Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Little Hocus Pocus

Autumn Flowers

Autumn Flowers

Sorry for the lack of updates but I've been busy because...I finally moved into my apartment in New York! I'm living right next to a beautiful park in Brooklyn, and I have a fire escape outside my window which I am planning on filling up with lots of flowers. This morning I woke up to hear the rain pitter-pattering on my fire escape and I must say, I think Autumn might finally be here to stay, as long as we don't get more hot weather soon. I'm sorry to those of you in California; I know you've been having a heatwave! I guess it might be quite nice since you didn't get much of a summer.

Autumn Flowers

Autumn Flowers

Autumn Flowers

Autumn Flowers

For the past few days before I moved into my apartment I was staying with my friend Elise in New Jersey. I love being away from the city (which sounds silly to say since I just barely moved here!) and we spent so much time outside. One day I went for a rainy run along the canal that travels next to the Delaware river, and I saw a heron sitting by the water as I went past. I am also really into farming, especially after living on an organic olive farm in France, so Elise took me to the farm she volunteers at. We spent the whole morning picking bundles of Swiss Chard for the CSA in the afternoon, and also picked nasturtiums to put in salad mixes, and tasted some amazing tiny tomatoes. My thigh muscles definitely weren't happy after bending down for hours picking vegetables, but it was so relaxing. I wish there were farms like that closer to the city!
The flowers in these pictures are from another CSA. I picked huge armfuls of them because they are so pretty.
Boots: Beacon's Closet; Skirt: Thrifted; Blouse: Thrifted

Autumn Flowers

Are you interested in gardening or sustainable farming? I would love to hear about it!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Prospecting

IMG_3584

Hooray, an outfit post! My computer is mostly better, although after I got it back from its recall the boys who fixed it told me they found malware on it. I think I have pretty insane virus protection so I'm not really sure how that happened, but I don't want to spend what they charge ($200) on getting it removed! Is anyone a computer smarty pants with good ideas on how to fix that?

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IMG_3575

These photos are from a trip to Prospect Park. I have been exploring Brooklyn which has been really exciting for me; I love visiting new neighborhoods and finding coffee shops or restaurants to return to. Seeing how different the people are in every neighborhood is fun too, it's like going into another little country when you get a few blocks into every new section. Prospect Park was lovely on this day because everyone was out having picnics and birthday parties and riding their bikes. My lovely lovely friend Ginger (whose bed I am staying in before I move into my new apartment) took these photos and I think they turned out so well. It was the perfect time in the afternoon to take them, and it is so nice to have a person behind my camera, rather than a tripod! I know I've said this before but I am so jealous of bloggers who have real people to take their pictures!

This is Ginger...she's so stylish!

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I have so much time on my hands, what with not having a real job and all that jazz. I have been writing a bit for Baeblemusic, but other than that no exciting job offers (or even boring job offers...I would settle for that at this point!) have come along. If any of you are music lovers you can check out my first review here. I think I'm going to be exploring a lot more until a job pops up!

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Sandals: UO; Dress: Thrifted; Belt: Thrifted; Feather and Bottlecap Earrings: Home made

I am going out to New Jersey this weekend for a friend's birthday, and I'm looking forward to eating cake, taking lots of photos, and going on evening walks. I hope you have a wonderful, sunshine-filled, happy weekend!

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Chictopia Conference

Photo Credit Bee Hives

I'm sorry this has taken forever to put up, I was going to post it a lot sooner, but then my computer died a very untimely death. It got recalled by Toshiba because that model has been overheating so much that the battery has been melting and burning people. Luckily I escaped with a hot computer but not burned legs! Crazy! Hopefully I will have it back soon, but in the meantime, posts might get a little bit sparse unfortunately!

