Friday, February 26, 2010

San Francisco and my closet...

The only thing missing from this photo is John Stamos and the "Full House" gang picnicking. Now all I can think of is the theme song.  You're most likely thinking of it too. Why is this relevant you might ask? Because I'm going to San Francisco in the morning! Yay!!! 

Before I continue let's go back to Mr. Stamos...
Yep, that's me and Johnny back in the day. Totally shameless of me to put that on here but I just couldn't help myself. (This is what happens when I blog past my bedtime - all discretion goes out the window.)

Okay, back on topic...

I just spent way too long (2 hours) packing for this little weekend getaway.  I was standing in my closet determined not to grab the same 10 things I wear all the time because...

that never see the light of day. 

As I was going through my closet I found things I had completely forgotten I owned. Cute belts, shirts, pants...all out of sight and all out of mind. 

So I am publicly challenging myself to a new mission. I will take a proper inventory of my closet complete with a photo of every item I own and catalog it. I just downloaded the Style Book iPhone app to assist me. (deep breath) If I take a few pictures a day I should complete this task by the end of the decade. It simply must be done. 

Hopefully this will make the "I have a closet full of clothes with nothing to wear" syndrome obsolete. I bet I can even come up with a lot of cool outfits without having to buy a thing (except for maybe an essential accessory or two). I may even post photos. Who am I kidding? If I'm willing to post that photo of Mr. Stamos and me, you know I'll be posting photos of my outfits.

{Photo 1. here, 2. here, 3. my own, 4. here, 5. here via we heart it}

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Marvelous Marvimon...

This is my little tribute to Marvimon. It is this little gem of a venue I discovered on my tireless search for the perfect place to get married. Located in downtown LA, Marvimon was originally bought in 1924 by an Italian race car driver as one of LA's first automobile showrooms. Now it is one of the coolest lofts EVER. 

Marvimon has a beautiful backyard with a vertical garden - the perfect backdrop for a ceremony. The loft itself feels so warm and inviting. It is has so much character and charm, you really don't need to add anything to it. I would even skip flower centerpieces and just go for candles for a moody romantic effect. Truly one of the best places to have a unique wedding. I am in love with it.

So dreamy.

The only drawback, it ain't cheap. $6,000 for a Saturday wedding of up to 150 guests. On top of that there is a janitorial/trash fee of $350, site management and concierge which runs about $700-$800 and finally valet parking which is $10-$15 per car. If you get married on a Sunday it's $3500 for up to 50 guests, $4000 for up to 75 guests, $4500 for up to 100 guests and $5000 for up to 150 guest. Along with the additional fees mentioned above. Then you have to bring in catering, rent a few additional tables, linens, a bartender, alcohol, etc. (not to mention candles, a few flowers, wedding cake, photographer, wedding attire and wedding rings). You can see how it can all add up.  

Maybe we could have a potluck wedding. Or I could just instruct our wedding guests to have a big meal before the ceremony and bring snacks with them. That way we could bypass catering all together!! No?

Compared to some other venues I was checking out early on, Marvimon seemed a bit more reasonable. Mostly because we would have a super small Sunday wedding. I could easily convince myself... all that charm, all that character, all the beautiful pictures we would have, all for only $4500? Such a steal. It's just so chic... if any place was worth the money, it's Marvimon. I'm quite smitten if you couldn't tell. Yeah, I know, so much for a City Hall wedding. Marvimon takes all my dreams of having a cheap wedding and flushes them down the toilet.

Maybe my love for Marvimon will be like a summer fling... as soon as the infatuation fades I will be able to see it's flaws more clearly, realize it wasn't really true love and move on.  Then again, maybe Marvimon is THE ONE. I guess only time will tell. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Unhappily ever after...

A slightly unsettling twist on the classics from photographer Dina Goldstein. You can see the whole collection here.


Oh, how I would love to frolic in this lovely place. As long as there are no spiders or mosquitoes.

{Photos: Belle Maison, Mike Newling, Kim Payne via dress, design, decor

J. Crew Wedding Dresses...

The J. Crew Caroline wedding dress was the first dress I ordered. The original photo I saw of it was in the J. Crew catalog (different than the one above) and it made the dress look amazing. The picture above left me less than thrilled but the dress was in the mail so I was going to give it a shot.

When it arrived I was really impressed with how it was packaged. It came in a large white box with a beautiful satin cream ribbon tied around it. When I opened the box the dress was between folded sheets of tissue as well as stuffed with tissue to maintain the form of the dress and folded once lengthwise. It looked like true couture packaging. It also came with what looked like a wedding invitation with instructions on how to store and preserve the dress as well as a beautiful satin fabric hanger. The box and tissue paper was all archival quality so you could store your dress back in the box it came in. 

