Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Casual Date

I was bored one day and created an outfit for my friend Michelle on Polyvore. Such a fun and creative website.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Just another Monday.

From Anthro

Last week, I received this cute little note in the mail from Anthropologie. Everything about that store is magical and every attention is spent on the details. It's a shame that 15% off is hardly anything when applied to their sky-high price tags.

Fashionable mannequins

Last Friday was my first time at a sample sale, ever. Knowing that I'm a bargain-hunter, my friend was astonished by the fact that I had never ventured into downtown LA to scope out one of these sales. Over 9 floors of showrooms, some had sample sales, some didn't. There were items ranging from $5-$100, all deducted by at least 75%.

Rough Justice creators

My favorite purchase were these Rough Justice slouchy boots in a deep red. They're extremely comfortable and the heel has a rubber sole, which makes for good treading. I got to purchase them directly from the creators/owners of the company, which I thought was pretty amazing. The best part was that they retailed for $299 and I got them for $40 total! You can find this brand at Endless, Nordstroms, Fred Segal and soon Barneys, Neiman Marcus and Amazon. If you're a size 6, I recommend going to the showroom to snag it for less.

Tip: when visiting sample sales, try to have a list of items you're looking for, otherwise you may get overwhelmed by the amount of stuff you find and end up with things you really don't need.

Peck on the head.

We're savages.
This weekend was sort of a crazy one, but in a good way. We ended it with a cajun seafoodfest from Boiling Crab yesterday. Super messy, yet satisfying.

A couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to have fun with another photoshoot for Regina. Here are some of my favorite shots:



Thursday, June 25, 2009

Black and blue all over.

Blue & Black
Blue tank- Loehmanns, Black poufy skirt- Target, Studded sandals- Vince Camuto

Blue & Black
So I've been acting as a "stylist" for one of my friends lately and we've been trying to put together new outfits for her. One of the things I shared with her is to always contrast an outfit with a fitted and loose item. For example, a fitted tank with a poufy skirt (above), or a baggy tee over leggings or skinny jeans. It balances your outfit without making you look sloppy or (gasp) trashy. 

Knotted chain
Knotted metal chain belt worn as a necklace- Urban Outfitters

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Feeling French.

Photo taken in Versaille at Marie Antoinette's "village."

Today, I'm in the mood for all things French and it all started with me wanting to recreate my Hubby's mouth-watering french onion soup he made for me on V-day. I walked over to the local Trader Joe's in my oversized black sunnies, black top, cuffed blue jeans and black pliage Longchamp bag. As I left TJ's, I had a baguette popping out of my canvas grocery bag and thought to myself, "This reminds me of Paris." Sigh. So that brings us to our topic today...

When I was in Paris this past Spring, every other woman could be seen toting a Longchamp signature le pliage bag. They come in various sizes and colors and women would stuff their lives into these bags. Though some wear and tear could be seen, the handles never seemed to give out! I decided I had to come back to the US with one and I'm glad I did. The high-quality, lightweight tote bags feel as though you're carrying nothing, which allows you to stuff them to your heart's desire. 

But anyway, I joined the Facebook Longchamp fan club and found out they were having a sale on this website: Longchamp Sale. Their prices for le pliage tote bags are quite reasonable, I'd say they're about the same price as the ones in Paris (it's cheaper there). Longchamp has been around since 1948 and remains as a reputable French leather and luxury goods company. I'd prefer them over Coach, which seems to be overplayed, overdone and the prices are pretty similar.

Some things I observed about French women and their style:

* They don't wear berets (such a common stereotype)
* They do wear a lot of black and grays
* A worn-in leather jacket is a must
* Ankle, knee-high, thigh-high boots tucked into skinnies or paired with tights
* Dark tights with skirts, shorts and dresses
* Minimal make-up: either smokey eyes or a red lip
* They know how to brilliantly tie their scarves in the most creative ways
* Layers, layers, layers!
* They love nautical stripes
* Chucks and Levis are hot, and they're American!
* They never look like they're trying too hard

Switching topics... we finally bought a dutch oven pot from the Le Creuset outlet at Citadel for about 75% off the retail price! They come in many bright colors, but I always tend to fall for the subtle colors, like cream. My cousin Gabe lent us his huge dutch oven pot the the first time the Hubby created it so he convinced us to make our first purchase. A dutch oven is necessary when making french onion soup, we've tried it with a normal steel pot and it just doesn't cook as evenly. 

Now, if you're interested in attempting the french onion soup recipe, I challenge you to go for it. Just be prepared to be around for a few hours. I usually hate spending more money in order to make something from a recipe (which is why I don't normally use recipes), but the soup was better than the ones I tried in Paris, really! So be prepared to spend more than $15.

