Friday, November 27, 2009

f21 finds

My mom is a doctor, and has worked on Thanksgiving for as long as I can remember (allowing her to take the entire Christmas/New Year period off). For this reason, we always do our big stuff-yer-face bonanza on Friday. Before I got married, it was always just the 4 of us (including my brother)...this year Brother couldn't make it, and Husband was here. Point being - we never dress up or get fancy...I've always rolled up to the table in sweats with a nice big elastic waist. As you can see, I'm not one of those people who approaches a Thanksgiving meal with dietary's one day that doesn't set me up for failure and weight gain throughout the holiday season (I throw that in because all of the food- and health-related blogs were so focused on portions and eating smart, etc. etc...and I just like to enjoy the day and hop back on my healthy track the next only live once.)

Anyway, I realized I typed all that out as a segway into urging you to buy this gorgeous F21 blouse that is flowy and loose and might have worked perfectly for a Thanksgiving meal were it not silk. Oops. Sorry. Regardless, this top could probably get you through a number of upcoming holiday fetes...though you may want to bring a Tide pen along if finger foods will be involved.

The color is a deep purple and as most things from the Love21 line, fits on the big side. No matter...I already want to layer this under everything from a shrunken tweed blazer to a boyfriend cardigan and lightweight scarf. Hooray!

I also managed to score on a pair of $9.50 skinny jeans, which PS - has just been reduced to $6. Six bones for jeans? You can't even get leggings for that much (okay you can at F21 but those are no better than semi-opaque tights). Fit is tts to slightly big. I'm about to order 3 more pairs...

Finally, I'm eyeing this cute little cargo-type jacket. Last week, while leaving the gym, I followed this girl out, who was wearing capri leggings and a khaki-colored anorak-type jacket with adorable pleating at the back. Sadly, I only saw her from the back, but couldn't stop thinking about how surprisingly flattering that back detail was. When I spotted this find at F21, I thought it was a good representation...

Now the dilemma. Do I hold off on ordering for a possible Cyber Monday deal? And risk missing out on $6 jeans? Hmmm....

PPS - I don't think I ever posted this find, which I received about a month ago. So adorable and actually perfect for fall. I wore it layered with tights, boots, and a long sweater, although I think it would look so cute with a thin turtleneck underneath. Fits tts to slightly small...I sized up for some extra length. Comes in navy and eggplant...I bought the navy!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

review: yogurt

And she's alive! After a bout with some kind of stomach bug and a longer bout with acid reflux, I'm finally feeling like my old self. I have the wonders of modern medicine (read: Prilosec) to thank, and also some diet and lifestyle changes. All in about a week and a half. Phew. Sadly, one of those diet changes includes yogurt, which is on the list of foods to 'consume with discretion.' This is probably due to the fact that most people are in some way lactose-intolerant; also, limiting fat intake is one way of avoiding heartburn.

Prior to our honeymoon in Greece, my world was limited to Dannon, Yoplait, or Stonyfield (on sale). I had not yet discovered food blogs, nor did I even look at yogurts over $0.75. For shame! I'll never forget my first taste of Greek-style breakfast on a veranda in Mykonos, overlooking the sea. I attributed our daily breakfast yogurt, topped with honey and muesli, to keeping the weight from creeping on during our travels throughout the Greek Isles (that is, until we got to western Europe...more on that another time, yikes!)

I've tried most of the commercially-available Greek yogurts, and my favorite is 2% Fage, hands-down. It's not as rich and fatty as the full-fat Fage, but not as tangy as the 0% Fage. It's perfectly creamy and satisfying and flavorful. Although expensive ($1.89 at our local Whole Foods, $1.79 at the nearby Trader Joe's), it's a splurge I don't mind making.

My second favorite would be Chobani (I have only ever seen 0% fat versions). It's cheaper than Fage (at least $0.70 cheaper), and tastes wonderful. Better yet, Chobani makes amazing flavored yogurt...with fruit-in-the-bottom choices like Pomegranate, Pineapple, or Strawberry (these have some added sugar). The texture isn't as rich as Fage, and it has less of a tangy bite, so it's a good option for those just starting out on Greek yogurt.

