Friday, April 29, 2011

Secrets from a Manicurist for Perfect DIY Nails

In my book, if there is one telltale sign of a woman who has really got her act together, it would be a perfect manicure. Since I don't have the patience to maintain weekly manicures, I am always impressed by other women who do. My friend Stacy (the one with the great hair) is one of these impossibly pulled-together women. Her nails are always trim and polished in a classy nude or other season-appropriate hue. Having spent over 3 years as a manicurist, she's definitely got the nail know-how I lack and happily shared how to get perfect salon nails without ever leaving home.

Her nail kit musts: nail polish remover, cotton pads, alcohol, OPI Bond Aid, base coat, OPI or Essie brand nail polish, Nailtiques formula 2, OPI Drip Dry, nail file (180/400 grit), nail clippers, cuticle trimmers, and an orange stick (not pictured).

First, start by removing any nail polish remnants from previous manicures.

If your nails are on the longer side, trim them with nail clippers. Don't ever shorten them (if you have a long way to go) by filing them down as this can weaken them.

Using the rougher side of the nail file, shape your nails. Then use the finer side of the nail file to smooth out any rough edges.

Trim any hang nails you might have. Stacy doesn't believe in manicures which remove a lot of cuticle so her rule is only cut it if it's white and waving in the wind!

Prep nails with a spritz of alcohol. This removes any oils and filing dust from the nails.

Apply a coat of Bond Aid, a nail dehydrator which will ensure your polish sticks.

Next, apply a base coat.

Apply 2 coats of your nail color. Stacy's wearing OPI in Most Honorable.

Use an orange stick to clean up any excess polish that gets on your cuticles or skin. (Having just discovered orange sticks, I wish I had learned about them earlier -- they are so simple, yet so helpful!)

Stacy swears by Nailtiques Formula 2 as a top coat. (I've used it when my nails were splitting and it really helped.)

Finally, squeeze a few OPI Drip Dry drops over your manicure. This helps set your polish so they can dry quicker and they lend a little extra shine. Your nails will be dry to the touch in 10 minutes and fully dry in 2 hours. Manicures given a little extra care and attention (see Stacy's additional tips below) last between 7 and 10 days.

(A big thanks to Stacy and Daniel Garcia for the photography help!)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Have a Pretty Wednesday

Work has been keeping me super busy lately, but I live by the philosophy that there's always time for a little daydreaming and pretty things :) A few things making my day...

*Ampersandity rubber address stamp ($28) -- I want this. If only we stayed put long enough!
*The perfect party cake -- raspberry and lemon flavored: perfect summer party cake indeed.
*A birthday party fit for a cat (via tabitha emma) -- That is one special cat. Just imagine how awesome their parties for people must be!
*I would love to spend an entire weekend in this house.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Spinach Artichoke Dip

This weekend I spent Friday night at a friend's house watching Friday Night Lights and Saturday with family for Easter. It really got me thinking about party foods I could make to share with everyone, and dip was one of the first things that came to mind. This cheesy spinach and artichoke dip was so easy to make and super tasty. There was none of it left on Friday! The first time I made it, I chopped the artichoke hearts into pretty small pieces, but the second time around I left them a bit bigger since having nice chunks to dig into made it that much more amazing.

I used mozzarella, parmesan, and asiago. The original recipe calls for romano, but I couldn't find it fast enough and I didn't have the patience to keep looking, so asiago it was.


Spinach & Artichoke Dip
Adapted from Tiffany's recipe

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup grated Asiago cheese
1/4 cup mozzarella
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a small baking dish.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, sour cream, Parmesan Cheese, Asiago cheese, mozzarella, garlic, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Gently stir in artichoke hearts and spinach.
3. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Top with mozzarella cheese. Bake in the preheated oven 25 minutes. Serve with blue corn tortilla chips.

p.s. love for Tami Taylor and a recap from Friday night's FNL episode

Friday, April 22, 2011

Peachy Keen Skirts

I am really drawn to blush tones for spring and love how it can be worn both casually and professionally. These two skirts would be perfect to bolster any spring wardrobe. Whether for a relaxed weekend or for a day in the office, these skirts are just peachy.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Wigwam Motel

Sometimes when I think about traveling, I imagine it'd be fun to stay in fancy hotels all the time (true story: once for work I checked into a Four Seasons and found a tiiiny pear with a welcome note waiting for me on the dresser. It was so cute and teeny and looked so convincingly to be made of plastic that I had to pick it up and smell it to make sure it was safe to eat--which, I'm sure, is the first thing most guests do upon arrival). But then I see rad places like this Wigwam Hotel that my co-worker stayed in while passing through Holbrook, Arizona, and I realize I'd probably have much more fun and feel much more comfortable (did you read the true story?) in a place like this. Each wigwam comes with a bath, heater, and A/C. I must sleep in a wigwam one of these days!

(photos by Dan Eberhardt)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Guest Post on Blue Eyed Yonder

Today, I am over at Blue Eyed Yonder with a guest post about two of my favorite things: macarons and spring. It's my first guest post ever, and I was beyond flattered when Krista asked me if I would be interested in writing one. I immediately fell in love with her blog when I saw these amazing business cards she made and when I realized she loves Christmas as much as I do. Her blog is one of my favorite reads. Please stop by and say hello!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Pretty Shoes

I still haven't committed to purchasing a new pair of shoes for spring yet (here's the short list of a few of my favorites) but these ones from Anthro are really making me swoon.

