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.
· comments  · 02-13-2012 · categories:shopping ·
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.
· comments  · 01-30-2012 · categories:books · food ·
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!).
· comments  · 01-24-2012 · categories:books ·
Best Place to Purchase Large Modern World Wall Maps? | Ask MetaFilter.
Penhaligon’s Juniper Sling | Lovely Package. I have got to sniff this perfume sometime, I love gin.
The 2011 Good Gift Games – The Morning News and defective yeti — Good Gift Games Greatest Hits.
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.
· comments  · 12-20-2011 · categories:links · shopping ·
This is The Bust DIY Guide to Life and I desperately wish I had this book when I was around high school age. They’ve collected things from the magazine and included a whole bunch of new stuff on everything from decorating to beauty to savings and lay it all out in clear way that makes me feel like I could take on the world. The book is thick, over 360 pages, and is like a nice heavy textbook. I appreciate that the projects include real life needs like how to lower the front of a waistband of an a-line skirt and how to cut your bangs so that you won’t regret it. There is information on sewing, cooking, gardening, financing a small business and even a nude paint-by-numbers. Debbie and Laurie, I love the book!
· comments  · 12-15-2011 · categories:books ·
Marie of the fabulous site Make and Takes recently came out with her first book (yay Marie!) called Make and Takes for Kids. It covers 50 weeks of seasonal projects easy enough for kids, and you too, to take on. Each is clearly explained and photographed and they all have a bit of cleverness that makes me want to make them myself. This would make a great gift for any crafty family and would give them a year full of activities while reflecting on holidays and seasons. If you’d like to read more about it go visit the Make and Takes for Kids book page.
· comments  · 12-12-2011 · categories:books ·
Are you near Portland (the one in Oregon) next weekend? I highly recommend heading to The Portland Bazaar. It’s filled with excellent handmade goods from makers curated by Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge. The sneak peaks are enough to make me weak in the knees. And I hear that West Elm is serving breakfast to the first 100 people in the doors, nice. There are also DIY classes, book signings and demos including chocolate tasting and terrarium making. If I didn’t have something to be at up here in Seattle I’d be making my way to Portland to join you lucky things.
· comments  · 12-8-2011 · categories:shopping ·
I got a copy of The Colette Sewing Handbook by Sarai Mitnick and I think I swooned a little. I’ve been a fan of Colette Patterns and her tutorials for a long time. The book contains five principles (a thoughtful plan, a precise pattern, a fantastic fit, a beautiful fabric, and a fine finish) and five patterns (a scalloped-hem skirt, flutter-sleeve blouse, sweetheart neck sheath dress, asymmetrical flounce dress, and a lined dress with gathered sleeves). Each section of the book takes you through creating each garment, teaching you techniques as you work.
The book has my favorite spiral binding so it will stay open while you work, as well as a set of patterns in the back.
The book takes you through the basics, showing tools and techniques very clearly explaining the benefits and uses for each kind.
Each section of the book uses one of the patterns in the back and acts as a complete lesson in sewing a garment from start to finish. This is how I learn, I need a real project to work all the way through, so I adored how this book was arranged. You build your knowledge with each project.
She gives very basic and practical tips so you don’t have to struggle. Every step is clearly displayed and explained.
And of course all the items in the book are things you definitely want to wear. Easy enough to take on, with just enough clean detail to be super cool. Just look at this top, gorgeous. If you want to learn to sew your own clothes and need a set of lessons to start you off this book is perfect.
· comments  · 11-28-2011 · categories:books · sewing ·
update: Well that was fast. I’m all sold out of Dahlia pins for the moment. Thanks so much to everybody who is helping me raise money!
In less than two weeks I’m headed to Camp Mighty and part of what we’re doing is raising money for Charity:Water. I’ve decided to stick with something I know and sell a few of the Dahlia pins which I wrote a tutorial for a few years ago.
These were originally created to be a Mother’s Day gift but I think they’d work equally well as a Christmas gift or perhaps as a hostess gift for Thanksgiving.