I recently tried Siggi's -- an Icelandic strained yogurt. There has been quite the buzz about this brand all over the food I decided to try it when it was on sale. All I can say is BLEGH! It was way too tangy and sour! The texture is quite creamy and custard-like, but that doesn't make up for the taste. At over $2 for 6 oz., it's the most expensive strained-yogurt option, and not worth it, imo. Perhaps the flavored versions are better than the Vanilla I tried?

I know many people love the Trader Joe's Greek-style yogurt, which is the cheapest at under $1. I didn't care for it. Not enough texture for my liking, and the taste was meh. I also can't really comment on the Oikos brand (made by Stonyfield)...I once found a hair in my Oikos yogurt and promptly threw it away after a mere two spoonfuls.

I'd love to try and make my own yogurt from mom does it all the time with live cultures from India. Another option is to strain the extra whey from a regular tub of plain yogurt...I have been meaning to try this but cheesecloth always slips my mind at the grocery store.

Despite my recent health shortcomings, I still plan to enjoy my yogurt a few times a week. The benefits from the calcium, protein, and probiotics outweigh the potential discomfort I may have (I say that now, but may reconsider if I actually have a bad episode). Stay tuned...

Yogurt Reviews:

Fage Review 1
Fage Review 2

Fage Review 3

Fage vs. Oikos

Fage vs. Chobani vs. Oikos

Chobani Review 1
Chobani Review 2
Siggi's Review 1
Siggi's Review 2

How-To Guides:

How to Make: Homemade Yogurt
How to Make: Greek-style Strained Yogurt

How to Make: Greek-style Strained Yogurt (from scratch)

PS: Griffin's fave yogurt is Fage too! Spoiled pup...

From Griff being cute

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


That is all. Will resume normal blogging next week. Urgh.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

find of the day: alloy puffer coat

I associate Norma Kamali with cheap-looking loungewear found in the women's section of Loehmann's. But apparently the original Norma Kamali coat is a cult classic? Who knew!

Norma Kamali Sleeping Bag coat in NYC storefront

The fashion mag blogs have been going crazy over Norma Kamali's version of the Sleeping Bag coat for Walmart.

Norma Kamali for Walmart Sleeping Bag Coat

The new version reminds me of a fug wrap dress that Christopher (Project Runway) would make from some awful polyester fabric he thought was 'fabulous' to send down the runway. I don't care that it's only $35, and can think of several better ways to spend that $.

Anyway, I spotted an inspired-by piece on Alloy, of all places, that I thought was actually a pretty chic alternative. Before I get to that, I don't get Alloy. Is in mainly an online retailer? Or a lifestyle site for tweens? Confusing. Also confusing that they are catalog-only. Anyways...

The coat comes in a gunmetal grey and black. Appears to have some flattering seaming and bell sleeves that don't look outdated. Original price is $79.90 but it's currently on sale for $64.90 (I see a free shipping code and a 15% off code on retailmenot). The brand is CoffeeShop, which has produced decent-quality coats in past years, and since the coat is a poly/down fill, it might offer at least moderate protection from the cold. Buy it, love it, and be glad you didn't get the trash-bag alternative!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

surprising finds @ PB teen

For a while, I almost had the Pottery Barn catalog I tried to find ideas and deals for our move together. I still flip through the catalog for organization ideas and decorating tips. I somehow recently made my way to Pottery Barn Teen and was pretty taken with a number of items. They don't appear to be much cheaper than regular PB items, but I still think even adult shoppers/decorators can find a place for them!

I think these are incredibly useful for any household. They come in a 2x2 or 3x3 size and have everything you'd need (magnetic board, cork board, dry erase board, and pegboard) to stay organized. I can see this working in a family's kitchen or above the desk of anyone who works from home.

This wouldn't work in everyone's home, but it looks interesting. You can hang anything from keys to lists, memos, or homework. I'm sure you could find extra hooks at the local hardware store, and carabiners just about anywhere (I swear I've seen them in the Old Navy clearance buckets).

In typical PB fashion, I think this is overpriced, even at the sale price. But what a great idea! In small bedrooms, finding a place for a full-length mirror can be a challenge. This gives you the mirror and also storage options! Who doesn't have a nook that they slide this into? If you're crafty, you could attach some hooks down the sides to increase your storage options (maybe for scarves or belts).