(image credit: anthro. top, bottom)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Vintage-Inspired Mantel

One of the coolest things about our new apartment (is it weird that I still call it new even though we've lived here for over 3 months?) is the fireplace in the living room. I've been collecting items from rummage sales and antique shops to decorate the mantel with and just wanted to share a few of the things I've found.

At a recent rummage sale, there were stacks and stacks of old books for purchase. You could fill an entire paper bag for just $5. These ones reminded me of the calming shades of the ocean.

These frames are almost like new--they'd been packed away in a box for so long that I had completely forgotten about them. That's my grandpa sitting on a plane in the picture on the left and my dad's high school diploma from Cambodia on the right.

I scored this chicken-wire cloche from the Anteo in Los Gatos that's closing. (awesome sales of 25-75% off!)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Savory & Sweet: DishDash Beriani and Bouchon TKO

Most people seem to have either a sweet tooth or a salt tooth, but I am all about equality and love both sweet and savory foods indiscriminately. Since I love trying new restaurants for both kinds of food, I thought I'd start sharing some of my food adventures here.

Recently I had dinner at DishDash and ordered, against all my prior prejudices of mixing sweet and salty, the Beriani Dejaj. The description read like a celebration of textures: Thinly sliced, marinated breast of chicken, potatoes, golden raisins, garbanzo beans with a mixture of spices, topped with aged yogurt sauce and served with rice. Everything sounded so lovely, but I worried the raisins might ruin it. I decided to give it a go and was pleasantly surprised, especially by the richness of the yogurt sauce and the subtle punctuation of sweetness from the raisins. This is officially my new dinner-time obsession.

The cookie is a TKO (Thomas Keller Oreo) from Bouchon up in Yountville, and it is a ridiculously perfect cookie. I definitely need to get my hands on a recipe ASAP.

If you're in the Bay, I'd love to know if you've ever tried any of these places or have any similar restaurants you'd recommend!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Hair: The Long & The Short of It

For most of high school, I wore my hair pretty short, mostly because I felt like it made my hair look fuller (I had, and sort of still do, a fear that I'm losing my hair at a faster-than-normal rate). In college, I got a bit more adventurous and would take the bus to the Vidal Sassoon Academy in Santa Monica to get my hair cut by the students for $20. It would take hours, but they always gave me the most interesting cuts. A few years after graduating, I was surprised at how much I loved my hair when I grew it long. Now it's so long that it sometimes catches me by surprise when I move a certain way and feel the length of it against my back. It's also gotten kind of blah, so this weekend I finally decided to make an appointment to get it cut.

Lately I've been crushing on super super short hair styles (they just look so cool!), but I doubt I'll have the guts to lop it all off. Have you ever? Would you ever? Do I dare?

{a few of the vidal cuts I got in college. the one on the left is a side view. i loved how it was cut just so to fit over my shoulder. the one on the right was a faux hawk that I'm still not sure how I got talked into.}

(Top image credits: Whitney Able in Monsters, the sartorialist, the glamourai)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Handcarved wooden love

I have a thing for handcarved wooden spoons. They look lovely and are also super handy in the kitchen. I picked up a few on my trip to Cambodia and use them regularly to scoop up spices while cooking or for stirring sugar into my coffee. You can't beat the price I paid (3 spoons for $1), but the set I saw below at Anthropologie is equally as cute.

P.s. I've been obsessed with the wee wedding cakes below and those handcarved Herriott Grace cake stands ever since I first saw them months ago!

(top image: by me; bottom left: anthro, bottom right: once wed)

Monday, April 4, 2011

In the picnic basket: a guide of what to pack

I have a secret. I've lived in the Bay Area almost my entire life, but I've never been to Napa. Maybe it's because I'm not a big wine drinker, but for whatever reason, I never made it a point to visit. That all changed yesterday, though, when I drove up and spent the day there with friends. The wineries we visited were just as pretty as I expected, but the real highlights were the perfect weather and the rolling hills everywhere that looked like a scene straight from a postcard. And the food! The food. We started off at Bouchon Bakery where I tried their legendary macarons (yum) and ended at Dean & Deluca, the mecca of gourmet goodness. Everything in the store was exquisitely arranged, and we found all the perfect items for our picnic lunch.

We spread out towels by the creek at Bale Grist Mill Park and sat in the sun eating, chatting and dipping our toes in the water.

Now that the weather's getting nice, I can't wait to have more picnics. Here is, in my humble opinion, one of the most perfect picnic spreads of salty, sweet, light and hearty:

1) asiago baguette
2) prosciutto
3) green and black olives
4) Cheese! (Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam, brie, and Humboldt Fog)
5) French potato salad
6) curried cauliflower (similar recipe here)
7) strawberries and blackberries

What are your picnic musts?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Spring Fever Swimsuits, $55 and under

2.Topshop coral stripe bikini, $55

The weather here the past few days has been amazing. Yesterday it was so warm, we stripped off our sweaters after work and drove home with all the windows rolled down. It makes me feel giddy inside. I've definitely got swimsuits and clementines (one of my favorite things to eat while sitting on the beach) on the brain.

(clementine image credits: travholt's flickr, simpologist flickr)

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