper and sea salt, to taste
A handful of shredded cheddar

2 slices of nutty wheat bread

To make
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place mushrooms in oven-safe dish and toss with pepper, sea salt, and garlic. Dot butter, distributing evenly throughout dish. Cover with cheddar cheese. Place in oven for 15-20 minutes.

Lightly toast bread. When done, proceed to eat like a ravenous savage.

November 18, 2013

One Outfit Monday: Casual Fall

Small confession: even though I have waxed lyrical about the short boot (aka: Sam Edelman Petty booties), I found it difficult to style and didn't know what to wear it with for the longest time. It was only 2 weeks ago when I figured out that the key to wearing it well was to cuff my pants and have a little bit of ankle showing. Here's an outfit I've been living in all week:

OOM: Cozy, Casual Fall

Uniqlo sweater ($30), Levi's jeans ($78), Modcloth mustard scarf ($20), Sam Edelman Petty booties ($130)

If I could get away with wearing the same thing everyday, I would. It's a little embarrassing how comfortable this outfit is, and is perfect for a more casual/ creative office, weekend wandering, to pop out to the grocery store... the options are endless.

This Uniqlo sweater is THE best buy of the season. I highly encourage you to run out and get it in multiple colors (I did) -- it's a heavy gauge knit that feels extremely substantial, is a little longer than a regular sweater, and has the perfect scoop neck line for all kinds of long necklaces and scarves.

Levi's Curve denim is seriously the best jeans I've found available at a reasonable price point. I love my jeans, but can't really stomach the thought of blowing $200 on a pair (7FAM, I'm looking at you!!). I've always had an issue with jeans riding down, so the bold curve denim is really a lifesaver. The skinny jean is the perfect Fall jean; I've worn it cuffed with my booties and tucked into taller boots.

Lastly, the accessories. The mustard scarf adds a nice pop of color and the Sam Edelmans - perfection. I always feel more chic with them on.

Small note: One Outfit Monday is a new series I'm starting on the blog, where I feature one outfit idea every Monday to kick start your week right.

November 14, 2013

Fall beauty favorites

At the recent Sephora VIB sale, I went a little crazy and spent way too much money. The only redeeming thing about the entire endeavor is that I haven't bought anything at Sephora all year and focused on buying really good skincare-related stuff, like an Origins set and a cleansing water from Koh Gen Do (which is beautiful; so soothing and effective on the skin). I was such a good girl.

I've been transitioning my makeup to more muted colors as the weather cools down, so I'm here to share some recent Fall makeup favorites:

Fall beauty

For the lips: Buxom lip gloss in Dolly ($19) and Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Honey ($6.50)
I love a berry stained lip for the Fall, but I run around a lot at work and can't deal with the upkeep of a really dark stained lip. The Revlon balm stain is a firm favorite, and I've recently been loving Honey, which is a dark pink-ish shade that leans mauve-y on my lips. It just makes me look very polished without seeming too "done" - the perfect look in my book.

The Buxom lip gloss - oh the praises I can heap on this little glossy tube. I was into gloss for a hot second when I was 13 and first discovered makeup but never really got into it until now. I am obsessed. There's a tingly, minty feeling when you first put it on your lips, and then it settles into the most soothing vanilla flavor. It's moisturizing, not too sticky, and the plummy color it gives to the lips is really beautiful for Fall.

For the eyes: Maybelline 24h eyeshadow Bad to the Bronze ($6)
Can't say that I'm the type to fuss with eyeshadow (I prefer liquid eyeliner, cat eye flick, done in 5 seconds), but this is the one-sweep shade for the lid. One swipe with the finger and a few coats of mascara and it's the perfect eye look for those days when you want a bright lip and liquid eyeliner just seems a little too much.

For the cheeks: NARS blush in Sin ($29) and Benefit Watt's Up! highlighter ($30)
I think my love for NARS blush is well-documented. The two blushes I use the most frequently are NARS, and Sin is no exception. Just buttery soft, imparts the perfect color, stays on forever. I don't personally own Sin yet unfortunately (I own its close cousin, Doceur - which is also a perfect shade for the fall), but I think its berry shimmer is super beautiful and might just take the plunge as a Christmas gift to myself.