How darling is this? It comes in clear, pink, and green. I can see it fitting into a closet space/dressing area, over a desk, or even in a bathroom.

I agonize over the best pictures to display around the apartment. This frame lets you print pics on standard size paper through your color printer (or possibly a photo printer, but that's a lot of ink to use!) and swap them in and out as you please. Love it!

If you can get past the dorm room design on these, they are actually quite functional. I store my makeup in random bins and a case in the bedroom, but often drag them into the bathroom or next to the window (or sitting on the floor in front of the full-length mirror we hide behind the dresser...we could probably use the mirror above). With something like this, you could hold all your makeup and store brushes and tools on the sides...carrying it with you to the most convenient space. Admittedly, it would be useless for makeup aficionados, but for someone like me who doesn't have much, it would be perfect.

Ok, I know...$99 whaaaaat? Overpriced. But I've never seen anything like it! If you, say, blowdry and straighten your mane every day...and have the room in your bathroom or bedroom...would this not be so useful? I store hair clips on the electric cord of our wall sconces! Bad idea. You'd have your appliances, clips, elastics, and brushes (and even products) all in one place!

Friday, November 13, 2009

sea of plaid

Delias is a store I was quickly sized out of early on...anyone with larger than an A cup had to size up, and I was too vain for that. I didn't give them much thought after that, until I saw ex-Delia's model, Cassie, hit fame with P.Diddy.

Anyway, I recently thumbed through a Delia's catalog (why they get sent to me, I have no idea), and noticed 2 things. One - Maybe 75% of the models do this strange side-head pose...cocking their head in an exaggerated and uncomfortable way. Is this supposed to be coquette-ish and flattering? It's not. Two - They carry some pretty cute and wearable plaid shirts.

You'll notice the fit is tight and short on the models. I'm guessing you could size up 2 sizes to achieve a comfy and casual look. But who knows. They're all currently on sale for around $30. FYI - Delia's is pretty generous with discount codes. Check retailmenot for the latest and greatest.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

DIY: finders keepers

Husband and I noticed a wood, double drop-leaf table sitting on the curb on our way to meet some friends for drinks last weekend. Three hours later, the table was still there. As we eyed it, a young doctor walked by in scrubs and exclaimed..."nice table...I'd take it if I wasn't working." It was a sign! In true New Yorker fashion, we snatched it up and carried it to our place (thankfully we were only 2 blocks away...the thing is solid wood and heavy).

We were able to get a better look in the light, and what a sad sad display. It had packing tape stuck to it, as well as black marker haphazardly drawn over the top. However, the drop leaves were still functional and the hinges in good condition.

Inspired by Holly from Life in the Fun Lane, and (trying) to closely follow the tips of Sherry over at Young House Love, I decided to take a stab at giving the table a second life.

* Primer (I used Zinsser brand.)
* Paint (I used the cheapest semi-gloss bright white I could find.)
* Brushes (Don't buy the cheap ones...the bristles will come off as you paint.)
* Sandpaper
* Plastic dropcloth (To protect the floor.)
* Newspaper (Also to protect floor.)
* Puppy playpen (Ok you may not need this, but it was the only way to keep a curious puppy from burying his nose in paint.)

Step 1) Generously wipe the piece down with disinfectant wipes, and then again with some sort of all-purpose cleaner (I used Lysol wipes followed by a Method spray cleaner).

Step 2) Apply a coat or two of primer. I tried to make the coats as thin as possible. Zinsser dries fast, so I did one coat, watched How I Met Your Mother on DVR, and then did the second. [You want to make sure that you primer is not too old...ours is over a year old and was on the thick side.]

Step 3) Lightly use the sandpaper over the entire table. This will remove lumps and bumps and better prep the piece for paint.

Step 4) Paint! Again, you want fairly smooth and thin coats, which a good paintbrush will help achieve. I waited at least 6-8 hours between coats 1 and 2, but got impatient and did the final coat when coat 2 was just dry to the touch. If primed well and properly, I think you should only need 1-2 coats of paint. Unfortunately, I needed 3 to achieve a satisfactory opaque look. So it goes.

