Thursday, March 31, 2011

summer dresses by amanda uprichard

I've had my eye on up and coming designer Amanda Uprichard. Popularized by the girls of The Hills (I know, I know, an irritating show), her silk dresses are now popping up everywhere from trendy boutiques to Nordstroms. These are the kind of dresses that have me yearning for summer. Uprichard's breezy silhouettes (I've never met a tulip hemline I didn't like) in candy colors and silk fabrics are decidedly feminine. They make summer dressing look so easy and fresh. Alas, at $200 a pop, I'm gonna have to wait for a sale before these pretty little dresses make it into my closet. But that doesn't stop me from admiring them from afar. Here are some of my favorites.

Okay, so this last one isn't exactly candy-colored. But I love the tiered skirt and the top is a racerback, which I've found to be quite a flattering cut.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

the parker palm springs

A girls weekend in Palm Springs... I can't think of anything better or more overdue. We wanted an easy getaway and Palm Springs seemed to fit the bill perfectly. Only a two hour drive from Orange County, this desert oasis has everything a girls' weekend needs -- luxe resorts, full-service spas, good eats, vintage shopping, a viable nightlife and an overall kitschy vibe made for fun and relaxation.

In two weeks, I will be basking in the desert sunshine sipping a mojito and taking in the genius design aesthetic of Jonathan Adler. A New York Times review hailed The Parker as "retro-groovy", "hippy-chic" and "glamorously cheeky." Sounds like my cup of tea! Can't wait!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

smitten: Chanel mini classic

Ridiculous how smitten I am with my new Chanel bag. Beige caviar leather with gold hardware, this mini classic makes for the perfect accessory. Love that this can be worn as both a shoulder bag or as a crossbody. It can go casual or dressy. It's quite versatile really. And when it comes to bags, you absolutely can't go wrong with Chanel, right?

Monday, March 28, 2011

1969 denim

Everytime I hit up Robertson Boulevard, I always make it a point to stop by Gap's 1969 concept store. My first encounter with this store was last Fall. Check out that post HERE. I walked in and had no idea I was shopping at The Gap. That's because the Robertson store is carefully and expertly curated to carry only the hippest of their 1969 line. The layout, the selection and the overall vibe is unlike that of your typical mall Gap.

Walking in, you'll find a wide selection of denim in various washes, cuts and styles. There's actually been a lot of buzz surrounding this season's line and I was really thrilled to discover they came out with this season's most coveted styles -- 70's inspired skinny flares, wide legs and high-waisted trousers. But will they fit well? Are they going to work as hard and look as good as my other designer jeans? I was completely rooting for this line to work as I'm really kinda tired of paying upwards of $150 bucks for jeans.

First off, forgive the photo quality. I decided not to bring my SLR (which I completely regret), so these photos were taken with my Nikon Coolpix (decent pics but obviously not as crisp and sharp).

Overall, most of their styles ran a little big for me. I'm typically a size 25, but I had to go a size down. Once I did that, I found that the jeans fit really well! My fave of the bunch was the high-rise trousers (shown above). I completely loooove them! They fit well around the waist, hips and booty area. The denim is substantial -- stiff enough to hold their shape but with enough stretch for comfort. The fit, the wash, the fabric -- all very well done! In fact, Gap's high-rise trouser jeans feel and look better on me than other higher-priced brands of similar style.

Totally diggin' these white high-rise jeans! Perfect for spring and summer. I can definitely see styling these with a simple, striped t-shirt and skinny belt; or a soft chambray shirt tied at the waist, sleeves rolled up; or a yellow tank with piles of gold jewelry. The possibilities are endless. I included a booty shot to show how well the back fits. Finally, great fitting white trouser jeans that don't make you look wide!

Jeans shopping can be a frustrating experience. But I actually had a great time thanks in part to the friendly staff at 1969. Here's Brian and his colleague (sorry I forgot her name but she was super sweet). Brian helped tremendously as I tried on several pairs, sizing up, sizing down, experimenting with different washes... Patient, honest and obviously loving his job, Brian provided awesome feedback on everything I tried on. It was a good time actually!

The best part? I walked out of there with two pairs of great-fitting denim in this season's hottest shape for less than $150!

For more on wide-leg denim, click HERE.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

a very merry unbirthday

Mia's birthday is three months away and we've decided to do a Whimsical Wonderland Party. It may seem premature to start party planning, but I thought I had better give myself plenty of time so I don't end up doing everything last minute and spending a small fortune in the process. This is how I usually start... Premature brainstorming. And then last minute execution.

This year, however, I expect on doing a lot of the custom creative elements myself -- decorating, baking, favors, invitations etc. Crazy? Perhaps. But with enough planning and preparation (and with the help of Mia's godparents and aunties), I think I may just be able to pull it off.

