Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Steal vs. Splurge: 2 J.Crew-inspired sweaters under $25

j.crew's polka dot sweater for less
Last week, I got the latest J.Crew catalog and couldn't stop coveting this polka dot sweater. That is, until I saw the price tag. At close to $300, it would definitely be a splurge. So I was super excited to find similar J. Crew-esque sweaters at Old Navy this weekend for under $25! Here are my two favorites.  
j. crew and old navy heart sweaters
Steal: Old Navy heart sweater ($24.94) vs. Splurge: J. Crew Tippi heart sweater ($89.50)

budget-friendly polka dot sweater

p.s. They're sold out of a lot of sizes online, but when I popped into a nearby store, I found lots of sweaters still available.

p.p.s. I have a polka dot addiction. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Weeklies 7/23-7/29

philz iced mojito
This week, I had the most amazing iced coffee I've ever had at Philz (the mojito is pure magic)...

henry cowell park
Went on a pretty hike through the redwoods at Henry Cowell Park...

homemade green tea macaron
Ate one of the delicious green tea macarons my co-worker Amanda brought in (she said it took her over 6 hours to make 2 dozen!)...

the penny ice creamery
And had a double scoop of honey yogurt walnut and roasted barley ice cream after dinner.

How was your week?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The one thing you should never ask a woman

People always say that you should never ask a woman her age, but in my book, there's a question that's much, much worse: "Are you pregnant?" This weekend, a stranger who was helping me get dressed for Preethi's Indian wedding asked me. At first it took me by surprise and was kinda funny, but then it started getting really embarrassing when she kept asking me. I started wondering if maybe I was pregnant. But then, at the Western ceremony the next day, I started chatting with the harpist, who was setting up, when she asked me if I was the flower girl. I tried looking at the bright side—maybe I just looked like a youthful 10-year old after all—but then I started to worry that maybe I looked like a pregnant 10-year old, and I wasn't quite sure how to feel about that. 

I feel like every woman gets asked at least once in her life when she's not even remotely pregnant, and it's always super awkward every time. Has it happened to you?  

(Image via Pinterest)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

An Indian/Western Wedding Weekend

I have lots of photos I'd love to share from my friend Preethi's wedding this weekend, if you'd like to see. The wedding events started on Friday with a women's henna party (which was kind of like a bridal shower), an elaborate Indian wedding on Saturday, and a Western wedding in Monterey on Sunday. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Blue summer wedding dress

pompom petals skinny belt
halogen new girlfriend cardigan

felicity & coco high/low hem dress
For my friends' Sunday wedding in Monterey, I threw on a simple blue dress and a bright cardigan to keep warm since the coast can be chilly. I love this dress for its simplicity (which makes it perfect for lazy weekends) while the drapey fabric and swingy skirt make it easy to dress up.

{I'm wearing a Felicity + Coco dress, a Halogen cardigan, Anthropologie belt, shoes and bracelet, and a Kate Spade clutch.}

Monday, July 23, 2012

Weeklies 7/16-7/22

sweet paul summer 2012 issue
This past week was a busy one, and the weekend was even busier! Alan and I went to our friends' two-day wedding event which was so beautiful (pictures coming up later this week). In my spare time, I'd sneak in reading this issue of Sweet Paul—given to me by a super thoughtful friend—and sipping a cold glass of Tejava, which is my official beverage of choice this summer. Here are a few other highlights from my week...

Timex Easy Reader with cheetah print strap
{my first cheetah-print anything} 

elephant bookmark
{a chipper elephant bookmark)

coupons.com logo cupcakes
{celebratory cupcakes at work with the Coupons.com and Grocery iQ logos}

communication hill stairs
{running stairs: my new Saturday morning tradition with Nathalie}

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Office Talk: Have you ever been fired?

