Friday, May 29, 2009

I got a pedicure at Julep

From K.

My toes are twinkly once again after a visit to Juelp. I was supposed to be at bridal bootcamp at the Olympic Sculpture Park (more on that later). Instead I cried "uncle" on my pre-wedding/new job stress and made my way downtown to the perky little salon run tucked between the Red Lion and Betsey Johnson.

Let's get some things out of the way. Yes, Julep's expensive ($48 for a basic pedicure that comprised a brief soak, foot-and-calf massage, cuticle work, shaping and polish. A much fancier one, replete with scrubs and essential oils, is $74). You could get a spa mani/pedi at many joints around town for the same price (Diamond Nails in lower Queen Anne comes to mind). What comes with the higher price at Julep, though, is peace of mind. All those tools are sterilized. All the seats are clean. All the bowls are washed. No nicks, cuts, scratches or other reasons for squeamishness. And, they have movies on a flat screen, plus Fran's chocolate. And with a state banquet permit from your local liquor store, you and your ladies can nurse the beverage of your choice while they go to town on your tootsies.

They also have this new deal which seems good if you are a monthly service type of gal.

Can't wait to show off my new pedi at my bachelorette tomorrow night! ;)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I have bike guilt...

From N.

I have a bike. I have ridden it less than 10 times since I bought it two summers ago. I know I should "bike to save the world," especially to work, but I am vain. I like dresses. I don't like being wind-blown and sweaty when I arrive. It's a nuisance.

But in L.A., biking can be a lot more casual. Over Memorial Day weekend, I biked from this fleet on this beach. It was easy to bike to yoga and to the farmers market, and I thought, "N, what is your problem? Others do it all the time."

I don't have a lock, which my main lame excuse for not biking outside of occasional weekend rides. I'd like to change my gas guzzling, kill-the-world ways, but am baffled by conundrums like how to bike with my yoga mat, still wearing dresses to work, and how to deal with getting from work to yoga quickly. Is it time to get a step-through so I can bike in a skirt like the Dutch? I have some thinking to do. All suggestions appreciated.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I made lemon poundcake...

From N.

I think baking is messy (I blame flour) and not always rewarding (savory over sweet). So when the baking impulse strikes, I have to run with it.

My sister and I were in L.A. over Memorial Day, plotting a grilled dinner from Food & Wine magazine when I saw a recipe for lemon poundcake. We had already decided on a dinner of steak with avocado cilantro sauce, grilled veggies and heirloom tomatoes with basil vinaigrette, but I really wanted to make that poundcake. She was not enthused.

Then we found the sweetest, most delicious strawberries ever at the Santa Monica farmers market and I was determined to do it.

I didn't have an electric mixer, so had to combine butter and sugar by hand (a fork) until pale and fluffy. Not recommended. But the cake, which includes six eggs and lots of zest, bakes for an hour and a half at 325, which results in a beautiful golden crust and tangy lemon punch. With freshly whipped cream and those amazing strawberries, I was proud of the results.

It also completely burned up all my baking gusto.
You won't see me baking anything sweet again until Christmas.

Monday, May 25, 2009

I finally visited Luly Yang

From K.

I've passed its dainty windows many a time, gazing in at the lofty creations. On Saturday, I finally stepped inside.

Luly Yang reminds me a bit of Tiffany but mostly bridal. Glass cases scattered hither and thither hold such delicate treasures, like shoulder duster earrings of the very best crystal, whimsical seed pearl creations that seem to belong in an art gallery and bags so precious I'd be nervous to carry them lest they drop into a Seattle puddle. It also resembles Tiffany in that it's difficult to browse without a handler of some sort. A willowy, stylish, Vera Wang look-alike in a pale tan trench dress and lofty heels guided me through the boutique on my quest for perfect earrings. Upon finding them, I realized perfection has a price, and sadly, not one I can afford just this moment.

Here's one of the fantastical gowns at the shop (they are redoing the costumes for Teatro Zinzanni)

Someday, if my fiance or I have reason to attend a fancy gala in a major East Coast city I may spring for a custom gown and shoes. How delicious. Here in Seattle, my BCBG frocks serve me just fine :)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I got a new dress (and more)...

From N.