The Benefit highlighter is not something I thought I would like - I'm perfectly content with my Dior Amber Diamond, thank you very much. But when I received this as part of my Sephora birthday gift, I had to try it, and now I'm in love. It's a light champagne shade that works really well as an inner corner highlight or in the bow of your lip. I think my travel sized one is a little too small for the cheeks (mine leaves these weird stripes that I then need to furiously blend out), but I think the full-sized one with the sponge at the end would be beautiful as a soft highlight.

November 12, 2013

One Thing Last Week: I cut my hair!

Hair is a funny little thing. I cut my hair this weekend, the first time in a long time that I've had short-ish hair. I've forgotten what a good haircut can do for you -- I feel sassier, lighter, freer. I can wash my hair at night and expect to go to bed with dry hair. I've cut out all the tangled messes of the past year and have emerged anew!!

Got my hair cut at Sune. Jennifer is amazing, highly recommend. They gave me an amazing head massage too, during a really intense shampoo/ conditioning session.

p/s It's good to be back.

September 16, 2013

Some good reads this week: Sept 16th

1) Business of Fashion (one of my all-time favorite websites) interviews Linda Wells, Allure's editor. My favorite quote comes at the end: "It takes work. You have to learn everything and keep your eyes open and push things beyond their ability and do things before you get recognition for it."

2) Why expensive things seem so much better.

3) The 9th issue of Kinfolk is out! The theme this issue is Weekends. Kinfolk is such a thoughtfully curated magazine and I can't wait to get my hands on this issue.

4) I'm also really excited about this Skillshare class: The Art of Modern Calligraphy by Molly Jacques. It's 20% off for a limited time, bringing the price of this online class to only $16.

5) The Mindy Project's second season premieres tomorrow, so this old profile on Mindy Kaling (one the most hilarious people on television) needs to be revived.

6) Support the arts - the New York Opera has turned to Kickstarter to raise $1M by the end of September. This makes me so sad.

Image is Emily McDowell's "Strangers on the Internet" print. One of my favorite illustrators.

September 11, 2013

Fall capsule wardrobe: boy style

Back with a new installment of a capsule wardrobe for boy style: the Fall edition (previous summer edition here)! This was highly requested (by one person, haha), but I found it extremely challenging to provide a Fall style blog post for men that was actually useful and not "go buy a well-fitting pair of pants." We're focusing on casual wear instead of business wear because, let's be real, I'm just going to point you in the direction of Brooks Brothers or the J.Crew men's store anyway; I know nothing about suits and ties except that boys look 200% better in one.

So swapping out the "extras" for a slightly more stylish Fall is what I came up with. The basics remain the same - button up shirts, cotton tees, jeans, khakis, etc. But mere clothes do not an outfit make, and my suggestions fall into 3 categories: outerwear, shoes, and colors.

men's casual fall

Outerwear: J.Crew cotton-cashmere sweater ($78), Uniqlo ultra-light down vest ($49.90), Eddie Bauer jacket ($199)
Shoes: Sperry Topsider oxfords ($72), H&M suede desert boots ($80), Lord & Taylor leather monkstrap shoes ($110)

Shawl-collar sweater. This J.Crew sweater might not look like much in this picture, but in real life it is soft and adorable. I think the shawl collar adds some interest without coming across too WASPy or fratty, and it levels up the ordinary wool sweater with a little collar extra without being too over the top.

Down vest. Daniel, I think it is fair to say, is obsessed with his Uniqlo ULD vest. He wears it almost everyday to work and it adds warmth without bulk, goes with virtually everything, and adds a little sporty touch to a regular Brooks Brothers button up and pants. I like this vest because let's face it, I'm obsessed with Uniqlo and I know that this vest is awesome.

Army jacket. I think that any army green jacket would be fine, but I like this Eddie Bauer one because it sounds fancy and very multi-functional. Like if you worked for a major oil company and went fishing on the weekends, for example. I think this would be a good jacket for you ;) Army green goes with everything. It makes every outfit look more put together and therefore more awesome. I really have no idea why more people don't wear army green jackets.

