I read in bed before going to sleep and usually Scott falls asleep before me so I have to be quiet which is a problem because this book makes me laugh out loud. I insist you go read it. And if you don’t already read Jenny Lawson’s site, The Bloggess, I insist you go read that too. Also she’s on her book tour and, yay!, she’s going to be here in Seattle this Thursday and Friday. See you there, yes? Yes.
We recently replaced our dishes because our collection had become terribly mismatched. People, dishes that all stack together make me feel like some bit of my life is set in order. My very favorite new dishes are these low bowls from West Elms’s Organic Shaped Dinnerware. They are a perfect soup plate, which I’ve professed my love for before. They are perfect for salads and pastas and things that include a runny sauce as well as being perfect for carrying over to eat in front of the television. Which we do most nights. Soup plates are, I’ve found out, sort of elusive so I might justify buying more.
I’ve mentioned this before: I have trouble feet. They are long and narrow with a high arch and oh-so-tender skin. They are Princess and the Pea feet and generally unfit for wearing heels. So I was really happy to find these Fiddle String wedges in one of my favorite comfortable shoe stores, Clarks. The leather upper hugs my feet well and balances out the weight distribution and I don’t just slide down into the toes (and it nicely hides the blue vein that that stands out so well through my pasty white skin). The cork wedges are lightweight and give enough cushion to keep me happy. When I was trying them on in the store a lady stopped to rave about how comfortable she finds them. Sold.
When I was shopping for bicycles there was one among the batch that felt like a machine built to hold me rather than just a bicycle. That is sort of the same experience I had trying these on, they felt like a thing for my feet rather than shoes. I sound ridiculous, I am fully aware, but for some reason I think that you should know this. Or at least know this is how my brain works. A thing for my feet, there you go.
Let’s just pretend that I am wearing a more compatible toenail color here, and that it had been more recently and expertly applied:
The first time I wore these was to a night out that involved a bit of standing (at the bar at Canon where an insanely delicious cocktail including mezcal and shaken egg white was consumed) and walked a few blocks (to seek out High 5 Pie) and then when I got home I went around opening windows and I didn’t take the shoes off first, they weren’t bothering me. My feet felt great later. It was a world record, um at least when it comes to my feet and heels. So I bought two pairs, the black and the orange. I admit in a fit of indecision I panic-ordered all the colors and I can tell you the orange is a softer and lighter color in person and the platinum is a warmer tone and more metallic than shown online.
So, if you normally find yourself unable to wear heels but find yourself desiring a summer wedge I encourage you to gives these a try. Also they are on sale right now, bonus! At: Clarks, Amazon, Zappos, Endless, Piper Lime, 6pm.
Alright I’m ready for more. Help a girl out, have you found any surprisingly comfortable heels lately?
Levis at JC Penny – just cheap, or crap? | Ask MetaFilter. I didn’t know this but I’m not surprised: “TJ Maxx totally sells cheaply made just for them clothes under designer names that are carried in major dept stores (my cousin works designing a lot of this stuff).”
Bicycle Frame Handle by Walnut Studiolo — Kickstarter. A handle that sits low enough on the frame to make carrying a bicycle much easier. The time for this has passed but I’m keeping an eye on their site for when they become available. Via Swissmiss.
Last year I started washing my wavy hair using a modified Curly Girl method*. In short: I avoid harsh shampoos that contain sulfates as well as conditioners that contain silicones, which can be too heavy for my hair type. I wash my hair with conditioner on a daily basis and only shampoo about once a week. It’s been remarkably great for my hair.
When I started researching appropriate shampoos and conditioners the Tea Tree Tingle line from Trader Joe’s was one that came recommended in the Naturally Curly forums. I have been using them ever since. Apparently they are made by a famous salon (I have no idea which) and are just as good as their pricey counterparts.
I had read about people not shampooing their hair for years but I have oily hair and didn’t pay much attention because I figured that wouldn’t be an option for me. It turns out that you can scrub your hair and scalp using conditioner, rather than shampoo, and get everything clean without drying out your hair because conditioners have enough surfectants in them to carry away oils and dirt. This technique has been especially great when I shower in the morning and work out in the afternoon and need to wash my hair again, my hair emerges clean and nice smelling and I don’t have to worry about it drying out. And, I have to admit, there is something very freeing about being able to pile my head full of stuff and massage away like I’m an Herbal Essences commercial. It’s so anti all the “use a very little shampoo and only at the roots of the hair and only a little conditioner but for the love of all that is holy only at the ends of your hair or dire consequences!!!1!” that I was taught in the 90s.
