Monday, April 30, 2012

Theyskens' Theory Canapa Wedges

As this post goes up, I am actually sitting in a classroom right now taking my 1st final. But that is really boring. No one wants to hear me talk about my copyright final. So instead I'm going to talk about something you will probably find only mildly less boring, but it is something that really excites me: new shoes!

I found the white canvas and wood version of the very popular Theyskens' Theory wedges on eBay for a steal. I love the blue velvet version that I found on Gilt awhile ago. So I'm always checking eBay for other TT wedges in my size. These are actually more comfortable than the velvet ones, and the canvas-wood combo makes them perfect for the summer! I am definitely going to be wearing these to graduation.

PS: If I could find the purple velvet, my collection would be complete! Anyone getting rid of their 6 or 6.5 purple velvet TT wedges by any chance?

PPS: That is a terrible picture of the blue velvet wedges. I clearly had not mastered my camera yet. They are much more beautiful than I made them seem. Just look here.

PPPS: I swear I will stop with shoe talk after this, but did you see the TT shoes for F/W 2012?!?! Be still my heart! Thank goodness I will have finally graduated and will be getting a paycheck again because I'm going to need this one and probably this one and, geez, maybe even this one too.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Happy Friday!

This is what I've got lined up this Friday. Study study study. Quick break to peruse Pinterest. Study study study. Quick break to peruse some personal style blogs. Study study study. Repeat on Saturday. Repeat on Sunday. I've got my first exam on Monday and my second on Wednesday, but after this intense burst of studying, I'm in the home stretch! One more in-class exam and one take home. And while I'm working on those, my family and best friend will be arriving! Sooo close to gradution . . .

PS: I hope your weekend sounds a lot more fun!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Great Friends = Great Cat Cards

On this blog I'm often talking about things that might be considered kind of superficial or fluffy (like shoes and purses and new restaurants and cocktails). So allow me to take a moment to say something with slightly more substance. My friends are truly wonderful people, and I really appreciate them! Last week I received not 1 but 2 ridiculously awesome cat cards in the mail. The fact that there are ladies back on the east coast who sometimes don't see me for months or years at a time but still take the time to send me mail is in and of itself amazing. But on top of that, the fact that they both go beyond the Hallmark platitudes in the grocery store and find hysterical cat cards just blows me away. Thank you Katie! Thank you Steph! Your cards always make me smile!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Restaurant Review: Il Mare -- The New Italian Joint in Downtown

Don't let that fish sign fool you. Il Mare means "the sea" in Italian, but this isn't really a seafood restaurant. It's a simple, classic Italian restaurant. You start with complimentary garlic bread. Appetizer options are basic like calamari (what we ordered), bruschetta, and tomato-mozzarella salads. Dinner options are of a similar ilk--chicken parm, pastas, and pizzas. And as of right now, the only two desert options are tiramisu and cannolis.

If this is your type of place, then I think you'll be satisfied. No dish knocked it out of the park, but the meal was nice. The calamari breading was delightfully light, but we wished the pieces in our basket had been more meaty. The bf's chicken parm was fine, but my pesto-mussel pizza was pretty delicious. The cannolis had good texture and taste but needed more filing. I don't think there were any complaints about the tiramisu, though! The highlights of Il Mare are the prices (really reasonable), the service (our experience was lovely), and the pizzas (based on the pesto-mussel). But to be totally honest, with Colori Kitchen just down the street, I think Il Mare is going to have to up its game to compete. It's a decent Italian restaurant, but it's a stone's throw from a really great Italian restaurant. I personally am rooting for a slightly improved menu and execution. You can never have too many good options for Italian!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Trend: Metallic Cap Toe Pumps

Louis Vuitton pumps as seen on The Clothes Whisperer, Nelly pumps as seen on Fashion Hippie Loves, leopard pumps of unknown origin (do you know who makes them?) as seen on Stockholm Street Style, Zara pumps as seen on Late Afternoon, Pringle of Scotland Pumps as seen on the RAW Shoes Blog, and Topshop pumps (sold out but similar here and here) as seen on Britt + Whit.

