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Cyber Monday Spoilage

2 Dec

Ah, Cyber Monday. Perhaps the only day of the year when we are expected, nay, encouraged to essentially play online shopping hooky. (Do it for the economy!)

But at the end of a long weekend spent gleefully clicking “proceed to checkout,” I’m beginning to feel a bit like an addict. Because after all that purchasing (most for others, and a little for me), the ease at which I find myself adding items to my cart is eclipsed only by the panic I feel at doing so. Do I really need this stuff?

Case in point, this gorgeous lace bodysuit.

ImageOh, it’s the perfect sexy layering piece for underneath a tank or sheer blouse! I will feel like Striperella-Meets-Black-Swan. How glorious!

So I add it to my cart, then continue clicking around to make sure there’s nothing else I missed, which brings me to the heart of the matter: if I didn’t need it 30 seconds ago, then I don’t need it now.

When everything goes on sale, I find myself adding items to my cart just because they’re discounted. Especially when said discount is greater than 40 percent.

ImageGlamtastic Charlotte Olympia sandals at 50% off? Yes please! And yet, I have a closet full of fabulous shoes that aren’t taken for a walk nearly as often as they deserve. And so they pop in and out of my shopping cart, hoping for some stroke of luck (poker winnings? a forgotten paycheck?) to warrant their purchase.

I’m trying to stick to basics that I’ve needed for a long time: a sexy black bikini (Shopping strategy: purchase one investment piece and one cheapy, compare upon arrival.), the Rag & Bone jeans that fit me perfectly, but that I can never justify at full price…

Image…and the white blazer that’s been missing from my wardrobe ever since I wore my last one to the ground. All are on their way to my doorstep, and yet I still react to every Take 30% With Promo Code CYBER30 email like a junky to his dealer. I just have to see what they’ve got.

Thank goodness for free returns.

The Brunch Bunch

19 Nov

Brunch in San Francisco is, in a word, outtacontrol.

It is simply un-San-Franciscan to pass a weekend without whiling away at least one day sipping creative daytime cocktails at a table littered with plates of egg-laden goodness. (In fact, I think it’s our love of brunch that has prompted us to top just about everything with an egg, from burgers and pizza to housemade pasta.)

So it’s quite an honor to become a brunch institution in SF, and few restaurants are more deserving than Foreign Cinema. The Mission mainstay has been serving savory scrambles, plates of fresh oysters, and kickass cocktails since Willie Brown was mayor. Yet somehow I had yet to hit them up before this past weekend. (Wealth of riches, perhaps?)

Here are some photos of the highlights. I’ll definitely be returning soon.

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Behold, the Bloody Caesar; a vodkalicious, clamato-laced breakfast cocktail that provides the spicy satisfaction of a good ol’ bloody Mary, but far less filling. Genius.

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Baked goat cheese and radicchio, which was a much-appreciated gift from the kitchen. Note to holiday gifters: when in doubt, just send cheese.

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The hard cider omelette, in which apples and chanterelles nestle cozily inside a package of perfectly silky eggs.

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The colorful flower petals in my side salad were a beautiful and elegant touch.

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The balsamic-fried eggs with garlic potato hash and prosciutto are nothing short of a culinary masterpiece. I’m definitely going to have to try to figure this one out at home.

I hate you, cystic acne

8 Nov

Zits suck, regardless of whether they’re pinhead-sized whiteheads or life-ruining, happiness-sucking, hide-your-face cysts. And for those of us who once saw a Discovery Channel promo for Face Eating Tumor and thought That title could totally apply to the throbbing behemoth on my chin, then you know a special kind of torture.

Because no matter how many cortisone shots you get, supplements you buy, or exfoliants you use, those suckers always seem to come back.

The truth is, there is no one-size-fits-all cure for cystic acne. In fact, it has dermatologists just as stymied as it does sufferers. Because even after they zap it with the best weapon in their arsenal (Accutane), there’s no guarantee that your skin won’t erupt again just in time for your wedding or corporate head shot.

That’s why I’ve chosen to share the five treatments that have worked best for me, in hopes that they might be a light-at-the-end-of the tunnel for anyone who has cancelled a night out or hidden behind a giant floppy hat because of cystic acne.