I do use a good amount of conditioner to work through my scalp and down to the ends of my (currently too long) hair so I buy half a dozen bottles at a time but at $4 each it works out to the same amount as a fancy product. Yay!
I’ve included the Tea Tree Tingle body wash in the photo above because it is really easy to confuse the bottle with the other two because, you know, Trader Joe’s is bustling and crowded and it can means you grab what you think is the thing and just want and get the hell outta there without noting that the transparent color of the top of the bottle is slightly less transparent than the bottle you meant to buy. I bought this bottle of body wash by mistake but I have to admit it’s made a great hand soap when diluted and put into a foaming hand soap bottle.
Do you have an curly/wavy hair tips? Any products that work great? Please do share, I can use the help!
Urban Craft Uprising, the DIY and crafts fair filled with awesome, is having it’s summer show next weekend. It’s July 7th and 8th from 11am to 5pm and it’s held at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall. I’ll be shopping and hope to bump into you there!
Summer hasn’t quite arrived here yet but this book has been brightening my overcast afternoons. I’ve been a devoted reader of the Sprinkle Bakes site for ages and am completely delighted by her book: Sprinkle Bakes: Dessert Recipes to Inspire Your Inner Artist. It’s filled with basic recipes and instructions to for incredibly charming and creative desserts. I am completely in love with everything inside.
The instructions are all clearly photographed and explained so you can feel like a rock star while you’re working.
The projects are all so cheerful and unexpected. She provides templates in the back of the book for those things which are a bit more complicated.
These Mehndi Hand Cookies are amazing, right?
I am so very in love with these glittery snow apples. I’m going to make these the moment leaves start falling off the trees.
Huge congratulations to Alice on the release of her cookbook Savory Sweet Life!
I love the way the chapters are divided by occasion, but not necessarily special occasions. “Lunch Between Friends”, “Snow Day”, “Block Party” and “Summer Fun in the Sun” are all chapters.
The recipes are droolworthy but not intimidating, it’s all crowd pleasing food made extra special. There are useful tips for preparation, storing and variations. The photos are bright and clear and not only make me excited to make the food but also to get to the part where you get to share it with people you love. And there are lots of recipes you can prepare ahead of time (including two breakfast casseroles that you assemble the night before, I adore those) so you get more time to spend with people.
This is a salad I’ll be making tonight.
These waffles were inspired by a now-closed restaurant here in Seattle called the Jitterbug which was a block away from the first house Scott and I lived in when we moved here. We miss those waffles too so extra thanks for this recipe Alice!
Is there such a thing as a comfortable high heel? How does one transition from wearing flats/low block heels all the time to wearing high heels? | Ask MetaFilter. Also: Where can I get cute shoes for walking that don’t look like running shoes? | Ask MetaFilter. Lots of great walking shoes that don’t look too sensible in the answers here.
A Wearable Planter by wearableplanter on Etsy. I love the little ones that mount on bicycles!
Bike Season at Oh Happy Day. If I didn’t already have a bike I love I’d probably be making an excuse to head to San Francisco to check out these made by Public Bikes.
Help me avoid a fitting room meltdown. | Ask MetaFilter. Oh boy do I need the advice in this thread. I have been known to have fitting room meltdown during a session with a personal stylist at Nordstrom, so I know I have it bad.
Toothy The Tooth Ferry Pillow & Illustrated Story Book. I’m still a bit tooth focused around here.
Go buy them so we can have more awesome bloggers make more awesome cards.
By Amy Furgeson of Old Sweet Song.
By Melanie Biehle of Inward Facing Girl.
the UGC: Spec-tacular. Whitney updates us on where to buy prescription glasses online, which I’m going to do really soon.
A CUP OF JO: Lookmatic glasses. This is a reminder to myself to get myself some new glasses this year.
In addition to having me along for their party at Alt Summit earlier this year Rue La La gave me a bit of store credit to spend so that I could report on what the experience was like. Sounds like a crazy good dream right? I’m not going to lie to you, it completely was.
In case you’re not already familiar with them here are the basics: Rue La La is a curated shopping site that offers impressive discounts on goods or coupons for women, men, kids and household stuff on a daily basis and travel and local finds for a bunch of cities on a weekly basis. In addition to shops featuring single brands they have collections of things like winter boots or summer dresses or, a recent favorite of mine, things that will get you ready for Sunday brunch (they had everything from specialty coffee to electric griddles). They carry a lot of high end brands and I have to admit I was a little afraid I might not find anything for our mostly practical household but it turns out that I shouldn’t have worried, they have a great mix of both the things you need and delicious eye candy (at impressive discounts). Rue La La is one of the oldest quick sales sites, have a huge number of shoppers and, I can say with confidence, are super nice people.