Oxfords with colored soles. Pretty sure this trend has passed but you know what? I don't care. I love this look. I think it's such a fun way to jazz up shoes without going too crazy. I especially like this navy/orange combo. Also think this goes with everything, and would look amazing with the grey sweater, a dark pair of jeans, and some shades.

Desert boots. Fall classic. I think every boy should run out and get one of these. These are pretty affordable from H&M and are real suede; the taupe color means it goes with everything.

Monkstrap shoes. When I first saw the name I thought it was a joke. How much more pleasant that it turned out to be an awesome style of shoes? My boss has a pair like this, I think it's so much cooler and more unique than a regular pair of lace ups or oxfords. I really like the dark brown color on this pair, and think it will look really nice at work too, depending on how the leather holds up and looks in real life.

And finally - color. Jewel tones are perfect for the Fall and aren't just for the ladies! I think a pop of dark purple would be nice as a shirt or a sweater - it's muted enough so that it doesn't come across as overly effeminate, and goes really nicely with all the other colors like navy, dark green, and grey.

I hope this was somewhat helpful and please let me know if you have any other style conundrums!

August 21, 2013

One thing last week: SF segway tour!

Dan's birthday is coming up but he will be in Virginia for training, so we decided to celebrate his birthday a weekend in advance. I had originally planned an entire day of cool activities, but Stuff Happened as they are wont to do, and we ended up having a late brunch at Art's for hashbrown sandwiches and to the Golden Gate park to walk around and say hi to the bison.

And then came the surprise!

Everytime we saw people on segways whiz (ha ha) about the city, I had always commented how dumb they looked, and Dan had always talked about how much he wanted to ride a segway, how cool segway technology was, etc. This year I couldn't figure out a good present to give him, so decided to gift him a segway tour around the city. I booked a night tour of Chinatown and Fisherman's Wharf and here are some pics:

We look like an intimidating army (not really), but a quick review: I really enjoyed the tour but it could be because we are actually from the Bay Area, but nothing the guide said was particularly new (unlike the SF walking tours! I always learn something new and cool from those). The tour was not cheap, but I think it was worth it for Dan's expression when he realized we were taking a segway tour and for the experience of actually riding the segway. It's a really cool machine that was a little scary to get used to intially, but after a while it was really awesome to climb hills so effortlessly.

And then we had a late and fabulous dinner at Cotogna on Jeff's recommendation - be sure to ask for the focaccia bread at the start and get the corn triangoli. Those were our favorite dishes of the night.

Can't wait to move to SF for more fun SF adventures!!

Last 2 pictures from the SF Segway Tours Facebook page.

August 16, 2013

Resolution check-in: August

I've previously written about my resolutions this year, which were to keep myself more accountable to being more creative, to taking better care of myself and my body, and to saying yes even to situations that make me uncomfortable.

1) Learn something creative every month
I've fallen so behind on this unfortunately! The one thing I'm really proud of though, is how much DEEPER I'm going into my creative pursuits. I'm taking more time with this blog and I'm writing poetry at least 3 times a week. Writing so much (more than I used to at least) has really changed the way I view the world - I take more time with words. My favorite quote from high school philosophy class was Wittgenstein's, "the limits of my language mean the limits of my world," and in many ways this has become more real to me as I write and find the words to describe my experiences living in this strange world. There is so much more beauty in the world the more we speak it into being.

This month: I want to spend more time disconnected from the world and with myself. I want to focus on writing EVERYDAY, no matter how tired or stressed or not in the mood I am. I also want to focus on practicing calligraphy, at least 1-2 times a week!

2) Start treating my body as a priority
This I have to say I have almost completely NOT worked on. This month though I want to bring more lunches to work (I need to build my savings up to move to San Francisco!), maybe run a little more (ha), and hike at least twice a month!

Actually I have been hiking. Just not as much as I did when my job wasn't so crazy.

3) Say YES
I have. I think beyond saying yes though, is also saying yes to opening up of yourself to someone else, to accepting help from others BEFORE you're on the brink of collapse, and offering yourself to others before they ask. I want to work on being a better person - specifically in complaining less, actually helping when I see that others need help, and being better at calling my family or keeping in touch with them.

