Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I Heart Joseph Gordon-Levitt

I know "500 Days of Summer" has been around a while now, but I couldn't resist blogging about it. I just rented the DVD and watched it again this last weekend. For those of you who have not seen it, the plot is about a lovesick young man who falls for a girl who doesn't believe true love exists. But the story is told from a very clever, almost musical perspective. Meaning yes, there's a song-and-dance number and a super cool soundtrack. Besides it being a great story, I couldn't help but think how utterly swoon-worthy Joseph Gordon-Levitt is in this movie. He plays the hopeless romantic underdog quite well, don't ya think? And just in case you needed another reason to love him, click on the clip below. Utterly charming and adorable.

Update: 500 Days of Summer is now on HBO. I should know. I watched it almost every night while on vacation. Yes, I love it that much.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Summertime Nostalgia

I can't believe that summer is almost over. Unfortunately, I don't think I got the chance to savor it. Summers come and go so quickly for me now. I remember when I used to spend the season just hangin out with friends, sweltering in the sun at the community pool. Or biking at the beach and then having bonfires at night. Someone would almost always bring a guitar and we'd just sit there like beach bums enjoying each other's company. We were idle teenagers doing whatever the heck we wanted. Back then, summer seemed to last forever.

Today it's a different story. I've spent this summer working my ass off both at the office and at home. Between home renovations, work travel and juggling temporary childcare, I think I only made it out to the beach once. But I'm determined to take advantage of the next couple of weeks before Mia heads back to school and Fall starts to creep its way back into the calendar. I've got a few things planned: Disneyland, bike rides in Balboa, the Santa Monica Farmers Market and maybe, just maybe I may even be able to squeeze in a quick road trip. I'm calling it my summer's last hurrah!

In the meantime, I hope that you all have a great weekend! I leave you with an oldie but a goodie. The Dove Shack's "Summertime in the LBC." I listen to this song and all I can think about is driving with friends along Pacific Coast Highway, windows rolled down and wind blowing in our hair. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Style Crush: Olivia Palermo

Okay, I know there's nothing real about MTV's reality show, "The City." The storylines are mind-numbingly irritating. I can barely stand to watch it. But I can't help tuning in just to see what the cast is wearing. One cannot deny the fabulousness of their wardrobe, particularly Olivia Palermo's. I am, admittedly, in complete style envy. I love how Olivia is always on-trend, yet still manages to come off as classic, modern and elegant all at the same time.

Love how she paired a chunky knitted cardigan with a sheer blouse and black pencil skirt. Looks professional but stylish and feminine as well. This is my ideal office outfit. Though I gotta say, I'd probably end up kicking off those heels under my desk when no one is looking.

Above from L-R: Olivia makes liquid leggings look classy by pairing it with simple pieces and red patent shoes. The fit of her tuxedo-style suit is perfect. Tailored just enough to give it that feminine spin. Of course, a killer Birkin bag makes for the ultimate accessory! My fave of the three though is the knitted shift minidress with the bell sleeves. It's modern-day retro at its best.

Above L-R: Olivia shows us that gray flannel (or is that tweed?) skirts don't have to be boring, leather dresses can be elegant and boho can be totally captivating and ethereal.
She even makes shorts look chic! I especially love the outfit in the middle. The floppy-bowed, white, button-down shirt reminds me of Chanel.

The New York Post's Page Six did a feature on Olivia's Tribeca apartment. Of course, her savvy sense of style is also apparent in how she's decorated her home. Doesn't hurt at all that her mother is an interior designer. I heart those tufted art deco lunge chairs! When it comes to furniture, I go completely weak for anything tufted or embellished with nailheads. As you can see, Olivia's got both those design elements in the chairs and the ottoman. For more photos of her chic pad including a truly envious closet, click HERE. The article is a little dated, but I thought you might appreciate the photos. Enjoy!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Cupcake Recipes Galore

I feel like I've hit the cupcake recipe jackpot! Check out http://mingmakescupcakes.yolasite.com/ for 33 cupcake, 6 cookie and 3 savoury recipes. Super simple to navigate. Beautiful, straightforward food photography. An overall nice collection of delectable and innovative recipes -- you've got everything from the old favorite Red Velvet to the intriguing Sour Cream Fig Cupcake. I think I'll make Cupcake #27, Vanilla Almond with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting. Yummy!