One of the things I like about Rue La La is that when you buy your first item you pay $9.95 for shipping and for the next 30 days your shipping is covered. I bought a good featherbed, pictured above, which came in a ginormous heavy box and I was grateful for that shipping price. And, oh my gosh people, having a featherbed is like sleeping on a cloud that is warm but not too warm and puffy but not too puffy. When it arrived we unpacked it and laid it out on the bed to let it fluff up (I hereby heart baffles). Scott flopped down on it and refused to leave for a solid ten minutes. We love it.
It is good to keep in mind that shipping is covered when you find something you like because things get sold out very quickly. One morning I found a fantastically priced Diane Von Furstenberg dress (silk print with a twist front, I could have worn it for so many occasions) and in the time it took me to decide between two sizes they were both sold out. Urgh. I refilled my coffee cup and by the time I got back to the table all of the sizes were sold out. Poof. The site has a shopping bag but they also wisely offer a “Quick! Buy It” button that I learned to use for items I was certain about. Each of the shops stay up for 48 hours and if you spot something you wanted but is sold out there is a “Still Want It?” option you can use and the folks at Rue La La told me that about 50% of the time they are still able to get the deal for you.
Rue La La has mobile apps for iPhone and Android and I found the iPhone app was very easy to navigate. I used my phone to buy the gold flats pictured above while lying in bed, it kinda made me feel like a princess so I took a photo from the same spot. If there is one thing I learned at Alt Summit it’s that I’ll use gold flats far more often than I might have thought. (You are secretly jealous of my pink polka dot pajama pants.)
Sales go up daily and most appear at 11 a.m. East coast time, meaning they are at 8 a.m. here on the West Coast. At first I was feeling a little like “everything has to happen so early here” but then a friend pointed out that she was able to shop Rue La La on her phone while on the bus on her way to work in the mornings. Another friend chimed in to say that she browses the new arrivals while she is walking her dog in the morning. I find this completely charming. It’s like we are living in the future.
Scott’s rubber boots got a hole in them so we replaced them with this far nicer looking pair of slip on shoes. These were meant to serve as mud shoes for chores but he reports they are so comfortable they might become shoes for trekking around the city on particularly rainy days instead.
To help you stay on top of sales that you’re interested in Rue La La lets you set up notices. They show you what’s coming up in the week or so ahead and you can choose to have the site email or text you when the shop goes live, and there is a nice little checklist layout for it so it takes seconds to do. I was really impressed with how easy they made it. When you do order something your confirmation and shipping notice emails come from “the Rue La La Concierge” which made me laugh.
Rue La La surprised me with the variety of what they have. I knew they offered lots of clothing and accessories but I also found kitchen appliances and gadgets, home decor, luggage and even modern fireplaces (which I wish we had a spot for, I’d be all over that). I have to admit I was not expecting to find wine among the sales. The bottles pictured above are two single vineyard varieties and I’m sort of in love with the dramatic labels. We’re planning on having friends over to share. I feel weirdly grown up to have such an abundance of matching wine in my house.
One of the things I was most surprised by was how helpful I started to find the weekly travel sales as they introduce me to new hotels or destinations. We’re headed to New England in the fall and twice now lovely inns have been featured that would be perfect (and I swear sound like they are located right inside Stars Hollow). While the dates of the deals didn’t coincide with our trip I am still happy to have learned about a great place I didn’t know about before. Also, I have to admit, the island getaways are like travel porn in the middle of a gloomy day here. Rue La La also has a selection of local deals for the cities of Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington DC and (hooray) Seattle (we’re usually not on those sorts of lists). As with travel I’ve been introduced to spots around Seattle that I wasn’t familiar with yet.
Thanks for letting me a have a good look inside what you do, Rue La La!
Rue La La gave me credit to use to purchase the items I talk about above but all the opinions and observations are my own.
My cookbook club met last weekend and our book this time around was Gourmet Game Night: Bite-Sized, Mess-Free Eating for Board-Game Parties, Bridge Clubs, Poker Nights, Book Groups, and More by Cynthia Nims. I made pretzel sticks with three mustard dipping sauces. I lack proper serving bowls so I went with what I know, jars. Transporting dips in jars is ideal and even better is that at the end of the night you can take the dirty dishes home easily by simply putting the lid back on. You might recognize the jars above from some of my other projects: mug wraps I made for Real Simple, these held the optional cocoa mix, cobbler baked in jars and the big is from grapefruit tarragon infused vodka.
