Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls

I'm volunteering at camp this week so posts are going to be slow. Every year I use my vacation time to take a week off and spend it rocking out with a bunch of girls at rock camp.

I can't say enough about how awesome this place is. The whole mission of the camp is to "build girls' self esteem through the creation of music." To give girls a voice, because too often we are told to be quiet, to be ladylike, to subdue ourselves. By allowing these girls to get loud and have a voice we're giving them the power to make social change, because how can anything ever be different, better, without being talked (or better yet shouted) about?

Girls form bands and write a song with their band in one week (the length of a camp session). On the Saturday following the session there is a showcase where each band performs for an audience made up of 700-800 of their closest friends and family, as well as anyone else who wants to come see the show. Each girl signs up to learn an instrument at camp and while she doesn't have to actually play that instrument in her band if she chooses not to, she does take two hours each day of instrument instruction. They can choose between keys, guitar, bass, drums, vocals, and one session each summer there is also a hip-hop elements class where the girls can learn turntables and how to mix and cut tracks. Each day of camp there is a workshop and at some point during the week each girl will participate in self defense, screenprinting, songwriting, zine making, and a workshop on image and identity. There's tons more fun that goes on but really it could take me days to explain. Here's the link to the camp's site if you're interested:

Besides being an awesome place for campers it is the most unique place I have ever been in regards to interactions between grown women. Everyone is accepted and accepting. There's no judgment and it's all about respect. All the volunteers are so varied in every aspect, it's really magical to watch all these different women come together and have a passion for the same cause.

There was also a documentary made about the camp. It's called Girls Rock! Here's a trailer. I highly advise everyone to find it somewhere and watch it. Like, now.

Oh, by the way, this camp was around way before that Disney movie with the Jonas Brothers.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Fun in the Absolutely No Sun

So...I'm pretty scared of skin cancer. My dad had it when I was younger and had to get a skin graft. It was on his face. They took the skin from behind his ear and grafted it to where his nose met his cheek. It looked like someone put a piece of silly putty on his face for about a year before it healed and started to look normal. Every one of my grandparents have died of some sort of cancer. I'm not like a "don't use the microwave or cell phone" kind of scared of cancer person but when it comes to the sun I'm definitely the one of my friends lecturing everyone about sunscreen and shaking my head at their tans. I'll admit, I was accused of being dramatic when recently I went berry picking and got a slight burn on my chest that I was convinced meant I had contracted cancer right then. Clearly my friends do not know what they are talking about.

Anyways, I am going to the beach this weekend. In my new car. Because I trust it to drive to the beach unlike my old car. Now for some people the beach may mean scorching hot temperatures, bathing suits, and swimming. For Oregonians it means something a little different. Mostly wearing all your clothes and napping on the sand in moderate breezy weather. The most your body will be in the water is up to your ankles, and even then you'll likely shriek and jump back the first time your skin touches the water because it's that cold.

There's still sun though, and with sun comes skin cancer, which means that since I hadn't been to the beach in at least a year I needed an update on my beach wardrobe. Some people wear jeans and tees with a fleece or sweatshirt for when it gets chilly. I wear maxi dresses. They're impractical for really anything other than the beach. I guess if you're model tall or a hippie you can get away with them but I'm neither so for me they are beach wear.

It may sound silly but they're long enough to keep your skin hidden from the sun but loose and lightweight enough to not be too heavy in the sun. Plus there's the added bonus of it being likely the one time you can look like you're in a catalog shoot without looking like...well, an idiot.

These are the dresses I am trying to decide between.

Zulu Dress by Free People in 'Bark'

Sidewinder Slip Dress by Free People

Stargazer Dress by Free People in 'Black'

Here's some detail of the beading.

All will be worn sans footwear. Now all I need is a giant floppy straw hat...

What I'm Wearing Today

Today Portland decided to be sunny and I am celebrating with a sundress and sandals. Not just any sundress and sandals though, possibly my most favorite.

Western Royalty dress by Free People in black (That's the color Free People has titled this. Really it's grey, purple, green, and blue with hardly any black.)

