Tuesday, March 29, 2011

barefoot contessa

The Barefoot Contessa, aka Ina Garten, is my favorite Food Network chef/personality.  I love her show, her recipes, and her house.  There is something about her that I aspire to be like. I have been trying for so long to figure exactly what it is, and while I still don't have a definitive answer, I think it has something to do with authenticity.  From her recipes to her home, Ina focuses on quality and simplicity in everything she does.  There are no gimmicks here.  Just really delicious food. 

photos by Quentin Bacon from www.barefootcontessa.com
Of course, I am also enamored with Ina's kitchen.  Ina and interior designer Robert Stilin renovated her barn kitchen for House Beautiful's 2009 Kitchen of the Year.   It feels welcoming, elegant, classic and modern all at once.  If I ever have a house, I would want the kitchen to feel bright like Ina's:

A high faucet and cutting board that fits right into the sink.  Plus herbs in terra cotta pots and bowls of lemons and limes to give an earthy feel.

A beautiful display of cake stands and silver coffee pots in open shelving.

A great way to store/display spices.  I love the uniform containers!

A beautiful table.  Ina loves to repeat lots of the same, so instead of having one big bouquet she has lots of little ones going down the length of the table.

A cozy sitting area in the kitchen!  Why not? If I lived in Ina's house, I'd want to spend all of my time in the kitchen too!

all kitchen photos by Julian Wass

Friday, March 25, 2011

iPhone4 case round up

Dan said he'd get me an iPhone4 for my birthday.  I know, my birthday was last month, but to get the phone, I need to renew my contract with Verizon.  And, of course, there are no Verizon stores between here and Denver.  And, of course, ever since my birthday we have been super busy at ski school with only one day a week off.  And it has been snowy.  And I just don't want to drive 3-4 (or more depending on the weather) hours to get a phone when I only have one day off a week.  BUT, don't get me wrong.  I am absurdly excited about this present.  I think about it almost constantly.  I never realized how obsessed I could be with a phone.  But I am, oh, I am.

Since I'm going to be cooler than I've ever been before with my new iPhone (yes, I will shamelessly admit that I think my iPhone will make me cool), let's take a look at iPhone covers.  As much as I love the design of the iPhone4, I really don't trust myself not to drop and break it within an hour (let's be honest-a minute) of getting it.

Kate Spade has some really gorgeous iPhone cases.  What does she make that isn't gorgeous?? Anyway, I think they're great, style-wise, but I am nervous about their efficacy at actually protecting my phone.  Does anyone have first-hand experience with these?  My favorite reminds me of a Hudson's Bay blanket:

Kate Spade iPhone Case, $35

Rouge & co. on Etsy has some pretty awesome monogrammed iPhone cases.  You can mix and match fonts, colors and patterns to create your very personalized iPhone cover.  The only problem would be which patterns, colors and font to choose???

rouge & co. cases, $52 +

Or there's the Countour Hardskin Case straight from the Apple website.  It gets high user ratings and is supposed to be very protective.  It's not as exciting looking though:
Contour HardSkin Case, $29.95
My friend Jackie has a Speck case for her iPhone.  She says it's very protective.  Hers is brightly colored, but I like the clear one too.
Speck SeeThru Case, $29.95

Speck CandyShell Case, $34.95

So, which one should I get???

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

japanese tsunami footage

I watched all 6 minutes and 22 seconds of this video with my jaw dropped:

I don't even know what to say.  This is crazy.  I can't believe this really happened.  I can't believe real people are dealing with the aftermath of this.  It seems like some bad horror film.  It seems like you should be able to wake up from this nightmare and breathe a sigh of relief.  Unfortunately, that's not the case.  My heart goes out to all of those in Japan who have been affected by this disaster.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

anthropologie's new decorator concept stores

Did you guys hear about Anthropologie's new stores?  I read about it over at Apartment Therapy...Apparently, on March 24th Anthro is opening up 11 of these stores in the US and 1 in the UK.  The stores will feature all of their home decor products and offer special workshops and more previously online-only products, like wallpaper. Unfortunately, there won't be one in Kansas City.  However, luckily for those of us who don't live in one of the twelve chosen places, Antrho will also be launching a new section on their website, "For the Decorator," on March 17!

Friday, March 11, 2011

ski school woes

Recently at ski school, I had to test kids in the morning, which means that I take them outside on their first day to see what their level is and therefore which class they should be placed in.  I put this one boy from Mexico in a level two class, because he could turn, but couldn't go back up the hill or skate or anything, which we require for higher levels. His parents yelled at me and said that he should be in a higher level because it doesn't matter if he can go back up the hill when all he wants to do is ski down it.  I tried to explain to them that we require those skills in ski school for his safety, etc.  They were really mad at me and basically threatened that he'd better be moved at lunchtime to a higher level class.  All of the instructors hate testing, because it means you don't get to bond with your class in the morning.  As soon as your'e done testing, it's time to go outside and start skiing.  Luckily, i had had 4 of the 5 girls in my class already over the past 2 days.  Also all 4 of those girls only spoke Spanish. The one new one was my only english speaker.  

I took the girls up to the top of the mountain, they are in level 1--which means they can stop in a wedge, but can't turn yet and don't know how to ski in a line.  Level 1 is widely regarded as the worst level to teach, because trying to teach personal space to a 4 year old is very difficult.  Trying to teach it in a language you don't speak is next to impossible.  So, we're working on skiing in a line and I'm trying to speak in English and in Spanish, which is really difficult for me.  And it's really hard to figure out how to say, "please slow down and leave enough space so you don't run into the person in front of you" in Spanish.  I basically end up saying "more slow please.  We need lots of space. No (and then i make a smashing gesture) her (and i point to the girl in front of her)." Clearly things are going well.