Below are some super cute photos I'm using for inspiration. Looks like fun, right?

Bright colors and paper lanterns make it a very festive Wonderland indeed.

Alice-inspired "Drink Me" and "Eat me" tags.

Whimsical cupcakes. Why yes, I think I will eat you, pretty little cupcake!

Love, love these paper poms. Martha Stewart actually has a great tutorial on how to make these pretty paper poms. Click HERE to see the tutorial. If I'm not able to find the paper lanterns for a reasonable price, I may just make these crepe paper poms instead. They make the room look like it's filled with bright hanging flowers!

The invitation plays an important role in setting the tone for what's in store on party day.
These get me excited with the prospect of falling down the rabbit hole.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

the anxious dreamer

So I've been feeling a little overwhelmed lately. It's been a doozy of a week, and it's only Wednesday! My poor little Miss Mia had to undergo oral surgery yesterday to remove an abscessed tooth. She had a filling done about two weeks ago and her little baby tooth couldn't withstand the trauma of the procedure. So it became inflamed. Poor thing was in so much pain that she was whimpering "ooweee" in her sleep the night before. It quite literally broke my heart to not be able to make her feel better right then and there. But that's all over now. Her "sick tooth" (as we explained it to her) is out and she is just excited that the tooth fairy visited her last night. Love how quickly kids bounce back! :)

Besides the unforseen tooth dilemma, I've also been dealing with a bit of dreamer anxiety. Most of you know that I left a stable, full-time, advertising career to pursue pastry and entrepreneurship. Luckily I've been able to get some freelance advertising gigs on the side to help sustain me financially. In the meantime, I've been diligently researching culinary schools and pastry programs. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find a local program that suits my expectations, needs and budget. It's been two months since I quit my full-time gig and I'm seriously chomping at the bit to get this pastry thing going already! I've even tried contacting local bakeries to see if they'll take on interns. Granted I'm currently only a home baker, but you'd think these bakeries would jump at the chance to get some free labor, right? Nope... No takers. Sigh... Patience has never been one of my virtues.

But I remain optimistic. I'm unfazed by these small setbacks. My determination is unwavering. I shall try. And I shall continue to pursue. :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

chicken tortilla soup

This Chicken Tortilla Chipotle Soup is my favorite, go-to, cold weather comfort food. It uses chipotle peppers and fire-roasted tomatoes, which results in a deliciously tangy and smoky flavor. It really has a wonderfully complex layer of flavors -- the smokiness of the chipotle, the tanginess of the tomatoes coupled with the sweetness of corn and the smoothness of the cheese and sour cream topping... Really yummy! It's a definite pleaser, even for those not a fan of spicy food. Because the chipotle offers a smokier kind of heat versus other peppers, even my spicy-averse sister loves this soup! But the best part is... This flavorful and hearty soup is incredibly simple to make!


1 lb. chicken tenders
3 cups chicken broth
4 strips of bacon chopped (I've also used chorizo or Portuguese sausage in exchange for the bacon. The Portuguese sausage has been my fave as it's really flavorful and can be used in the soup itself)
1 small onion finely diced
4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 cup of diced carrots (choose skinny carrots so you can just cut them into round slices)
1 chipotle in adobo chopped (this can be found in the Mexican food section of most grocery stores)
1 14oz. can of red kidney beans
1 10oz. can of whole kernel sweet corn
1 28oz. can of fire roasted tomatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Pollo de Caldo seasoning (Optional... this is a bouillon powder that I just like to add to any soup I make as it makes for a flavorful addition)

Toppings and garnishes:

Shredded cheese (I use a Mexican Blend, but you can also use a shredded smoked mozzarella)
Sour cream
Chopped cilantro (optional)
Diced avocado (optional)
Tortilla chips (I use really good, restaurant-style tortilla chips. Cabo Chips from Henry's is also a tasty option)

  • Boil chicken broth. Once boiling, add chicken tenders and boil for 5-8 minutes. Remove chicken tenders from broth and dice into chunks. Set aside. Keep broth in a very low simmer.
  • Cover bottom of a heavy pot with olive oil. I use my 6qt. cast iron pot. The heaviness of a cast iron pot really helps lock in the flavors of the soup. But you can use any pot you'd like, of course. I've just become a huge fan of cast iron cookware for the way it cooks and seals in flavors.
  • Once oil is hot, add bacon (or sausage if that's what you're using). Fry bacon until crisp. Remove from oil and set aside.
  • Add chopped onions and saute until tender and transparent.
  • Add garlic and saute for one minute. Careful not to overcook or burn the garlic as it will give off a bitter taste.
  • Add carrots. Saute for two minutes, enough to tenderize the vegetables.
  • Add chopped chipotle. Saute for one minute.
  • Add corn and kidney beans. Saute mixture for another minute.
  • Add fire roasted tomatoes. Saute for three minutes. All this gradual saute-ing really allows the flavors to combine.
  • Add diced chicken. Mix it all together and saute for two minutes.
  • If you used Portuguese sausage or chorizo, you can add them back into the pot. I don't typically add the bacon back as I don't really like the texture of wet bacon. It's up to you if you want to add these ingredients as part of the soup itself. You don't miss out on anything if you leave it out. Because we fried these in the pot beforehand, the flavors are already going to be in the soup regardless.
  • Pass chicken broth through a strainer and add to the mixture. Bring to a boil and allow to boil for a few minutes.
  • Add salt, pepper and optional Caldo de Pollo to season as you please.
  • Cover and keep on a medium simmer for at least a half hour to allow flavors to develop.

