Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I ♥ Noodles! (Noodle Bowl Fest)

A couple friends of mine have organized the very first Noodle Bowl Fest, taking place this year in Santa Monica, CA.

What is the Noodle Bowl Fest? It's a three-hour feast at the Viceroy Santa Monica featuring Asian soup noodles crafted by seven of L.A.’s hottest restaurants on Sunday, February 10th from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm.

(My mouth waters just thinking about it. I really, seriously, truly, and deeply ♥ noodle soups!)

Here's what's on the menu:
  • Din Tai Fung, the iconic San Gabriel Valley branch of the world-famous Taipei restaurant, is making Niu Rou Mian, otherwise known as Taiwan’s most popular Beef Noodle Soup.
  • Rodded, a 40-year family-run restaurant in Thai Town, will offer the Komenkul family's signature Duck Noodle Soup, made with stewed duck and bean sprouts in a cinnamon-tinged soy broth.
  • Tsujita LA head Chef Kenta Ikehata of Little Osaka's famed ramen shop is creating his popular Tsukemen noodles, a dipping-style ramen simmered for 60 hours served with a Tonkotsu soup.
  • Maximiliano’s Chef and Owner Andre Guerrero is showcasing a dish inspired by his mom, Filipino Chicken Noodle Soup (Sotanghon Manok), a chicken broth seasoned with Southeast Asian flavors and bean-thread noodles.
  • Chef David LeFevre of M.B. Post, a 2012 James Beard Award Semifinalist, Best New Restaurant and Best Chef (Pacific), is featuring Oxtail and Beef Brisket Pho, a popular Vietnamese noodle dish.
  • Seoul Sausage Co., the winners of the third season of The Food Network's Great Food Truck Race, will preview an exclusive dish for the event: Korean Army Noodles called “Budae Jigae.” But their version has a gourmet twist on this classic dish; spicy pork Seoul Sausage, braised pork belly, rice cake, ramen noodles, and roasted corn.
  • Whist at Viceroy Santa Monica’s Executive Chef Tony DiSalvo is preparing Kimchi Sujebi, a traditional Korean noodle soup made with handmade dough.

Also on the menu at Noodle Bowl Fest will be Singha Beer and a delicious craft cocktail courtesy of Karlsson’s Gold Vodka. The cocktail, called “La La Land,” is a tasty liquid treat comprised of Karlsson's Vodka, Aperol, raspberry and white pepper syrup, fresh lemon juice, fresh cucumber juice, fresh mint, and Bitter Truth celery bitters.

Street Symphony will be performing, and a percentage of the proceeds from the event will be donated directly to My Friend’s Place; a Hollywood-based charity dedicated to assisting and inspiring homeless youth to build self-sufficient lives.

The DH and I will be attending, so if you decide to go (I really hope you do!), shoot me an email and let me know. I'd love to meet you in person. Hope you can make it! 

Tickets are already close to selling out, so get yours here.

Hope to see you there!

Friday, January 25, 2013

My Latest Crush (Ted Baker)

A few days ago, I was writing quite confidently about my decided disinterest in shopping in general. I was suffering, I think, from a severe case of fashion ennui.

Which has been entirely cured by Ted Baker London. We could all pretend it's a miracle (*snort*) but really? All you need to do is look at this:

(Which I may have totally impulse-purchased. Eeee!)

And that isn't all! Check out the following for some serious closet-candy (the kind that could leave cavities in your wallet *ahem*):

1. Ted Baker Print Tunic Dress (I love a good shift dress - I find them surprisingly flattering considering the fact that they seem so shapeless, they're very versatile - can often be easily dressed up or down with the change of accessories and shoes - and really so comfy. This one's colors and prints make it great for a variety of seasons.)
2. Ted Baker Lace Minidress (Here's a fun take on the LBD. I've been steering pretty clear of the lace dress thing this past year, since I have the Unconditional Osier Dress in my closet, but I'm wondering if maybe there's room for a second...)
3. Ted Baker Embellished Fit and Flare Dress (This dress just takes my breath away. So lovely.)
4. Ted Baker Stretch Knit Sheath Dress (So perfect for day-to-evening dressing. Simple with just the amount of detail to add interest. Throw on a cardigan and polished flats for the office. Swap out the cardi for a statement necklace and the flats for pumps for dinner and drinks later.)
5. Ted Baker Double Breasted Trench Coat (Seriously so cute. Love the flared bottom half.) 
6. Ted Baker Cameo Printed Top (I love the whimsy of this little sweater/blouse. Adorable dressed up for work or down for the weekend.)
7. Ted Baker Embellished Collar Dress (There's something so striking about this dress - I really really wish it weren't sold out in my size. Gorgeous.)
8. Travers Bowler Bag (Great color, good size, nice pockets.)