Then one Spanish speaking girl's dad and mom stop by and are taking pictures of her and generally getting in the way, so she's not paying attention to me and crashing into the other girls even more than she was before.  And it's super annoying.  Then the other Mexican girls start asking me where their dads are, so i politely ask the guy to please leave as it is upsetting the other girls in the class. He then tells me his daughter is bored in my class and should be in a higher level.  I had had her in my class two days prior and had moved her to this level and I told him that, and he said that she took a private lesson yesterday and ended as a level 3. I told him that nobody informed me of this and that I woudl try to move her at lunch.  He responded by saying something to his daughter in Spanish and skiing off. I could tell he wasn't very happy with me/ski school.  

Then his daughter, of course, started crying because her dad had left.  Then all the other Spanish speaking girls started crying for their dads.  "Quieerrooooo mi papiiiiiiiii."  And it was literally like they decided to compete to see who could cry/scream the loudest.  So for the next 45 minutes they were wailing and everyone who skied by was just staring at me like what on earth did you do to those kids.  The only girl who didn't cry was the American one, but she was terrible at skiing and kept falling every 10 seconds and couldn't get up on her own, which seriously delayed our arrival at lunch.  

Then at lunch, when I went to get my food from the cafeteria, other instructors were asking me to please shut my class up, because my kids were giving them headaches.  Giving THEM headaches?? What about me? Seriously, the crying was so loud it was almost comical.  Then, the CONCIERGE of the girl whose dad visited/left called to say that the parents had called the HOTEL being every concerned that their daughter was crying in ski school. UGH. Luckily my bosses love me, so they said, well she's crying because her dad stopped by and then left, so please tell her parents not to come back in the afternoon. Haha. Then one of the other Mexican girls fell asleep at the lunch table.

 The afternoon went slightly better.  A new girl was moved into my class.  She also spoke English and was adorable, but fell just as much as her American counterpart. The one girl whose parents were so involved moved to a higher level class and the sleeper had to leave early.  We eventually made it to an actual chair lift.  Needless to say, trying to speak in Spanish and in English to 4 year olds on skis is a very tiring thing. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

wide leg/trouser jeans

I could not be more thrilled about the return of the wide leg jean.  Skinny jeans are cool and all, but they're not exactly figure flattering for me, so I have been thinking non stop about the new jeans I want to buy.  My favorite jeans are Seven high-waisted trouser style and I bought them at least 5 years ago.  And they have now ripped twice. As much as it pains me, I think it's time to give them up.  Here are a few new images of high-waisted, wide leg jeans for inspiration:

image via elements of style 

These high-waisted jeans from Madewell are amazing.  I know the top pair isn't wide leg, but a high-waisted skinny also appeals to me and my long torso-ed body. Nobody wants to see my granny panties! 

jeans from Anthropologie

another pair from Anthro

And possibly the ultimate in high waisted flares comes from none other than EmersonMade:

The website says these jeans don't stretch, which makes them both very enticing and very intimidating!  I wish I could try them on somewhere, but unfortunately you can only order them online.  Aren't they great though?  And what about that belt? Ah, love.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

first (now 8th--whoops!) of march: green goal

My new green goal is to buy environmentally friendly products whenever possible.  I know, it sounds wimpy, but I have been working really hard at my February goal of turning off the lights and have really been succeeding!  I know it's not just because of my efforts (like warmer weather might really have more to do with it), but our electricity bill went down by $45 last month!  That's pretty awesome, right?

So, here's the deal.  Finances willing (I'm sorry, but when you're perpetually poor, sometimes you just can't afford to buy the expensive stuff), I am going to start replacing my toiletry and cleaning products with environmentally friendly ones.   I figure, if I do this as I run out, instead of some intense purge, it wont be so hard on my wallet.

I really love Burt's Bees, products, although they are quite expensive.  I'm hoping that I'll be able to find slightly more affordable shampoo lines in Kansas City.  Maybe at Whole Foods?  Of course, they have to actually work too...I am still quite skeptical of natural deodorant and toothpaste....eek!  I am all about going green, but I don't want my efforts to prevent me from making friends because I smell bad!

Mrs. Meyer's earth-friendly cleaning products are great.  They smell wonderful!  One of my roommates in Boston cleaned with this stuff every weekend.  She was always mopping the floor...yikes!  But anyway, it always smelled great in our house!  Why have a house that smells like chemicals, when it could smell like lavender?  I mean, really. 

Kiehl's and Origins also make great, albeit expensive, natural beauty products.  Again, I know the cost is greater, but I just feel so much better about myself when I'm not surrounding my body with harsh chemicals.  I can't actually feel a difference physically (although I have never "quit" chemical products entirely), but mentally it makes me feel good.  Whenever I use my origins face wash, I feel awesome. My friend in college took an environmental science course about the chemicals found in our daily lives and she informed me that my favorite exfoliating apricot face wash is one of the worst things on the market.  (I must admit, I have bought it since....sorry, Cait.) She also told me all about the horrors of BPAs in Nalgenes before it hit mainstream media. 

If only everyone would start buying greener products.  Not only would it multiply the benefits to the environment, but it would help to drop the costs of these products too!  (At least some of them...I feel like Kiehl's will always be expensive.)  So, new goal:  to replace current products with their natural versions when they run out.  Wish me luck! 

Okay, update:  I wrote this just before March first, but have been too busy to post.  Turns out on March 1st, I went shopping with some friends and bought new face cream that is definitely NOT environmentally friendly.  Whoops.  But, wrinkles (or trying not to have wrinkles) might be right up there with clean teeth and not smelling bad on my list of things that are worth the chemicals.