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5. Alotta Omegas

Whenever I bump my head, I get a goose egg. Fall and bruise my knee, and suddenly there’s a grapefruit in the middle of my leg. After a while, I began to wonder if this overactive inflammatory response might also be contributing to my acne issues. So I headed over to DrWeil.com to see what I could do about it. Turns out that taking Omega-3 supplements and also Evening Primrose Oil (a healthy Omega-6) can significantly reduce inflammatory response. I’ve been taking these supplements religiously for two months now and my skin is noticably calmer and more even-toned.

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4. Skip the Sweets

I went through an elimination diet phase where I cut out common allergens (dairy, processed sugar, gluten), then reintroduced them. Within two days of having a slice of cake, a gnarly cyst parked itself on my chin. For that reason, I am now passing on sweets and limiting myself to two alcoholic drinks when I choose to imbibe.

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3. Pat Dry with Paper Towels

I’ve had several people freak out and tell me that paper towels are way too harsh for my skin. But given the alternative — drying my face with a hand towel festering in acne-causing bacteria — I’ll take the paper towel. The trick is pressing your face into the towel, then gently blotting. NO RUBBING ALLOWED. This has helped me keep my cysts flying solo…as opposed to growing small families on my face.

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2. Clairsonic for Acne-Prone Skin

The best way to describe this is that it’s the skincare equivalent of an electric toothbrush. Once you clean your face with a Clairsonic, you’ll never feel as clean when you use your fingers. Because cysts have a tougher time forming when your pores are clean. Just be sure to get the brushes for acne-prone skin, they’re gentler than the regular strength and anti-microbial.

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1. Renova

Differin left my skin flaky and irritated, making my acne flare-ups even worse than before. Renova — which couples a higher concentration with a creamier consistency — has been a game changer for me. Not only does it help prevent my acne, but it also treats the tiny wrinkles that are beginning to crop up around my eyes. And because it help’s my skin’s appearance in general, I feel like it’s easier to conceal those big ugly cysts when they do appear.

Learning To Love My Thighs

30 Oct

Like most women, I am not 100% okay with my body. Specifically, the saddlebag/underbutt area.

I stand in front of my full length mirror daily, attempting to wish away the slight curve just below my hips, and the hint of cellulite below my behind.  I fixate on it, checking my reflection at the gym as I stretch, hoping the dozens of lunges, hamstring curls, squats, and ballet-inspired leg lifts I have just preformed have helped to smoosh and smooth those blobs of fat just a little bit.

But all I see are frog legs.

 

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I know I’m supposed to celebrate my strong thighs as powerful and instead stand there beating myself up. So now I have two things to hate about myself: not only am I not skinny enough, but there’s also something wrong with me mentally. Awesome.ImageAs a society, we seem to be caught between media messages urging us to accept our bodies no matter what shape they come in,  and constant warnings about the obesity epidemic. The message gets even more confusing when you look at supposedly tried-and-true fitness quantifiers — like BMI — obectively. (Some athletes, for example, tend to have high BMI’s because they’ve packed on so much muscle. That doesn’t make them obese. ) So in the absence of any clear message as to what we’re “supposed” to look like, wesubconsciously align our goals with the images we see the most: size zero models — all with a certain body type — airbrushed into superhuman perfection. Or at least I do.Image

Which is why  I found Robin Lawley’s post yesterday on The Daily Beast so refreshing. In it, the plus-sized model (and new face of Ralph Lauren) discusses the  “thigh gap,” or the space between the thighs that is celebrated on runways and in online thinspo groups alike. But she goes beyond the usual “blame the fashion industry” rant, and instead urges women to get right with themselves and put their priorities in order. She says:

“Why would I want to starve and weaken my natural body size? I’m not saying women who have it naturally are unattractive. But I would have to change my entire frame just to achieve something that seems so trivial.”

Of course, changing the way one fees inside is easier said than done. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. So I’m going on record as saying I refuse to pass my poor self esteem off as just another media casualty. I know those women are airbrushed. But they have nothing to do with me, or my body. All women in my family are slightly pear-shaped, so it’s genetically impossible for me to look like Kate Moss does in skinny jeans.  I will only look like myself in skinny jeans. And I need to do the work to start loving that.