Ah, Ted Baker. I think I might ♥ you.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Caped Cute-sader (Ms. Deschanel)

Okay, okay, lame title, I know. But look! Look at this:

Yes, you're welcome.

I've already got a cape in my closet, and I don't wear it enough to feel like a second is warranted, but the color - oh, that color! - is giving me second thoughts. (Not to mention third, fourth, and fifth ones....) 

Full disclosure - I love the idea of capes. But the reality of them is an entirely different thing. They're not as warm as you'd expect. I think this has to do with the fact that there are no sleeves and that there's a lot of access for cold air (drafty!) due to the wide bottom. Also, if you get the wrong one, it'll make you look like you're 1) wearing a blanket or 2) wearing a costume.

There's a tricksy fine line you have to walk when wearing a cape.

That being said - they're also super fun and can be a super chic way to top an outfit (see Ahn in her Stella McCartney trench cape here - though, is it really a cape if it has sleeves?).

In case you feel inspired by Zooey's ridiculously cute 'New Girl' wardrobe, but aren't sure about the versatility of a bright jewel-toned pink or feel daunted by the sticker price, here are a few other capes you might want to consider (most are on sale, too):

1. Kenneth Cole Hooded Cape (very cute and an amazing deal)
2. Jucca Cape (not sure how warm it'll be, but cute!)
3. Orange Buckle Cape Coat (like a vintage store find!)
4. AE Hooded Toggle Cape (Wish this was still available in more sizes...)
5. Women's Reversible Cape (I feel like the Von Trapp kids were wearing these as they fled the Nazis...amiright?) 
6. Marc by Marc Jacobs Forest Camo Cape (I just had to throw this one in there, for you know...you really chic forest rangers/wood elves/Rebel Alliance member hanging out on Endor. ^_-)

And these are neither affordable or even necessarily practical, but if we all won the lottery, we could all have this ivory wool one by Marni, this rugged hooded version by Burberry, and this odd but intriguing ruffled one from Dolce & Gabbana.

What do you think? Would you try a cape?

Monday, January 21, 2013

It's Finally Happened... (Kate Spade)

There's a "Carol" dress at Kate Spade. And no, it's not just a dress that I want and I'm calling it a "Carol" dress just because I love it so much.

Kate Spade actually named a dress, "Carol:"

Which means I'm totally allowed, right?

Speaking of Kate Spade, have you seen the post-holiday, new arrivals? There are a just a handful catching my eye:

1. Bradie Dress (Lately, I've found my taste in clothes leaning towards less embellishment than more. This simple, high-waisted sheath dress with it's beaded collar hits all my sweet spots - easy, sophisticated shape, always elegant black color, and the just-right amount of detail on the attached collar.)
2. Neal Dress (This is an adorable little day dress - pretty much perfect for any of the usual "occasions" of my life, including work, church, dinners out, and family get-togethers. Cheerful print and whimsical peter pan collar - love it!)
3. 'Meri' Sweater in Mondrian (This sweater, inspired by the art of Piet Mondrian, walks a fine line between totally fun and fabulous and '80s Cosby Sweater. I can't decide which it actually is. When I see it on its own, I'm underwhelmed. But styled so with the dark skinny jeans, classic pumps, and a playful necklace, it's pretty great! May have to sale-stalk this one.)
4. Deco Lora Dress (I don't know if this is actually a "new arrival," but I've only just noticed it, so we'll pretend it is. I love the less structured look of this drop-waist, sleeveless shirt dress, though I did notice that in this product page, it looks definitely fit-and-flare, which is...weird, right? Not sure how it's supposed to go, exactly. This is one I'll need to try on to figure out how it's actually fits. Hoping it's the former and not the latter.)

I have to say that after the shopping-frenzy of the holidays, I've been feeling a bit burnt out. Also, this time of year is always a little awkward, fashion-wise - nothing terribly fresh or interesting in the stores yet, lots of awkwardly unseasonal "resort" wear on display (which also just serves to remind me that I don't live the lifestyle that allows me to take off for more tropical climes for a couple weeks), and a holiday-fatigued bank account. 