(Image and recipe from Ming Makes Cupcakes)

Friday, August 20, 2010

How To Be Alone

Here's a great video from poet/songwriter Tanya Davis. It's funny, entertaining and serves as the perfect social commentary on the subject of being alone. Kinda makes me wanna go watch a movie solo... Okay, not really. But sometimes some alone time is good! Like when I wanna curl up with a book, or dance like a maniac in front of the mirror (which I did yesterday while learning how to "Dougie"), or drink wine while watching a True Blood marathon, or when I just wanna eat without having to talk. Now I'm sounding a bit anti-social, huh?

Anyway, have a great weekend everyone! Hope you've got some exciting things planned. I will be at Rock The Bells. I won't be going alone. But I may still dance like a maniac regardless.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Neutral Palette

I'm a big fan of color. Especially when it comes to home decor. Case in pont: The first sofa I ever bought with my first paycheck out of college was a celery green velvet. The first townhome my husband and I purchased had a huge wall that spanned the living room and dining room. This wall, by the way, was two stories tall due to the vaulted ceiling design of the townhome. I fearlessly painted that wall a deep red. Yeah, I know. RED. Thank goodness it actually looked okay. Good, even. I could come up with other examples. The point is, I have always embraced color.

Lately, however, I think I may be undergoing a slight change of heart. Neutral palettes have been striking my fancy... Light gray walls, white marble, muted taupes, clear glass fixtures, shiny chromes and bright white cabinetry. I'm attracted to it all. Strange considering I used to think that white or color-bare rooms were too stark, clinical and austere. But now I'm not so sure that's the case at all. In fact, I can definitely appreciate the sophistication and overall chic-ness of a neutral-paletted design scheme. I think the photo above from http://www.sletvoll.com/ is a great example of how a perfectly white room can be both modern and inviting.

Below are more photos of white/neutral rooms I like:

My favorite part about this dining room is the ceiling. Creative molding can make any white ceiling interesting.

I love the beadboard walls of this dining room. The espresso finish of the dining table and chairs really help warm up the room.

Love the tobacco-colored floors and the use of glass and silver. I also love how they used patterned rugs to add contrast and interest. Let's call this photo Favorite #2.

This room shows quite a bit of texture with the ornate chair upholstery and chair legs; the contrasting steel, stone and wood finishes; and the dark walls. It's not really a room that I'd have for my home but I decided to include it because the chandelier and mirrored cabinet are such cool pieces.

Who says gold and silver tones don't belong together? I think this living room challenges that notion beautifully.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Rainbow Cupcakes

Over the weekend Mia and I made the cutest Rainbow Cupcakes. The rainbow stripe effect comes from layering colored batter in white cupcake liners. Super easy, super cute and yummy to boot. Yes, I actually rhymed that last part.

I can see these as the perfect little girl's party dessert. Or even as a fun treat for a baby shower or other girly event.

Here's Mia just grinning ear to ear, excited with the idea of us baking cupcakes together. The ingredients are simple: White Cake Mix, food coloring (not pictured but I used McCormick's Neon colors), white cupcake liners, frosting (make your own or use Betty's version) and flower sprinkles. It's best to use a cake mix that uses egg whites. I'm told it helps minimize browning of the edges of the cake.

By the way, check out our newly remodeled kitchen. It's still incomplete (I'm still searching for glass cabinet knobs); but can you believe this entire kitchen used to be yellow oak with white tile countertops? Anyway, that's for another post, but just wanted to point the kitchen out cause I looove it!

Mia could not wait to get started. The kid was absolutely thrilled, I tell ya. Her Auntie Lichen sent her a homemade apron for her birthday and Mia was just giddy to get that thing on. Adorable, isn't it? Lichen is a dear college friend of mine. Super talented and creative. Check out some of her goodies (aprons, stationery, artwork) on her blog: http://www.blinkblots.blogspot.com/.

So we prepared the cake as directed on the box. We divided the batter into 6 separate bowls and then put different food coloring in each bowl. I suggest doing this a couple of drops at a time to get your desired hue. And every color is different. For example, we only needed 5 drops of the blue before the batter was the vivid blue we wanted. Yellow, on the other hand, was a different story. It took like half the bottle just to get the yellow to show up. I'm exaggerating. But you know what I mean.

We used forks for mixing. You don't have to. I read somewhere that forks would give more control when it comes time to drop the batter into the cupcake trays. I think we would have been fine using spoons. But ah well. The forks make pretty swirly patterns that Mia loved to watch.