There are two questions that sometimes come up in job applications that I never thought I'd have trouble answering: the one asking if I've ever been convicted of a felony and the other one asking if I've ever been "dismissed or forced to resign." Of course, the first one is always easy to answer—no, in case you're wondering :)—but the second one, well, that one's harder.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My favorite kitchen things (dishwasher not included)

pretty patterned bowls
If you could change one thing about your kitchen, what would it be? Without a doubt, I would add a dishwasher! Alan and I haven't had a dishwasher in the last three places we've lived in. At first it wasn't so bad, but now it's a huge pain. I think the only thing that motivates me to wash anything at all is that I like seeing my pretty dishes stacked up together. Luckily I have more things to be happy about in my kitchen than not, like colorful patterned bowls (above)...

my favorite kitchen tools: santoku knife, garlic press, kitchen tongs
 my favorite kitchen tools (my super sharp Global Santoku knife, garlic press, and kitchen tongs!)...
quirky patterned spoons
 my collection of quirky spoons for eating cereal, yogurt, and ice cream...

dash and pinch measuring spoons
and tiny measuring spoons for adding exactly the right amounts into any recipe (or just looking really cute).

What are the favorite things in your kitchen?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Grey Polka

villa montalvo garden
AG polka dot ankle stevie jeans
I love grey and polka dots, so I was pretty over the moon about finally finding these pants. Even though they have an allover print, the polka dots are so subtle that I've been wearing these pants with bright colors and neutral ones alike. I also decided not to be lazy (that's my new motto) and tried this hair tutorial for vintage waves. It was pretty easy—even for someone like me—and the end result of soft waves was really fun. 

{I'm wearing AG polka dot jeans (similar here), Urban Outfitters tee, Zara shoes, and an Anthropologie necklace.}

Monday, July 16, 2012

Weeklies 7/9-7/15

This weekend, I re-watched a few of my favorite movies (Sleepless in Seattle and Lost in Translation), flipped through the new Cupcakes and Cashmere book which I couldn't wait to read, and ate way too much good food. All in all, a very good weekend :) How was yours?

{my friend Sean quit his day job as a corporate recruiter to do this! and quite deliciously, too}

{a closet full of stripes and polka dots makes me happy}

{roasted cauliflower in an aromatic garlic broth. yom.}

Friday, July 13, 2012

Office Talk: Being that really nice person who always has time to help

Yesterday at lunch, my friend Lauren described a really nice guy in the office as "the kind of person who always makes time to help you even if he's really busy." Don't you know exactly what she's talking about? And don't you just love those people? I'm going to make it a goal to be more like that. Anyway, I hope you have a great weekend—got any fun plans? I'm taking a friend out to dinner for his birthday, and we're going to pretend like it's not his birthday, per his request :). 

(Image by Joielala)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Hair Accessories

One of my good friends is getting married this month, and her wedding is a 3-night event. I just ordered a kelly green dress to wear for the Sunday ceremony, but since it's pretty simple, I've been thinking of ways to fancy it up and began going down the path of... hair accessories! I'm the most boring person when it comes to my hair, but all of a sudden the idea of wearing a fascinator seemed really fun (is Dita Von Teese's amazing or what?) Knowing me, though, I'll probably just go with a headband! The gold knot one above is super pretty.  

(Top image of Dita Von Teese via Celeb Salon; second image by Atlantic-Pacific; third image via bhldn)   

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

3 summer party decorating tips

lillet with an umbrella
ice buckets and flowers

This weekend, we hosted my cousin Nathalie's surprise birthday party in her backyard. We were going for a chic summer soiree and just needed to add a few simple things to transform the space. In case you're throwing a summer party anytime soon, here are my three easy decorating tips! 

Tip #1 (above): Decorate with fresh-cut flowers. I placed a few stems on all the tables in small vases or just out by themselves. 

white drink dispensers
white backyard party tent
Tip #2: Use white tablecloths. It makes everything look fresh and clean and is a pretty contrast from the greens, blues, and browns outside. 

doily-wrapped utensils
Tip #3: Wrap your flatware in doilies and tie them up with raffia. Just because it's easy and cute :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A secret swing

red lips and polka dot scarf
Right off an ordinary walking trail is one of my most favorite secrets in San Jose: a hidden swing! 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Weeklies 7/2-7/8

pip studio bowls
How was your week? Celebrating the Fourth of July on a Wednesday kept throwing me off and I woke up Thursday and Friday thinking it was Saturday! But then on Saturday (the real one) I helped throw a surprise birthday party for my cousin Nathalie which was really fun. While picking up her birthday cakes, I saw these pretty little bowls, above, which I plan to use as catch-alls for my bobby pins and other small trinkets. And here are a few other moments from my week...
{the reading chair of my dreams—sleek and super comfy}

passion fruit iced tea lemonade
{cooling off with passion fruit iced tea lemonade}
deer spotting
{deer spotting during a walk at dusk}

lavender bench
{a lavender bench for pondering dreams big (to be really good at something one day) and small (to eat something really good for dinner)}