Here's some more detail of the beading. Every time I wear this someone comments on the beading. It really is gorgeous. I don't think this photo does it justice at all. The rest of the dress is a really soft sort of tee shirt cotton that keeps the whole thing from looking too dressy and makes it super comfortable.

And these are my favorite sandals. They go with everything. I don't believe Sam Edelman makes this exact design any longer but they do have something similar out right now. Also Steve Madden copied this sandal exactly with the only change being the heel isn't open and the back of the ankle zips up. If you haven't checked out any shoes by Sam Edelman you really should. The designs are fabulous and very reasonably priced.

Greco Sandal by Sam Edelman

Note: I know I've been posting lots of clothes but I'd really like to be posting more recipes and cooking. It's been hot and I've been busy so that's taken a bit of a backseat but I plan to make some really incredible and simple dishes soon.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What I'm Wearing Today

The sky in Portland can't figure out what season it is. One week it's almost 100 degrees and breaking records, the next it's 55 degrees and sprinkling all day. Sometimes the same thing will happen not within a couple weeks but during a single day.

I have officially given up on weather appropriate dressing. On this overcast, grey, wet day I am wearing this:

Dress by Lucca Couture in grey

Cardigan by Nordstrom BP in Sapphire

Shoes, 'Limit' ruffle flat by Me Too in red

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Quarter Life Crisis

Happy Birthday to me!

Last week my car broke and the repair cost me enough that I decided it was time for a new car. If I was going to be pouring money into a vehicle I figured I should enjoy it a little more. Plus I turn 25 this month and figured a fitting way to celebrate might be by treating myself to a little something. And by a little something I mean a hot red car.

I went in by myself and negotiated and signed (goodness are there a lot of things to sign when buying a car) and accomplished all on my own. It was nerve racking and I woke up this morning at 4am with my stomach in knots, a terrible headache, and just general stress. Without getting into things, I don't have any contact with my parents, which means I've had to learn how to do a lot of "grown up" things on my own. This was probably the most major so far though and definitely had me feeling anxious.

I have to say, in the end I feel really wonderful about things. I tend to have a hard time balancing between my desire to be independent and the feeling that I must know how to do everything for myself and knowing when I really should ask for help. I struggled a bit with not knowing if I should break down and request someone a bit more knowledgeable accompany me but I feel empowered by having done this myself. I feel happy with my purchase and capable and while at times I can still feel like I'm figuring out how to be a grown up, today I felt like I may really have a hold on that whole thing.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

What I'm Wearing Today

Apparently I am having a thing for red lately. Also dresses, but that's pretty standard for me.

Today I am wearing the following dress with a black boyfriend cardigan. I know I wear cardigans a ridiculous amount of the time, especially given it's summer, but there really is a method to my madness. This is going to be a convoluted mess of information but let me see if I can explain.

First of all I love dresses. I feel like they are the quintessential "I did nothing but I look great" piece of clothing. Seriously, people think wearing a dress is this big to do but it's such a simple way to get dressed. You grab a single piece of clothing, throw it over your head, and you're done. Whenever I show up wearing a dress and my friends ask why I'm dressed up I want to fall to the floor from rolling my eyes so hard. The fact that I live in the Northwest where Patagonia passes as dinner date appropriate doesn't really help matters much. I know that is not really explaining why I'm wearing a cardigan in the middle of July but I'm getting there.

By Xhilaration for Target in Tomato Red.

I'm a big believer in the power of accessories and the addition of other pieces in being able to completely change the look or appropriateness for various occasions an outfit possesses. I could wear this dress by itself with a pair of sandals and a wide belt to go shopping or over a bathing suit with flip flops to go to the pool or with a shrug and heels to dinner. Or...I can wear it with the following flats and a black tissue thin boyfriend cardigan and go to work. That cardigan simply minimizes the skin being shown enough for me to get away with wearing that dress to work, which also makes the dozens of sleeveless dresses I own multifunctional and able to be worn year round, which in essence makes them all better investments.

Just let me know if you ever need help justifying a purchase. I'm your girl.

