Category Archives: Shopping


Ippolita Wonderland Party Ring

Recently, I was up in San Francisco, and was shocked at how little plastic surgery I saw.  Living in SoCal I had largely forgotten that most people are not actually blond and that the average 50-year-old woman doesn’t naturally have the full, perky breasts of a Barbie doll.  I saw people with…brown hair.  Boobs that didn’t resemble globes.  Facial expressions.  And they were eating food.  Really good food.

While we were in SF I celebrated another birthday…one that is precariously close to a rather large number.  I started realizing that I had outgrown certain things.  One of those is the hope that someday I’d be perfect. I’m appreciating that being flat-chested means I can sleep on my stomach.  That my stick-straight hair can only really successfully be stick straight.  That my inability to do just one thing at a time enables me to, well, do more than one thing at a time.  And I’ve come to know that I’m officially too old for some of the clothes in the catalogs I still get, and no matter what anyone says it’s ridiculous for a woman of my age to be wearing a micro-mini.

One thing for which you can never be too old, thankfully, is jewelry.  While the world most likely no longer appreciate viewing a large swath of my thigh anymore, they’d surely enjoy a well-positioned delicacy made of semi-precious stones, something that says “maybe I can’t wear short skirts and over-the-knee boots anymore but I can afford better costume jewelry now”.  I saw this Ippolita Wonderland Party Ring in the Bloomingdales catalog, juxtaposed to a stack of a dozen or so rock-candy bangles with gorgeous hammered workmanship and thought, yeah, that still works.  At $795 a pop you’d hope to be going to a lot of cocktail parties to get your money’s worth, but nice work, Ippolita — the online photo doesn’t do it justice.

Books Cooking Food

Mastering the Art of Cooking (so that you can master the art of eating)

I’m taking this week between Christmas and New Year’s off from work, and I am very, very happy. I think that one of the things that contributes most to one’s quality of life is the ability to sleep until one naturally wakes up, as well as not having to scream at people to brush their teeth and comb their hair and eat breakfast while packing their lunches in order to get them sent off to two different schools. It’s times like these that I fantasize about moving to a cozy mountain cabin, free of television, where we’d subsist on the land and the land alone. With my stamina for physical labor we’d surely starve, but what is food when you have love? (As a side note, for Christmas my very kind husband (who apparently does read my blog after all) surprised me with the LV Tivoli PM…spectacular! So even though the mountain life might be quiet, the deer probably couldn’t fully appreciate the Louis, so maybe we’re better off being part of society after all.)

This week I’ve been thinking that although I wouldn’t make a very good stay-at-home mom, I would indeed make quite a good stay at home person. There would be thousands of activities I could explore, none of which need to be revenue-generating: I could paint movie sets, knit hats and experiment with butter all to my heart’s content. This week, I did something that I never usually get to do: watched movies. I watched The Devil Wears Prada (I told you, it’s been a long time since I’ve watched a movie), which was basically like my experience on Wall Street but with more attractive people and nicer clothes, and Julie and Julia, which I really didn’t think I’d like but which I found quite entertaining. I love to cook. And even more, I love to eat. But lately I’d been feeling like all the new cookbooks I’d seen were recycled variations on everything I’ve already tried. The best go-to cookbook I have is The New Best Recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, which, aside from providing the best recipe for cooking well-known recipes, gives you scientific detail, and results of kitchen testing, resulting in a fascinating course on cooking. For entertaining, I love Charlie Trotter Cooks at Home from which all my dinner party greatest hits are spawned. But after watching Julie and Julia, being properly and overtly influenced by the media, I flipped through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and it’s far flung from the cookbooks of today — no pictures, just recipes. But in looking through it, it did pique my interest — Julia (and Simone and Lisette) did do her own kitchen testing a la America’s Test Kitchen, and it can’t hurt to have the classics. She also provides helpful and effective substitutes for French ingredients that can be found in American grocery stores. I’ve linked above to Amazon, which currently has a great deal going — a 2-volume set, hardcover, for $39.98 (56% off list price). So at that price, the risk is pretty low, and should pay for itself with a single use (think at least $100 for a party of two to dine on anything close), so go ahead — follow my lead –and buy lots of butter.