Want one? I do hope so! Please visit my Etsy shop called clove+clover for Dahlia Pins in many colors. I have red, dark red, plum, pink, bright pink, yellow, lavender, light gray and dark gray. These are made from my favorite all-wool felt which is lovely, thick and does not have any of the shine that most craft felts display. I have a limited supply of felt, but I’ll be re-listing colors that I still have in stock.
Each pin will also have the secret pocket in the back where you can store a small photograph or message. I’ll be adding more specific photographs to the Etsy listings as they are created. Go visit clove+clover if you’d like one, and thanks.
Here is what some of our other members are doing to raise money for Charity:Water:
I’ll update with more as our team continues to roll out awesome fundraising ideas. If you’d like to read more about Charity:Water and what we’re all up to please see the excellent post at Just a Titch. Thanks to you all!
· comments  · 11-1-2011 · categories:shopping ·
Guess what? I get to interview Jack Bishop tomorrow! You know, from Cook’s Illustrated and America’s Test Kitchen:
He’s in town talking about the Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook, 2,000 Recipes from 20 Years of America’s most Trusted Food Magazine. I’m totally geeking out over this. So, do you have any you’ve always wanted to know? I’m your girl. Post questions here and I’ll bring back answers.
· comments  · 10-25-2011 · categories:books · food ·
I’m petite and struggle to find jeans I like. It seemed like I had a stretch of (long) years there where I just couldn’t find any that fit correctly. (Does everybody in the world have skinny thighs except for me?) But! I’ve recently found two kinds that make me very happy, it’s a high/low situation here:
The first are Joe’s Provocateur in a bootcut fit, I believe the pair I bought were petite. (Updated to add: I’ve just learned Provocateur are always petite. Thanks SR!) I found them at Nordstrom, $172. Now, I don’t normally spend that much on a single piece of clothing but these have been so very perfect to dress up or down that I find it was very worth it. These are bootcut with a high enough rise to eliminate the worst of the muffin top effect without making them feel like Mom Jeans. They are a nice dark blue without any fading or whiskering and a tidy fold ironed into the center front and back of the leg (which will fall out after a few washes if you’d rather not have it).
The second are Old Navy jeans in Sweetheart petite fit, again bootleg. I bought these on sale ($17.50!) but it looks like they are regularly closer to $30. The rise is similarly high but-not-too-high and the darkest wash isn’t too faded or treated looking. I think I might need backup pairs of both styles.
· comments  · 10-21-2011 · categories:shopping ·
Today I’m happy to be a stop on the blog book tour for CakeSpy‘s new book: CakeSpyPresents Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life. Yay Jessie! I live in Seattle and feel very lucky to know Jessie and see how she has grown her business into a real life shop how she manages to spread bits of joy wherever she goes. The book is filled with her sometimes silly and always awesome baked goods reflect her certain style. Cadbury Creme Eggs Benedict? S’moreos? Cupcake stuffed cupcakes? Deep-fried cupcakes on a stick? All these wonders can be found inside along with her illustrations. It’s more awesome in one place than you could hope for.
· comments  · 10-17-2011 · categories:books · food ·
I’m so happy to let you know that my friend Kelly Wilkinson, Make Grow Gather has a new book out! Congratulations! It’s called Weekend Handmade it’s it’s full of useful and fun projects. Congratulations Kelly! And with her book tour stop here today she is sharing some thoughts on Saturday afternoons, enjoy:
Hi everyone! I’m so thrilled to be here at with Not Martha as part of the
blog tour for Weekend Handmade. Over the course of the tour, I¹m breaking my
ideal weekend into its different parts, and posting about each part on a
favorite blog of mine. I’ve been lucky enough to spend a leisurely weekend
afternoon with Megan so it only feels natural to be here for the tour
An ideal Saturday afternoon for me is equal parts action and leisure. And
nothing embodies that more than being in the garden. There are plenty of
weekends that require errands or full days of work, but if I can being
completely indulgent and moving at my own pace, you¹ll find me in our little
vegetable patch in the fresh air, with dirt under my fingernails, planting
or weeding or harvesting.