Shoes are 'Amber flat' in Natural by Michael by Michael Kors.

I'm also carrying around this bag today.

Rosette Pleated Hobo by Nordstrom.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Elephant in the Room

So part of my job is to check my boss' email. Most of the time if it's a joke or a chain letter I just delete it since neither my boss nor myself really have time for all that nonsense. The other day though was different. She got an email with the subject line "why teachers drink." I was intrigued.

I opened the email and it turned out it was a bunch of photographs of kids' answers on tests, homework, quizzes, etc. Most of them are things you've probably seen before or really weren't that clever despite the fact that the person doing the answering surely thought they were. There was one though that stuck out. One that continues to make me laugh every time I look at it.

I definitely would have given that kid full credit.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What I'm Wearing Today

This is one of my most favorite dresses. It's comfortable and an excellent canvas for creating so many looks. Today I'm wearing it with a black cardigan and the following belt, shoes (in black patent), bracelet, and my favorite part, the handbag. And the new nerdy glasses of course. The dress is by BDG. and from Urban Outfitters.

I'm not sure who the belt is by but it's from Urban as well.

These shoes are by Ruby and Bloom and are to die for comfortable. They are one of those pairs of shoes that goes with everything as well. I purchased mine from Nordstrom although online at least it doesn't look like they have the black in patent any longer.

This bracelet is from Free People. I love it. It adds something effortlessly interesting to any outfit. Currently it is on sale online for a mere $10.

This is one of my favorite bags. It's by Tory Burch and I got it on incredible sale. It's hard to tell in a photograph but it has tiles affixed to it. Some are a sort of turquoise color and others are mirrored. The squares that look black are really the mirrored ones just photographing incorrectly.

Here's more detail.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Bake It Super Adorable

Cupcakes are having a moment. Or rather, a lot of moments. They may be the trendy treat of the moment but it really doesn't make them any less adorable or delicious.

I recently stumbled upon Bake It Pretty, a site full of the cutest little baking accessories ever. I don't even really like baking but I could not resist these fantastic cupcake papers. Adding to the adorable, everything came packaged like so. Also Javier was apparently very dissatisfied with not being the center of attention while I was photographing these so you get to see lots of him as well.

Here are some other things I got. First up, purple polka dot papers.

Some cupcake papers reminiscent of flowers. Or Mesopotamian architecture. Whichever really.

Treats. The flowers are for topping cupcakes with and while I am unsure exactly what they are made of it is something sugar based and they are edible. I cannot vouch for their taste however as I have not tried them. I have tried the delicious crunchy toffee crumbles and it is pertinent I make some cupcakes with those and promptly gift them before I sit on my bed watching The Hills and eating the entire bag.

These are gorgeous. The green is a really dark blue forest green and the pattern is in gold. They're super sophisticated and I can't wait to have an occasion to use them.

These are some of my favorites. I can see them working for so many different occasions. I have a birthday coming up...I may just use them to celebrate myself.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Four Eyes

I have worn glasses since I was five years old. There were a lot of really bad frame choices made while I was growing up. I had huge bright red plastic frames that took up half my face at one point. There were pink rectangular plastic frames, blue wire oval frames with a tiny dog sticker I stuck in the corner of one of the lenses...the list goes on.

It wasn't until I was quite a bit older that I realized there were actually some really fantastic eyeglasses to be had. And when I was old enough to pay for them myself, that's when the real fun began.

I recently had an eye exam and discovered my prescription has changed yet again. I already have a couple pairs of Chanel frames and I could have just had the lenses changed out (and still plan to) but what fun would that be? If I have to live my life with a pair of glasses resting on my face I am going to fully milk that situation for something to shop for.

These are my newest pair. I was looking for something very geek chic. Nerdy yet something very cute at the same time. I tried on about a billion (real number: 30ish) pairs of frames before trying these on and throwing all other options out. I immediately loved them. They're by Tory Burch although I can't find a name or style number. If I do though I will be sure to update. Also, they come with a very fun gold metallic case.

