clear vinyl money bag

Wardrobe: clear vinyl

This clear vinyl “money bag” was such a no-brainer.  It cured me from the frustration of having to dig through all the junk in my purse just to find my keys every night.  The transparency saves time.  You can quickly take this out and see what you have inside, instead of fumbling through the darkness of your purse.  It is thick, durable, and scratch resistant, so it stays looking clean and new for quite a while.  It simply looks chic (in an urban-industrial-power woman kind of way).  And what’s more.. it’s only $6 on Amazon!  I love it when the best solution happens to be the cheapest one too.  And P.S.  you can apparently take this baby with you through airport security to hold your carry-on liquids.  (at least JFK and LAX felt it was okay).

lou & grey

Fashion: Lou & Grey

I stumbled across a stand alone Lou & Grey store a few weeks ago when I went back to LA.  The space immediately impressed me with its clean minimalism, attention to detail, muted colors with faded gradual bursts of color, and rich textures.  Every item is wearable, comfortable, cozy, and interesting.  Lou & Grey was started as an offshoot of Loft, I was surprised to find out.  I think the people at Loft realized that the young modern working woman no longer wanted to dress like their mothers, in pencil skirts and fitted button ups anymore.  They ditched the cheap polyester blends for cottons and soft denim fabrics, many with intricate stitching and textured surfaces that make each item special without going over the top.

spring uniform 2015

wardrobe: spring uniform

fashion incognito.
Spring is (supposed to be) here in New York City.  I’ve been seeing all these lovely blog posts and advertisements with flower prints, perforated tees, tiny military shorts.  Yes, cute, but let’s get realistic, it is still freezing out there people!  I did drop off my goose down winter coat at the dry cleaners today, so that’s progress. To celebrate, I thought I’d share my new (less heavy) uniform for the Spring season.  Please excuse the lighting issues, I had to lower the contrast so that it wasn’t just a sea of black.  Outfit: Office Comet Lace Boot, American Apparel winter leggings, Madewell short sleeve sweater, Zara coat, and APC half moon bag.  These new boots from Office (available at TopShop in some cities) are amazingly comfortable.  The heels are actually made out of soft rubber but has the appearance of wood, so I can see myself walking in these all day.

IMG_0266

Beauty:  get cashmere complexion with bobbi

Bobbi Brown recently rolled out a new formulation of powder foundation that is like no other I’ve tried, achieved by baking cream and powder together for a long time.  It has a creamy cashmere-like texture that gives medium coverage when applying with a sponge and lighter coverage when using a brush.  I like to apply with a combination, using the sponge under my eyes and around my nose and using a brush for everywhere else.  The results are a light natural finish that last all day.  I find myself choosing this over my tinted moisturizer because it lets me skip the concealer.  Yay for a simpler morning routine.  Just a bit of bronzer, eyeliner, and I’m out the door in 5 minutes.

bath essentials

beauty: bath basics

considered living.
I was organizing my bath products so that only the items I use most often were on the top shelf of my shower caddy, making them more convenient to reach.  Then I noticed that all these products had sort of a Times New Roman font on them, thought oh how cute and felt compelled to take a pic.  This is a great way to display the bath products that I love and talk a bit about why each are so great.

The Neutrogena anti-residue shampoo looks just like what it does to your hair.  It clarifies it.  It has SLS in it so that means it is like a detergent and not very gentle on your hair, but it will get your hair squeaky clean.  So it is good occasionally when you’ve used a lot of product over the past couple days and want to start fresh and add more volume to your hair.

The Living Proof restore mask has become my forever conditioner.  It’s technology has done wonders for the cuticle of my hair.  Its patented ingredient “OFPMA” was originally developed in a lab to be used on the surfaces of implanted medical devices.  It made sense that a material that is supposed to be safe for implanting in a human body and creates a shiny sleek surface would make hair look and feel great.  It is expensive, so I only splurge on the products that have the highest concentration of OFPMA which is the restore mask and the hair serum.  Oh yeah, and Jennifer Aniston is the product line’s spokesperson, haha.  Remember the ‘Rachel haircut’ fad?

John Masters Organics zinc & sage shampoo will literally intoxicate your senses, it’s so luxurious.  It is marketed for people with irritated scalps but is by no means a ‘medicated’ shampoo.  The first ingredient is Aloe Vera, which gives the shampoo a sort of gel-creamy texture.  Aloe has many natural healing properties.  It has been shown to aid wound healing and reduce the amount of scar tissue formed.  But the best part is the cozy smell!  …somewhere between herbal and dessert, hard to explain.  You just have to walk to your nearest Whole Foods and smell it yourself.

Philosophy’s body wash.  This was a gift.  Philosophy’s soaps feel silky and gentle.  They don’t strip your skin or leave deposits like a lot of the drug store brands.  Great for low maintenance areas of your body like legs and arms.  I save the Trader Joe’s french triple milled bar soaps for the more heavy duty cleaning jobs, underarms, feet, neck, you get the point.  Triple milled bar soaps can be found at really inexpensive prices and are long lasting. They are more pure than other bar soaps and create a smooth rich lather.  Skin is left clean and hydrated even when you don’t use lotion.