I created a whole chapter of projects inspired by the outdoors, including
decorated planters and a tea towel apron that¹s equally at home in the
backyard as the kitchen. If I feel particularly ambitious, I¹ll even set up
some sunprint cloth to ³print² while I¹m out back. But inevitably, I get
thirsty. Megan and I both love a good shandy and I happen to think they
taste best sipped out of a big Mason jar. This requires some planning ahead
for me, because I live in a San Francisco apartment. Our garden access is
out the kitchen door, down two flights of stairs, and through a little
alley. My husband and I like to mix half ginger ale (or lemonade), half
beer, and a lot of freshly-squeezed lime while we¹re up in the kitchen, and
bring it downstairs. But if you like me don¹t regularly keep lemonade or
ginger ale, here¹s a quick little trick so you¹re never without shandy
Squeeze 1-2 lemons or limes into a Mason jar
Add a couple tablespoons of sugar, fill halfway with water, screw the lid
closed and shake to dissolve the sugar. Open back up, fill the rest of the
way with beer and you have yourself a homemade shady!
Photo credit: Photos by Thayer Allyson Gowdy.
· comments  · 10-6-2011 · categories:books · craft ·
I bought the Clarisonic Mia last spring after reading about it on a few sites of people I trust. I read the hype from the company (your pores will be smaller! your wrinkles will be fewer! you will glow from within!) but I didn’t really believe it. I’ve been using it all summer and last week I realized that despite faithfully applying SPF 30 I’ve had way fewer breakouts than I normally would. In fact I’ve stopped worrying that I’m going to get an inconvenient pimple (is there any other kind?) before an event where I need to look halfway decent. Which is so, so nice.
I have noticed that my pores seem less horrible than they used to. I think this is the result of a consistent cleaning routine rather than the Mia working magic. But that consistency turns out to be what I needed. I never skip thoroughly washing my face because it’s convenient and quick and right within reach (no more running out of fresh wash cloths). It did seem like a lot of money to plunk down for an oversized toothbrush but I’m hereby declaring it worth it.
I briefly looked at the larger model, the Clarisonic Plus, because it can also be used as a body brush (it holds larger body brushes as well as the smaller face brushes). But I read reviews that the larger one is bulky enough that it is awkward to use on your face. I also considered the Clarisonic Classic, which is as small as the Mia but has two speeds. For the added cost I didn’t think I’d miss that feature. You can easily compare the models over at the Clarisonic site.
One thing I don’t like? The Mia is all smooth rounded lines, which actually makes it difficult to store in or near the shower. I could use a flat end so it could stand up, or at least a little loop so I could hang it. As it is you put it down and it sort of rocks or slides one way or the other.
It comes in a bunch of colors. Most of the colors are in the pastel range, and there are a few patterns that might be exclusive to specific retailers but I bought the basic white one. Since I bought mine they came out with a poppy red model and a fetching Kelly green color that would have been my choice. My other pick is the charcoal gray. You can also buy replacement brush heads, sensitive brush heads or deep pore cleaning brush heads (which I’m going to try next). I’ve seen the Mia at Sephora, Nordstrom and Ulta stores, which all have great return policies. As I type this the basic white one is being sold on Amazon for only $105.
· comments  · 10-4-2011 · categories:beauty · shopping ·
Last night Grace was here in Seattle on the Design*Sponge at Home book tour and I was lucky enough to get to attend the crafting class that she’s holding as part of book tour.
Here is Grace demonstrating stamping our designs into wax. Hi Grace!
Know what we did? We wood burned our own wax seals. And then we got to practice stamping them into the hot wax.
In retrospect it seems incredibly dangerous. I mean, we were sitting in a store with wood floors that was filled with clothing and hanging paper decorations. Our tables were cluttered with exacto knives, hot pokers, matches and flammable wax. It was incredibly fun.
I managed to not accidentally set fire to myself or Melanie, whose hands you see here demonstrating how to do some wood burning. I’m very clumsy so reporting I didn’t burn Seattle to the ground comes as a great relief as well as a point of pride.
If you’re headed to one of the book tour events all I can advise is that you get there early, the line for her book signing wound through the store, down the stairs, out the front door and down the block. Congratulations Grace!
Also in the store that night was this installation by Matthew Parker. These were all hand folded geometric paper shapes and it was, there is no better way to say this, really cool. His business card says “stay rad” on it. Awesome.
· comments  · 09-30-2011 · categories:books · events ·