Recipe taken from Tyler Florence on Food Network and improvised by my Hubby

1/2 cup unsalted butter (use a tad bit less if you don't want to get a heart attack)
4 onions, sliced (something they shrink a ton, so add an extra onion if you love em)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 bay leaves (dried ones work just fine)
2 fresh thyme sprigs (again, dried ones are ok too)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup red wine, about 1/2 bottle
3 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 quarts beef broth
(2 stalks of celery and carrots added to the broth portion and taken out when ready to serve)
1 baguette, sliced
1/2 pound grated Gruyere (after trying several kinds, I prefer cave-aged Gruyere from TJ's)

Melt the stick of butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and salt and pepper and cook until the onions are very soft and caramelized, about 25 minutes. Add the wine, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the wine has evaporated and the onions are dry, about 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Dust the onions with the flour and give them a stir. Turn the heat down to medium low so the flour doesn't burn, and cook for 10 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste. Now add the beef broth, bring the soup back to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper (A culinary chef told us to reduce the broth by half for a richer taste, I highly recommend doing this, it takes a couple hours of simmering, but it's worth it. You can add an extra quart of beef broth if you plan on reducing).

Making french onion soup
french onion soup
When you're ready to eat, preheat the broiler. Ladle the soup into bowls (use ceramic bowls, like the creme brulee kind, but larger), top each with 2 slices of bread and top with cheese. Put the bowls into the oven to toast the bread and melt the cheese.

My version of a Croque Madame: 2 slices of whole wheat bread with spinach, prosciutto, gruyere and a sunny side up egg

French Macarons
How can I talk about French things without mentioning my favorite bite-sized desserts? I leave you with my all-time favorite macaron maker, oh how I miss thee.

Au revoir!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Harem pants and more.

Striped harem outfit
Harem pants. Either you love em or hate em, this trend brings me back to the days of Aladdin. Since I didn't want to spend money on experimenting with them, I dug up a pair of old pants my gramma was getting rid of. With a bit of hemming here and there done by my mom, I had pair of harem pants for $0!

$$$ saving tip: Dig through your gramma, aunt or mom's closet for old clothing items that can be altered into something modern. Fashion does repeat itself. 

Red shoesStriped harem pants
I can't get enough of my red patent leather pumps from Ross, which I bought a few years ago. I think shoes should be comfortable, which you cannot find at a Payless, F21, Target and so forth. Spend a little more and go for comfort rather than something super-trendy. Trends come and go, but classic shoes remain.

I don't know about you, but my skin becomes a mirror for others in the summer and it drives me crazy. So I was grateful when Allure magazine had an article on Going to the Matte by J. Courtney Sullivan. Some helpful suggestions:

1. Wash Right- Use a face wash that contains 2% salicylic acid to help break down oil in pores without overdrying skin.

2. Don't Scrimp on Sunblock- UV light takes water out of your skin and increases the size of sebaceous glands, stimulating oil-production (I highly recommend La Roche-Posay Anthelios sunblock for oily skin, it's light and non-greasy. You can find it at your local CVS store).

3. Lighten up on moisturizer- If you normally use a cream, switch to a light moisturizer or serum. Also, try using lotions with salicylic or glycolic acid and caffeine to improve texture.

4. Scale back on makeup- The less you wear in the summer, the better. Perspiration makes pores and imperfections more noticeable and can cause clogged pores, which results to acne and oil production. Try using a moisterizer with silicone, since it doesn't seep into your pores. Mineral powder is a great substitute (I like Bare Escentuals mineral powder foundation).

5. Blot your heart out- Instead of powder puffing your skin until it looks cakey, try using oil-blotting papers instead. They soak up the excess oil and you can use them as many times as you'd like.

6. Become an aesthetician- Try giving yourself a facial twice a week to help control shine. Begin by exfoliating your face once a week and follow up with an oil-absorbing mask (I like ones that contain sulfur or clay).

7. Watch what you eat- Spicy food and alcohol dilate blood vessels, which turn into perspiration= oilyness. Choose foods high in vitamin A, such as carrots, cantaloupe and spinach. Accutane, the drug used to combat oily and acne-prone skin, is a form of vitamin A (this tip was the most surprising to me).

8. See your doctor- If over-the-counter products don't work, consult a derm to see if they can prescribe you topical treatments and antibiotics (I personally don't recommend antibiotics, having gone through it...once you stop taking them, they return with a vengeance).

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sample sales from the comfort of your own home.

Everyone who knows me, knows that I live for bargain-shopping. It has taken a lot of strength for me to peel my eyes away sale items I don't really need. Lately, I've been trying to invest in deals that are worthwhile, items that will last for more than a season, more than a year.

So I opened up my inbox today, to see that ideeli had a Christian Louboutin sale, but for the bags, not the shoes. Darn. However, another sale caught my eye: Hunter rubber boots. I don't know about you, but I've always loved splashing around in puddles since I was young. But as I grew older, I never invested in a pair of good ole wellies. I've been eyeing a pair of Hunters, but they normally retail for $145+. Well, today was my lucky day. Ideeli was selling a pair of the Tall Festival Hunter boots for $54. 

