Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Must-Have Ruche Summer Dresses Under $50

From top left (clockwise): Light denim with ruffles AND on a dress (ooh, sign me up!), Dove dress, let's be pretty together dress, ridiculously fabulous drapey dress (Note: At $54.99, the tiered tube dress is just a tad more than $50, but it is out of stock in my size anyway -- boo!)

Did you see the amazing giveaway on A Cup of Jo yesterday for the Ruche gift certificate? I had never heard of them before but was curious about the online store since they're based in California. I took a peek (a big one that lasted well into the night) and oh my, it is seriously cute overload. I would like to have one of everything, including the above summer dresses. If Nat and I ever did open up our own shop, I would want it to be at least half as awesome as this. Their tagline is "a modern boutique with a vintage touch." They remind me of an Anthropologie meets Therapy meets a tiny hint of ModCloth. I am also a big fan of their affordable price points!

The Quietest Downtown

The Look: This Sunday was hot as heck and since it's not entirely acceptable to go out in one's underwear (yet), I decided on this warm weather outfit -- high waisted, breezy shorts and a mesh shirt (a mesh shirt which, conveniently, lends a similar look to that of a lace shirt but is about a billion times more comfortable in all its soft, seamless glory).

I should add here that I've had a hard time buying cut-off shorts the past few years because they are always so, well, short. Sometimes that makes me feel self conscious, so for the past few summers I've stuck to skirts. Then I saw these shorts at Urban Outfitters, tried them on and was instantly taken with how forgiving and classy looking they are.

The Location: Downtown Santa Clara. When I think of downtowns, I think of busy, loud and bustling places. Downtown Santa Clara is none of these things which gives it its own sleepy charm. It's not a place most people think to venture to, but it does boast its own post office, a fountain and Ibiss boutique. Sometimes, if you're lucky, there are little ladies that sit on the benches enjoying the sound of the birds.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Castle Rock

Castle Rock is such an awesome hiking spot. Just its name alone makes it sound cool and sort of magical, and with all of its crazy rock formations everywhere, it really is. The more adventurous veer off the path and break out their ropes and clips to rock climb. I, however, prefer the easier climb into rock nooks.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Stuff Great BBQs are Made Of

Alan and I went to a near perfect BBQ in South San Francisco this weekend. The grill was fired up for the entire 5 hours we were there which was very impressive to say the least. The glutton in me definitely enjoyed it!

I'm not much of a BBQ-thrower and am more a BBQ-goer, but if you're throwing one soon, here was what I thought made this weekend's 'cue so great:

1) The menu included: garlic butter shrimp, whiskey sliders, a vegetable pasta, veggie sushi rolls, Korean short ribs, roasted asparagus and mushrooms and a berry pie! At one point I wondered if it was possible for someone to die from overeating, but since I couldn't remember ever hearing about this ever happening, I made extra space on my plate to try the chocolate cream pie.

2) Our friend's adorable bulldog, Pig, was there. He's exactly the kind of dog Alan wants and was so squishy and sweet.

3) The drinks were served in a boat!

It would have been a completely perfect BBQ if only it weren't overcast, grey and freezing!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Casual Fridays

First, a bit of back story before this post. Lately, I've been giving my blog a lot of thought, including how to incorporate more things I love and am inspired by. One thing I've been a bit timid about doing (but have been wanting to do for some time now) is posting about my own personal style and beautiful, whimsical locations that make me love the South Bay. When I told Nathalie about this, she offered to snap some pictures of me which was an awfully nice gesture because I knew she would be good at it and would make me feel not as awkward as I imagined I would feel if anyone else had taken the pictures. Didn't she do such a great job? This was her first time ever using a DSLR! I'm having fun with this, which I believe is the whole purpose of keeping a blog, so all right, enough about that then, here we go!
Therapy blouse, Citizens of Humanity jeggings, borrowed, crazy tall Charles David heels (or more accurately, crazier tall than I'd ever normally dare buy and/or wear)

The Look: On Fridays, in my office, we have what we endearingly call "Casual Fridays." Everyone rejoices on this day because on this day, we are allowed, encouraged even, to come to work dressed in our blue jeans. I wear some ridiculously comfortable slacks to work, but still find it thrilling to show up to a place of business with my weekend wear on. I did upgrade my look by trading in my favorite t-shirt for this flowy white blouse which says "I go with the flow" and "I am head chef here" all at once.

The Location: Bernal-Gulnac-Joice Ranch. This is part of Santa Teresa County Park, which is where we do a lot of hiking. There are other trails I like more, but let's be honest, they don't have chickens, old farming equipment or a tiny vegetable garden.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Escaping the Heat

Last night, Alan and I could barely keep any of our clothes on. It was so hot in our apartment that anything weighing more than a whisper was just too much to wear. After cooking dinner, it got even hotter, and so when Alan decided to throw the front door open, I didn't protest, even though we were both sitting around in our underwear. Our neighbors either think we're weirdos or appreciate the free peep show. In either case, I'm excited to head to the City Friday night for Preethi's birthday celebration. It's going to be at least 10 degrees cooler, and we're eating at Starbelly. They serve California comfort food and a thorough analysis of their menu shows a handful of dishes I can't wait to try including 1) lavender lemonade 2) crispy smelts, lemon & jalapeno, Old Bay remoulade 3) grilled local sardines, roasted lemons & pimenton and 4) the asparagus, black garlic, fresh mozzarella, hard egg & truffle oil pizza!