Despite this, I did manage to pick up a Diamond Lambswool Sweater (in brown) on super sale at my local J. Crew, after my Day of Service event this past weekend (which went great! See photos from it here). I'm determined to wear it this week, despite the mid-70's to low-80's forecast we have for San Diego.

And then, of course, there's the Carol Dress. Which...well, I really think I ought to have, don't you?

How's the weather where you are? And what goodies do you have your eye on?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Operation Gratitude and the National Day of Service

Hi everyone! Hope you're all having a great week. 

This Saturday, January 19th, is the MLK National Day of Service and I want to invite everyone to participate in this really wonderful event.

Back in 1994, Congress designated the national Martin Luther King Jr. holiday as a National Day of Service. Across the nation, in pretty much every community, there are community service and volunteerism activities planned in honor of the day. It's a great way to get together with your friends, family, and neighbors to give back to our greater communities and recognize the value of service - both to ourselves as contributing individuals and to the recipients of our generosity and time.

No matter where you live or where your interests may lie, you can find opportunities to volunteer at the the MLK Day website as well as the Presidential Inauguration Committee's National Day of Service website (non-partisan).

For those of you who are in the San Diego area, I want you to invite you to join me (and Kate) at a Day of Service activity benefitting Operation Gratitude, which is an organization that sends care packages to U.S. Service Members deployed in hostile regions. We will be hand-writing letters and making cards and paracord survival bracelets that will be included in the care packages assembled and shipped by Operation Gratitude. 

You can register to attend here or just show up:

Operation Gratitude: Letter Writing Campaign for the National Day of Service

Location: Black Contractors' Association
6125 Imperial Avenue
San Diego, CA 92114 (map here)

Time: 10 AM to 3 PM (Come for the whole time or drop by when you can.)

Date: Saturday, January 19, 2013

This is a great activity for families - parents and older children can write letters and make cards or bracelets and even smaller children can participate by drawing pictures for inclusion with the cards and letters. I'm the event leader and will be there the entire time, so if you do attend, please say hi! 

What are your plans for the National Day of Service? If you have an activity in which you're participating in your area, please feel free to post the details in the comments below for other readers. 

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Welcoming Miss Wu (Jason Wu's New Contemporary Line)

Many of you may know how I ♥ Jason Wu. In fact, I had the good fortune to meet him during a personal appearance event at Nordstrom Fashion Valley, here in San Diego, a couple years back. His clothes are beautiful. Feminine, gorgeously cut and constructed - just really, really lovely.

And also, pretty much impossible to acquire within the limitations of my budget. For example, this (I love!), this (oh, yes, please!) and this (I need a life that requires dresses like this one). At least, until now.

Jason Wu has launched a contemporary line called "Miss Wu" that is debuting exclusively at Nordstrom.

All I can say is, "Happy sighs."

There are subtle stylistic differences between the designer "Jason Wu" collection and the contemporary "Miss Wu," line. The latter is younger, more practical for day-to-day wear, and as he puts it, more "downtown." And while I absolutely adore the designer line, I recognize right away that this contemporary line would play well with the rest of my closet, in a way that the designer line would not. 

While generally speaking, my contemporary-line acquisitions are awesome sale finds (full-priced is full-on splurge-time for this gal), with some careful sequestering of my discretionary funds, I think I can definitely manage to make some Miss Wu mine.

So, for starters, I love the two outfits above. But I've also got my eye on these others:

1. Miss Wu Belted Cotton Trench Coat (I love this coat - the deep olive color and the black ribbon-like belt. Lovely!)
2. Miss Wu Floral Print Silk Dress (I love a good shift dress and this print is so great. I'm a little ambivalent about the fact that the print doesn't continue across the back, but it's a great dress nonetheless.)
3. Miss Wu 'Bella' Belted Feather Print Dress (Black and white seem to be the colors of the post-holiday season, so this dress is a playful take on that - and the pops of yellow on the feathers? Genius.)
4. Miss Wu Lace Print Silk Twill Dress (Really so pretty! Can't you see it paired with a Jackie cardigan for ladylike or maybe a longer cardi for a more librarian look? Can't you imagine wearing it to brunch or dinner or a more casual wedding?)
5. Miss Wu 'Lush' Stripe Silk Twill Skirt (I love this skirt. There are about a million and five things I could wear with it, sitting in my closet right this second. Surely that means I'm allowed?)

