Wardrobe Update + The Lean Closet Movement

Classic fashion, Jackie style{Jackie Kennedy, the ultimate curator’s inspiration! From oxfords to cigarette pants to classic dresses. Cat not included?}

One of my biggest New Year’s resolutions this year was around shopping. My goal was to curate instead of collect, something we discussed here. I also vowed to floss more, but nobody needs that update, I’m sure.

Despite the lack of outfit posts and personal photos on my blog, I love to shop. The problem is that my love of shopping directly counteracts my love of saving money. Yep, you read that correctly: saving money. My spirit animal is an old Lutheran lady who’s been wearing the same lumpy cardigan since 1976. She also eats a lot of donuts and occasionally bites.

It often feels like bloggers – and random ladies on the streets of San Francisco – LOVE spending money and shop constantly. I mean, I love the rush of it, the thrill of the chase, the conquest when you find that elusive item. I loooovve that feeling. It’s like modern day lady hunting and no cheetahs are harmed in the process, which is awesome. But then I get home, cram that all-hallowed thing into my already full city closet, make apologetic eyes at the person who has the misfortune of sharing said tiny closet with me, then regret and buyer’s remorse set in.

Where so many of us lack the funds to be purchasing big-ticket designer items, we make up for it by spending a lot over time at lower-end chain stores. Those lower-end items end up fraying, losing their shape, breaking, or otherwise just looking bad after a wear or two, and we’re right back where we started: with a closetful of stuff and nothing to wear, then feeling like we need to rush out and buy something – anything! – to look a little better. My goal for this year was to change this mentality by saying no to this cycle.

Chanel quilted bags

I’ve been somewhat successful with these new goals. I’ve added a pair of Michael Kors cheetah flats to the repertoire, an Arcadia handbag that looks similar to this in shape, the new jeans mentioned here, and a white linen sheath dress that will be perfect for summer vacations for decades. And the biggest purchase of all – my wedding dress – was also purchased with this new ethos in mind. I can’t say anything about it yet, but the goal was to find something that looked timeless; as at home in 1960 as well as today and I feel really good about what I’ll be wearing.

As I’ve been on my mission to curate, so has Cuyana, a beautiful shop that creates quality handmade goods built to last. Their Lean Closet Movement series continues to inspire me to take a careful look at what I’ve brought home these last few months and continue on my mission to shop slow, ask the right questions, and really take care of my purchases. The idea of looking and feeling good every day is worth every penny.

 

More resources to help you shop quality:

Cuyana (for those in SF, the shop is in Union Square)

Everlane

Sunhee Moon (for those in SF, the shop is on Fillmore)

 

Purchase list for the next six months or so:

A simple, beautiful tote that can withstand rigorous globe trotting

A classic trench that will last for decades and can handle San Francisco’s notoriously rainy winters

A pair of these wedges. I have them in black and they are the only shoe I can stand in for a full 12 hour day of coaching

Simple, comfortable plain leather ballet flats

A camel colored pashmina

Is this something you subscribe to? How do you shop? I’m so curious – I’d really love to know what you all do!

 PS – this is not a sponsored post! I just really like Cuyana and what they’re all about!

Jeans for Tiny People: The Secret

Lolita

Why not call it like it is? This post is all about jeans for those of us not quite proportioned like adults. And while I’m not tiny in the sense that some people are – I still have curves and a bust – I am hopelessly short and finding jeans that fit off the rack is like an exercise in withstanding medieval torture. I’m not even being dramatic – jeans shopping makes me want to both run 12 miles and eat my feelings in frozen yogurt simultaneously. Up until two weeks ago, I had ONE PAIR OF JEANS that fit and that I wore regularly. The rest were either outdated and gathering dust or had been given away to Goodwill. Things were getting dire.

When my sister-in-law suggested hitting up a certain ye old high school shopping spot for jeans, I was skeptical. I mean, does anyone still shop at – wait for it – The Buckle? Have we not progressed past this place? Apparently, we have not. And as she pointed out, they basically only sell jeans. If there’s anywhere that’s going to have a multitude of options, it’s them. And so, with bowed head and tears in my eyes, I once again pilgrammaged to The Buckle, feeling every bit the 14 year old girl I was the last time I shopped there.

A lovely casual sales guy gave me the eye as soon as I walked in. “‘Sup,” he said, looking me up and down. Normally I take umbrage at being sized up (taking umbrage is one of my favorite activities) but since I needed this man to size me up and dress me, it seemed only appropriate.

“Hey. I’m 5′ 2″ with extra shorty legs, curvy, and really hate jeans shopping. Can you help?”

