Friday, November 30, 2012

on a shoe story: volume IV.

i meant to write this last friday, black friday, as this was the best deal on shoes i have ever gotten (and, trust me, will ever get). but then i ate turkey and pie and fell asleep and it never happened. so here it is now.
at the end of every winter and every summer, barney's has a warehouse sale. barney's is like an extreme upscale department store but with an edge. an attitude, you could say. and their warehouse sale is notorious for being hit and miss and, in general, a huge mess of a bunch of people. but when you do hit it big at the sale - you hit it real big. and here's proof.
***
for a really long time i wanted shoes that had pin heels (really, really skinny heels, essentially). and while the design started to make it's way into stores like h&m, i wanted to hold out for a really well-made version since shoes like this stood a good chance of being really hard to walk in or really painful.
and so, i waited.
at the warehouse sale i always go straight to the shoes, and i always find nothing. then i go look at all the clothes and nothing really interests me or it's still too expensive or i don't feel like stripping down in front of strangers (there are no dressing rooms at the warehouse sale. it's special).
sidenote: in the winter,
wear black leggings and tights
to make it less awkward.
in the summer,
wear an easy to remove dress
and panties with a full seat.
you can always tell who the amateur
sale-goers are. they had no idea 
here weren't dressing rooms.
and they're wearing thongs.
but i digress.
and, when i'm done looking at the clothes, i head back to the shoe section where, miraculously, new shoes have appeared and there is always a pair that catches my eye. so when i saw these pin heels i got really excited. i debated whether the style was really mine, but decided they would go wonderful with jeans and i'd probably wear the hell out of them.
the shoes were originally $1,295. they are made by nicholas kirkwood.
when i looked at the marked down price, expecting them to still be way out of my price range, i had to do a double-take. there was no way the shoes were marked down that much.
so i went to a sales associate, asked to get the other shoe in the pair so i could try them on, and inquired about the price. she confirmed it was correct, noting that the red sticker on the shoe indicated there was a quality problem - the other shoe was probably two sizes bigger than the one i had in my hand. crestfallen, i decided to still try it on. i thought i was so close to the deal of a lifetime! when she brought me the other half of the pair, i tried them on and, surprisingly, they fit just fine. also, just as i had suspected, these incredibly well-made pin heels were incredibly easy to walk in (wear them for hours on end these days with no problem). i still couldn't tell what the quality issue was, so i decided to go for it.
as i was paying my hands were sweating and my heart was beating really hard. i honestly felt like i was stealing the shoes because they were marked down so much. the lady at the register did a double take, called someone over simply to see the discount, not even check that the price was correct, and they both profusely congratulated me on finding such a good deal.
and that's how i bought a pair of designer shoes for $78. or, 94% off.
can you tell what's wrong with the shoes? i'll update at the end of the day to let you know and see if you guessed correctly. good luck :)
***
update - so...the shoes are slightly different colors! when i bought them i couldn't tell, until i read a tag on the box that explained the defect. and in person, once told, you can slightly see it. i tried to edit the picture to make it more obvious but seriously, it's like the tiniest difference in color. i'm glad that barney's strives for perfection, and when they don't get it they mark it down by 94%.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

on gifts for those who keep you guessing.