After Isabel Marant put Kate Moss in a pair of classic pumps in her fall 2010 campaign, simple pumps started creeping back into fashion. But while all of those Blahnik owners were busy saying "I told you so," designers were already looking for a way to spice up those simple pumps. So Marant ups the game with the cap toe pump. Then Zara sold a version last year that became a blogger staple. (Just see here and here and here.) But this year cap toes turned metallic, and I love this newest iteration! My favorite version that I've seen so far has to be this aqua pair with a rose gold cap toe by Nelly, but I certainly would not turn down any of the shoes above!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Recipe: Avocado Chocolate Pudding

I'll admit it, the title to this post sounds gross. But look, when it comes to food, I am not going to steer you wrong. I love and respect the act of eating too much to subject anyone on this earth to a bad meal. So trust me when I say that not only is avocado pudding legitimately delicious, it is also absurdly easy to make. I'll break it down for you. Combine the following ingredients in a food processor:

1 ripe avocado
1 ripe banana
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
a dash of cinnamon

Once mixed, refrigerate. In an hour, you've got a slightly bitter chocolate pudding calling your name. Top it with whatever you'd like. (If you're more a milk chocolate person, you might want to top it with powdered sugar to soften the bitter chocolate taste.) There's no milk or eggs or "tempering" (whatever that is). This still doesn't make pudding health food, but this is a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth without all sorts of refined sugars and trans fats and other unhealthy whatnots!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Happy Friday!

The weekend is almost here! Tonight the bf is escorting me to the 3L gala, which will be my last law school party. Over 2/3rds of my class is coming, and I'm grabbing dinner before the event with some of my friends at a restaurant I've been wanting to try for ages. Needless to say, I couldn't be more excited about tonight! Then the rest of the weekend will be spent prepping for finals. My first one is in 10 days. Yikes! I can't believe next week will be my last law school classes. I'm ready to graduate, but I know I will starting missing my school days sooner than I realize.

If you're looking for something to do this weekend, there's an amazing book festival going on at USC on Saturday and Sunday. I doubt I'll have time this year, but I went last year and was both overwhelmed and excited about all of the different kinds of writing people still do. Sometimes it feels like the literary world is made up of just Lisbeth Salander and Harry Potter and celebrity memoirs. But this festival really shows you that there's so much more. It made me excited to try new authors, instead of just reading books that had been turned into movies or TV shows.

Well wish me luck in my heels tonight, and have a great weekend!

PS: DIY instructions for bedazzling your own heels here.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Phillip Lim Pashli Satchel -- Perfection!

You probably don't remember, but a little over a year ago I mentioned that I was so in love with this purse I spotted Amanda Brooks rocking on Garance Dore's blog that I was actually thinking of splurging and making it mine. Well 13 months later I finally took the plunge! Phillip Lim launched e-commerce a few weeks ago and offered shoppers 20% off their purchase in honor of the occasion. (PS: The 20% code is still good for another few days. Get the code here!) I was so tempted, but I still wasn't sure if I wanted to take my first step into designer purse territory. Up until now, I've mostly been a shoe addict, and all my purses have been $40 Macy's sale purchases. So, like any woman suffering a shopping crisis, I called my best friend, who at this point was probably just sick of me talking about this bag every few weeks for over a year. She talked me through color choices and assured me I would not regret the purchase and virtually held my hand as I submitted my credit card information.

A week later, this beauty arrived in the mail. The best friend was right, I do not regret getting this purse.* I freaking love it. It's incredibly sturdy. It fits my laptop. It can be ladylike and structured or laid back and slouchy (see photos below). The color is beautiful. And the textured leather is so luxurious looking. So happy (early) graduation, Cara. This is your present to yourself!

 So ladylike.

So laid back.

* I do kind of have a regret. I regret the damage potential this has for my credit card. Because now that I have the purse, I am so in love with it that I'm thinking of getting the green color too. If it goes on sale or pops up on eBay for a reasonable price, I cannot promise restraint!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Documentary Project

Remember the portrait project I did for my photography class? Well here is my documentary project. I would have liked to post this sooner, but I actually just got my project back from my professor. The long description is below, but for those with limited attention spans (like me) the short description is that I documented what I saw as I walked from downtown LA to Silverlake. It took about 3 1/2 hours, but I was able to notice details that are totally lost when you drive instead of walk.