The pretzel sticks were made from scratch and while time consuming were worth it. I couldn’t find pretzel salt on short notice so I used chunky sea salt and it worked great. The mustard dips were easy as could be:
- 1⁄2 cup Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons minced tender fresh herbs (chives, flat-leaf parsley, chervil, tarragon, and/or basil)
Roasted Garlic Mustard
- 1⁄2 cup Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons puréed roasted garlic (for me this translated into one head of roasted garlic)
Smoke and Spice Mustard (my favorite)
- 1⁄2 cup Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
You can find the full recipe for the pretzel sticks as well as the recipe for the Green Pea and Mint Spread with Crispy Pancetta over at Dishing with Cathy Casey and find a few other recipes over at the Gourmet Game Night website.
Green Pea and Mint Spread with Crispy Pancetta and Artichoke-Stuffed Mushrooms. The mint spread was surprisingly delicious.
Olive and Cheese Crakers which I couldn’t stop eating, they are savory but tender like a cookie, and Pickled Grape and Blue Cheese Skewers.
Stuffed Large Pasta Shells with Kale-Ricotta Filling and Roasted Red Potatoes with Bacon-Chive Creme Fraiche which I really loved, like itty bitty potato skins.
We also tried Aged Cheddar with Dried Cherry-Almond Chutney which was great and Polenta Squares with Spicy Sausage and Spinach. Everything was easy to eat with fingers and little fuss, which was fantastic. I didn’t try any of the desserts and I forgot to get photographs of the drinks we tried, Manhattans with Spiced Cherries, Pomegranate-Mint Fizz and Key Lime Gimlets, all of which are made in pitchers making less fuss for the host or hostess. Looking through the table of contents I think I’ll also be trying the Spicy Meatballs with Yogurt-Cucumber Dip and Mini Shepards Pies in the future.
Did we play games? Nope, our group was too large and we knew we would be have plenty to talk about. Instead we used this night as an excuse to put on our fanciest dresses and sparkliest jewelry which we all agreed we don’t get enough chances to wear. It was a huge amount of fun, thanks ladies! I highly recommend doing something similar, wearing your fancy clothes without necessarily needing to be on your best behavior is a huge amount of fun.
Last week I had the huge pleasure of rooming with Meg Keene while we were attending the Altitude Design Conference. Meg was there to speak and she had just started on her book tour for her shiny new book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Solutions for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration.
I wish this book existed when I was planning my wedding. It wish it a lot, and that is a sentiment I’ve heard from a bunch of people. Meg’s site A Practical Wedding, had just started and at that point it was just her writing and starting to figure out how to navigate this big life event that so many industries have their claws into. Her site quickly became one of my favorites as it worked as a place to go get my head straight after looking at sites and magazines that were trying to sell me perfection at a huge cost. And that is exactly what this book is, a thoughtful look at what a wedding should and can be. She works through tradition (and which things these days appear expected but aren’t actually traditional), intention for your self, intention for your family and community and how to navigate all the freaky emotional stuff that appears out of seeming nowhere. It’s like having a very cool older sister who went through all this already to help guide you on what is and what isn’t important. It doesn’t look down on weddings in general, and it doesn’t discount expensive weddings but also helps you create a rocking smaller affair. It helps you anticipate things you might not focus on and tells you that you’ll need help (you will) and how to ask for it. The book is sprinkled with essays from brides (Team Practical) telling about their own experiences, good and bad. The book is written with humor, grace and perspective and never stops feeling like she is talking right to you. If you or someone you know is getting married soon I cannot tell you enough how much you need this book. And get one for the moms involved too. And the bridesmaids. Oh heck, let’s just say all of the wedding party and everybody attending should read it too.
Meg is currently on her book tour! If you are at one of the stops you simply must go see her, she is funny and engaging and awesome. She is traveling across the country on Amtrak and reporting about the trip. It’s giving me serious train envy. Also, she’ll be interviewed on NPR’s Talk of the Nation on Thursday and she lists a few other radio appearances (including Martha Stewart Radio!).
Penhaligon’s Juniper Sling | Lovely Package. I have got to sniff this perfume sometime, I love gin.
The Cadillac of eyeglasses? | Ask MetaFilter. From the question: “I have $1000 in a health savings account and three weeks to spend it or lose it. I’ve decided to buy the world’s awesomest pair of glasses.” I giggled at the suggestion of getting ten pairs of Warby Parker glasses. Lots of suggestions for NYC options here.