Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wilderness Retreat

I work at a local business magazine with a staff of 12 people. In an effort to work on the business, rather than in the business for a few days, we're taking off to northern Wisconsin for a 4-day, 3-night strategic planning retreat. I'm expecting long days going over financial data, brainstorming and team-building activities - and, of course, a few late-night cocktails to ease the stress of spending over 72 hours straight with coworkers.

I'm planning to pack easy, comfortable items: a pair of slouchy jeans, an oversize cardigan, cozy scarf, leather sandals, aviator sunglasses, a maxi dress, khaki shorts, rumpled button-down shirts, a long necklace (the antler one featured below would be perfect) and a copy of The Kite Runner if I'm lucky enough to find any alone time.

To kick off the weekend, I'm driving to my parents' house even further north. Unfortunately they only have dial-up Internet - and I'll be completely unplugged at the retreat with no cell phone service and no Internet service. The only piece of technology I'll have is my camera.

I'll be back to regularly scheduled updates when I return Wednesday evening with photos from the adventure. I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

UGG for Men?

I'm sure UGG boots are cozy. In some instances, I almost think they're cute (primarily on young girls). But let's face it, I'm just not keen on the Australian brand's Classic Boot.

I'm even more unnerved by the brand after receiving the latest Saks Fifth Avenue e-mail this morning.

Yes, that's right. A man staring wistfully into the distance dreaming of his new pair of UGG Classic Short Boots. I'm sorry, but I could never respect a man sporting these. Could you?

On another note, I can get behind the Corinth Tall Wedge Boots featured for women.

Wish List: Tommy Hilfiger Ellendale N/S Crossbody

I have to admit I've been a little biased against Tommy Hilfiger after the '90s when scores of teen boys wore oversize sweaters with "Tommy Hilfiger" emblazoned across their chests and baggy Tommy jeans.

It seems I've been a little hasty in blowing off the label over a decade later. They have created my perfect fall bag. I considered spending time assembling an inspiration board of lovely fall bags, but I can't. I've found the one.

Tommy Hilfiger, Ellendale N/S Crossbody in Buff (Style # AW8L188005), $228

(The Web site doesn't list the dimensions, but I've e-mailed customer service. I'll update the product information if I hear back.)

Doesn't it look like it'll just get better with age? I suspect this will come home to me within the month.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fall 2009 Shopping | Part Two: Tweed

I've been wistfully daydreaming about my college days - or at least the romanticized version of college with musty libraries, afternoons spent reading British literature, and professors lecturing in tweed sport coats.

Instead of splurging on a semester's tuition, I'll get my collegiate fix with one of these tweed pieces.

(pictured clockwise, starting with upper left)

Spiegel, Signature Relaxed Tweed Collection: Blazer, $49
Burberry, Tweed Check Hat, $195
Charles by Charles David, Curtsy Tweed Pump, $144.95
DKNY, Grey Wool Tweed Belted Coat, $174.99
Charles by Charles David, Sharpy Tweed Pump, $135
Vivienne Westwood, Draped Tweed Skirt, $255

Monday, August 24, 2009

Inspiration Board: Lords John and Bernard Stuart by Anthony van Dyck

I drove to St. Louis earlier this month to bring my brother to the airport for his deployment to South Korea for his 12-month tour of duty. Instead of turning around and driving the six hours back to Wisconsin, my boyfriend and I made the weekend of it. The St. Louis Art Museum topped our agenda - and became a surprisingly source of inspiration for my fall wardrobe.

Of course, I fantasized about crisp swish of the tartan taffeta skirt in "The Chinese Statuette" by Richard E. Miller. (The painting may have been the real reason plaid is topping my fall 2009 wish list.)

And I was especially drawn to the saturated teal, mustard and burgundy in "Lords John and Bernard Stuart" by Anthony van Dyck.