Also, unlike the tall and lanky blonde Free People models that is actually me.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

High Violet by The National

A friend once made me a mix CD and I complained about one of the songs on it. It was painfully sad. It made my heart break to listen to it. He responded to my grievance by saying "People search their whole lives for the saddest song in the world."

That's sort of how I feel about this album. Like I've maybe just found the most despondent album ever to have been made. But at the same time you want more. You want to just absorb it all and relish in the minor swells and find refuge in Matt Berninger's voice.

My one complaint is that this album is over too soon. At just over 47 minutes it finishes before you've had enough but isn't really long enough to want to listen to on repeat without feeling like, well, you're listening to it on repeat. I still very much recommend it though. I mean, how much can you fault an album for being so good you want it to be longer?

What I'm Wearing Today

I do not wear white. I'm already super pale and I don't think white does anything for me. My one exception is Summer dresses. There's something so pretty and sweet and perfect about a white sundress in the Summer. I own at least six white summer dresses and find I am still drawn to them. I have to remind myself that there are really only so many white dresses a girl can wear. Ironically if and when I get married I have absolutely no plans to wear white.

Today I am wearing this little number from Free People. It's called the Paisley Necklace Dress and is so amazingly flattering and comfortable I had to own it in three colors. The details are gorgeous and give it a bit of a Moroccan feel. There's lots of beading and sequins going on at the neckline but it doesn't feel tacky or young or overdone. The hem has a metallic lace ribbon that I constantly gets comments on.

I'm wearing this dress with a very light cardigan, a gold owl ring, and these shoes.

Note: I am not a model and that is not me. It's a photo from the Free People site. I am still trying to figure out a good way to photograph clothing I own.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Goat cheese and arugula and beets...oh my!

Tonight I made individual cold lasagna filled with goat cheese, beets, arugula, peas, asparagus, and topped with an apricot nectar reduction and peppercorns. It was somewhat an experiment and turned out wonderfully.

I'm terrible at giving out recipes. I never measure anything while I cook and there are so many steps that are second nature or intuitive that I forget not everyone knows to do them. This is my attempt at instructions for this meal. Hopefully as I continue to post I will get a bit better at this.

So, for this meal this is what you will need:

Lasagna noodles, arugula, peas, cooked beets, asparagus, honey, rice vinegar, salt, pepper, goat cheese, olive oil, and apricot nectar/juice. Originally I was going to use some garlic but then I decided the flavor might be overpowering and I opted to not use it.

Some notes about the ingredients I decided to use, I use white pasta when using any oil in my cooking because wheat pastas absorb oils very quickly requiring you to use more. The beets I used were already cooked. They are organic and come in a vacuum sealed package from Trader Joe's. I could cook my own beets but in my opinion it would be a waste of time. I enjoy creating beautiful, wonderful meals but I also live a busy life. There are fantastic ready made foods out there and I don't see the problem in utilizing them. Last thing before I actually try to describe how to make this dish, the apricot nectar was a total gamble. I saw a woman on the show The Next Food Network Star make a glaze reduction from bottled pomegranate juice and I thought it was a fantastic idea. I searched the juice aisle for something I thought would be good with beets before settling on the apricot nectar. After trying it I think I would do a balsamic vinegar brown sugar reduction next time, although the apricot nectar wasn't bad at all.

Okay, onto the cooking. The very most important thing you do is start your reduction first thing. You need time to let some of the water cook out and for the sugar (that is naturally in the juice) to thicken. I made this meal only for myself so I used about a cup and a half of the apricot nectar and cooked it over medium high heat stirring frequently. At the same time I threw a pot of water on the stove to boil. When your reduction starts to boil lower the temperature to low and continue to stir frequently. After about five minutes you can remove from the heat and allow it to thicken. Remember, just because you need to stir it frequently doesn't mean you need to stir it constantly. Basically you want to keep the sugars from burning but go ahead and chop things in the meantime.

In case you don't know what pots on a stove look like here you go.

Next I cut up a couple beets into pieces this size...

and asparagus into pieces this size (with two pieces left longer).