Friday, July 6, 2012

The perfect summer drink: Lillet

how to serve lillet

At a barbecue this week, someone asked if I wanted a drink and brought me a glass of Lillet, a sweet French white wine. I don't drink very much, but I'm so glad I was introduced to this. It was served simply over ice with a slice of orange, and it was so crisp and refreshing. Have you had it? I've decided I'm going to bring a bottle of Lillet to every party, picnic, and gathering I'm invited to this summer.

p.s. whoa, Lillet marshmallows.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Have a Happy Fourth!

Alan and I've gone to Pismo Beach the last two years, but I think we're in need of a new Fourth of July tradition. Maybe we'll eat cheese and watch fireworks at the park tonight if we're feeling adventurous. My friend Lauren said the tradition where she used to live in San Diego was to have a big marshmallow fight on the beach right after the fireworks. Sounds like such a fun (and squishy!) way to end the night. Do you have any Fourth of July traditions?

(modified image via hayancafe)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Plum and almond galette

plum and almond galette
bowl of plums

In the summer, I eat fruit like it's going out of style. Berries, plums, peaches, cherries and watermelon—it's like a big happy fruit-salad party everyday. At work, the fruit arrives each morning between 9 and 9:30 and there's this rule that each person should take no more than two pieces. Lately I've been picking out two plums for my daily share, but two small plums, sadly, is never enough. Happily, my friend Lauren has not one, not two, but three (!) plum trees in her backyard. She dropped off an overflowing box of these beautiful fruits this weekend, and after eating an entire bowl immediately after she left, I knew I wanted to make a plum galette with them. Galettes are so rustic and pretty and even the name sounds super fancy, doesn't it?

colorful plum slices
egg wash for galette
The hardest part was making the dough (which yields a ridiculously buttery flaky crust), but that was pretty simple. The trick is to use really cold butter and to not overwork it so all your ingredients stay cold. I used this recipe, and adapted it slightly as I don't have a food processor and used really ripe plums. It still turned out delicious. The amazing crust would be good for all kinds of things. I'm going to use it to make a savory breakfast galette next :)

Rustic Almond-Plum Galette
(Adapted from Kiss My Spatula)

1 1/4 cups + 3 tbsp all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/2 cup very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 cup + 3 tbsp + 1/2 tsp sugar
1-2 tbsp turbinado sugar for dusting 
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2-4 tbsp ice water
1/4 cup whole, skin-on almonds, toasted
5 to 6 firm plums, halved, pitted, and sliced 1/4 inch thick (if using small ripe plums, as I did, simply slicing the "cheeks" off (2 slices per side) yields much neater results)
zest of half a lemon
1 egg, lightly beaten and strained through a fine mesh sieve

In a food processor, combine 1 1/4 cups flour, butter, 1/2 tsp sugar, and salt. Pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add ice water, 1 tbsp at a time. Pulse until dough is crumbly, but holds together when squeezed. Do not overmix. (Note: If you don't have a food processor, combining the dough ingredients in a large bowl and using a pastry cutter also works nicely). Remove dough from food processor and shape into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Meanwhile, wipe bowl of food processor clean and add almonds, 3 tbsp sugar, and 2 tbsp of flour. Pulse until ground to a coarse meal. (To process the almonds, I used our small coffee grinder and then mixed it with the sugar and flour in a small bowl).

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, toss the plums with 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tbsp flour and zest of half a lemon. Taste and add more sugar for desired sweetness and set aside. On a lightly floured surface sprinkled with turbinado sugar, roll out dough to a 13-14 inch round, about an 1/8-1/4 of inch thick. (Try as I might, I couldn't roll my dough out past ten inches or so. But it's supposed to be rustic, so I just went with it). Transfer to a parchment-lined cookie sheet (preferably without sides) and spread almond mixture over dough, leaving a two-inch border. Spread and arrange plums on top of almond mixture. Fold and pleat edge of dough over fruit. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Brush crust with egg wash and sprinkle galette with 1-2 tablespoons of turbinado sugar. Bake until crust is golden and underside is cooked through, about 50 minutes. Allow to cool before slicing.
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