yes, it's another gift guide! can you believe it?! while i know the git-giving season can stress people out, i love it. and if my boss told me for the next month to just put together gift guides i'd be happy as a clam. so here's a little one i put together that can work for a broad range of people because yes, even i can admit that shopping for your great-aunt linda isn't the easiest thing in the world.
Random Gift Set
1. Cashmere socks ($9.99) - socks! wow, what an original idea! i'm really testing the limits of my creativity here! but let's be real people - these are cashmere socks. and last christmas an aunt did give me some and i thought "oh, well, that's nice i guess everyone can use socks." and then i put them on and pretty much never took them off all winter. looks like my aunt knew a thing or two about gift-giving. if you're really stumped go with cashmere socks - while the receiver might think of it as generic, once they put them on they will thank you forever. it's now a go-to gift of mine, no matter how boring that may seem.
2. Dinner: A Love Story ($20) - perhaps you're friends with a couple who love to cook together? or maybe friends just had their first (or second or third) little one and could use some guidance on how, exactly, to feed their growing family? this is the book. this cookbook cum memoir is one that they'd love to have help them along their way.
3. Bottle of wine (varies) - yup, another generic gift. but really - who doesn't love wine! to make it a little more thoughtful though, look up some nice restaurants in your area that allow you to bring your own wine to dinner and charge a low corkage fee. while in some cities byob restaurants are everywhere and this wouldn't quite work, most places charge a corkage fee. fees in nyc are usually around $10 - $20 (and higher, of course), and it's a whole lot easier to pay that when you didn't end up paying for the wine in the first place. i would note a few that you think the receiver would like and write them on a tag you can tie on the bottle's neck - cards will get lost, that tag will still be there when they reach for the bottle and head out to dinner.
4. Fendi clutch ($820) - i mean it's fucking fendi, did you guys really think this wouldn't be on the list ;) while $800 isn't in most people's price range, this bag has everything - black and brown mixed in shades that complement one another and can therefore be used for many outfits, along with the body of the bag tinted the season's favorite color - oxblood. i would use this as inspiration when searching for a more affordable version - it's a clutch any women of any age can happily use for years to come.
5. Martha Stewart's Homkeeping Handbook ($30) - i admit, this gift is kind of boring, but if given to the right person it can be extremely useful. have a friend just buy or move to a new house or apartment? this 700+ page tome is for them. there are many things that come along with a new house or living space that people won't be *quite* sure how to clean or maintain - this is their answer. and who doesn't like living in a nice, clean house? when my good friend moves into her new house in february, this will absolutely be waiting on her doorstep.
6. Touchscreen compatible leather gloves ($79.50) - my dad is a professional guy. wool overcoats, ties, sweaters - that's how he's dressed most days. and he just got an iphone so i know he'll deal with that old conundrum of taking off and putting one's gloves back on in order to use his touchscreen phone this winter. and while there are many touchscreen compatible gloves out there, most of them are knit gloves or made by some snowboarding company - not really his style. so for the professional guy in your life with their first touchscreen phone, here's your answer - leather gloves that do the same thing. warm and work appropriate. my dad will definitely be getting a pair of these for christmas.
7. Guidebook (varies) - know a friend or couple planning a big trip for 2013? unless it's laying on an exotic beach somewhere, guidebooks can be a great gift (and not something they may go out and buy). most people google a lot before the big trip and cross their fingers on the plane - this will be something filled with suggestions (and, more importantly, maps) for when they're on the ground and don't have a computer to help them out. my favorite guidebook brand is fodor's out of all the options out there.
8. Mistobox subscription ($15 - $150) - of course, we need a gift that keeps on giving. i think giving subscription services is a great idea (i gave three people birchbox last year and they loved it), and there are products out there that can pertain to everyone on your list. this is for the coffee-lovers - they get a few packets of coffee from independent roasters every month, helping support small business and introducing all sorts of coffee they may never have had a chance to try before. best of all, they sell it in 1, 3, 6 and 12 month subscriptions - something for every price range.
happy hunting! and if you have an idea mention it below!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

on christmas decorating.

christmas season is officially in full swing and with that comes christmas decorating, too. as many who have seen my apartment during christmas, i always try my best to decorate every little thing. i swap out my shower curtain for a christmas-themed one, i put away all my picture frames and take out frames decorated for christmas, i fold up my everyday sheets and put sheets that reflect the season on my bed. and while there is more i wish i could add to my christmas decoration collection, unfortunately there comes a time in each new yorker's life when their little hall closet just won't hold any more. but that doesn't mean i can't decorate my iphone! below are some of my favorite covers from society6, and i'm also checking out etsy. i love the second one in the first row, the first one in the second row, the case with all the words on it, the case with blacksburg, virginia's annual christmas tree on it, the case with all the doors on it and the case with the twinkling lights.
do you see my dilemma? what are some of your favorites?
1/2/3/4
1/2/3/4
1/2/3/4
1/2