Six colors: purple, blue, yellow, green, orange and pink. That's the order that I dropped them into the cupcake liners. Truth be told that layering the yellow and green next to each other probably wasn't a great idea since the colors blend way too well together. Obviously, you can do whatever color order you want.

We dropped each color one by one. Don't try to spread out the batter with your fork. Or spoon. Or finger. Don't even try. Doing so will only mix the up the colors. The batter will naturally spread itself out, so if you want to wait a couple of minutes before putting the next layer of batter, feel free. We, however, are of the impatient variety. We just plowed along layering colors with wild abandon.

Saved Mia's favorite color for last. Pink was our topper color. Mia's quite the girly girl.

We baked the cupcakes as directed and voila! Rainbow cupcakes! Notice ours has a bit of a swirly effect? Yeah, that's from the pouring of batter with wild abandon. But it looks cool regardless. You can't tell from this photo, but the cupcakes are still in their paper liners. the colors really show through quite well, don't you think?

Beautiful and scrumptious! It's a cool surprise! Most people see the cupcakes and think the colors are coming from the paper liners.

Mia exclaimed, "Mama look! The paper is rainbow too!" Indeed it is. Pretty, right?

We frosted ours with cream cheese icing. I'm a sucker for cream cheese frosting. A few flower sprinkles on top and we were done! Almost too pretty eat!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Louis Vuitton Fall 2010 Ad Campaign

Aaah, Louis Vuitton... Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. So late 50s/early 60s chic. The below-the-knee hemlines, circle skirts, nipped-in waists, bowler bags and even those very ladylike gloves! Marc Jacobs calls it a celebration of feminity. I say it's very Mad Men-esque. I could totally see Betty Draper in one of these ensembles. Most of these are probably not everyday wearable. I mean really, a wool, full-skirted dress? Probably not. But you can't help but notice how beautiful this collection is. And the ad campaign, shot by Steven Meisel, is equally fantastic.

Friday, August 6, 2010

100 Days, 100 Songs, 100 Dances

Here's a little something to get your weekend started. Absolutely highlarious! It's an awesome playlist, plus the shirt he wears in #15 is freaking hysterical.

Happy friday!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Ballerina Project

I was having a particularly drab day, feeling uninspired and just plain blah. Then I ran across an article featuring Dane Shitagi's "Ballerina Project". I was enamored with his photos featuring these graceful ballerinas amidst a gritty, frenetic New York City landscape. I've always been in awe of ballerinas in general. I find their lithe bodies and fluid, gliding movements just so beautiful. I mean, how do they do it?! How do they make their bodies move the way they do, and make it all look so effortless? Anyway, I love how Dane's photos capture a ballerina's elegant aesthetic, the beauty of her disciplined yet flowing movements, all juxtaposed against the creative chaos of NYC. Two seemingly opposing things combined to form something quite beautiful. I was entranced.

You can find out more about the Ballerina Project at http://www.facebook.com/pages/ballerina-project/22455674948.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Persistent rumblings

Lately I've been in a bit of a creative funk. I suspect this largely stems from my current love/hate relationship with my career. Some days I love what I do. Other days, I loathe it. Yes, yes, I'm blessed to have a job at all given the tight economy. And I don't mean to sound ungrateful as I appreciate all the opportunities that having a job has afforded me -- you know, stuff like dinners out, winter and summer vacations, swimming classes for the kiddo, cooking classes for me and other such experiences that having a decent-paying career has allowed me to have. I'm fortunate. I know.

But what happens when you crave the pursuit of other creative interests but long hours at the office prevent you from exploring them? Should you contain the persistent rumblings of entrepreneurial hunger all for the sake of practicality (hello, mortgage, car payment and freaking preschool tuition!)? And what do you do when the passion that was once reserved for your career has now been slowly and inadvertently re-directed toward other avenues??? Sigh...

I remember the day when I first learned the meaning of "Carpe Diem". It was in an honors English class during a discussion of "The Catcher in the Rye" that Mr.Schmenk talked to us about the importance of seizing the day. While I appreciated the discussion, I remember thinking to myself, "Duh, how hard is it to seize the day? Just know what you want and go for it!" I was 16-years-old... Young, naive, full of optimism and ideals... free of any real responsibility aside from fulfilling my potential. I was filled with an unending supply of unbridled energy, all of which went towards knowing what I wanted and going for it. It was all so... spectacular and full of promise.

Looking back, I think I could probably learn a thing a two from that kid.