Step 5) Wait at least 48 hours before using the piece. This part was crucial. We were ready to use it after just 24 hours, but a small experiment with my fingernail told me it would be better to wait another day. Just like a manicure actually takes a day or so to fully dry, so does paint on furniture, apparently.

This was a relatively uncomplicated weekend project, and we were really happy with the result! True, you can see the brushstrokes if you look close enough, and true, the finish is not super smooth. But, it looks far better than its original state, and our total costs for the project came in at less than $10. We're currently using it as a console table next to the front door, and may find a better use should we move to a bigger place in the future!

I got a bit carried away and painted our mesh garbage can as well. I can't say the results are stellar, but after 7 years, I was tired of silver metal to toss my papers into.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

getting rich from ebay

Okay, I'm not really getting rich off Ebay. But I've had some experience over the years selling things and making money. Good and bad experiences, with plenty of lessons learned.

1) Be tough with yourself.
Usually when I switch out my closet between seasons, I'll end up with a pile of stuff I consider selling...stuff that's unworn, doesn't fit, or was an impulse buy I had forgotten. There are 3 places I consider unloading my goods: ebay, consignment stores, or Goodwill. Generally, if I have NWT (new with tags) designer items, I'll try my luck with consignment. It's usually money upfront (I don't deal with those stores that only pay you after a sale), and a quick way to get rid of things. For some reason, I've had difficulty selling true designer items on Ebay...maybe people think they are replicas? Who knows! Other items that are in good condition and generally up-to-date (that vintage 70s mumu you've been holding onto won't fetch many beans) go on ebay. Give pieces a critical eye...anything with holes won't sell. And for pete's sake...wash and iron pieces before taking pics and sending them off! You wouldn't try on a deodorant-stained shirt, and neither would Ebay buyers.

Speaking of pics, I've taken the best ones without flash with plenty of natural light. These seem to best capture the true color and details. You'll want a picture of the front, back, tag, and maybe a close up of a particular detail (anything you'd want to see when purchasing clothing online).

2) Do your homework and be realistic.
Ebay makes it easy to see average selling prices for items similar to yours. You can also do 'Advanced Searches' to see what similar items were priced at, what they sold for, etc. Pricing your stuff is tricky...too high and you risk having no buyers, too low and you risk letting the item go for much less than you hoped for.

Factor in ebay and paypal fees when pricing your items. Is it really worth selling your shirt for $5 or $10? After shipping, ebay, and paypal, you really aren't left with much. When you have a bunch of low-value items, you may want to consider a 'lot' sale if you're set on ebay. For example, I went through a period of J Crew sale obsession, and was left with a plethora of button-downs, v-neck sweaters, chinos, and critter belts in varying colors. Totally unnecessary! So I sold a few 'J Crew lots' and made a decent amount of money while getting rid of a ton of stuff at once.

3) Be familiar with Ebay rules and regs.
Ebay has a ton of rules that are laid out on the website. You should read their Intro to Selling Guides to get familiar. Unfortunately, I've found that buyers are protected a bit more than sellers, so know your rights and make sure your listings fall within their rules. Ebay has become a lot more strict now than in past years, and there is a good chance your listings will be reported if you aren't on point with what you post.

4) Make sure your policies are airtight. Be firm with buyers!
Take a look at the listings of powersellers with 100% feedback for cues on what to list in your policies. You need to be 100% honest in what you post about the item, or a seller could report you or demand a refund. Speaking of, I state in at least 3 different places that I do not do refunds...I give measurements and information galore and ask interested buyers to message me with any and all questions to avoid having a buyer claim that I was not forthright.

As far as buyers, I don't accept bids from those with negative feedback (obvi) and ask that those with 0 feedback contact me first. Ignore requests to accept money orders, Western Union, or personal checks. As far as setting shipping rates, you could either set standard rates or estimate based on weight. In the latter case, I'd highly advise buying a small scale...especially if you plan on shipping internationally.

5) Ship quickly and communicate often.
Buyers like to receive things the same week they pay. Sometimes, that is impossible to achieve... but I try my best to communicate with the buyer, letting them know when I plan to ship and via what mode. I'd say shipping within 3 days is a reasonable expectation of any buyer.
6) Leave feedback!
Feedback makes the ebay world go round. Yes, it can be unjust at times (you can't leave negative feedback for buyers that don't pay...crazy, I know). And there are buyers who don't understand how the system works (I've gotten a neutral feedback from someone who thought neutral meant 'fine'). But usually, it's a nice way to acknowledge a smooth transaction from a regular joe just like you. I typically wait for a buyer to leave feedback before I do (if you did happen to get a negative, it's easier to send a response), and send a reminder after a week if I haven't yet gotten a feedback.