Monday, November 26, 2012

on my weekend in pictures.

here in the good old us of a, many are heading back to work after a long thanksgiving weekend (myself included). my time off was wonderful, if not exhausting, as it also brought brian and i to my high school reunion and a wedding in addition to the thanksgiving holiday. charlottesville to washington d.c. to philadelphia then back to new york. it was quite the tour of the eastern seaboard and while exhausting, totally worth it. i suppose it's fitting that after a holiday where we give thanks for all the wonderful things we have in life i got to see so many friends from places near and far. the few days i did spend in virginia were wonderful and relaxing, with an afternoon at a vineyard with my mom, a quick trip to one of my favorite restaurants, and an absolutely delicious thanksgiving with myself, my parents, brian and his parents, all of which was nicely complemented by lots of sleep and no alarms. and while i could be a little sad that i'm heading back to work, let's be honest - christmas season is officially in full swing here in nyc and i couldn't be happier. here's to another wonderful holiday season!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

on a wintertime drink.

unless you're a wine drinker, you'd be hard pressed to find an adult beverage in my apartment. if it's not wine, it's an old bottle of bourbon i have on hand for some cooking and baking (check out this awesome bourbon-spiked banana bread recipe from sherri lynn). after a couple of years i eventually work my way through it and i go out and buy a new bottle. it keeps for a very uncrowded liquor cabinet, which conveniently doubles as a boiler room in my apartment.
and while i enjoy a good drink when i go out, i rarely make them at home. i have no desire to buy bitters and elderflower liquor and all the other snazzy things one needs to make various drinks. but like my love for gin gimlets, i believe that low-key, unfussy drinks are for me. so one night, a few weeks ago, when i was served a drink i loved, and it was basically bourbon and apple cider. i thought - i can do this, i can make this.
and so i did.
i looked up a few basic recipes and they called for ginger ale - the kind of ginger ale where ginger is listed in the ingredients. and that search led me to morris kitchen ginger syrup. it was a bit pricey ($15!) but since it's used sparingly, (and their website is filled with other recipes that use the syrup), i decided to go for it.
2 parts apple cider
1 1/2 parts bourbon
1/2 part ginger syrup
shake with ice and strain into a glass.
i would prefer it served over ice in the future, as i take my time with my drinks and i like to keep them cold. this is an easy recipe to play around with - perhaps use that gingerale instead of syrup or add in a touch of molasses and a touch of ginger syrup instead of just all ginger syrup. either way, i think it will be delicious. it's a perfect cocktail to kick off thanksgiving dinner and keep you warm all throughout the winter. and it uses up some of that bourbon when you're not too busy baking with it. gotta clear out that liquor cabinet somehow, right?

Monday, November 19, 2012

on my weekend in pictures.

things were pretty quiet on the blog last week. work kept me busy until late and by the time thursday rolled around i rolled right into the weekend. and after that stiff drink on thursday i kept my weekend decidedly low-key too. farmer's markets, long runs, sleeping in, watching the new bond movie - these were the things i devoted my weekend to (and i'm glad i did). and tomorrow i have a fun new (liquid) recipe to share with ya'll, a perfect way to kick off your thanksgiving if i do say so myself.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

on my weekend in pictures.

this past weekend i went down to austin, texas for a girls weekend (or perhaps i should call it a ladies weekend) with my friends from grad school. instead of bro-ing out, we ladied out. it was quite nice, as was expected.
as for austin - it was great. warm, delicious food everywhere, a million things to do and see and hear. i'd like to go back for a bit longer and soak up more of the city (and yes, eat some more of that food).
as for my friends - time is moving on. one is pregnant, the kind of pregnant where it looks like she just ate a big dinner. about to really start showing any day now. another is about to move into the house she bought with her husband. slowly but surely we are growing into our lives.
we talked about our five year plans. careers, babies, marriage. what we want. where we want to live. what we want out of our jobs. i wonder if it will all happen, if it will all fall into place. we'll see. it's nice to know no matter the outcome we will always be there for one another, and that, sometimes, is enough.