apc half moon bag thingtank

wardrobe: the essential bag

This was love at first sight.  I’m in need of a grown-up cross body bag and think I’ve found the one.  This is the “half moon” bag from A.P.C made out of Italian leather with a tiny discrete embossed logo.  It is uniquely beautiful and so simplistic at the same time.  But is it essential enough to make it into my wardrobe?  TBD…

update: I purchased this bag today in SoHo!  The sales associate informed me that this bag is the only style that has rolled over from season to season at A.P.C.  They only receive small batches, like 2-3 bags, every few months and almost always sell out and therefore never go on sale so there is no reason to wait.  The classic bag is the black in a smooth soft leather.  The other colors change with the season and feature varying textures as well.  I chose black.  It was designed to be large enough to fit a Poland spring water bottle.  It also happens to make the perfect DSLR camera bag as well (with the lens detached of course).  Love it.

holy grail chicken soup recipe

Recipe: Holy Grail Chicken Soup

“Holy Grail” should be an extremely rare title to give something, but this chicken soup recipe really deserves it.  I’ve made chicken soup numerous times before but have never tasted one quite so rich and full bodied as this one.  I took Bobby Flay’s recipe for making chicken stock from scratch by first roasting the chicken bones and used it for the base of my chicken noodle soup recipe that has been improved over the years by trial and error.  In this recipe I used mirin, a japanese white wine that is similar to sake.  It adds a subtle complexity to the dish that makes such a difference!  Using whole grain pasta instead of your traditional egg noodles is a super important modification too because the pasta continues to absorb the liquid once it’s finished cooking and I find that egg noodle get soggy and gummy while whole grain pastas tend to hold up a firmer consistency over time.

So for this recipe you’ll need:  3-4 lbs chicken bones (store bought cut up chicken backs with exposed bone marrow), 3 carrots chopped into 1 inch pieces, 3 large spanish onions quartered with skin on, 4 sticks of celery chopped into 1 inch pieces, 4 bay leaves, a whole 3 .lbs organic chicken, one bunch parsley stems only saving the parsley leaves for garnish, 1 cup whole grain elbow pasta or 2 cups of cooked white rice, fresh thyme, 3 T olive oil, 1 T mirin, sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

First prepare the stock a la Bobby Flay. I modified this recipe by simmering the stock with lid on for 6 hours instead of 4 and starting off with 16 cups of water instead of 12, and using 4 bay leaves instead of 2.  For the last two hours of simmering you can remove the lid to reduce the stock by about 25%, concentrating the flavors.

Once the stock is done, separate out enough stock to cover the whole chicken completely in a large pot.  Bring to boil on high heat, then lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  Then remove the chicken from the stock and add the remaining 1 carrot and 1 cup of whole grain elbow pasta (or you could use 2 cups of cooked white rice after the carrots are cooked through).  Let the carrots and pasta cook on very low heat until both are softened, about 15-20 minutes.  Meanwhile, with your hands roughly pull off chicken meat from the whole chicken and add it to the soup at the very end.  Add 1 tablespoon of mirin, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Be generous with the salt and pepper!

And that is it!  If you’re getting over the flu like me, make this!  You won’t regret it.  You can save the leftovers by freezing it in small containers for up to 3 months.  Enjoy!

agedashi fried tofu

Recipe: Agedashi Tofu

Agedashi tofu really hit the spot during this freezing cold winter.  It is a delicate comfort food, with deep fried tofu in a dashi-mirin-soy broth.  I love the various textures in this recipe, it’s crunchy surface breaks way to silken tofu which absorbs the dashi sauce beautifully. It’s a pretty simple recipe, but a typical American kitchen might not have the dashi broth ingredients.  But it is well worth putting in the effort to buy these basic ingredients, as it will allow you to make many more Japanese recipes with ease.

You’ll need:  1 package soft tofu (but medium and firm will work well too), 1/2 cup corn starch, thinly sliced green onions, 1 1/2 cup dashi broth (water, bonito flakes, and kombu), 2T mirin, 2T soy sauce, 2 quarter sized slices of ginger (optional), ichimi togarashi (optional), 1 1/2 cup vegetable oil.

First, drain the tofu, wrap in 4 paper towels, and sandwich between two plates to remove excess water.  Now, combine dashi broth, mirin, soy sauce, and ginger and simmer for 20 minutes partially covered with lid.  It’s okay to let the sauce reduce to 1 cup to concentrate the flavor a bit.  Cut the tofu into 16 pieces (about 1.5 inch rectangles) and dredge in corn starch.  Deep fry tofu in vegetable oil for about 8-10 minutes, flipping over once.  The color should resemble french fries.  When done, plate 4 pieces each in a shallow bowl, cover with green onions and a bit of ichimi togarashi (for spice).

fried tofu

Then ladle each serving over with 1/4 cup of the dashi-mirin-soy sauce.  You must serve it immediately to get the full experience.  Dipping the tofu repeatedly once the crust is bitten into is essential to get all the flavors incorporated.

the faceless style blog

blogging: faceless fashion

What’s in a face? There’s a long list of fashion/lifestyle blogs that I subscribe to and most of the draw comes from the voyeuristic pleasures I get from peeking into someone else’s life/closet.  Gawking at pretty things and pretty people is fun.  But what I didn’t expect was that of all the blogs, I’m most intrigued by the ones that are faceless, whether the blogger crops out her head or stratches it out in old school paint programs.  I find that it shifts the focus onto the topic of style and the substance of style.  Don’t get me wrong I still love my full faced bloggers but the faceless ones have a distinctive quality and place in my feed.  The featured image above is taken from thefacelessstyle blog.  It’s creator designed the blog with a LookBook concept, each post with a mysteriously hidden face, making it solely about style (and not the person).  I’m not a fan of many of the outfits on the site, but it’s conceptually interesting and there are enough gems here to keep me coming back.

faceless fashion