Fashion Shopping Whining

Skinny Jeans

I have discovered one thing more humiliating than trying one swimwear. And that would be shopping for a pair of skinny jeans. Not only painful, but physically exhausting as I breathed irregularly and wrestled myself into these vacuum-sealed contraptions. You can see at right what they’re supposed to look like. Cute with pumps and boots, right? Totally not cute on me. Today I tried on some Paige Petites (which I was sure would fit me but didn’t), some J Brands, and a number of others I can’t recall, all of which resulted in an unsightly bunched-at-the-knees and horizontal lines on the back-of-the-thigh-look. It did not look like the picture to the right nor like the woman who was helping at the school morning drop-off who had the perfect skinnies with gorgeous boots, who inspired me to start this painful quest. I can’t quite figure out the problem — is my butt too small or too big? Do I need to have bigger hips? Thanks to my friend Nina, I have been on a handbag-leggings-skinny jeans rampage. The bags always work; the leggings look fine, but the skinnies — can’t seem to get them to work. Are they really that different from leggings anyway — and will my life be incomplete without them?

I was with my 4-year-old daughter, who accompanied me to the Komen Race for the Cure this morning (and we Sat in the Park and Ate Cookies for the Cure because we had to park so far away that she was spent by the time we got to our team tent), and she was able to pick out 6 outfits, all of which looked good on her, even with the Princess Leia double-buns she had requested as a hairstyle this morning. She even did a 3/4 pivot while checking herself out in the mirror for full effect. So maybe I should give up on the skinnies and just focus my energies on clothing my kids.

Fashion Shopping Uncategorized

Handbag Emergency

Yesterday my friend Nina called me with a handbag emergency. With YSL Downtown Tote in hand, should her next purchase be a Bottega Veneta hobo, YSL The Muse, or a Valentino Nappa 360 Hobo?
It’s only in dire times sometimes that we take time to assess our priorities. What is the right portfolio of handbags right now? Which best hedges against drastic changes in the fashion climate, and is best suited to protect the interests of you and your family? I’m giving that some hard thought.
I was pretty committed to the as a classic addition to my portfolio, but I’m having second thoughts. First of all, when have I ever been a classic kind of person? Second, am I adding an LV just because I feel I should have one in the portfolio — and would it be equally effective to add, say, a Valentino Petale Satchel to the collection? Third, won’t I eventually bore of it anyway — eliminating the point of being classic?
In addition to the Tivoli, which is still in the running despite being a canvas bag for $1,000, are the above: from left to right: Valentino Rose Vertigo Hobo ($2,395), Coach New Annie ($798), J. Crew Campo ($298). If we assume the Tivoli goes into the portfolio, the likely complements would be the lower-priced Annie or Campo. Annie has the advantage of over-the-shoulder-carryability, but overweights my portfolio on metallic bags; Campo is a practical, functional bag with a classic appearance and an over-the-arm portability, but makes less of a statement. Valentinos are certainly statement bags, and for the price point, would trump the Tivoli in the blue chip spot. I also really like the Valentino Petale Satchel which has been controversial in the handbag addict circles — but I think the leather petals are gorgeous.
Another option would be to forego the Tivoli, and fill the LV void instead with the LV Vernis wallet (in the deep aubergine shade I love). Anchor then with a Valentino, supplement with an Annie or a Campo, and revisit the Botkier selection (I am clearly overweighted on Botkiers, despite having sold a red Bianca this season).
Portfolio strategy. It ain’t for the faint of heart.

Fashion Food Popular

Louis Vuitton Tivoli PM and No I Don’t Have a Brain Tumor

To your right is the Louis Vuitton Tivoli PM bag. It will be the next handbag I purchase, especially since I apparently missed the boat already on the Kooba bag that was specially designed for an HSN segment co-promoted by Lucky magazine. The TV event starts on Friday but it looks like it’s already sold out online…(sigh) if only everyone else had bad taste.

Speaking of bad taste, I noticed today that everything I ate today left a bitter aftertaste in my mouth (Cheerios — bitter. Strawberries — bitter.). I was getting worried since I recall hearing (from a marketing person, not a doctor) that one sign of brain tumor is altered taste perception (although I think she said something like you could taste colors, or maybe she was talking about a different experience altogether). Anyway, I went to my Primary Care Physician (the Internet), and found a forum where people posted about the same symptom — and they had all eaten large quantities of pine nuts! Flashback to Monday night — my daughter and I chowed down on a bag of Costco brand pine nuts after dinner, squirrel-style. Apparently this can last for days — like possibly five or so days.