This man gave me two more seconds of stare, and then pulled a pair of jeans right off the rack. “Try these,” he said. I took them and prepared for the litany of issues that inevitably crop up the minute I wiggle my tiny legs into pants. Only…that didn’t happen. These jeans fit like a glove. They made my butt look good, my legs look normal length, and didn’t make me want to run to the nearest fro-yo establishment.

“Sir! How – HOW – did you do this? These are the first off the rack jeans that fit that I’ve EVER tried on!”

He chuckled, complimented me on my ass (again – going with it) and then said, “Um, that’s because they’re capri pants!”

Indeed, reader. If you look at the inside of my new jeans (two new pairs, thank you very much) it says right on the tag: Lolita Capri.

And you know what? I don’t even care. Because this is the first time ever I have not had to have my jeans tailored, and if that means feeling a little special every time I put these jeans on, then I’m not going to take umbrage – I’m just gonna go with it.

 

New York Times Green Goddess Chicken

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Last night was a first attempt at the now infamous New York Times Green Goddess Chicken recipe, and hoo boy was it a hit! A hit with ourselves, naturally, because nobody else lives here and we would never attempt a new recipe for the first time when we had guests over (OR WOULD WE?!) We congratulated ourselves heartily.

Up until now, I’ve always thought of Green Goddess dressing as a feisty, zippy sidekick for salad only. Who am I, world’s least imaginative cook? Why yes, yes I am, nice to meet you. But really. It’s called SALAD DRESSING. Forgive me for not thinking outside the box.

Only we are way outside the box with this one, and it’s a delicious place indeed. The buttermilk and herbs give a nice lift to what would otherwise be a pretty standard (though still delectable) chicken. As Julia Child said in My Life in France, “Ooh, those lovely roasted, buttery French chickens, they were so good and chickeny!” The same could be said of our local SF chickens, though I don’t know any chicken, chickeny! or otherwise, not made better by a tangy, savory sauce, and most especially one that is rip roaring, herbalicious, Hulk-style bright green!

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The next time we make this, I’d use only one sardine (as opposed to two anchovies) for a hint of fish, as opposed to being slapped in the face with a fish. A fish slap seems like the stuff of great physical comedies from the Victorian era. Super funny, yet non-appetizing.

I’d also recommend lightening up on the salt. The marinade was SUPER salty. Like, Great Salt Lake + the side eye your granny gives you when you tell a dirty joke at Thanksgiving. SALTY! I would back off by at least a half teaspoon, if not a full teaspoon. Which doesn’t seem like much, but when you also have the saltiness from the fish, a little sea salt goes a long, long way. We paired our chicken with a roasted sweet potato, primarily to serve as a vehicle for more Green Goddess dressing, because duh. You can also take remaining dressing and use it as a dipping sauce for the chicken itself. OR you can be a true Little Suzy Fat Pants and dump it on top of your cooked chicken, which may be what we did…

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NEW YORK TIMES GREEN GODDESS CHICKEN (with some slight edits)

Ingredients:

. 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

. 1 cup packed basil leaves

. 1/4 cup packed dill

. 2 garlic cloves, peeled

. 1 sardine filet in oil

. 1 scallion, white and green parts

. Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime

. 1 – 1 1/5 teaspoons coarse kosher salt (to taste)

. 1 teaspoon black pepper

. 1 (4- to 5-pound) chicken, halved through the breast and back bones, patted dry with paper towels

. 1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Instructions:

1. Blend together the buttermilk, herbs, garlic, sardine, scallion, lime, S&P. Puree until smooth. It will froth lightly.

2. Place the chicken in a large bowl and cover with marinade. Refridge overnight. Reserve the rest of the marinade in a jar for later use.

3. The next day (hi! how did you sleep?) preheat the over to 500. Meanwhile…

4. Shake the marinade off the chicken pieces, then lay them on a large rimmed baking sheet. Pat the chicken dry, then drizzle with a bit of EVOO. Toss the old marinade, as it is now full of raw chicken juices. This is also something about which your granny would give you the side eye – a cavalier attitude toward poultry safety.

5. Roast the chicken until it’s cooked through, anywhere form 30-45 minutes. Juices should run clear and the outside will be gloriously crispy. It took my chicken exactly 40 minutes, but just watch it.

6. The hardest part – let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before you rip in. I know you want to caveman it UP right now, but patience.