To see the larger version of the pictures (which I highly encourage, you will be able to see so many more details) just right click and select "view image."

Long Description:

The idea behind my documentary project was to walk around Los Angeles and photograph the type of sights I would normally not notice when driving in a car. When initially formulating my documentary project proposal, there was no particular subject or event that I was inspired to photograph. Since there was nothing specific I wanted to focus on, I decided to take a kind of open-ended, "see what I can see" approach to my documentary project.

When I lived in Washington, D.C. prior to law school, I had always enjoyed wandering around the neighborhoods on the weekend for fun or using walking as my main means of transportation. I liked all the details of the city I was able to see as I walked, details I would have missed if I had taken the metro. But when I moved to L.A., I fell out of the habit of walking except in my immediate neighborhood. Everything was so spread out, and the connections between neighborhood centers did not seem well maintained, making me feel uneasy about walking through all the space in between point A and point B. But after reading a few articles this semester about walking in L.A., I came to realize that I could walk from point A to point B, absorbing all of the details of the city while I walked. It would just be a longer and a less (conventionally) attractive walk than it was in D.C.

Once I settled on documenting what I saw as a walked, the only thing left to plan was my route. Initially, I thought it would be clever to walk down one road for a long time and document its change as the road continued, concentrating on the increase in wealth as I traveled west. But while discussing project ideas in class, I realized someone else had the exact same idea, and, thus, the idea was not as clever as I had originally thought.

I changed my focus to exploring Silverlake and Echo Park and the hidden staircases that wove through the hills in those neighborhoods, but in the end, those staircases became only a small part of my project. I had read about an event called The Big Parade, where once a year one man leads a community of walkers up and down all of these staircases over the course of two days. The walk intrigued me because the creator described all of the hidden communities he discovered that could only be reach through these staircases (no driveway or street access). It reminded me of communities I had discovered in D.C. that were tucked away in alleys, on tiny one way streets, or inside of blocks. I decided to recreate part of The Big Parade on my own and photograph what I saw, scenes that were not accessible from street level, but I discovered on my walk up to Silverlake that there were so many interesting details on every street. Before I got to the first staircase, I had already finish shooting my first role of film.

When I developed my film, I had a hard time deciding which photographs to print because I found so many of them interesting and also because I felt that there was value in seeing many of these images together. The people and objects in the photographs were all very different, but all located near by one another, coexisting in a relatively small radius. I decided I wanted to print as many of the photographs as I could to show the diversity. This diversity was beyond the change in wealth as you walk west on Beverly, the kind of diversity I was initially interested in photographing. Although I saw some clear differences in wealth as I walked, I was more interested in the diversity of personality shown through how people on the street acted, what types of businesses existed, and how the environment was treated.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Weekend Achievements

Well, like always, I did not get as much homework done this weekend as I would have liked. (Seriously, cross your fingers that I don't bomb my copyright final. It's a mere 15 days away.) But instead I spent all Sunday doing home improvement type things and, if I do say so myself, achieved pretty fantastic results! After a quick trip to home depot with the bf, I had supplies to rehab the rollaway bar and a ton of pots, plants, and soil for the balcony. The rollaway bar got a deeper cleaning, a reattached handle, a little work with the wood glue, and a newly sanded top. I did the sanding by hand, and it was an intense arm work out. But look how nicely all of the old stain came off!

Previous condition on the left. Freshly sanded on the right.

Finished product!

I think I got the wrong wood stain, so I'll save that project for another weekend. Instead, I moved onto my gardening projects. Jeremy brought home an azalea bush from Costco the other weekend, and it need to be potted. Plus our sad little lemon tree badly needed to be repotted. And, after watching enough episodes of My Cat From Hell*, we decided that we should pot the kitty grass we buy instead of letting it die in the plastic packaging it comes in. But of course, like all trips to Home Depot, once we were in the plant section we bought a ton of other plants that we did not plan on. So we also brought home herbs, flowers, and a banana pepper plant, which all needed to be potted too! It was a ton of work, and I was totally exhausted by the end. But I could not be happier with the results. The balcony is all spruced up in time to host my family and friends for graduation!