Friday, November 9, 2012

on a shoe story: volume III.

one of my oddest childhood memories as is of going to my mother's family reunion one year. it was the only official family reunion i can ever remember going to, and it was held on long island. it was for my pop-pop's side of the family, who was italian. there were perms as far as the eye could see, red fingernails on every hand, and leopard print. oh my word, the leopard print. and while i felt like my family was a bit out of place, we fit right in when it came to that last category. my mother loves leopard print. if all nice italian girls from long island are programmed to make great pasta, well let me tell you, they're also programmed to love leopard print. shoes, bags, clothes, pillows - you name it my mother has bought it or pined for it. and, naturally, i found this to be extremely embarrassing since i grew up in virginia and no one else's mother had a fainting spell over a faux leopard jacket. so my whole life - no leopard print for me. if i ever found myself reaching for it i would smack my hand down and promptly walk away. i would break the cycle!
until.
until i started working. at work i wear button up shirts and loose fitting clothing and i don't dare make fun of hillary's pants suits because i sometimes i have to wear one, too. i often comment that i go to work dressed as a man. people laugh. i die on the inside.
but as time went on and i gained some credibility i "let myself go" you could say. a green skirt every now and then. a few bangles on my wrist instead of a lone one. a v-neck sweater. it was heady days as i loosened my drsesscode. and before the fourth of july, the office dead, no one in town, i stopped into the 30 rock j. crew at lunchtime, a favorite pastime of mine. i monitor sales there pretty well, if i do say so myself, and they had just added the "extra 40% off" to their sale. i wandered a bit until i laid my eyes on these. they were perfect. made in italy, real leather, wedges that make walking at work infinitely easier, fit like a glove.
and they were leopard print.
i knew that these beautiful shoes, at an insanely low price that just happened to be in my size, were a fluke. that they had been lost in a warehouse somewhere and they just shipped them to the 30 rock j. crew because they get tons of tourists and go through merchandise like whoa. and so i grabbed them, palms sweating, heart beating, and put them on hold.
i went back to my desk thinking "is this really happening? am i buying something covered in leopard print?" i knew how good they would look with black skirts and green skirts and everything in between. i thought they would add some personality to an outfit without making it wholly unprofessional. and that afternoon i went back and i bought them and i haven't looked back. if you're on the fence about leopard print shoes i can tell with you 100% certainty - buy them. you will love them. you will wear them with everything. you will even wear them to work.
i guess those nice italian girls from long island really know what they're doing after all.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

on necessary evils.

as i walked home in the blizzard from work last night, cursing myself for forgetting my rainboots at home, i also came to a sad realization: i need to buy new flats. and as i've said before, i own two pairs of flats and i resent them both. but on one pair the sole is half ripped off and on the other the sole is so thin it feels as if i'm walking barefoot. while i hate going out and spending money on new flats, it must be done. flats, like a teething baby, are a necessary evil. which makes sense because if babies never got teeth they'd never stop breast feeding and who really wants their kid sucking on their tatas for their whole life (logic, by colleen). and so, i present unto you: flats i would buy if forced to at gunpoint (sounds like a great new lecture series!) and all of these are under $50 because FUCK THAT SHIT i need to spend my money on stilettos y'all.
but in all seriousness i kind of like number 9. putting a tiger on a flat makes it much fiercer.
Flats Under $50
row 1 (l-r): 1/2/3
row 2 (l-r): 4/5/6
row 3 (l-r): 7/8/9

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

on my week with sandy.