My camera wasn't able to accurately capture the richness of the colors, but I think this is the perfect autumn palette. Here's how I would bring these colors into my home and wardrobe:

(pictured clockwise, starting from upper left)

Crate and Barrel, Carmen Teal Pillow, $49.95
J.Crew, Silk Tricotine Robin Short Dress, $195
J.Crew, Cashmere V-Neck Sweater, $145
Noritake, Verdena Gold Cup, $27.95
Kohl's, 14k Gold Princess-Cut Garnet Stud Earrings, $87.50
Teal Satin One Shoulder Draped Dress, $186
Thea Grant, Randolph St. Necklace, $345
Evolution by Waterford, Mesa Sunrise Vase, $140

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Recipe: Blueberry Tart

Few things are as quintessentially summer as buckets full of berries - and this weekend I dumped piles of blueberries (5 cups to be exact) into what has now become my favorite summer dessert: a Blueberry Tart.

My mom gushed about the recipe she found in Woman's Day for no less than 20 minutes on the phone last weekend - and a few days later, I found the recipe waiting in my mailbox with a note saying, "If you find a good sale on blueberries, you should try this."

Well, I didn't find blueberries on sale. But after such rave reviews from my mom, I was game for dropping my hard-earned cash on full-price berries.

And you know what? She was right. But it didn't get such verbal accolades from my boyfriend and me - just the scrape of forks against the china, moans of delight and clutching our too-full bellies later.

Blueberry Tart
(serves 12 - or just one blueberry-loving couple)

1 cup plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2/3 cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut up
1 tbsp white vinegar
5 cups blueberries
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp almond extract (I used vanilla extract instead.)
confectioners' sugar

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat a 9-inch square or round tart pan with a removable bottom with nonstick spray. (If you don't have a pan with a removable bottom, don't worry. The tart is easy to remove.)
  2. Pulse 1 cup flour, 2 tbsp sugar and the salt in food processor until blended. Add butter; pulse just until coarse crumbs form. Sprinkle with vinegar; pulse just until blended. Turn out dough and bring together with fingers. (I didn't use a food processor; just a fork to blend - much like making the crust for a pan of lemon bars.)
  3. Press dough into bottom of tart pan. Top with 3 cups of berries. Mix remaining 2 tbsp flour, 2/3 cup sugar and cinnamon in medium bowl. Evenly sprinkle over berries; drizzle with almond extract.
  4. Bake tart 50 to 60 minutes until bubbly. Remove from oven and top with remaining 2 cups of berries. Let cool in pan on wire rack. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Per serving: 200 cal, 2 g pro, 32 g car, 2 g fiber, 8 g fat (5 g sat fat), 20 mg chol, 99 mg sod

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Fall 2009 Shopping | Part One: Plaid

With a heavy thud, each September issue has been landing on my doorstep reminding me that fall fashion is only one calendar page away. I've been pouring over the ads and editorials, dog-earing pages, scribbling notes in a journal and carefully considering pieces to add to my seasonal shopping list.

I'm eager to embrace plaid this autumn. As a Wisconsinite, my view of plaid has been slightly marred by years of growing up around those who consider plaid flannel shirts an everyday uniform - and a pressed cotton version as formal wear. In spite of that, here's what I'm looking to for inspiration:

(pictured clockwise, starting with upper left)

Topshop, Tartan Box Cross Body Bag, $44
Vivienne Westwood Anglomania, Multi New Propaganda Plaid Jacket, $793.65
Yesac, Unisex Tartan Plaid Fedora Hat, $22.99
Vivienne Westwood Anglomania, Multi Bale Sunday Dress, $646.80
Gender Bias, Puff Sleeve Ruffle Front Plaid Shirt, $288
Barneys New York, Plaid Shawl, $129
McQ, Tartan Ruffle Front Skirt, $295

And, of course, a copy Tartan: Romancing the Plaid for my coffee table.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

DIY: Christian Louboutin Petal Heels

As far as unrequited love goes, few situations sting as much as knowing a pair lusty-worthy shoes will never find their way into my closet. The starring role in my most illicit shoe fantasies is Christian Louboutin's petal heels. The soft cascading satin petals set my heart afire.

However, I can't afford to spend $1,000 on a pair of shoes. I have more important things to spend my money on - like rent and groceries.

This didn't stop me. It just forced me to be more creative in fulfilling my fantasy. Earlier this year (okay in February; this post is awfully late), I marched off to DSW to scour the sale section for a pair of satin "special occasion" t-strap pumps. Done. Then off to the fabric store for a yard of matching chiffon.