And finally:
I think the quote above really sums up how I want to be in the next half of this year - more PRESENT. I have found myself drifting off when people are talking, like thinking about work/ what I need to do next/ FOOD. But I think the best gift of all is that of ATTENTION, and I don't really like the kind of person I'm becoming with regards to this.

What are your goals for the last half of the year? How can we work towards being a better version of ourselves?

Image from Thorn and Sparrow

August 14, 2013

Fall uniform

Some startling points of note: 1) dear God how on earth is it already August, 2) when will San Francisco start finally experiencing some SUMMER, 3) yes this is a post about Fall dressing when it seems like summer just started yesterday.

And the saddest point of all: 4) yes I've already started wearing this outfit repeatedly to work. In the summer. Oh, San Francisco.

It started with an innocent pair of boots. They were tan, buttery soft, and the epitome of what I had envisioned to be the perfect pair of tall riding boots. They were also by Corso Como and at Crossroads for a ridiculous $40. I promptly grabbed it off the shelf and clutched it anxiously to myself (while darting my eyes left to right in case some aggressive shopper decided to rip it out of my hands) (we shoppers are crazy folk).

Since then I have not taken them off, except when showering and sleeping.

fall uniform

Pictured: Topshop cream cardigan ($96), black tights (I like Uniqlo's Heattech ones but they aren't in stores yet), Forever 21 boots ($40), Uniqlo silk dress ($70), Madewell tote ($168), Michael Kors watch ($250)

Firstly I have to say that I own that Uniqlo dress and love it to pieces. I would wear it everyday if I could. I sized up because of my pesky child-bearing hips, but the silk is divine and it travels remarkably well. That Topshop cardigan pictured is THE definition of the perfect boyfriend/ fisherman/ slouchy sweater and I behoove everyone to go out and purchase one similar to this RIGHT NOW.

Accessories: you can get the Madewell tote monogrammed (how adorable is that), and the Michael Kors watch is a staple. I've been wearing my hair in a low ponytail (I mean I say this like I wear my hair any other way...) and just focused on glowy cheeks. I've been loving Benefit's Watts Up highlighter on my cheeks - I received a mini version in my birthday gift from Sephora and I don't think I will ever finish it up; I've used mine everyday for 3 weeks now and there's barely a dent.

I have literally worn a version of this uniform EVERYDAY for the past week. It's been great breaking out all of my shorter shift dresses which I can't wear in regular time because my height makes most things I wear look rather ridiculous and disproportionate, but with tights and calf-lengthening boots it all works quite well together.

I do believe the one biggest thing I will miss most if I do get deported back to Singapore is being able to wear boots. Leather is a thing of beauty guys.

August 12, 2013

One thing a few weeks ago: Camping!

Around 3 weeks ago, I went camping with a couple of friends who were plenty more adept at building tents, hiking, and cooking food that they caught with their bare hands than I am. We chose the relatively civilized county of Mendocino and it was such a nice weekend - being away from the city and from work for 2 days. My camera chose to die after the first day, so these are some pictures of the beautiful Russian Gulch state park and our hiking adventures there!

The bridge is really spectacular and spans across this little inlet:

Of course we needed to take a group picture with 50% of it being the ground. My camera was perched on Kevin's backpack because our first attempt to hang it from the tree branch failed (see below):

And as we skipped past patches of poison oak (legitimately thought this was a made-up plant), we landed up at a beautiful little waterfall:

This is what makes California for me: we drove 3 hours out of the city and landed in NATURE and sheer gorgeousness. We stayed in a weird little campsite, but cooked our Costco food and it was just so peaceful and unreal to be sleeping out in the open under the stars.

Ending with my favorite picture of the trip:

May you have many beautiful and transcendent experiences this week!

August 9, 2013

Beauty buys on my radar

My skin has been inept lately. I think the reasons for this are a mix of: 1) crappy lifestyle where I get home at 10pm and scarf down some microwaved dino nuggets (from Costco, seriously the best thing ever), 2) sheer laziness, where all I want to do when I'm home is fall facedown in bed, and 3) committing the cardinal sin of sleeping without taking my makeup off.