Serving Directions:
  • Place a liberal amount of cheese at the bottom of a wide soup bowl. Trust me, you'd want to use a nice wide soup bowl for this yummy soup!
  • Ladle in hot soup right on top of the cheese. The cheese should melt from the heat of the soup. This is the point where I start salivating!
  • Add crushed tortilla chips.
  • At this point, you can start eating the soup as is. But if you're like me, I like to add just a wee bit more topping.
  • Top with a bit of sour cream makes for a creamier broth and I love cilantro, so I sprinkle a bit of that as well.
  • You can also add a couple pieces of avocado if you'd like.

Trust me when I say that this hearty soup is deliciously satisfying! I made this once during a group ski trip to Mammoth. Everybody loved it for its flavorful fillingness! Perfect for warming up cold, hungry stomachs!

Monday, March 21, 2011

viva los colores

Absolutely fabulous editorial from Vogue Australia. The dresses, the accessories and even the scenery are complete eye candy. These images make me yearn for summer! Well that, and a Mexican vacation! :)

(images via Vogue Australia March 2011)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

for Japan with love

This Friday, I will be participating in a blogger's day of silence in memory of the victims and for the people of Japan...

We've all seen the pictures. My heart breaks to see so many who have suffered and so many more struggling to survive. This is said to be Japan's worst crisis since World War II. Last week's earthquake and tsunami were only the beginning. Since then the country has endured multiple aftershocks and it's struggling to contain a near nuclear meltdown. The conditions are dire. There is no food, no shelter, no electricity, no water.

We cannot sit idly by. Watching. Helpless. Because we can help...

To pledge your support, please click on

an ode to green

(Images via

An ode to green... As with all my posts, click on the photo to see a larger version of the collage above. Do you know how many names there are for the different shades of green? Allow me to count the ways... kelly green, bright green, emerald, lichen, moss, teal, lime green, shamrock, alligator green, seafoam, aqua, celery green, forest green, yellow green, blue green, jade, neon green, basil, olive, pine, asparagus, fern, jungle green, pear, viridian and my favorite apple green. Can you think of anymore?

And because I like this photo so much, I couldn't resist pasting a larger version of it below. I love her pretty green dress especially the ruffles trimming the shoulder and neckline.

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

wednesday links: a bevy of how-to's

Hello, my darlings. I thought I'd share with you a few ideas that's been floating around on the web. Here's to creativity, fun ideas and never being bored!

Recycled crayons take on new life. These could be really cool party favors!

I've always loved the idea of turning something hard and industrial into something pretty and wearable.

It's ironic how it always takes a little effort to make something look effortless. I promise you'll be able to do this messy side ponytail.

Pretty dip-dye ombre napkins. Perfect for a lovely lunch.

Check out The Glamourai's method on making costume jewelry look instantly stately.

Yummy sugar cookie pops. Here's the easy step-by-step.

Have fun playing, creating and sharing!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

pops of green

If you're anything like me, you probably wake up every March 17, get dressed as usual and then upon realizing it's St. Patrick's Day, scramble about to throw on "something green." My go-to "something green" are my green kitten heels. I couldn't resist purchasing them so many years ago even though I knew the color was a bit unusual. I mean, what the heck would I wear with dark lichen kitten heels?! But I was smitten with their ladylike pointy toes, elegant peek-a-boo design, comfy heel height; and of course, the clearance price tag certainly helped motivate as well! As it turns out, the shoes are actually quite versatile. They lend just the right pop of color to jazz up anything from denim to a plain sheath dress. And then of course, they save me from being pinched on St. Patty's Day!

Below are other pops of green that make quite a fashionable statement.

I don't think this outfit would have had the same impact without that kelly green scarf.
The pop of color totally turns up the chic-ness factor!

Shamrock pumps make this quite a charming ensemble.

Brightening things up with a jade-colored sweater.

Absolutely adore bright green paired with crisp white.

Emerald suede platforms are quite the attention-getter.
And I mean that in a good way.

Loove these forest green knee-highs! So delightful and boho chic.