I didn't take photos of the steps, but here's a quick recap:
  1. Fold the fabric in half.
  2. Cut petal shapes on the fold. This will give you dual-sided petals.
  3. Tie the petals onto the straps of the shoes.
  4. Voila!

The best part? When a petal looks wilted, snip it off and tie on a new one.

And, well, this version was $970 cheaper than the inspiration pair.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Recent Purchase: Banana Republic Jacquard Skirt

And it's official. I've begun checking off my fall wish list. First on the list is an embellished pencil skirt and I found this Banana Republic one on eBay:

I'm excited to pair this with a slouchy tan sweater:

And raspberry tights:

And these shoes:

Disclaimer: The shoes hurt. A lot. But I constantly get compliments on them from both men and women, which slightly offsets the pain.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Object Obsession: Rae Dunn

Either one of these dishes by ceramicist Rae Dunn, each imprinted with a French phrase, would be the perfect catchall for jewelry at the end of the day.

A La Mode Dish, $32

For more of Rae's work, visit her Etsy shop.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Questionable Item of the Week: Gigi Favela Valesca Pump

Gigi Favela, Valesca Pump, $143.88 (sale!)

I'm questioning my style judgment this morning after stumbling across Gigi Favela's Valesca Pump. On one hand, I think they're horribly tacky. On the other hand, I'm hopelessly intrigued. There must be some way to pull these off successfully without looking like a cavewoman (albeit a chic one). Maybe with thick black tights, a tan full wool skirt, a structured tweed belted jacket, and a heavy dose of confidence?

Or maybe I just need more coffee before I e-browse.

What do you think?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Inspiration Board

Photo by Phil Poynter

After browsing the new Kate Spade clothing collection, I've been distracted by tights. Colors. Patterns. Sheer. Opaque. I want them all.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Anthropologie Somerset Cape

Oh, c'mon Rachel Zoe! I adore you, but did you really have to feature Anthropologie's Somerset Cape in this morning's Zoe Report? I had dutifully added it to my autumn wish list (to patiently e-stalk to the sale section) and now I have to hope it doesn't sell out before I get my hot little hands on it. Sigh.

Kate Spade Fall Clothing Collection Debut

Kate Spade's fall clothing collection debuts online today. While Deborah Lloyd included clothing in the spring 2009 collection, this season the clothing line has expanded and is available for wholesale to other retailers.

I have to admit that I'm awfully excited about the fall collection. The pieces have refined, classic shapes, but with the brand's signature whimsy. Here are some of my favorites:

Bisous Bow Trench, $645

Bisous Lace Gail Dress, $395

Madeleine Esti Skirt with Flowers, $325

Madeleine Dot Ruffle Placket Dress, $375

Madeleine Bows Emma Dress, $355

In related news: I need more playful tights in my wardrobe.

Monday, August 3, 2009

On Vacation at Coco+Kelley

Photo via Veer
Cassandra at Coco+Kelley is taking some time off this month and has asked for vacation-related guest posts. See my New England fantasy escape here.

For this outdoorsy ocean escape, I'd keep with the nautical theme, opting for crisp cottons and relaxed knits. Here are some of my top picks.

(pictured clockwise, starting with upper left)

Thread Social, Wool Boucle Sweater Dress, $180 (sale!)
Emitations, Sirena's Gold Anchor Necklace, $34.95
Delia's, Collin Hoodie, $39.50
Kate Spade, Senora Shell Earrings, $64 (sale!)
Anthropologie, Stone & Cloud Skirt, $49.95 (sale!)
Amazon, Moby Dick by Herman Melville, $10.10
J.Crew, Lugano Leather Suitcase, $1,800
Kate Spade, Vanna Espadrilles, $146 (sale!)
Boden, Breton Bikini Top and Bottom, $23 and $20 (sale!)
Saipua, Saltwater Soap, $8

If you'd like to submit your own dream vacation plans, click here for details.

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

A Cynthia Steffe sample sale is coming this week on Gilt. During the last sale featuring the designer, I purchased this gorgeous eyelet bustier which is equal parts sweet and sultry (especially with the exposed zipper up the back).

I don't need this temptation again.

But if you do and you're not already a member of Gilt, click here.
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