So, what do you think? Will you Miss Wu?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Storyteller (OOTD & A New Year)

There's a story I liked to tell. It went something along the lines of, "I've never been terribly domestic. I have a high tolerance for mess. My husband calls me 'creatively messy.' I tend to stack and pile things - it's very characteristic of ENFPs (Myers-Brigg Typology Index), they say. But I always know where things are!" (Insert big smile here.)

Shirt: Burberry white shirt (similar here, here, and here)
Shoes: Sole Society Suede Wedge Pump (similar here, here, and here)
Watch: Michele CSX (Watch head and bracelet band)

It was a very compelling story. In fact, it was so compelling, I lived it for decades. Don't get me wrong - I love a clean house. Once, I shelled out the big bucks and had a team of cleaners come in and clean my house for me. It was wonderful. But guess what? The house reverted to its more usual messy state soon after. Every so often, we'd have company and I'd whip through the house like a frantic whirlwind, to get it in shape and make sure it was presentable.

As a family member once noted (with surprise and some sincere admiration), I'm actually pretty good at cleaning. I'm quick and thorough and can get a messy room into shape pretty quickly. I know what needs to be done and how to do it.

I just hated doing it.

And then, a few months ago, I was talking with a friend and she asked me, "What would it be like if you could have anything you wanted?" I remember looking around my then incredibly messy bedroom and laughing to myself, thinking, "Well, I'd start with having a clean room to rest in."

It suddenly dawned on me - I actually could have it. I could give it to myself. And so, that day - I cleaned half my room. Really cleaned it. I started with the area around my bed. I sorted out and carried away all the kids' toys. I went through the piles of magazines and papers and dumped things in the recycling bin. I shelved books and put away clothes and dusted and when necessary, scrubbed. I got into all the random bags of stuff that had been stored stashed in corners and niches and either put things away, threw things away, or placed them in bags to be donated. I vacuumed. I changed the sheets and duvet.

It was pretty bad. But it was also really good. And a few hours later, I could stand at one end of my bedroom and look admiringly towards the other end, which was clean and sparkling.

And I breathed.

That was over a month ago. Since then, I've tidied up the rest of my room. I've kept it clean. During the two-week vacation I took over the holidays, I extended my tidying to my closet, the downstairs coat closet, the first floor bathroom, living room, kitchen (which was already pretty clean - I can't abide a messy kitchen for long), and dining room. The entry way. I'm tackling the kids' room next. I'm living in - gasp! - a clean house.

I'm telling a new story now. One where the house is clean and stays relatively neat and orderly. The one where I set boundaries and expectations for myself and my family and we respect them.

I told my friend (the one who asked me the first question about what might it be like to have anything I wanted) about this recently, and she replied, "Wow - that sounds really powerful."

It is powerful. But there's a part of me that's a little embarrassed by it too, because that's the person I am, of course. A powerful one. I've always been. She shows up in my public life - a woman who can manage lots of people, large and multiple projects, competing timelines, etc. My husband observed to me once that while I was a pretty strong ENFP, my public face projected an ENFJ - someone much more orderly, disciplined, and detail-oriented. People might expect my house to be neat and well-appointed (which it is, when you can see under the clutter - which you now can!) but for the longest time, it was anything but.

2012 has been and gone. We made it through yet another round of birthdays, anniversaries, work schedules, holidays, get-togethers, alone-time, television seasons, natural seasons, sports seasons, fashion seasons, elections, and shopping seasons - Mayan calendars not withstanding.

I for one am looking forward to an incredible 2013. As my good friend Mary wrote, "May this be a year of choices that bring us all joy."

And rather than making resolutions this year - which, let's face it, is a futile, sort of self-deluding exercise, since we all know New Year's resolutions tend to lose their luster after the first couple weeks months of the year - I'm telling new stories.

I'm telling new stories about my life and who I am.

What about you? What are the stories that you've been telling about yourself? What are the new stories that you might tell instead?

In case you're looking for more tools or resources to help you kick off your new year, I used Susannah Conway's Unraveling the Year Ahead 2013 workbook (free download in the post) and thought it was a  great way to reflect on the past year and develop intentions for the coming one.