(photos from Yelp)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


In junior high, I began to expand my interest in clothes beyond pink dresses and cozy color-coordinated sweatsuits. I remember consulting the school's dress code and being appalled at the section which states students shall not wear crop tops or other midriff baring shirts. The dress code had a whole list of things we wanted to do but couldn't -- we couldn't wear red or blue (and how we were supposed to express our patriotism I still don't know) and we couldn't wear shorts that didn't skim the bottom of our knees. For the school to include crop tops on the list of things we couldn't wear implied that we wanted to wear them. And who would want to wear a crop top?

I have never liked them and doubt I ever will. They've been popping up everywhere lately, and as much as I try to see them in a favorable light, I still think they look a lot like the boxy shrunken shirts my favorite troll dolls used to wear.

(Image from Refinery29)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Waking up to Summer

Summer is officially here, and one of the best things to wake up to on these warm mornings is a cold glass of iced coffee. If I had more time in the mornings, I would definitely indulge in a Vietnamese coffee more often. It's dark, strong and brewed one cup at a time. Gooey, condensed milk sweetens and balances out the beverage. Just be careful not to drink it too late in the day. I had a glass Sunday after dinner and couldn't get to sleep all night!

Here's a recipe to make your own at home.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Outdoor Wedding Fun

I love weddings. Everyone gets dressed up, eats cake and parties for the love of two people. It's pretty much a perfect combination made even better when the two people are a match made in heaven, like my friends Deanna and Eric who just got hitched this Saturday!

It was a beautiful outdoor wedding. There were so many cute flower-themed details and handmade decorations everywhere, including seating assignment cards, potted flower centerpieces and flower-decorated cupcakes.

It was so sweet seeing the two of them so happy together on their special day. It probably didn't hurt that their wedding was also ridiculously fun. There was a beer pong table set up for guests and Deanna even busted out an accordion!

It was a perfect day -- warm (but not too warm) and sunny (which made taking pictures a bit of a challenge).

My favorite part was when we all got to eat the delicious cupcakes Deanna made. They were moist lemon cupcakes with the lightest, fluffiest lemon frosting on top. If we're lucky, maybe she'll post the recipe on her baking blog Occasional Sugar. Woman's got skills!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cilantro Lime Tilapia

Cilantro and I haven't always been friends. In fact, it wasn't until my early 20's that I decided to give cilantro another chance and began tasting it in a new light. Whereas it once made me gag, now I buy it limes and make it into a marinade.

Earlier this week, I had a sumptuous cilantro lime shrimp salad from the Nordstrom Bistro and have been craving these flavors since then. This cilantro lime fish marinade recipe Nathalie shared with me provided the inspiration for tonight's dinner. We would have followed the recipe more closely, but we were starving and when that happens we sometimes forget how to read. Nonetheless, it was so good and super easy to make. Here's our version of the recipe.

You will need:
2-3 Tilapia fillets
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
2 limes (reserve the juice and a bit of lime zest, depending on how zesty you are feeling)
4-6 cloves of garlic, crushed
olive oil

In a bowl, coat fillets in good olive oil. Season the fillets with salt and pepper. Add the juice from the 2 limes, the lime zest, the garlic and the cilantro. Coat fish in the goodness. Pan fry on medium-high heat on both sides (tip: we cooked ours in our cast iron pan which created a perfect exterior and added about 5 more dimensions of flavor). Be careful not to overcook. The fillets will be done when they easily flake apart. Garnish with cilantro, a thin slice of lime and serve with a generous, buttery mound of mashed potatoes.

Blue and Gold, Soft and Straight

On today's evening walk, we came across a huge golden hill and knew we had to climb to the top. The way the sun was hanging in the sky, it created this soft glowy light. It's so different than the white hot light of the beach that radiates from the sand and browns our shoulders and the tips of noses. But I love them both -- summer is my absolute favorite.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Shades (Not Just For Your Face)

Now that summer's almost officially here and the temperature outside is rising, it can get crazy hot in our apartment. When eating popsicle after popsicle doesn't really help, we head out in search of cooler pastures. Earlier this month we went to the beach, the same beach, incidentally, that we were at almost two years ago, when we were both training for the Wharf to Wharf 10K. The one where Alan claimed he had stepped on a jellyfish and I sort of didn't believe him. Well, this time, there was no denying their presence. There were tons of them everywhere, washed up on the wet sand looking for all the world like pieces of a shiny cellophane bag.