Looks away shamefaced.

I know, I know. I need to change my LIFE. But I'll start with my skin. Here are some skincare/ beauty buys that are on my radar, even though I'm fully aware the first step is to actually USE the ones I currently have:

1) Kiehl's Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Masque ($23)
I had a sample that I used to the very last drop and I loved it. It reminds me of the Aesop Parsley Seed Mask but is less than half the cost (!), and though my heart is still very much with my Aesop mask, I’m afraid my wallet cannot be. My skin is brightened and deeply cleansed after use, but it doesn’t make my (extremely dry/ dehydrated) skin tight and uncomfortable, which I find many mud masks to do. All in all a great little trooper and a mask that is next on my to-purchase list.

2) Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm ($28.50)
Caroline Hirons is my go-to skincare guru, so when she says that this Clinique face balm works well and is great, well then. I've been wanting to try the Emma Hardie cleansing balm but it's so expensive and only available in the UK - this balm from Clinique is so much more affordable and easily available (no begging my brother to bring this home for me). I'm running out of my L'Occitane cleansing milk and am looking to shake things up a little with my skincare, so this will probably be the next cleanser I purchase!

3) Nuxe Lip Balm ($19)
Essie Button, one of my favorite Youtubers (Dan recognizes her voice now because I'm always on her Youtube channel...) recommended this in a recent empties video, and that's pushing me over the edge into purchasing it. I've heard good things about it from others as well and my lips are terribly dry. I have no idea why, but SF weather is crazy and cracked lips are painful and not cute. The only thing stopping me is the PRICE. I cannot possibly justify paying 19-freaking-dollars for lipbalm when I have legions of free chapstick.... decisions.

Any beauty buys you have your eye on/ need to recommend to a dry skinned, lazy, overworked and perpetually tired girl? (That was such a poor and yet sadly accurate description of myself).

August 7, 2013

Currently Obsessed: Dainty Jewelry

It's been absolutely berserk lately around here. Work has been very very fulfilling, but also halfway crazed, and I'm also trying to kickstart my freelancing editing business (hire me! I do fast and affordable work), and dealing with the possible BART strike, etc etc.

In my time of distressed busyness, I think the only recourse is SHOPPING, and more specifically - JEWELRY. In the past I've gravitated towards large statement pieces, but now I'm leaning more towards a daintier, slighter aesthetic:

Top: Dogeared wishbone necklace, ASOS arrow necklace, HL Collection initial necklace
Bottom: Kate Miss bronze crescent necklace, Kris P Studio sterling bar necklace, ASOS ditsy triangle necklace

I love how they add a little interest and sparkle without being too over the top and crazy - especially when working at the store I tend to forget to accessorize because most of my accessories are inappropriate for a store setting!

Alrighty back to work. It's hard balancing everything I want to do (metalsmithing! baking classes! jewelry making! poetry writing! life-living!!) with everything I want to accomplish - does that strange imbalance make sense to anyone else?

July 27, 2013

June Favorites

This post was sitting in my drafts folder and I had completely forgotten about it! Guess this is the week for some June catch up posts.

This month was not one filled with many new products but a lot of really really great memories. Here are a couple of my absolute favorites last month:

1. Duvet covers from Ikea and 2. Ridiculously high thread count bedsheets
I haven't changed out my sheets in forever, even though I bought these bedsheets a while back. They are incredibly luxurious and basically make me feel like I'm sleeping amongst the clouds. I highly recommend splurging (and to be honest, I bought these sheets at an outdoor market. They cost me $30 and are truly magical. My only regret is not buying more) on nice sheets because it makes such a huge difference!

3. Meals with friends
Picture above, dinner with Jeff at Outerlands, which is now one of my favorite restaurants in San Francisco. Just really fresh, clean food beautifully plated in the most surprising of ways. That grassy looking dish at the top is carrots with Greek yogurt, honey, and oats... and it was freaking. delicious. Definite must-visit if you live in the Bay.