 The little ceramic face was from a sun-shaped garden decoration my mom gave me years ago. I hung it on my patio in DC, but one day a storm blew it down. The funny thing is that, when it shattered, everything crumbled except the face. So I saved the face, and I tucked it in various planters ever since.

* The cat therapist on the show is always telling cat owners to turn their patio into a catio. It sounds totally lame, but after hearing that phrase enough times, the desire to make our balcony more fun for Tiny has become ingrained in my consciousness. And in case you are worried about the flowers I planted around the kitty grass, let me assure you that I checked, and pansies are completely cat friendly.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Happy Friday!

It's back and forth between drizzles and downpours today, but if there is one thing living in LA has taught me to appreciate, it's a nice rainy day. I used to hate the rain when I lived in DC because it meant canceled events and a packed metro. But rain in LA means all of the plants are full of life and the chance of wildfires is low. My plans for this weekend are to work work work on Saturday. Then I can hopefully spend all of Sunday reading the NY Times, making some of these, and watching the bf's and my Sunday night shows (Mad Men, The Killing, and Game of Thrones). If there's time maybe I'll get to work on my new bar too! What do you have planned for this weekend? I hope it's lots of relaxation and fun!

Cocktail Recipe: Angostura Fizz

It is cloudy and drizzling in downtown LA right now, but that kind of matches my energy level after attending the end-of-the-year party for my law school journal last night. (So much fun!) Maybe a little hair of the dog is in order later today? Last Friday, I tried a new drink at Cana with which I'm now obsessed, an Angostura Fizz, and the bartender kindly taught me how to replicate it at home. If you like your cocktails sweet, this is not the drink for you. Myself, I'm a fan of bitter flavors, and Angostura Fizz delivers. It call for a full shot of bitters! If you've ever mixed a Manhattan or an Old Fashion, then you know that most drinks only call for a few drops of bitters. But don't let the shot of bitters turn you off. The drink balances it out. Just see below!

The recipe, as you can see, calls for the "house pomegranate reduction," which in layman's terms means homemade grenadine. You could just buy Rosa's from any old grocery store, but Cana makes their own because they want to be able to control the sweetness. The bartender recommended using 1 part sugar to 4 parts pomegranate juice. So I put 2 cups of POM and 1/2 cup of sugar in a pan and heated it at medium for 5-10 minutes. The sugar will eventually all dissolve, and the juice will begin to reduce, leaving you will a slightly syrupy homemade grenadine.

Now that you have your grenadine (and you let it cool a bit), you can get down to business. You will need a cocktail shaker, 1 egg (whites only), 1 shot of lime juice, 1 shot of grenadine, 1 shot of Angostura bitters, a dash of cream, a few ice cubes on hand, and club soda. The key to this drink is egg whites. It will make your drink frothy and light, which is a wonderful compliment to the bitters.

 Mix the bitters, lime juice, grenadine, cream, and egg whites together in the shaker without ice. (The bartender called this a "dry shake.") Once all the ingredients are mixed, throw in the ice cubes and shake again. At this point you are cooling the drink, so just shake until it feels cold. It should only take a few seconds. (I highly recommend doing all the shaking over a sink. As the egg whites get frothy, they take up more room and create pressure on the lid. This caused the lid of my shaker to start to come off.)

Once you mixture is cool, strain it into a glass. Then (we're almost done, I promise!) toss a bit of club soda onto the left over ice cubes and swirl it around. A lot of the froth has remained on the cubes, so the idea is to use the club soda to wash it out. After a few swirls, strain the club soda-froth mixture onto the top of your drink. Then enjoy! I found my cocktail tasted just like the one at the bar but did not look quite as lovely. If you're a real pro, you will hopefully end up with something as beautiful as this:

PS: If the Angostura Fizz is old hat to you, then mix it up!
  • You can try other bitter liquor bases. I found that I could use half a shot of Fernet Branca and half of shot of bitters for a slightly milder drink (maybe tone down the lime juice and grenadine a smidge if you do this).
  • You can try reducing other kinds of juice for a different flavor.
  • You could also try using some of the many many kinds of flavored bitters available. If you live in LA, stop by Bar Keeper in Silverlake. That shop has dozens of varieties.