Why are Hunter wellies so awesome? They were originally the North British Rubber Company, based in Scotland by American entrepreneur Henry Lee Norris in 1856. Hunter was awarded a Royal Warrant from Her Majesty The Queen in 1986. "Wellies" were first developed for and named after Arthur Wellesley, The first Duke of Wellington. In 1817, he requested his cobbler to develop footwear that was fit for battle in the muddy trenches yet also stylish enough to be worn to formal dinners.* Just imagine the Queen sporting a pair... I love fashion history. *Info taken from ideeli.com

Ideeli.com is a website that acts like a sample sale warehouse, minus the push n' shove that is normally associated with sample sales, since it may be purchased via the internet. So far, I've seen sales from Marc by Marc Jacobs, Gucci, Karl Lagerfeld, Chloe, Samsonite Black label, Leica cameras and several more. They also have free giveaways! It is by invitation only and for each friend who joins and purchases, you receive $25. Not bad huh? So who wants an invitation? : )

Apparently, Kate Moss digs them too.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

High School Graduations

Blue top with gold embellishment- taken from my Gramma's pile of throw-outs
Brown shorts- H&M, white skinny belt- taken from Mom, brushed gold interlocking bracelet- NYC jewelry design shop, shoes- thrifted
Photos taken by the talented Miss Regina Teng

Regina's graduation, along with several other girls from my smallgroup who graduated, hooray!

Vitamin CGraduation Lyrics
And so we talked all night about the rest of our lives
Where we're gonna be when we turn 25
I keep thinking times will never change
Keep on thinking things will always be the same
But when we leave this year we won't be coming back
No more hanging out cause we're on a different track
And if you got something that you need to say
You better say it right now cause you don't have another day
Cause we're moving on and we can't slow down
These memories are playing like a film without sound
And I keep thinking of the night in June...

As the song states, where we're gonna be when we turn 25, I'm turning 26 in less than a month. It's unbelievable how quickly time flies. Can I say I'm satisfied with where I am today and who I've become? Partially. There are things I would like to change but I think the key is to stay content, but never complacent. In the past two days, I had the opportunity to visit 3 high school graduations. I've come to realize that HS graduations are very emotional because it is a time of parting with the past and awaiting for the future, and I'll be experiencing it year after year as a teacher. It is such a bittersweet moment to see these kids go through high school and make it. It is a major achievement. Whoever said High School was easy was either lying or bluffing.  High school is one of those major stepping stones in life, a time you never forget, regardless of your experience. Perhaps that is why I am so intent on being a HS teacher. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Over the hump.

At the age of fifteen, I was thumbing through a glossy issue of Vogue when a particular face stood out to me. There was something youthful and innocent about the way this model looked. It also helped that the fashion for this spread reminded me of Audrey Hepburn from Breakfast at Tiffany's. And look, the clothing is so classic it would still be chic today! Anyway, 10+ years later, voila! I discover who she is through Fashion TV: Audrey Marnay, a (surprise, surprise) French model. There's something about those Audrey girls...I'm still set on naming my future (if God so decides) daughter Audrey.

Isn't she as cute as a button?

I love these fun and ornate knobs that brighten the minimalistic cabinet. Reminds me of the knobs they sell at Anthropologie, which brings back memories of me sorting through all the knobs to organize them properly, gaah.
Designed by: Alessandra Baldereschi, an industrial designer from Milan.

glazed lemon cookies- I had several lemons sitting in the fridge and didn't know what to do with them, until I drooled over a photo of glazed lemon cookies from Martha's Everyday Food magazine. A new motto: when life gives you lemons, make lemon cookies! This recipe is rather simple and basic:

Makes 24
2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest, plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg, vanilla, and lemon juice and beat until combined. With mixer on low, beat in flour mixture.
Drop dough by heaping tablespoons, 1 inch apart, onto two baking sheets. Bake until edges are golden, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cool 2 minutes on sheets, then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Spread cookies with Lemon Glaze and let set, about 1 hour.

Lemon Glaze: 
2 cups confectioners' sugar (I added another cup because it wasn't solidifying)
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 cups confectioners' sugar, 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest, and 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice until smooth.

Moch and I wish you a happy hump Wednesday!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Feeling floral.

Purple-ish blue petals have been covering the floors of Pasadena like a carpet of freshly fallen snow. They're beautiful, but a pain to walk on (think of walking on banana peels).

I went on an accessory run to F21 yesterday and picked up this gray necklace with ruffled flowers hung on gross grain ribbon. Something about it reminded me of Chanel so of course I was instantly in love. Recently, I've been in the mood for light ruffled flowers, perhaps it's a belated Spring response.

I also had a chance to stop by Urban Outfitters for their Yard Sale, but didn't find any clothing items I really liked. I did however, pick up a knotted mesh chain belt that I plan on wearing as a necklace. Dual purpose= more bang for my buck.

My good friend Michelle also told me about her 3rd grade class performance today, so I decided to play camera-woman and check it out. They reenacted Native Folktales and had costumes, backdrops, props and everything. It reminded me of my elementary school days of acting and the time I had the opportunity to play Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. Those were my few moments in the spotlight. Sigh, pleasant memories.