Back to the Tivoli. I actually went to the LV store to try it on, and I LOVE it (especially after my friends were selling me on how practical it is — “I spilled a Tall Latte on it and it wiped right off” or “Your kids can drop an ice cream cone on it and it comes right off”) except that you can’t put it over your shoulder. Well, here’s the screwy part: I LOVE how bags look when you can’t put them over your shoulder, because I like the look of satchels, but I always try to put a bag over my shoulder (two kids), so I fear its impracticality. However, I tried on the GM version which you can put over the shoulder, and it’s not quite as cute and is a tiny bit too ginormous for me. This is why I don’t yet own a Tivoli. Or do I need both?

Fashion Shopping

Angry Little Girls

Now that summer’s officially over, I’m dealing with the new two-kids-at-two-different-schools-that-start-at-the-same-time-but-are-20-minutes-apart-oh-and-my-husband-is-out-of-town-all-the-time-lifestyle. Add to that having to get people to do homework (as well as dealing with my own homework, which is of course work I take home), doing the cooking, cleaning and general herding of children, and it’s all enough to make me an Angry Little Asian Girl. As if she knew, my friend Sandra got me some Angry Little Asian Girl (ALAG) spirit gear, my favorite of which is pictured at the right: it happens to be a great little wallet, with lots of practical zippered compartments and enough slots to hold my incredible number of credit cards, and it also has one of my favorite comics on it:

Kim (Angry Little Asian Girl): I got you a gift.
Mom: Why you waste money?!?

My favorite part is the mom, who has what my friend so aptly named AMH (Asian Mom Hair) — the short hair with a perm. It’s probably the most unnatural state for Asian hair but strangely the most common configuration for Asian moms. I have on several instances begged my mom not to get a perm.

I also received a tote bag, which is well made and has really good compartments, including one of which all sensible Asian moms would approve: a hidden zippered compartment for your wallet! It really is hidden — you can’t even see it from the inside of your bag. Perfect for the paranoid, and a good fit for those who avoid being blown by the wind at all times (if you have an Asian mom you’ll know what I mean).

But Lela Lee, the creator of the ALAG, doesn’t stop with angry Asians. She’s got a whole slew of angry little girls, one to suit every haircolor and personality type. Check out the online store — plenty of cute things to be had. Be forewarned on the T-shirts though — they run REALLY small. I usually wear a small in most things and had to move up to a large in the ALAG shirts.

Fashion Shopping

Tea Collection

Today is my birthday (the best 26th birthday ever…this is, like, the twelvth one…?) , and I’ve really noticed a change this year. For one, if I’m ever seen without makeup, people ask me if I’m feeling okay (actually, people have been doing that now for about ten years). In pictures, I exhibit a trademark appearance of perpetual exhaustion (I also learned this year not to be photographed with your reports at work who are 10-15 years your junior with long blond hair, perfect teeth and skin) . I observe a sort of conservation-of-beauty-effect: I watch my daughters blossom while my own looks fade. I’m focusing on the parts that are still good: I still have pretty decent fingernails and my calves are still bearable in public. Palms of hands also still acceptable. Brain still mostly functioning.

As I think about youth, I find myself more and more wishing I could fit into my kids’ clothes — or at the very least that they made clothes like that in my size. One of my favorite purveyors of childrens’ fine clothing is Tea Collection, a San-Francisco-based line with global influence. My daughter has a purple tank-and-capri combo that is just to die for. They change their international theme seasonally, which keeps the collection interesting, and the clothes are really well-made: high quality materials, elegant cuts with simple but sophisticated drape. If you hurry , they’re having a Tea Collection sale on Gilt today. Tea offers kids’ sizes up to 8, so my children only have a few more years to enjoy this experience. As they say, youth is wasted on the young.