The Chictopia conference was one of my favorite events at fashion week. I was debating over whether to buy a ticket or not because so many bloggers said that it had been badly organized last time, but obviously Chictopia learned from their mistakes, because the conference ran so well. They set the tables out dinner party style, so we were all in little groups throughout the room which was a great way to meet people. The food was delicious, I managed to scarf down ridiculous amounts of brownies, and the way that the conference was set up, with panels, really encouraged discussion. I took a lot of notes, so I figured for those of you who didn't get to go, I'd write everything down in detail. I'm sure not all of it will apply to everyone, but it is useful information!

The New Trendsetters: Who Sets the Trends?

The panelists spoke about the power of the blogging community and the interesting position that brands and consumers are now in because brands can see and get immediate feedback from their target audience. The “celebrity” status of bloggers was also discussed. While bloggers don’t get as much exposure as a celebrity they have an audience, one that is not dependent on living in a big city or having an expensive wardrobe. Every blogger can have their niche audience, and on the internet everyone has a say in what’s going on in fashion.

The panelists also talked about brands which are using blogging as a publicity tool. Lots of brands now have blogs to promote their products, yet not all of them are successful in gaining the trust that many fashion/lifestyle blogs get. Cate Corcoran, of Women's Wear Daily, stated that : “Nobody will read your blog if you sound like a corporate marketing press release”, which touches on the idea that nobody is willing to read a blog if there is not a voice they can believe behind it. I think that Topshop and Rebecca Minkoff both do a great job with their blogs because they use guest bloggers or cover events, people, or even other fashion lines that they don’t have an immediate connection to. Therefore their voices seem more realistic and they gain the trust that many bloggers have, because their readers think of them as friends.

The final point which came out of this panel was Cate Corcoran's: “I try to identify what trends are now, and then do something different, because by the time something is a trend, it’s already kind of late.” Amy Odell from The Cut also remarked on this at the Independent Fashion Blogger’s Conference. Bloggers get much more exposure than your average Joe on the street so they are what KB terms “the taste maker” consumer who set the trends for the “early adopter” consumer.

Visibility in the Online World

The discussion in this panel veered discussed the issue of promotion while also being “authentic and true to yourself” (Robin Creen). Bloggers are in the unique position of taking a brand and being able to make a personal connection to that for the customer. E.J. Samson, the spokesman from TeenVogue, remarked on the importance of having a goal for your blog and getting yourself out there any way you can, by volunteering, using social media, and forming relationships with brands. However he also stressed that it is important to be multi-faceted and be interested in more than just fashion. Liz Cherkasova(Late Afternoon) also spoke of this, and pointed out that she is a model and also works for Chictopia, both outlets that bring her more publicity for her blog. She believes in using social media to become more accessible, and says that it is important to respond to your followers by tweeting at them, and responding to their comments and emails. This also extends to other bloggers, and she said that her blog had gotten a lot of exposure from other bloggers. Liz’ best advice on this front was to show other bloggers “that you admire them and want them to succeed”. She tempered her recommendations by saying that if you push sponsorship, another brand, and monetizing too hard people will see that you are blogging for a reason other than your values, and will begin to lose their trust for you. Robin Creen also touched on accessibility and remarked that blogging is like “having a friend recommend a product”. Because of this bloggers must have an authentic voice and be responsible with their branding, especially by not supporting or being sponsored by a brand that doesn’t fit with their values.

Search vs. Social Media

While things like search engine optimization and bounce rate are important, they are not as quantifiable (or enjoyable really) as comments, likes and tweets. In this panel the speakers stressed the importance of reaching out to your readers and “building grassroots relationships” (Vanessa Hong, The Haute Pursuit). There was also a lot of talk about evolving and staying relevant, and the tools that social media provide to practice this. I have noticed that there seems to be a split recently with brands, and some are wholeheartedly embracing the use of social media, while others are seem to be stuck in the past, in the hopes that their reputation will do the work for them. I think this is perfectly exemplified in Jimmy Choo’s recent collaboration with Uggs. Not only have they failed to follow trends online (and in the world!) and see that Uggs are obviously “out” but they have not done much more than take a Beadazzler to them! Just because they are a well known and well respected company they cannot expect that horrible looking things like this are going to sell themselves. Sorry to anyone who is still on the Uggs bandwagon but I absolutely loathe them and believe that you should only be wearing them if you are stuck in a freezing cold cabin in the woods, not in Jimmy Choo went mad with the Beadazzler style fashion with your mini skirt. Anyway, back to the topic...social media forms a personal relationship, and people are much more likely to stay on a page if they are fans or have commented, rather than if they have found it through a search engine.