To my surprise the dress was much prettier in person than it was in the photos. When I tried it on I thought it was beautiful but I didn't have that "this is the one" feeling (sigh) so I packaged it back up and returned it to the store. 

I was a bit frustrated because there were other J. Crew gowns that I liked and would love to try on but I didn't want to have to order every dress in the catalog just to try them on. When I was returning the dress I asked the sales associate if they carried any of their wedding line in the store. I know they carry the line in their New York store so maybe they would carry it in LA as well. She informed me that you have to schedule an appointment to try the wedding collection on. They have one of every dress in a size 8 and they will pin the dress to fit you so you can get an idea of what it would look like. Yay!! J. Crew wedding gowns fit the same as their clothing line so a size 8 really is a size 8. What do they do for women above a size 8? Not sure. This is LA though and the J. Crew store is in The Grove where the average size for a woman is a 2 so they're probably safe. 

{Photo: J. Crew}


Monday, February 22, 2010

Mr. W...

 I just discovered this jewel over at Joanna's brilliant blog, A Cup of Jo.

There's No Place Like Home...

The Wizard of Oz is really just about two sisters fighting over a pair of shoes. These are definitely worth fighting for.

{photos: Julia via dressdesigndecor}

Loft Love...

This Amsterdam loft is going on my wish list. I just want to prance around with bare feet and do tour jet├ęs down that entire hallway.

{Photos by by Dim Balem posted by Kyra Shapurji via}

Simple & Chic at City Hall...

The more I plan our wedding the more I realize just how complicated the whole process can be. Not to mention expensive. The wedding industry is massive. The more I see the more I realize, for the most part, how corrupt it is (then again what industry isn't?). They will insist you need things that you don't, try to get you to want things you didn't even know existed and take all your money in the process (or worse, leave you with a mountain of debt).

A budget wedding is considered to be $15,000 for 75 people. $15,000!!!!!!! FOR ONE DAY!!!  I could travel to some amazing places for $15,000. Or buy a car. Or a Hermes Birkin bag. So it really makes me ask, is it all worth it?

After reading this at Meg's great blog called A Practical Wedding it really made me think.

I think there is something really sweet and amazing about exchanging wedding vows in a super intimate ceremony without all the extras. Making the union the focus and sharing it with the people who mean the most to you. After all, you'll only wear your wedding dress once, flowers die (do guests really care about the flowers anyway?), most wedding favors get tossed in the trash and no one will remember if they sat on fancy chairs or not.

I'm discovering that it's about finding what's most important to you as a couple. Your wedding day is a very important day, but it's just a day in the end. A marriage is a lifetime (hopefully). Plan accordingly.

I felt inspired by this couple's chic City Hall wedding in San Fransisco...

Stress free without compromising style or their bank account... I like it.

{Photos: Lilia Photography via Green Wedding Shoes}

Friday, February 19, 2010

What to eat in England...

I believe English food gets a bad rap. I remember when my sister went there she went on and on about how awful the food was. When I tell people that I love English food they look at me with a perplexed look and say, "Really?" like I had just told them I was running for president. I truly believe it is all one big misunderstanding. Communication getting lost in translation. I would like to try my best to clear things up. 

I will start with the first meal of the day. This is simple because you really only need to order one thing, the English breakfast. This comes with English bacon (different than bacon in the US, similar to Canadian bacon but way better), Heinz baked beans (you can only get these at specialty stores in the US - I seek them out because they are so good), eggs, tomato and toast (or if you're lucky, fried bread). 

Ian enjoying a yummy English breakfast

If you're in the mood for cereal try Kellogg's Frosties. You would think they were the same as the Frosted Flakes here but they're not. They are better. Didn't think that was possible.

Eat scones with jam and clotted cream. The clotted cream is a must.

Try the HP Sauce.

It is imperative that you order food outside of your comfort zone. Order things that you've never heard of. Things like Toad in the Hole - it's Cumberland sausage and Yorkshire pudding and it's amazing. Faggots in gravy (no, I'm not kidding) they're just meatballs. Bangers (sausage) and mash, shepherd's pie, roast beef, pork pie, Cornish pasty (LOVE the Cornish pasty), prawn cocktail... they are all really good. It's what the Brits are best at making, so try it. 

 Cornish Pasty.

Do NOT go into a restaurant and order a cheeseburger or any other American dish and expect not to be disappointed. Also, I have to advice against ordering English dishes from pubs or restaurants offering them here in the US. A lot of ingredients that they use in the UK aren't available here or they are hard to find and without them it changes the taste of the dish. 

You will get some of the best Indian food in the UK, it's their national dish.