To steer clear of them, we perched our new beach chairs far away where the sand is the hottest and the sun is the most unforgiving. After about an hour of baking, I decided we really needed to get an umbrella. These ones from Suboo offer plenty of shade and have such a cool retro look.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Danish Town

Despite a really painful 5:30 wake up call Saturday morning, the weekend in Solvang was so much fun. On our drive down, we stopped at the cutest bakery in a teeny tiny town that reminded me of The Gilmore Girls.

The most beautiful presentation of fresh cupcakes.

Solvang is a town of quaint overload. (Almost to the point where I wouldn't be surprised if a few shops were fronts for Sweeney Todd-esque businesses).

The deck of our house rental.
Having fun in the limo
Wine tasting!

My favorite wine of the whole trip was this Koehler Riesling. Mmm...

When everyone was all wine'd out at the end of the tour, I subtly suggested that we all fill our bellies with something tasty. And what could be better than danishes in Danish town?
We ended the trip with Danish pancakes. Their thinness reminded me of crepes but still had the fluffy, buttery taste I love so much about pancakes.
This word pretty much sums up the entire weekend perfectly.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

If You're the Bloglovin' Type

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When in Danish Country...

This weekend, I'm headed to Solvang, a quaint Danish village that I've only been to once before for a quick glass of wine and a stroll through town. It's my friend Pearl's birthday and a big group of us are staying in a posh house overlooking the valley. We're hitting up a bunch of wineries, and while I've fooled everyone into thinking that I'm going for the wine, I'm really going (aside from the friend time) for the danishes. Oh my goodness, the danishes. I didn't have one last time I was there, but hear you me, I will not make that mistake twice.

This is the view from our "villa." It looks like there are going to be some awesome views.

(Danish image from Yelp)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Office Space Inspiration

Looking at the same grey monitor, phone and desk day in and day out can get really old, really fast. Lately, I've been slightly obsessed with quirky, low-maintenance terrariums and ecospheres. They can add some much needed color and life to an otherwise drab office space.
1. Various terrarium jars
2. Moss terrarium with handmade clay mushroom
Conference calls would be so much more fun on a vintage rotary phone!
I don't actually use a mousepad at work, but if I did, this one, with its clean design and functional tear-off notesheets, would be one of my top picks.
5. Thomas Paul paper mouse pad
These mugs would make for a really fun coffee break with a friend, wouldn't they?
6. Mustache mugs

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Summer Mixers

This evening I was asked to be the "photographer" at the company summer party. (And I use photographer in the loosest sense of the term.) It's amazing how many people do not like having their picture taken, no matter how beautiful you tell them they look. Shooting with my prime lens, I was also surprised to find how far apart people stand when talking to each other. Every other picture was me saying, "Squishage, I need squishage." Overall, it was a fun time though. Here are a few of my favorites.

This is Stacy. She has amazing hair all the time. It could be that she just does it for work, but I wouldn't be surprised if she woke up on Saturday mornings with her perfect 'do all intact, all by itself. She's seen here with America, our fun-loving, carefree company mascot.

See these? OK, look again. Because these, my friends, may be the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever had. Ever. Upon first glance, they might remind you of that messed up batch of cookies you might have made in your baking past -- you know what I'm talking about, the ones that taste really bready and not good at all? Didn't we all make those at some point? Well, these tricky devils taste anything but like that. They are blissfully doughy in the middle, but conveniently in a chocolate chip cookie form. So while it may not be socially acceptable to eat spoonfuls of cookie dough while standing around drinking cocktails with your co-workers, you can definitely get away with eating cookie dough if it's disguised as a normal party cookie. So clever! Thank you, Gunther's Catering!

And it really wouldn't have been a company party if we didn't have lots of vino everywhere.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Jim's Pancakes

For the past few weeks, I've been on this whole wheat bagel with cream cheese and strawberry jam breakfast kick. I marveled at how much it tasted like I was eating strawberry cheesecake for my first meal of the day and felt quietly triumphant that I was getting away with it (with my bagel's whole grain exterior, the breakfast police would never catch me!) This could quite possibly be one of the best breakfast dishes ever, I thought. But then I found out about Jim's Pancakes from a friend. Jim's this dad who makes all kinds of creative pancakes -- from neck bling to ferris wheels (!) -- for his super cute three-year old Allie. Now that's a breakfast.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Erica Weiner Stacking Rings

I'm spending the day in a cafe in Berkeley with my friend Irene. The weather is perfect, the apple-streusel topped cheesecake she brought to share was delicious and I can't stop staring at my hand. A while ago, I came across these Erica Weiner stacking rings (the kind that look like they came in a little plastic bubble from a gumball machine) and was smitten. I was a little wary of ordering them online since the set is randomly selected, but on Friday I was pleased to find that my local Therapy carries her line.

The pear shaped "diamond" ring reminds me of the engagement ring Aidan gave Carrie in season 4 of SATC. I kinda dig it.

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