Has The Industry Become More Inclusive?

Jasmine Hwang (Transient Withdrawal), one of my favourite bloggers, was on this panel, and she had some great things to say. I especially loved this quote: “Bloggers are more real. They’re not size 0 or 6 feet tall. I’m an average American girl. If I can pull off that dress then so can others.” The fact that stylish icons like Jasmine are becoming more accessible is so exciting and for me, is one of the main draws to the blog world. There was a lot of debate in this panel about whether the industry has become more inclusive or not, and the end conclusion with most panels is that it has. Dino-Ray Ramos had some reservations about this and I really enjoyed hearing him speak because he was hilarious! He mentioned “tata tattoos” that he had received as a promotion, Rachel Ray’s 30 minute meals in a food snobs vs. Fashion snobs war, and his response to his Medical and Engineering friends asking him if he liked their outfits: “I don’t care”. I was glad that his responses were a little bit controversial and he wasn’t all about the blogger, because I felt some of the speakers that came may not have been completely truthful because they were worried about offending bloggers. I also enjoyed Dino-Ray’s view on fashion in the real world, and agree that “we could afford to use some jazzing up”. I firmly believe that when we are dressed up and take time with our appearance so we feel our best, we are more polite, successful, and generous. If you think about it this way, would you be more likely to be rude to the crazy person who insults you on the subway instead of ignoring them if you were wearing sweatpants or an evening dress? If we are proud of the way we look than we are more likely to evaluate our actions because we do not want our outward and inward appearances jarring with each other. Anyway, I love Dino-Ray. Every sentence that came out of his mouth was so amusing.

My favourite part of the Chictopia conference was meeting so many great bloggers! I just wanted to give them all a little shoutout, and even though I hardly have any pictures of them because my camera was being totally uncooperative, I still love them!

Starr, Annie, and Annie Beautiful ladies who look lovely in vintage, don’t get too caught up in the crazy New York fashion world, and are endless sources of fun! I loved meeting up with them over the course of fashion week.

Jenny Whose writing is as fab as you can imagine, and rocks booty short rompers with the greatest aplomb.

Rebecca, who kindly organized the blogger meet up and is so fashionable in real life!

Mel and Nikka, Stylish New York Ladies who have an amazing girl gang that I not so secretly want to be in.

Tieka and Elizabeth, who are super down to earth and the nicest girls.

Jasmine and Jen, the kindest and coolest dynamic duo I’ve ever met!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Red and Black

Red and Black

Red and Black

Red and Black

I've found that recently I've been wearing masses of clothes that match the tattoos on my feet. It's never planned that way either, how odd! Either I've been dreaming of more red and black tattoos or perhaps I secretly want to become a revolutionary? I must say, red and black is one of my favorite color combos because it looks chic and sophisticated, but always feels a little rebellious because of the way red pops against black. Uh oh, I just looked down and realized I wore a red and black ensemble today for work as well...I can't escape!

For this set of photos I decided to take some advice from Emily, of Cupcakes and Cashmere, who said at IFB that her biggest photography advice is to take photos at dusk. Even though I wasn't really feeling my best when I took these shots the light still has a glowing misty quality that softens the photos. I'm pretty sure my rooftop at dusk is where I'm going to be from now on!

Red and Black

Red and Black

Shoes: Target, Tights: Target, Hotpants: Topshop, Lace Shirt: Thrifted, Headband: F21

Does anyone else have any handy photography tips?