But beyond extremely good food (other places I've visited this month include BUILD, a pizza place in Berkeley, with Carrie, and Woodhouse Fish Company with Elaine) - one of the best things this month is spending meal times with some of my favorite people. I don't think I've met Jeff since he graduated or Carrie since I've graduated, so it's always nice to catch up and share some yummy food.

One day when I'm like all grown up and stuff, I will host lovely dinner parties (this is, actually, a real dream - to move into a place where I can invite friends over to hang out and eat together in a very idealized adult world type situation) and basically become Gertrude Stein.

4. Walking tour of Downtown San Francisco
Dan and I went on a free walking tour of SF's Financial District, also known as the place I have sold my soul and life to. And it was just super marvelous. I am a huge, huge fan of the San Francisco City Guides (Gerald and I go on one every time he visits and between us we've managed to cover most of the neighborhoods in the city). They're basically free city tours, with an option to tip at the end, and cover history, architecture, and general gossip.

I think it's so rare to take the time to actually think about the city that you live in. The more familiar a place becomes, the less you feel like you have to actually get to know it. I walk the same route from my office to the store almost every single day, and yet my eyes were opened to the history and just strange facts about the buildings that I walk past without thinking.

These pictures are of some of my favorite architectural detail, including the Banana Republic flagship store, a medieval lobby, and some medieval detail on a building. The hashtag that I would use to sum up this experience is #lookup. This city is beautiful and I fall in love with it a little bit more everyday.

5. Work
It's hard to entangle my feelings about work from my feelings about working in general. In sum, June was absolutely insane. I worked 3 weekends in a row and now I am so confused about my schedule, but my work life this month has included: fixing up an snow ice cart machine, meeting a politician and being on the "corporation" side of the nonprofit funding equation, and coordinating a national TV segment!

There are those days where I'm tearing my hair out in frustration and then there are those days where I leave the office thinking "I have the Best Job Ever Yay." Whatever may come out of this, I am so thankful to have had these experiences in my working life.

That's it for a long and rambly June Favorites! Happy weekend!

July 25, 2013

On the reading list this month

I read so many great books in June (and have read even MORE great books this month, eep - where has July gone?) that it was hard narrowing it down to three recommendations! But here they are:

Learn: Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg
This book should come as no surprise and will not be new to anyone, but I really enjoyed her story and what Sheryl Sandberg had to say about work/life balance and being a woman in the workplace. For someone just starting out (and struggling, to say the least), it was a personal, insightful look into a successful woman's career journey.

Online: The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin
The personal website of the NY Times' bestselling author - I have loved reading this site almost daily and getting bits of advice on how to be happier.

It has very honestly been a struggle for me these past months to be happy, content, and satisfied with where I am in life, and I think that Gretchen's honest, very personal, and very applicable stories have helped me get onto a path of a little less unhappiness. She has reminded me of the importance of making my happiness a priority (which, I know, isn't that weird that I even have to be reminded of that? Such is the lot of ambitious, crazy people I assume.) - follow her blog, there is a lot of wisdom there!

Fun: the Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare
One day I swear I'm going to compile a large blog post about all the dystopian young adult novels that I have read and loved, and this series will definitely be at the top of my list. Cassandra Clare is famous for her other series - the Mortal Instruments - now turned into a film starring the very lovely Lily Collins, but I think that the Infernal Devices are BY FAR superior to the Mortal Instruments.

I don't want to give anything away, but I've only read this series 2x in the past 2 weeks. Clockwork Princess is my absolute favorite - I think Clare writes with incredible sensitivity to dying, and loss, and self-sacrifice for the greater good. There is such emotional depth in these novels and yes, I cried buckets  while reading them. They are THAT good.

Any other good books I should be reading?

July 17, 2013

New shopping principle: closet holes

After coming off a month-long shopping ban and receiving a larger-than-usual paycheck (after a VERY stressful 2 weeks of a ridiculous amount of overtime), I went a little mad at Madewell and Zara, and was left afterwards feeling horribly guilty.

When I was holed up at home with a terrific throat infection though, I was browsing blogs and came across Blue Paper Lanterns, which is Kimmie's blog about living on a $600 annual clothing budget, and was just completely blown away. And then when I saw her post about closet holes - it just hit me as a good principle to abide by in my future shopping, and I started thinking about the holes in my closet.