So starting immediately, I’m on a one month scale and full-length mirror fast. I will only be be using full length mirrors to check my form at the gym, and will cut off any disparaging inner monologues. If I need to see if there’s lint on my pants, I’ll just have to use a hand mirror.

Because I deserve to feel good about myself, thighs and all.

My Guilt-Free Pumpkin Spice Latte

29 Oct

When I say that I am obsessed with Pumpkin Spice Lattes, I am absolutely not exaggerating. I have queued up at Starbucks many a September 1, jittery with excitement that it was finally time to order my favorite fall treat.

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Then I found out there are 49 grams of sugar in a grande Pumpkin Spice. That’s more than 12 teaspoons — or about the same amount in two pieces of yellow cake with chocolate frosting. What a buzzkill! (Literally.)

But that doesn’t mean I’m about to forgo my pumpkiny caffeine fix. Instead, I’ve been working on an all natural, sugar-free alternative. And after three years of trying, I’ve finally perfected my make-at-home recipe.

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CultureKItty’s Guilt-Free Pumpkin Spice

2/3c strong black coffee (or two shots espresso)

1/2 c milk (increase to 3/4 c if using espresso)

1 tbsp pumpkin puree

1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp agave (you can also substitute light brown sugar or maple syrup)

1 tsp vanilla

Cinnamon sugar (to top)

Warm milk in small sauce pan until small bubbles on top. If you desire a foam-topped treat like mine, use a foaming wand or warm your milk using a NesCafe Aeroccino, which simultaneously froths and warms your milk. (I have one — it’s my new favorite kitchen tool.)

Meanwhile, mix pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, agave, and vanilla in the bottom of your coffee cup. Add a few drops of hot coffee to make a paste, then stir constantly as you slowly add the rest of your coffee. Top with milk and a dusting of cinnamon sugar, and there you have it!

The Long And Shorts Of It

9 Apr

Where would I wear this?

That’s often the first question we ask ourselves as we twirl in front of the dressing room mirror, tempted by the item we’re trying on.

I threw that question out the window last fall when I clicked buy on these Karl Lagerfeld leather shorts.

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I justified them by telling myself that refreshing my wardrobe with a separate (on sale, no less!) was more cost effective than buying multiple dresses for the holiday party season. But it turns out they were an even better investment than I had anticipated.

With the leather trend still in full gear and spring weather fluctuating between balmy and blustery, I wear these bad boys at least once a week, and for a wide array of occasions.

Here are ideas for wearing your new leather shorts this spring, and well into summer.

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Weekend: Dress these bad boys down with a Kenzo-esque sweatshirt tee from Zara and Stuart Weitzman’s flat gladiator sandals. An iconic Proenza Schouler PS1 Pouchette in neon red gives this black and white ensemble a pop of color, while Joomi Lim’s crystal spike bracelet adds rock star polish.

Work: An animal print coat from keeps you toasty during chilly commute times while a pastel lasercut blouse softens the look. A 3.1 Philip Lim Pashli bag packs lunch and your iPad with style with space left over for these cap toe pumps if you’ve got a long walk ahead of you.

Happy Hour: An embellished long-sleeve top keeps things work-friendly while fierce mirror metallic pumps and a killer clutch take you from the office to cocktail hour.

Date night: Drape this powder blue blazer across your shoulders to allow a barely-there sequined cami to flirt. Sexy, yet demure, single sole strappy sandals lengthen your legs, while a neon minaudiere adds juicy — and unexpected — pop.

From Racked To Reality

20 Mar

My friend Danielle emailed me this Racked piece with a one-liner attached: “OMG YOU NEED THIS OUTFIT!”

Yes. Yes, I definitely do.

What I do not need, however, is to spend $1620 replicating it down to the Manolos.

Fortunately, I possess an enthusiasm bordering on bloodlust for bargain hunting and well-executed fast fashion. So I managed to copy the outfit almost exactly for under $300. Here’s how I did it:

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Lime Green Sweater: Asos, Metallic Leather Skirt: Asos, Shoes: BCBGeneration

A quick note on tailoring: Midi skirts aren’t for everyone. In fact, I’m not even sure I’ll love this length forever (although I do love the work-friendliness of a midi). Fortunately, I know a good tailor who will hem my leather skirt into a rockin’ mini for about $40. Problem solved.