Gremolata-Inspired Chimichurri

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Do you ever have a week where you feel beaten up? Like you’re the world’s punching bag, or worse – its punchline? That’s how last week felt, for a variety of reasons that have already been vocalized over a few hefty glasses of wine, along with some very unbecoming ugly-crying. It looked much like this.

When I feel like I’ve been at the mercy of the world and other people’s issues, going into the kitchen to create with careless abandon feels right and freeing. There’s a lot I can’t do, but I can cook and I can write. And where the two meet, I find my center. I also throw myself a pretty awesome pity party, as you can clearly see. BUT WHY’S THE WINE GONE?!

What emerged from my kitchen cry? A wonderfully weird sauce that is basically the lovechild of a classic gremolata and a traditional chimichurri. It’s a little weird to do a full blog post about a condiment that’s not even really a thing, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say this turned out! It’s also a little odd to have a sauce inspired by a sauce, but you know what?! This is mah blog and I do what I want. That’s another great thing to do when the world punches you in the face: punch it back by doing whatever the eff you want.

Gremolata is simply a blend of herbs, usually parsley, with lemon zest and garlic, while chimichurri is a fabulously green runny parsley and vinegar based Argintinean sauce for meats. This recipe combines the basics of a good gremolata, while adding vinegar for brightness and liquidity and more herbs for flavor, a la a classic chimichurri. What’s missing? Ironically, parsley. I just didn’t have any and had no interest, in my state of extreme crankiness, in going to the store. If you have some, I heartily advise throwing it in.

We used this sauce as a secondary condiment to the famous New York Times Green Goddess Chicken (that recipe coming up tomorrow!) but you could also spoon it over a baked potato, some roasted asparagus, or even on goat cheese crostini. The options are endless really, just as they are for you when you decide to do something. Go do something awesome today. Punch life in the face.

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GREMOLATA-INSPIRED CHIMICHURRI

Ingredients:

. Small handful of dill

. 1 chopped scallions (green parts only)

. 3 cloves of garlic

. 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried shallots

. Small shake of dried herb blend – I love Penzey’s Mural of Flavor for pretty much everything, but you can use whatever you like and have on hand.

. 1/2 fresh lemon – zest and juice

. 1 teaspoon (more or less to taste) of apple cider vinegar

. Optional: small splash of EVOO

Instructions:

1. Put everything into a food processor and blend. Taste and adjust any seasonings you find lacking. I ended up adding a small swirl of EVOO at the end, just to smooth things out.

Weekly Menu: June 16

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Summer is upon us! That means this week is all about fresh herbs, tons of veggies, and lightness. Bonus points if you get to eat outside. We don’t, because we live where summer = frigid arctic temps. Still, that can’t stop me from stuffing my face with all kinds of summer produce.

This week is also all about using our resources smartly! I’ll be traveling two days this week, so I am all about trying to figure out how we can maximize ingredients and meals so N doesn’t have to cook for one while I’m gone. He can cook for himself certainly – he’s a highly evolved man who knows his way around a skillet – but when left to our own devices, we each retreat back our single eater/single person behaviors: one of us eats eggs and watches Dexter episodes and the other of us might eat popcorn in bed for dinner and watch Call The Midwife on Netflix and cry their eyes out. Ahem.

(But seriously, are you watching Call The Midwife? It’s THE best show on television. No, SERIOUSLY.)

The only downfall from this week’s menu is that it’s more meat-heavy than I usually prefer. Normally we try for the reverse ratio – two or three meat dishes as opposed to just two veg dishes. I’ll make up for that by eating veg while on my business trip Tuesday and Wednesday, but you could work around that by leaving chicken out of a salad or going out to a veg restaurant when you eat out.

Here’s this week’s menu:

SundayNew York Times Green Goddess Chicken

Monday – Chickpea Curry (V)

Tuesday – Chili from the freezer (V)

Wednesday – Salad with shredded leftover Green Goddess Chicken

ThursdayMark Bittman’s Chicken Yakisoba

Friday – Date night to the San Francisco Symphony

Saturday – Grilled Mahi + Edamame Mint Salad

 

Grocery List:

Whole chicken cut up

Frozen edamame

Basil – one cup

Chives – /25 cup

Mint

Scallions – 2 bunches

Lemons

Onions

Carrots

Broccoli

Kale

Cabbage

Buttermilk

Greek yogurt

Anchovies

Chickpeas

Ramen

Couscous

 

 

Coffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cookies on the rack

We’re having a snow day here in San Fran. What?! Calm down, everyone CALM DOWN. It’s not actually snowing. It just…feels like a snow day. With the long weekend ahead of us, with hikes and movie nights and craft projects (wedding invites being assembled here in Russia! Woot!), not to mention the omnipresent fog that rolled in late last night and is refusing to budge, something about today felt perfect for cozying up to work, write, bake and dream a la the best kinds of days, snow days.