7) Don't expect to profit.
After all is said and done, I'll rarely profit on sales. I have bought and resold highly sought-after items (like a Lily McNeal sweater worn by Jessica Simpson in her heyday) for ridiculous amounts, but nowadays I don't have the energy for that. With the recession and everything, I'm happy if I get even 50% back on sales.

So those are my major lessons learned. I've had to deal with nonpaying bidders, returns, removed listings, and harassing buyers. But, I have nearly 300 positive feedback to my name, which means I must be doing something right! It's a nice way for me to make some extra cash and clear out the closet, and give my stuff a second chance at love!

Great informative site re: selling on ebay:

Monday, November 9, 2009

Friday, November 6, 2009

review: Anthropologie Bull's Eye Dress

Anthropologie (Lil) Bull's Eye Dress
Color: Navy with orange and white accents
Retail: $158
Review: Fits true to size. Super versatile and flattering. Not lined.

This was on my fall wishlist not too long ago. My size sold out online, so I trekked to my nearest Anthro to snag the dress....alas, it was sold out at the store! Of course, this sent me into a frenzy, fearing that I'd never even be able to try on the darn thing. I filled out a form with the SA, and she promised to track down my size and call me to do a free charge send.

I waited 3 whole days. No call. Did they forget about my inquiry? Who knows, but how annoying, right? I emailed CS and received a response within 12 hours, listing every store in the country that still had the dress in my size. All 7 of them. Oy! I finally managed to get through to an Anthro in NJ to do a charge-send for 2 different sizes. Just to make sure.

I'm usually a 2/4 in dresses. On a good day, I can squeeze into a 0, but 2 gives a good, close fit and 4 gives me and the girls some breathing room. I kept the size 4 in this dress. It offered slightly more room in the bust, and more length. Truth be told, I'm usually hesitant about ruffles that are on or around any part of the bust, but these are quite flattering.

This dress is a soft silk...a review on the website claims it's also machine-washable (on delicate cycle in cold water I'm sure). It falls beautifully and doesn't linger over any lumps and bumps. That being said, it is silk and unlined. I'd highly recommend investing in a slip (someday I will wax philosophical on why every adult woman should own at least 4 slips) to keep this nice and flowy and not clingy. The waist is elastic, but is actually set at the smallest part of the waist (unlike F21's elastic waists). The removable belt is actually pretty substantial, and also has a buckle (the super thin belt loops, though, annoy me every time...they always break!). I have to say, though, that the dress looks A-MAZING with the snakebite belt. I tried it on for Hubs and when I swapped the belts out, he said '"wow, yes keep it!" Also nice are functional buttons down half of the dress and ties at the neck.

I love the dress, but am still a little meh about paying full price. However, it truly is a season-less piece that is well-made and pretty classic. The design is bolder in person then it appears on the site, which I happen to love. I'm planning to wear the dress this weekend with some sliver wedge tall brown boots and a long oatmeal-colored cabled cardigan...hopefully we'll get a nice, sunny fall day!

11/11 Update: Lily on How I Met Your Mother was wearing this dress in Monday's episode. I've noticed they put her in a ton of Anthro stuff, all of which is super flattering! She paired it with a brown leather belt at her natural waist. Loves it!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


I rarely do updates on past posts, but am always thinking of edits or info I'd like to add. Let's give it a whirl, shall we?

Diet & Exercise

Update from 6/30/09: So we stopped the Apple Cider Vinegar thing...largely because even after choking down the diluted ACV we saw no changes whatsoever. I also did more research and found some pretty decent evidence that the effects of an ACV diet are negligible to harmful. I still have a little left, and it's actually kind of yummy in apple juice (tastes like a tart apple), but will definitely not purchase a bottle again.