Fashion Uncategorized

Marc Jacobs Totally Turnlock

Will someone please talk me down from the ledge? After subscribing to a most dangerous service, which I’ll write about some other time (it emails you things that are on sale, in your size, from designers you like, daily), I came up on this gorgeous bag: the Marc by Marc Jacobs Totally Turnlock Tobo bag. I do love most things Marc Jacobs, but this bag crept up on me like the Botkiers of yesteryear. With its perfect puffiness, casually latched top and part-hobo, part tote presentation, I felt like it was an old friend. Or a baby. I got the feeling I imagine some women have when they see a baby — that irresistible urge to want to hold it. The simplicity of the design and the versatility of the white (I happen to believe in winter white) pushed me over the edge — the elements that make this bag appealing are the same ones that make Hello Kitty universally cute — not so much what is there but what isn’t. I also have a weakness for buttery-soft leathers, and this one looks like it measures up pretty well.

I’ve heard that Jacobs bags weigh a ton. Would that be a deterrent for me? Or could I argue that carrying the bag would be the only exercise that I get — and then perhaps that I should get two?

Fashion Shopping

Asian Fit Sunglasses

A couple of years ago I took a trip to Taiwan that would change my life. Having spent months prior trying to find a good pair of over-sized sunglasses that fit (and by fit I mean that it needed to meet the following criteria: 1) it should not miss the bridge of my nose completely and have to be fully supported on my face by my cheeks; 2) it should not have so big a gap between my brow and the glasses that the full force of the sun would shine on my eyelids, thereby defeating the purpose of wearing sunglasses in the first place; 3) it should not project off of my face in a mysterious floating manner that would conjure up ideas of man-in-space programs), I finally settled on a $450 Chanel pair (yes, it really was the only pair that vaguely fit me) that was adequate. I’d say it met my criteria 75% — gap was still there, but not so that I was completely blinded, and it looked mostly okay.

Enter trip to Asia. I ended up at various opticians because I was shopping for a good pair of regular glasses — being blinder than most bats, I would benefit from the ultra-thin high-index lenses that are available in Asia (apparently, Americans are not blind enough to warrant a market here of this sort). Tried on a few frames. To my surprise, they all fit. Heart pounding, moved over to the sunglasses. Again, they fit. All of them. If I knew how to pass out I would have.

I bought a pair, and from then on, my life was different. I could see outside — clearly. Nothing sat on my cheeks. I didn’t have to squint while I wore sunglasses. It was marvellous, like being in a black-and-white film that just got Technicolor.

Then — tragedy. A couple of weeks ago, my stomach fell as I reached into my bag (which at the time happened to be my Botkier Stirrup, in case you were curious), and it was gone. I searched frantically — nowhere to be found. After a day of despair (and several days of mourning thereafter), with fingers crossed I went online and ordered a couple of pairs of Oakley Asian Fit Sunglasses. They arrived within a couple of days, and I hurriedly ripped open the box and pulled out the Script model (I’d ordered two of the same) — and they didn’t fit!!! I was aghast. They still sat on my cheeks. Now normally, I would be apt to believe that this was due to a personal deformity of some sort — except that I had validation from my trip to Taiwan that most glasses sold overseas actually did fit me.

Which leads me to wonder if Oakley used actual Asians in creating the Asian Fit glasses? Or were they like some of the cosmetics companies who offered “ethnic” colors as they imagined “ethnic” people would be?

The story has a happy ending though. One of my kids had stuffed my sunglasses under the sofa in the family room (this is indicative of another problem that warrants a separate post altogether), and rediscovered them one day when I came home. I nearly cried.

Home Shopping

Envirosax Market Bags


As a bring-your-own-bagger, I used to alternate between bringing paper Trader Joe’s bags from previous trips (for whatever reason they seem the sturdiest – and most cheerful – of the paper bag types) and a bunch of canvas tote bags.Both required space and thought, two things of which I seem to be in limited supply nowadays.

Enter Envirosax market bags! On a particularly good day at the office, my team surprised me with a green botanical-printed Envirosax stuffed with a candle gift set (I am thinking of investing in risky derivatives sometime in the near future, because shortly thereafter, I also won a Garmin navigation system in a random drawing).Requiring neither space nor thought, the bags roll themselves into a teeny-tiny size and have fasteners to keep them shut. They’re super lightweight, and as small as they look, they expand into a roomy, sturdy bag. The empty, rolled up bags are great tucked into your purse, or kept in the car (which is what I do). And of course the bag isn’t limited to shopping purposes — the lightweight polyester material can be hosed down and is a roomy bag for the beach or pool, and the print is so cute that I’m sure at some point I’ll be telling you that I made one into a skirt.