It's basically: don't shop for stuff you don't need. Figure out what you do, and then only look out for good deals on those items. Here are mine:

Closet Holes

1. Black structured bag large enough to fit my resume folder
I have a beautiful tan J.Crew bag that Dan gave me for my birthday last year, and have received so many compliments on it. But I've been wearing a lot more black to interviews lately, and really need a professional, black structured bag to fit my resume binder in. My parents are getting me a fancy designer purse as my graduation present next year when we visit France (I'm looking at the Givenchy Antigona or the YSL Cabas ChYc - the old version) but in the meantime I threw this Zara bag into my last online order and am hoping it'll work out for now!

2. Black ankle boots
Dan got me the Sam Edelmans that I've had my eye on for my birthday, but I'm looking at getting a black pair so I can wear them when I'm in the store. I like these from ASOS, but I'm also looking for something a little cheaper.

3. Non-basic blazer
My wine-colored blazer from Cotton On is one of my most-worn items in my closet, and I'm interested in getting a patterned blazer for interviews - this floral blazer from ASOS fits the bill perfectly, but I don't know if it's chic enough for Fall interviews because, not going to lie, pretty sure I'm going to be interviewing through next year. Sigh.

4. Maxi skirt
This pin got me hooked. So casual, chic, and perfectly summer. This skirt's from Whistles, via ASOS, but it's a little too expensive, but it's exactly the look I want in a maxi skirt (plus it has pockets!)

5. Simple necklace
Starting to get more into simple jewelry, like this beautiful (and OOS) one from Kate Miss. I want to get one that supports a local artist or is from Etsy - even though it might be cheaper to get from a mass retailer, I want to start supporting artists that inspire me.

6. Black cropped pants for work
The Forever 21 pants I love dearly are OOS on the website and I spilled paint on my existing ones, so I need to find a new pair, stat. Black cropped pants are basically my work closet staple. This picture is the J Crew Minnie Pants, but J Crew pant sizing works weird on me so I'm on the look out for something else!

What are your closet holes?

July 15, 2013

One Thing 2 Weeks Ago: I turned 23!

So I guess nothing very exciting happened last week. Meep. But TWO weeks ago - oh the excitement!! I turned 23 and while it was not the glorious coming of age I have always imagined, it was just simple and sweet. Beyond receiving buckets of texts, Whatsapps, and Facebook posts/ messages, really the nicest thing about my birthday was getting back in touch with people I hadn't spoken to in a while.

Dan brought me out to The House, which is an Asian fusion type place and has an obscene number of stars and reviews on Yelp. And so it begins with an empty place setting and an adorable placemat:

Then came our fantastically designed appetizers - a tuna tartare and some mussels in a laksa-like sauce. Both were phenomenally delicious. Ignore the odd hand. 

The stars of the show were the entrees though - here is Dan very pleased with his sea bass, an Asian Taking Photos photo, and then... my black cod and sliced sushi rolls. I am drooling just looking at these pictures!! It is breaking my heart that I am not tasting the cod in my mouth at this very moment.

The mandatory Birthday Girl picture with me in the mustard Kate Spade dress I wore for graduation and which my mum bought for me under duress of wearing it for my birthday. This picture is for you, mum. And accompanied with a truly delicious chocolate torte with caramel ice cream.

All in all, I think the older you grow the more you realize how little the world revolves around you. It's a sobering thought to say the least, and one that I try to remind myself of everyday ( I sound like a selfish princess but You Know What I Mean). I was deeply unhappy for a while because of all these expectations that I had placed on the day but the sad truth is that you will never mean more to anyone than yourself, and you cannot substitute self-love in pursuit of another person's love for you. The thing I think that aggravated me the most was that it was such a normal day, and nothing felt particularly special even though I! Was! Born! 23! Years! Ago!!

But I think there's something to be said about having a life so beautiful (in all its loveliness and weariness and teeth-wrenchingly frustrating moments) that a birthday can pass like a "normal" day. And that's all the philosophizing I can do right now.

In sum: eat at The House. It completely deserves its billions of stars on Yelp and I had a really phenomenal birthday meal there!!