yesterday, after i left the gym, i passed by gramercy tavern. the inside was bright and cozy compared to the newly shivering streets of new york. people drank wine, bustled about, jostled for an empty seat. it was your quintessential new york night out. it was also, almost to the minute, a week after my power had gone out. yet here i was, walking home from the gym, bathed in the soft light from a popular restaurant, as if it hadn't happened at all.
via here.
i knew my electricity was going to go out as i monitored the internet last monday - eventually, my power company said, everyone from 39th street on down would lose power. i thought it was a precautionary measure, shutting the system off so if it were flooded there would be little damage. brian and i were in the middle of the godfather when it happened. marlon brando's don corleone had just realized it was brazini all along when his face flickered on the screen and went to black. so we took out my crank radio and flashlight all rolled into one (thanks dad!) and lit a candle as we watched flames spring to life in the windows across the street. we finished our wine, had a mini dance party as the winds blew outside and slowly made our way to bed.
the next morning, already restless, we decided to walk uptown. we walked about 100 blocks to and from my apartment, on the search for a warm meal. when we passed 39th street, stoplights magically worked again, cvs was open, and delis had lines out the door. we didn't find an open restaurant until we made our way back downtown, a diner on 57th street. we were ecstatic. after a huge breakfast, we resumed our walk and while we passed trees that had fallen here and there it mostly looked ok to me. separated from a tv and the internet and intent on saving my phone's battery, we had no idea how bad it was in other parts of the city. we took a nap and as nightfall came we wound our flashlight back up and made our way to dinner - a random bbq restaurant that still, miraculously, had power.
i often tell people that some of my favorite times in cities are when blizzards hit us - the city quiets, it's blanketed in snow, few people are out on the street - it's just a nice change. and even if you've never been in a major city during a snowstorm, you can relate. you've seen snow bathe your lawns in bright white and quiet your towns and homes. so i can honestly say that i don't know how to describe a powerless manhattan. the pitch-black walk down the stairs and through my building's hallways, feeling along a brick wall you think you have memorized, hoping the bang you just heard wasn't anything serious, i dreaded the most. the looming buildings, dark and quiet, the streets empty. no stoplights. no street lights. it was eerie, amazing, creepy, awful and awesome. everyone described it as being post-apocalyptic. and, well, i suppose you could say that. but, like many others, i haven't lived through an apocalypse. i think it's just a phrase people use because they don't know how to convey what it was really like. and there really aren't any words. even reading what i just wrote falls short of allowing you to see what i saw and experience it for yourself.
on the way home from dinner we decided to head to brooklyn the next day. as colder weather loomed it seemed like the right thing to do. when i left for work the next morning, the only person on the street save for brian, hailing down a cab with my flashlight, it seemed like the only thing to do. and when i finally made it to his apartment, i sat down and watched the news and learned of the immense devastation i had been immune to. i saw the homes burned to the ground in breezy point. i saw the death toll rise in staten island. i saw the business owners in our beloved red hook struggling to put back together their washed out stores. and i knew i had it easy. i knew i was lucky. even as i worked from home the next two days, dashing around to find an internet signal and again saved by the grace of friend (thanks tina!), stressed to my breaking point, i knew how lucky i was. yes i lost power for a very long time, but i had somewhere to go. i had people to keep me safe and give me clean water and make me dinner. i had a bed to sleep in and heater to keep me warm. many other new yorkers do not.
***
the power of water hasn't been lost on me for awhile. i know how quick it can move and how strong it is. water cannot be stopped. it cannot be contained. it doesn't matter if you're the financial epicenter of the world or a small town in texas - it doesn't discriminate in it's path of destruction. and just like that small town in texas, the citizens of this city are coming together to help. opening their homes to strangers, feeding meals to those in need and volunteering to help rebuild homes that were lost. but i know first hand from being downtown and traveling uptown and then out to red hook that the disparity between those who are hurting and those who are fine is lost on many. i know after delivering supplies to red hook and seeing lines stretching down the block as residents wait for clean water and food it was lost on me too. if you live in new york - please think of ways you can help or continue to help. if you live outside new york, please strongly consider donating any money your household budget can spare to an organization you trust that is helping in relief efforts. i can't stress enough how bad the loss is in some parts of this city and how long it will take those neighborhoods to recover. any help you can provide will be much, much appreciated and, most importantly, felt by those still in need.
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