I will never not shop, but I have had incredible restraint lately. Until Saturday, I hadn't bought anything related to my wardrobe since April 5 (except for the unfortunate eluxury incident when I ordered a $113 Loeffler Randall dress and the company called to say it made a mistake and it wasn't in stock. I shook my fist at them, but my checking account thanked me). I can't remember the last time I lasted so long.

Then there was this weekend. My parents were in town visiting, so I dragged my mom off to Nordstrom Rack. I have three weddings this year, am in two of them (one as maid of honor, one as a reader), plus have two rehearsal dinners and two bachelorette parties. It's a lot of dressing up, and Facebook makes me look like I only own two nice dresses. Yeah, the whole world doesn't need to know.

We combed through the designer racks - plenty of stuff marked an additional 50 percent off - but those designer sizes ain't always flattering. Instead, I found a shimmery bronze, loosely flattering Theory dress for $120, Earnest Sewn straight leg jeans for $49, and a purple James Perse button-down for $40. (Full disclosure: my mom bought my clothes. Moms are the best.)

But when I got home, I realized the dress looked very similar to a gold one I already own. Then shopping guru lookrichbitch told me about a Diane Von Furstenberg dress she tried on at the Bellevue Rack. I made a beeline out there. I didn't find the DVF, but instead picked up another Theory dress called Pixel Flower. It's silk, fits great and I love it. Perfect! (I won't reveal it since it'll be on FB soon enough, but the pattern is at left).

I'm still going to run it past My Fashion Barometer, i.e. my fashionista sister this weekend when we meet in L.A. She's also bringing me a couple of designer dresses from her extensive closet for back up. Flirty and Fabulous, here I come.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I survived Day One of the Nordstrom Half-Yearly Sale

From K.

You wouldn't believe how much loot I got. Five pairs of earrings (three of which I'll likely return -- this IS Nordstrom, after all!), a gorgeous pave bangle, a flowery rhinestone bracelet. Man is the shopping section of my brain TIRED...

My main goal was to score a bunch of good jewelry options for my wedding (31 days to go!) but being me, I ended up finding a lot of fun casual pieces as well. And a Chanel lipstick. And adorable "something blue" panties from the lingerie department. And garters. I almost even walked out with bottles of Chloe and Bulgari fragrance, though I opted to wait since I sniffed each so many times I grew confused which essence was rose petals and which was peonies.

Ladies at the counters looked bleary-eyed by 7 p.m. Many had been on their feet since 10 a.m. and said it was the busiest the downtown store had been in some time (you could tell from the dwindling supply of costume jewelry, handbags and shoes in popular sizes). Perhaps a sale makes everyone feel less guilty about the economy? Who knows. I'm just happy to have some new (affordable) fun for my jewelry box :)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I ate crawfish...

From N.

Damn you Alton Brown.

I struggled the first time I made a pit stop at Crawfish King in the International District. It's hard to get the tail meat out of those spicy little buggers. But then Alton featured crawfish on an episode of "Good Eats" on the Food Network, and he made the crawfish (sustainable seafood!) look so good and so easy. I was ready for another round. Crawfish, you are mine.

But it was not so easy. It was so hard. Alton showed this simple twist, open and squeeze, and the tail meat looked like it popped right out. Instead I had to peel the tails, which was slow. I also tried to squeeze the deliciousness out of the thorax, but the spiciness made me flinch and I couldn't get anything out. I resorted to digging stuff out with my fingers. It wasn't pretty.

The server also claimed people eat two to four pounds each. At $8.99 a pound, that ain't cheap. We ordered 6 pounds for four people and by the end of my 1 1/2 pounds, I was exhausted. And not quite full.

So we went to that savior of all frustrating meals: Molly Moon. Ginger ice cream and fresh waffle cones fixes everything.

Crawfish King on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 18, 2009

I picnicked at Seward Park

From K.

Some May days are almost agonizing in their perfection. Such was Saturday, a day for dresses with flowy skirts, T-shirts, sandals and picnics.

The sun blazed overhead but below was that signature Seattle salty sea breeze that tickled the grass and leaves and our skin. Me and fiance J hit up Ezell's for fried chicken and baked beans then motored over to Seward Park. J found a peaceful, shaded glade focused on Mount Rainier. It loomed in the distance across Lake Washington, snowy and majestic. Motown thumped in the background from another nearby picnic. We lounged in our beach chairs, watching kids play a goofy game of soccer.