When it comes to fish & chips I beg of you, please do not order this in a pub - even in the UK. You must order them from a proper fish & chip shop. Seek it out, walk miles in the rain if you have to - just do not leave England without experiencing this wonderful treat. If it's done right, it won't be fancy. You tell them what fish you want fried (cod or haddock sometimes sole) at the counter, then they'll fry it up in a huge fryer right in front of you along with chips. When it's done they will serve it to you in paper. Be generous with the malt vinegar and order a side of mushy peas. It is unlike anything else. I also suggest ordering the battered sausage (SO good) and perhaps a chicken and mushroom Pukka Pie. Man, I got so hungry writing this... I need to take a break and eat before I can write any more.

 The first time I had fish & chips...absolutely stuffing our faces.

 Fish & chips (with mushy peas) can be a bit fancier if you order them to go.  This was at Ian's grandparent's house.

 It's so good that you can have a full plate of food to yourself and still want to grab food off the plate of the guy next to you.

Onto dessert. Order the treacle pudding or sticky toffee pudding, it's beautiful (I love it how Brits use adjectives like gorgeous and beautiful to describe their food). The spotted dick (again, with the names) is a also a decent dessert. If banoffee pie (banana and toffee = banoffee) is on the menu, order it. Don't ask any questions, just do it. If you aren't that hungry skip the main course and go straight to the banoffee pie (see story below). If you don't like things super sweet go for the apple crumble with custard.
 Banoffee Pie
I HIGHLY recommend getting toffee from Thorntons (the toffee biscuits with chocolate were so good I bought all the packages they had in the store). If you pass by a Thorntons that has ice cream, get some. You won't be disappointed. 

 Toffee from Thorntons

For cheap candy get Cadbury's Eclairs (toffees wrapped in chocolate), McVities Gold bars, Maltesers and Angel Delight (thanks Laura!) which is an instant pudding you add milk to. 

If you can, go into a Marks & Spencers grocery store (their food only chain is called M&S Simply Food other chains carry food on a different level of the department store). You cannot go wrong in there...their sandwiches, salads and desserts are amazing. They also have the prettiest little petit four cakes that you can buy in a cute little pink box, I must have eaten dozens of them. If you could only walk away with one thing from Marks & Spencer's you should walk away with their banoffee trifle.

Eating food from Marks & Spencer

{photos: Great British Food Poster via A Cup of Jo, the pastry chef at home, cornish culture, google images and Marks & Spencer}

A little side story - Ian chose to get the banoffee trifle from the Marks & Spencer's at Heathrow airport at the end of our trip. He was about to finish it off when I asked to try a bite - the last bite (I had never had banoffee pie before this). That first bite was pure heaven. I felt a moment of true bliss followed by bitter disappointment that there was none left. It seemed like a cruel joke. How was it that no one brought this yummy goodness to my attention the whole time we were in England? I wasn't ready to accept that one bite was all I was going to get.  I was off to get myself some banoffee trifle. There was one small problem, however, we had already gone through security and the Marks & Spencer's was outside. I wasn't going to let that stop me. I found a security guard, asked him to let me out and explained my situation. Amused at my shamelessness when it came to sweets he said he didn't think it would be possible but I could ask his supervisor, then he directed me to him. I pleaded my case to the security man in charge. He looked at me like I was crazy and said no. I wanted to whine, "But whhhhyy??" like a five year old but realized it would be useless, pulled myself together and walked away like the mature adult I am. On our next trip to England, I will be getting that banoffee trifle as soon as I get off the plane.

Some more photos from our trip...

The underground
 I've always loved Peter Pan so seeing this statue in Kensington Gardens was really great. The exact location of the statue was chosen by J.M. Barrie who lived near Kensington Gardens and used the park for inspiration. In Peter Pan, Peter flies out of his nursery and lands beside the Long Water lake - on the spot where the statue now stands.

Covent Garden

 Who is that handsome man? Let's zoom in...

Yeah, I think this was taken right after I had spent a couple hours in Topshop. No. More. Shopping.

Abbey Road Studios. I'm a huge Beatles fan so this was a must.

Of course I had to cross it.

I'm not the only one.

It was pouring rain when the wonderful Paul Clarke wanted us to take a look at his garden. I took a look from the kitchen window and said how beautiful it was. He said, "No, you have to go out in the garden." But it was RAINING - the few times it rains in Los Angeles I just stay inside mostly. I told him I was all dressed up to go to Ian's grandmother's birthday party so maybe when it stopped pouring we could go out. He replied with, "Nonsense, just put on a pair of wellies and a rain coat." Before I could say any more he had wellies in front of me and a rain coat around my shoulders. I have to say I think it was better seeing the garden in the rain after all. 

Stratford-upon-Avon (Anne Hathaway's house)

Shakespeare's house

St. Mary's - Ian's primary school. A church with a real steeple. 

I thought tombstones only looked like that at Disneyland.

So sad to leave.

So that is all I know so far about British food. Did I leave anything out? Do you have any favorites or suggestions? I'd love to hear what you think!

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