Now the idea here is to serve this cold but you still need to cook the peas and asparagus. All you really need to do is blanch them then rinse with cold water. In order to save time (and water! and energy!) just throw the veggies in once the water is boiling and let them cook for two minutes before scooping them out with a slotted spoon so you don't have to keep pouring out the water and boiling more (you'll use the same water for the pasta as well). You can take them from the water into a bowl then throw them into a strainer for a quick rinse before tossing them into a bowl with the other veggies.

As soon as you're done blanching and rinsing the peas and the asparagus go ahead and throw the pasta in. Keep an eye on it and drain and rinse with cold water when done. While that's cooking you can make a goat cheese spread with goat cheese, a touch of olive oil, salt, and pepper. You just need enough olive oil to thin the goat cheese out a bit so it becomes spreadable. If you make too much it's a great thing to put on sandwiches or wraps.

Next up is dressing for the vegetable mixture. I swear by honey, rice vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper as a dressing for anything. Seriously. Anything. I usually just do a couple tablespoons rice vinegar, a couple teaspoons olive oil, a tablespoon or so of honey, and salt and pepper to taste. Vinegar thins out sugars so don't worry about there being clumps of honey. Just do a quick whisk together and toss it with the veggies.

Now comes the teensy bit difficult part. The assembly. Rather than blather on and try to explain how to do this I'm going to let the photos speak for themselves.

First step, spread some of the goat cheese onto the lasagna noodle like so.

Next pile on some of those gorgeous veggies.

Fold over the lasagna noodle back on top of the filling you've already placed and do the whole goat cheese and veggies thing again. Don't at all worry about it being messy. It's far more beautiful not neat.

Fold the remaining portion of the lasagna noodle back over again. Drizzle your reduction over the pasta and top with diced beets, the asparagus spears that were left long, whole peppercorns, or whatever you like.

I know this looks complicated when finished but the whole thing took about 45 minutes and it's one of those dishes that likely wouldn't take much longer to do for more people. If you're intimidated by not having measured amounts to reference just think of it as a salad. Everyone can make a salad. Add as much or as little of any of the vegetables as you like to make it something enjoyable for you.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Arts and Papercrafts

I feel like a lot of modern art is created as a statement. There's always some sort of message behind a work and while that's interesting and an excellent way to create a dialog about issues sometimes having something created purely for it's aesthetic value is refreshing and lovely.

This book is full of art created from paper. Some things are small, some things are life size, some are purely for amusement and others serve a purpose but all of the things in this book make you want to look at them. They are beautiful pieces. There are rooms with stairs made of crisp white sheets of paper, these are monsters full of color and texture, there are painstakingly detailed gardens cut out by hand, geodes made of atlas pages...the list goes on.

Even if you don't intend to actually create your own paper art this book is so inspirational. I look through the pages and absorb the details and use them to paint better or simply become more aware of what I put into my art.

And yes, all those tiny foods on the cover are made of paper.

Playing House

I used to be a live in nanny. Only within the past couple years have I lived on my own, meaning all furniture and home related accoutrement have been acquired within that time. This has resulted in art supplies stored in awful open plastic bins, a pile of pillows and a low table as some kind of East meets West substitute for seating, and a plastic chair.

Now, I have pretty excellent taste but sometimes you just have to make do with the resources you have and living in a studio somewhat limits your options when it comes to furniture. I love my apartment and have no problem living in a small space but decorating can be a challenge, albeit an enjoyable challenge. One thing I've never wanted for this space was for it to feel like I was trying to fit an entire one or two bedroom apartment into a studio. I wanted my apartment to feel like I was embracing the limitations it offered.

I recently decided that it was probably time I get rid of the plastic furniture and graduate to um, particle board furniture from IKEA. Really though, I love IKEA and am not really at a point in my life where I feel ready to fully invest in furniture. And frankly for this city girl putting together IKEA furniture is about as close to building something I'm ever going to get and I do get a way larger than I'd like to admit sense of accomplishment from following those wordless Swedish drawing directions all the way to an actual piece of furniture. Bonus if I don't end up with extra pieces left over.