Friday, May 15, 2009

I picked out a wedding band (finally) ...

From K.

That was me standing in a certain engagement ring store in Belltown on Sunday, frozen in place, flanked by Mom and J, my husband-to-be, staring first at one ring, then another. And as I visualize my (ideal, I think) wedding band for the umpteenth time, I realize the source of my confusion: Too many options.

Too many options makes me fret how the design of one ring could possibly suffice throughout a lifetime of metamorphosis. Yet, it worked just fine for many of our parents and grandparents. They took what was available and made the best of it, whether jewelry, shoes, bags, cars, homes or even spouses. They probably would thrill at the options now available. But not having to endlessly comparison shop and then second-guess freed them up to spend more time doing than thinking. It calls to mind a recent read, "The Paradox of Choice," which suggests the wealth of options we enjoy actually leaves us poor -- in finances as well as spirit. I know I feel poor after a week of double-checking online to be sure I found the cutest softshell available, even though I already loved the one I bought at the REI anniversary sale!

This summer, I'm going to make the shift from maximizer to satisficer. I'm going to embrace my first choice and stop checking so many times to make sure I'm not missing out on something better. And I'm going to use all that time I save to spend more QT away from Shop It To Me with my greatest investment: My beloved J.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I made roast chicken pasta...

From N.

I'm compulsive about roast chicken. It's partly because I love the crisp skin and succulent meat, but also because I secretly hoard stock. I know stock is like 10 steps beyond normal for most people, but once I started making and freezing my own, I turned into the Crazy Chicken Stock Lady. If I start to run out, I panic. (OK, it's low-level, but there's still a minor freak-out.)

Since A. and I can easily gobble up a chicken in one sitting (unless someone stops us, and sadly, nobody ever does), I was excited when I discovered a recipe that makes the chicken last longer. It was part of a New York Times series following a home cook-off between New York Times writers Kim Severson and Julia Moskin showing how to cook a meal for under $50 for six people.

A lot of what they did was way too much effort -- fresh tortillas? Hell no -- but the pasta makes enough for four or more. The recipe is great for a Sunday night, when you have time to roast (don't forget the stock, it will change your life.) The pasta soaks up all those delicious, gooey drippings, and currants and pine nuts add sweetness and crunch. Serve with a spicy arugula salad.

I ate churrascuria...

From K.

The smoky scent of roasted meats still clings to my clothes hours after we gathered beneath a straw umbrella at Ipanema Brazilian Grill for Mother's Day. My mom, god love her, after years of being anti-beach and anti-tropical vacation, suddenly wants more than anything to travel to the sultry beaches of Brazil (?!). My ideal Brazilian vacation: Dancing the Samba in a barely there sparkly costume and feather headdress at the Sambradrome during Carnaval. Mom's ideal Brazilian vacation: Sipping Capirhnias on Ipanema Beach over sushi, chit-chatting with the globe's largest Japanese expatriate community. I sense some compromise in the works.

But I digress. This restaurant made us even more excited for the eventual trip. Waiters prowled the well-windowed room with silver rods bearing roasted meats that they carved at each table. We plucked thick slices of juicy steak and tri-tip from under their knives with tongs and nibbled roasted sweet peppers, golden beets and pickled mushrooms when we had our fill. Roasted passion-fruit chicken and a truly peppery pepper steak topped our faves. We'll go back, but hopefully after we've tried the real thing.

I went to a Pink Party...

From N.

I'm not a pink girl, so when a friend of my boyfriend A invited us to a Pink Party, I wondered why pink? Green is so much easier. Pink is work. I only have one pink T-shirt and a pink sundress. It better be nice outside.

Maybe it was the sunny weather Saturday afternoon, maybe it was the gorgeous vintage-decorated 1950s house in Normandy Park, or maybe it was all the pink, but everyone looked glamorous and rosy and happy. The pink theme prompted people to pile on all the pink in their closet; one guy wore a pink tutu. I decided more guys should wear pink socks.

People brought treats like pink mochi, beet hummus and raspberry Jello cake. We drank rose, pink sangria and my favorite, gin and pink grapefruit, and luxuriated underneath the blooming dogwood that inspired the party.

Maybe it's time to invest in some some pink-colored glasses.