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.