Edit: And these are my tattoos!
Tattoos

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pimp My Fiesta: Peach Salsa

Peach Salsa

Here’s some quick salsa I rustled up over the weekend to bring to a fiesta that my friend was having. I had tons of extra peaches and was really craving some California style superfreshfood, so I made this. It’s perfect with chips or also as part of a larger meal with black beans and rice. You can be a piggy like me and eat it out of the bowl with a spoon!

Peach Salsa

2 Peaches

2-3 Medium Size Tomatoes

1 Avocado (optional)

4 Spring/Green Onions

Fresh Basil and Cilantro

2 Limes

Salt

Cut up peaches and tomatoes into small pieces. Add sliced spring onions and chopped basil to taste. Add avocado if you’ve got any hanging around the house. Throw in a little bit of chopped cilantro to give it that salsa vibe. Squeeze lime juice over the top, add salt to taste, and you’re ready to start eating!

Peach Salsa

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Chic at Chictopia

Chictopia

Hi my loves! Here’s a quick post to show you my outfit from the Chictopia Conference. Starr of A Thought is the Blossom was kind enough to snap some pictures for me. She has more on her camera, I’m hoping to borrow them soon! The Chictopia Conference was amazing. I was really impressed and had a great time meeting lovely girls and hearing the speakers. I’m going to do a big post about it tomorrow. Jeez, I am so addicted to my photo editing software, I love the vintage look. Must control myself!

Chictopia

Erm...does anyone see what the podium I am standing on says? Hilarious! There were tons of them in Union Park. I snapped a picture of Jen and Jasmine (who did a great job speaking at the Chictopia conference!) standing on a different podium which was even more amusing.

Chictopia

Shoes: Steve Madden; Shorts: UO; Belt: Thrifted; Shirt: TJ Maxx; Scarf: Vintage Paco Rabanne; Assorted Jewellery: Topshop, Vintage, Thrifted

Chictopia

I have to go take a nap before the Juicy Party because I’m kind of a grandma. Anyone seen some good designs from fashion week? I’ve been so busy running around I haven’t been paying attention to the clothes, which is what it’s all about!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Brooklyn Baby

Brooklyn Baby

Brooklyn Baby

I’m finally in New York! Hooray! It has been a little crazy getting settled in here, because there has been so much fashion week stuff going on. Meeting so many bloggers has been absolutely lovely and I’ve had a great time with all of them. Annie, of Time Enough for Drums, and Jennie, of Fashion For Writers and I did a silly photo shoot in Central Park which involved balloons, frolicking, and probably indecent exposure because my skirt was slightly shorter than I realized pre-photo shoot. Perhaps that is why I can’t go a day without the portly gentleman who sits on a folding chair outside the deli near my apartment telling me I have a “hot body”? Yeah, he’s a little creepy.

Brooklyn Baby

Brooklyn Baby

I want to talk more about the IFB conference and the renegade blogger meetup, but for now I’ll leave you with these photos from my rooftop. I have a bad cold and feel slightly delirious so I should probably wait until I’m in a saner state of mind! I feel as if I’ve been neglecting my blog with all of the excitement.

Sunnies: UO, Sweater, Belt and Shorts: Vintage, Shoes: Target

Brooklyn Baby

Brooklyn Baby

I miss you guys! Is there anything you want to see on here in the near future? I’ve toyed with a few ideas...more outfit or food posts, perhaps posts about Manhattan as I start discovering it, or more how-to’s? I would love to hear your feedback!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tahoe is Happiness

Tahoe

Hey, guess what? I'm in New York! I finally made it after dealing with my heavy suitcases, very lost taxi driver, and in-plane starvation. I mean, I hate airplane food but at least they could give us peanuts!

Tahoe

Before leaving California, I went on a little two day adventure up to Lake Tahoe. I've been to a lot of places in my life, but I have to say, Tahoe wins the award for my favorite place in the world. Its beauty always puts me in a good mood, and I have so many happy memories from my time up there. I love it during all its seasons, but winter is the best. It is less touristy, majestic, and filled with skiers! By my excitement you may have guessed that I luuurve skiing. It is one of the few sports I can actually attempt. I have horrific hand-eye coordination which makes any sports that involve throwing a ball around fairly impossible for me.
Tahoe in the summer is lovely as well, especially because it means hikes in the Desolation Wilderness! I've been on a few backpacking trips in Desolation, but since we only had two days we decided to do a short hike out to Eagle Lake. Can you believe something this beautiful is only 1.5 miles away from the road?