Update from 7/20/09: On the other hand, our Green Monster routine stuck. We love them! Our base is always spinach, frozen bananas, and milk. We also usually add chia seeds. As for supplements, we've swapped out the protein powder (reviews to come) for Amazing Grass' Amazing Meal. We've tried various frozen fruit additions (Whole Foods has a good selection of frozen fruit), and decided that strawberries are def the way to go.

To ensure Husband gets enough protein to keep him satisfied until lunch, I've started making protein pancakes! They are so easy to make. For one pancake I start by mixing egg white from one large egg and 1/4 cup oatmeal. The next 1/4 cup can be any number of things...I've used pumpkin puree, mashed banana, applesauce, and a mix of carob chips and nuts. Finish it off with 1 scoop of your chosen protein powder. Mix well, drop onto a frying pan (on medium-high heat) with about 2 T hot olive oil, and cook for maybe 3 minutes on each side.

Update from 7/30/09: Good news and bad news on the workout front. I gave up kettlebells. I truly did love the twice-weekly workouts. But, my amazing instructor left and they canceled one of the classes. I was also developing some knee and back pain...the combination of high impact moves with occasional running was doing a number on me. I thought this was a great opportunity to branch out and try some new classes. And...I'm now obsessed with spinning! Something I NEVER thought I could get into (after one sad attempt at 30 minutes on a stationary bike followed by a week's worth of sore quads). I'm even looking at special cycling shoes! Stay tuned...


Update from 8/26/09: As much as I loved the Aveeno Hair Minimizing lotion, it just doesn't stand up to the central heating in my apartment building. I'd forgotten how incredibly dry, flaky and itchy my skin gets when the outside temp drops. Going back to my tried and true Vaseline Intensive Care Cocoa Butter lotion until next spring/summer.

Update from 10/9/09: Again, another beauty product bites the dust come winter. The Boscia eye treatment is wonderful, but it just doesn't provide enough moisture for my skin right now. I wake up to flaky and super dry skin, and that red, raw look has slowly returned. The hunt for an eye cream continues...hearing good things about Origins so that may be my next try.


Update from 10/10/09: So many updates here! Well first, I decided against getting a cape. I checked the Anthro one out, and it was actually a greenish taupe color (not the oatmeal I saw on the website). Also, I decided it just wasn't practical for me. I get cold, I need sleeves. Incomplete arm coverage will only do it for me when it's maybe 55-60 degrees. Any warmer, I grab a hoodie or light sweater...any cooler, I need a real coat. The good news is that I picked up a great leather jacket (love it even more than the Vince one pictured)'s the perfect transition piece and I've already worked it into so many outfits.

I did manage to locate the Anthro Bull's Eye dress, which sold out in my size online...and no thanks AT ALL to the sales associates at the 16th and 5th Ave location (filled out my info for a charge send and they forgot all about it...never heard from them again, UGH). Will def post a review once it arrives!

Finally, I'm totally SOL with regard to the JCrew chambray shirt (sold out online and seemingly in every store), so I can only hope it'll show up at a factory outlet someday. Ditto with the green Anthro purse. It went on sale, was still too much for me, and it disappeared online and in-store. *shrugs* I guess they weren't meant to be.

Finally, the Anthro Cross Your T strappy shoes! They sold out quickly on the website. But thanks to Kim over at Anthroholic, I found out that they are not exclusive to Anthro! I'm watching out for a coupon code or sale on the Seychelles Vaudeville heels!


Update from 6/30/09: Our fur baby is almost 9 months old now! And quite the traveled citygoer. He's been on the subway, in various cars, and even on a flight to Miami with us! In each case, he has been a calm little guy - mostly sleeping or being curious. On the subway, we always carry him in a bag and no one seems to care or pay attention. This makes the original linked story pretty curious for me. Maybe her pug was in an open-top bag? And maybe she just got super upset about it and was belligerent with the police? If it were me, I would have exited at the next stop, tended to my pup, and hailed a cab. Well actually, I would have taken a cab to begin with. Anyway, it's the last time I comment on a random story with incomplete facts!

Update from 8/31/09: We finally got Griff some pet insurance - settling on Trupanion. I think we pay around a $40 premium per month with no deductible. Since then, we've had 2 medical issues with him, so thank goodness we finally settled on a package. Will update once we complete the claims.

Monday, November 2, 2009