So, I ditched the pile of pillows and got a love seat which, even as a larger piece of furniture than what was there before, actually opened everything up a bit. I also threw out the plastic chair and got a couple of gorgeous upholstered folding chairs from Anthropologie. I got a real table I could serve a dinner on. It has these leaves that slide in so most of the time it will be sort of foyer table size. And then, after much experimenting with tables of various sizes and shapes and heights I finally found the thing I'm really excited about. A bright teal garden stool.

You may ask why I want to put a garden stool in my apartment but after spending hours building and moving and experimenting with tables of different sizes, heights, and shapes I finally came to a realization. I cannot own a full sized coffee table. Nor do I really need to. I had narrowed my measurements down to a fairly specific size, knew I wanted something round, and with that information set off towards the internet where I found this table. It has a faux tufted look, a flat top, and is the perfect size for a drink and a book without being so large it's in the way. Plus, how could you not love that color?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Glowy Dewy Model Skin

My mother never allowed me to wear makeup when I was growing up. This resulted in me sneaking makeup into the house then taking it to school where I would apply it in the bathroom before class. My first months of makeup wearing consisted of foundation that was too dark, silver eyeshadow, and mascara that inevitably wound up smeared around my eyes when I rubbed them, being unaccustomed to the whole makeup thing.

As I got older I became more apt at the art of beauty but have gone through my phases. At this point I'm all about simple, fresh, and clean. I don't wear eyeshadow or liner and while I love the look of lipstick and how it feels so old school glamorous I've realized it's a special occasion thing for me.

I've been trying to find some makeup that will work for summer. Less powder, more creams/gels that can handle the heat. While I've heard many lovely things about Tarte gel blush I've always been a little hesitant to put a big swipe of bright color on my face and hope for the best. I wish I would have gotten over that ages ago though because I can't see myself ever going back to a powder blush. This product is seriously fantastic. It gives gorgeous color, a great sheen, and blends incredibly. I've been using Blissful and Tipsy and I love both equally. I have very pale skin and they give the perfect glow.

Another thing that gives glow? Highlighters and luminizers. I've typically used some kind of golden powder but in my quest for liquid makeup I stumbled upon this luminizer by Smashbox. It comes in three colors and I chose 'flash' which is an iridescent pink. I ordered it online and when I opened it I thought it could only be bad news. It was sort of purple-y and orange and did not look at all like something I should be putting on my face but since Sephora has such an excellent return policy I figured there was no harm in trying it out. And I am so glad I did.

Seriously, this product is magic. It makes my face look like I have a personal lighting person following me around. Go. Try it.

I definitely own the cutest cat ever...

See? I told you.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


I love lip gloss. It's actually bordering on a problem at this point. I tend to be fairly brand loyal when it comes to some products but with lip gloss all bets are off. That being said Dior lip products are incredible. The Dior Addict Ultra Gloss has such a perfect texture. It's smooth and light and while some amount of stickiness is unavoidable in a gloss it doesn't leave you with that feeling that you shouldn't actually put your lips together lest they stick that way. It sort of feels like if you mixed half lip balm with half gloss. And the colors! Oh, you will never find more gorgeous colors. Dior has perfectly mastered the balance between the sexiness of a bold lip and the class of a more subtle one. It never feels like you're just adding shine to your face. All these glosses have pigment that is clearly visible with some shades being quite brazen yet always sophisticated.

These three colors are my new favorites. The top one is called Pink Trench and is a pale pink color with a pearl shimmer and is the kind of color you can throw in your bag and apply without thinking twice about it because there isn't really any way to wear it wrong.

The middle one is called Black-Tie Plum and is one of the coolest colors I've ever seen. It's definitely dark but because it's a gloss it's much more sheer when applied than what you see in the tube. For me this is more of an "apply with purpose" sort of color but it's a lot different than what I typically wear and I'm enjoying doing something slightly out of my comfort zone.

That last one is called Evening Rose and is my current most favored. It's dark enough to look a little sultry but also completely day appropriate. And, the best part, it has some gorgeous gold shimmer going on.