Tahoe

Tahoe

Tahoe

Our weekend was also filled with insane feasts of vegetables, PEZ, weird beer drinking (my friend became mesmerized by a beer called 'eye of the hawk' and accidentally purchased it) and a car ride back of awesomely bad 90's music. Who remembers 'No Scrubs', 'Wannabe', 'Summer Girls', 'Barbie Girl', and 'C'est La Vie'?

Tahoe

Tahoe

Tell me about your favorite place.

Oh, and is anyone going to be in NYC for fashion week? I'd love to meet you!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Cooking Adventures: The Jam Plan

The Jam Plan

"I needed a plan, a plan to get over my man. What's the opposite of man? Jam."

If you know where that quote is from you now realize that I have a not-so-secret obsession with Friends. My friend Maggie remembered it for me, she is quite the Friends aficionado. To be honest this jam making sesh has not been to get over a man but to try to stem the ever present flow of fruit into our house. We have pears, plums, peaches, apples, and walnuts all over the place. If anyone else has an overabundant garden you know how it goes: first you're excited and go out and spend your days eating fruits and vegetables off the plants and trees, then you start to get a little bit sick of them but you're still making fruit pies and zucchini bread, then you grow completely desperate and start doorbell ditching people with bags of squash, then you give up and start throwing all of the rotted fruit you have in the compost bin. This is where canning comes in. While you may not want to spend 4 hours of your day up to your elbows in cooking fruit, you save so much of the bounty for later on in the year. It's good for the environment because you stop the waste and have fruits and vegetables preserved for the winter so that you don't have to buy tropical fruits from South America. Plus, there is no better present than a bottle of home made jam, trust me. Sooo, canning 101. This is it!

The Jam Plan

Once you finish reading that you may be a bit overwhelmed, but I promise you, you should try it! It really is easy. And you will feel like the ultimate domestic goddess (or god!).

Supplies:
- A VERY large pot. You need something that is large enough so that the jam doesn't boil over. I think something that is about 8 times the size of whatever fruit you have in it is a good rule of thumb. A good place to find these? Thrift stores! Something copper is the best, although cast iron works well too. I'm pretty sure the one I use is aluminum. Don't use a non-stick pan because you will ruin it.
-A large wooden spoon.
-Ladle
-Canning jars. They are always available at hardware stores. 8 oz jars are a good size.
-Scales (again, if you don't have them they are often easy to find at thrift stores).
-Cutting board and good knife.
-Candy thermometer (optional)

For the Jam:
-Fruit
-Sugar
-Lemon, depending what fruit you're using.

Instructions:
Open all of your jars, separating the rings from the lids. Wash everything in very warm water, dry off, and try to keep it warm-ish. Very cold jars can crack when they come into contact with the hot jam.
Take your fruit (this time I used plums and strawberries), and cut up everything that you want to use into pieces about the size of a quarter, removing the pits. Weigh the fruit. I like to make sure that I am using an even number just to make weighing everything easier. For example, this time I used 1.5lb strawberries and 1.5lb plums, to make 3 pounds.

The Jam Plan

After you weigh the fruit put it in the pan and begin to stew slowly on low heat. You do not need to add any water to the fruit because the liquid will come out of it as it begins to cook. However, if you notice that the fruit is sticking to the bottom of the pan you can add a little bit of water, about a tablespoon or two.
Once the fruit is tender, add the sugar. Use the same weight of sugar as the fruit (so this time I used 3lbs sugar to 3lbs fruit). Pour the sugar over the fruit and begin stirring. Keep stirring until all of the sugar is completely dissolved, otherwise it will crystallize and stick to the bottom and sides of the pan. Softer fruits require the juice of about 1/2 to 1 whole lemon per pound of fruit, to help with setting. I didn't use any because plums set easily.
After the sugar dissolves, turn up the heat and begin to boil rapidly. Rapid boiling is key because if it boils too long it will not set and/or the fruit may burn. Make sure you test early for setting, some jams can be ready after 5 minutes, although I find it usually takes mine about 15-20 minutes.