Speaking of dreamy, has anyone out there ever had Coffee Cookie Dream ice-cream at Fenton’s? Fenton’s is a Bay Area institution. I almost just capitalized the I in institution, that’s how much I believe in Fenton’s. They make amazing flavors and whip up elaborate sundae creations in their diner-esque restaurant, which feels very old timey and festive. If there’s one thing I need in an ice-cream date, it’s festive people. Especially since I am actively trying NOT to eat so much ice-cream these days, because WEDDING.

Coffee Cookie Dream is coffee flavored ice-cream with chunks of both raw cookie dough and already baked chocolate chip cookie. I will wait while you moan aloud. Theerrree ya go. Yeah, I know. And I was craving some CC Dream (it can be abbreved, for those in the know) pretty seriously today, but with the blizzard outside (blizzard = complete lack of interest in driving anywhere) I decided to make coffee cookie dream cookies instead. And then probably pair them with ice-cream. Because DELICIOUS and OHMIGOD trumps WEDDING every time.

COFFEE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Ingredients:

. 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter softened
. 1 cup light brown sugar
. 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
. 1 large egg
. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
. 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
. 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
. 1/2 teaspoon salt
. 1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee powder
. 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Instructions:

1. Cream together butter, sugars, vanilla and the egg. I use a hand mixer, but those lucky enough to be in possession of a Kitchen Aid mixer should use it!

Cream ingredients together

2. Sift together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, and instant coffee powder.

3. Gently add the dry ingredients to the butter/egg/sugar mixture and continue to beat on low until mostly combined.

4. Add the chocolate chips. At this point, I abandon the hand mixer for good old fashioned mixing by hand, so as not to mutilate the chips.

5. Chill for 20 mins or so. I have found chillin’ to be an imperative step in baking, and also in life. #badpun #sorrynotsorry

Dough chillin'

6. Scoop out onto a cookie sheet – I use a proper cookie scoop, but a spoon will totally do – and bake for 20 minutes at 300 degrees.

7. Serve hot with a glass of almond milk and think of it like a modern, desserty almond latte. You are welcome.

OR! Or, you could serve one of these with a scoop of ice-cream if you’re feeling extra naughty and also not planning a wedding. Go you! You are probably having more fun in your everyday life than me because of it.

Cookies and milk

Weekly Menu: May 12

Salzburg

This week’s menu is focused on light, bright, and healthy! Spring is busting out all over, from SF to Salzburg, where I was traveling for a work a few weeks ago. And no matter where I have traveled, there is no better place than San Francisco for fresh produce and organic deliciousness. But here’s a lovely photo from Salzburg. Nobody ever said this blog made sense.

Also – I’m going to be that person for a second, and I’m already sorry about it – but WEDDDDDDING. As the day approaches and dress fittings are now a thing, we are trying really hard to be better. Which, let’s face it, is hard. It’s no fun to whip up a bunch of kale for dinner, it’s just not. And from a cooking perspective, it’s way more fun to try new things and bake and drink a lot of wine whilst you do it.

However, I would rather be my most healthy and glowing in wedding pictures, instead of the me with a slight double chin that sometimes shows up. I think she comes straight from the bar, that dirty wench.

This week, I was focused on two things: using fresh produce with every meal, and trying to make delicious old comfort foods taste new and healthier in the process. Pad Thai got a health upgrade with 100% buckwheat soba noodles (vs. traditional rice noodles) and the addition of grilled chicken, shitake mushrooms, matchstick carrots and broccoli slaw. A dose of fresh lemon makes chickpea curry and noodle soup practically sing of spring, and of course, pizza is always better sans meat and with a very hearty dose of kale (and the rest of the mushrooms!) on top.

Also, in an effort to be extra helpful, I’m linking to the recipes we’re using wherever possible, even if they’re not mine. While that means I can’t vouch for and speak to the details of every single recipe, I always love to give other bloggers a little love – especially if we’re enjoying and using their recipes here in SF!

MondayPad Thai (makes 4 servings)

TuesdayChickpea Curry (makes 3 hearty servings)

WednesdayLemony Chicken Orzo Soup (makes 6 servings)

Thursday – Baked Tilapia and Broccoli (makes 2 servings)

Friday – Kale and Mushroom Pizza (makes 4 servings of 2 slices each)

Will you make any of these? I’d love to know!