The Jam Plan

How to test that the jam has set:
My mother swears by a candy thermometer, but this never works for me. The rule of thumb is that you boil the jam rapidly and by the time the temperature reaches 220-222 degrees Farenheit it is done. Make sure you don't let the candy thermometer touch the bottom of the pan because you will get a false reading.
Now, on to my method: Take a little bit of jam and put it on a white saucer. I like a white or light colored saucer because you can examine the color of the jam as well. Allow the jam to become quite cold, and then see if it forms a skin and wrinkles when pushed with your finger. Basically, it should have the thick quality that jam has, and shouldn't be sliding around on the saucer. IMPORTANT: if you think that your jam is ready, take the pan off the heat while you are cooling the jam on the saucer. Otherwise it will keep boiling and will burn or may not set.
Do you see the skin the jam has formed around my finger?

The Jam Plan

Canning:
Boil up some water, take it off the heat and put it in a bowl, and immerse the lids of the jars in it. This will soften the tacky bit around the edges which will adhere to the jars. Give it about 10 minutes.
While you are waiting for those, begin ladling the jam into the clean jars. Fill the jars until the jam is about 1/8th or 1/4 inch from the top. Be careful as you are filling the jars. Jam is boiling and sticky, not a good combination for your fingers! Make sure you are near a sink so that you can run your hands under cold water if you burn yourself.
Once the jars are filled, put the lids on, and screw the rings around the top. Make sure you don't tighten them ridiculously tight because they will get tighter as they cool.
As the jam is cooling, you will hear little pops as the lids suction onto the jars. A few hours later, after the jam is completely cool, press the tops of all the lids. If they are sucked down, they are sealed. If there is a jar that isn't, and you can hear the lid clicking up and down when you press it, don't worry. Just put the jam in the fridge and make sure you use it right away.
You're finished, hooray! Now you can make pretty labels and give the jam to your friends. Or keep it all to yourself, like Joey!

Jam

Let me know if you try it or if you have any questions!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Extreme Picnicking

Picnic

Picnic

Okay, so these photos are far from extreme, but I'd just like to point out that I'm a semi professional picnicker. It is one of my favorite past times, and I've picnicked through France, across the U.S., on mountains, in boats, you name it. These are my top picks for a rad picnic.
- Food. Like more than you would ever need, ever. Not having enough food at a picnic totally ruins it. Good picks? Egregious amounts of cheese. Champagne or Pimms. I prefer Pimms because it screams summer. Lots of fruits and veggies. Some kind of freshly baked bread. All of these elements put together and you're golden.
- Blankets. More than one if you're picnicking in a somewhat hardy area such as on top of a mountain in the wind. (That's extreme picnicking for you right there.)
- Card games, Frisbee, or if you're having a solo picnic. Summer without Frisbee isn't really summer. 'nuff said.
- Assorted cutlery, plates and glasses. Don't be the one who makes everyone swig out of the same champagne bottle or forgets a knife...tearing off cheese with your teeth is too barbaric, even for extreme picnicking.
- Extras: Music that won't piss off everyone around you, a cooler filled with ice for serious warm weather picnicking, large hats, desserts, thermoses filled with tea, croquet.

Picnic

Picnic

Flats: UO, Scarf (tied on wrist): Vintage Liberty of London, Dress: Vintage, Belt: Thrifted, Hat: Bought in a random store in Maui

Picnic

Where is your favorite place to picnic?

P to the S: My twitter link is now working. Sorry for being hopeless. I seriously need a twitter tutor.
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