Happy Turkey Day!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope that everyone will enjoy a wonderful time with your loved ones. A few days ago, I came across a newspaper editorial in which the author extols the holiday as her favorite. What she said is true--it is a wonderful holiday because it's not about consumerism, like Christmas has become. It is a time to spend with those we care about and to show them our appreciation.

Given the economic mess we're in, I find this Thanksgiving to be especially special. While life has its ups and downs, the concept and holiday of Thanksgiving is constant. I am especially grateful for having what I have this year, of things big and small. One of the little things I enjoy is being able to shop at Trader Joe's. It is certainly a step up from the budget markets I've been limited to for years, and it provides nutritious, definitely interesting, sometimes quirky, and most importantly, accessible and affordable fare. Since it is on my way home from work, I have been stopping by quite a bit for groceries in order to save time and gas money. I love going by the free sample section and try out the foods. Once I tried a small square of this one--so fresh, not overly sweet, and simply delicious--I had to bring one home.

My Thanksgiving outfit this year is a lot more toned down than usual. Some may say it is not festive at all, since the colors are so dark, but I just want to be comfortable on one of my few days off. The bracelet adds a dash of holiday cheer, and the flats are festive, aren't they? My feet hurt from walking around in heels for a few hours yesterday, so I decided to go with flats.

[BCBG sweater, Mike & Chris suspender skirt, my own Daisy Chain bracelet, Christian Lacroix metallic gold flats]

I'll be busy with working this weekend, but I'll definitely squeeze in some Christmas shopping in the form of sample sale shopping. I'm not going to stand in those crazy lines and freeze my butt off only to get indoors and find that all the good deals are gone. The malls will be avoided by me like the plague, but the electronics stores might have the deals I want this weekend.


Statute of Limitations

Time sure flies by quickly. About this time a year ago, I became a new member of my profession. Last weekend, I sent out many congratulatory messages to classmates who got the good news. I still have a long ways to go before I can consider myself a seasoned veteran, but I'm finally starting to feel at ease and settled in.

One issue that I still contend with is how to look professional yet still retain an individual style. My office attire can be somewhat creative and colorful, but my "suit day" outfits...not so much. Suits present an inherent limitation to what I could do. I try to brighten things up with some accessories and colorful dress shirts, but in the end, I remained very...generic.

The longer I've been in the work force, the more my style changed. To my dismay, I gravitated more toward black, gray, blue, and beige--all the "boring" colors, even on days when I do not have to wear a suit. As much as I tried to go back to my more colorful ways, I realized that this more conservative style of dress is here to stay, and I will have to accept that. I just don't feel like wearing those bright colors anymore. At the same time, I do not want to feel like I am stuck in a fashion rut.

This week I decided to remind myself that a limited, muted palette does not have to be boring. Limitations do not have to be constraints--they sometimes challenge me to rebel a little, forcing me to work the system and still come up with something new. I've always been an advocate of keeping things simple and create interest using a mix of contrasting shades and textures. Hence, I decided to build an outfit piece by piece, like layering paint with a palette knife. Since I hate going around with matching jacket and bottoms on my suit days, I decided to make myself come up with non-matching suit outfits using shades of only two "conservative" colors--black and beige. Yesterday's outfit is something that I can actually wear for court. I did not have as much success today, but it was still something fun and put together.

Yesterday: Theory blazer, Forever 21 charcoal gray vest, Mike & Chris bow top with bell sleeves, Studio M black trumpet skirt, Target black tights, Payless black patent pumps.

I got this jacket on the cheap when I was in Minneapolis, but because it has no matching bottoms yet, I've been struggling to figure out what to do with it. Now I finally have the answer. The patterns and textures of all the pieces are very different, yet they work really well together.

Today: J Crew black wool funnelneck sweater (with some white wooley fibers mixed in), Sublet Clothing cardigan, Development blazer with thin white pinstripes, $1 belt from Ross (which I have had for ages), Banana Republic skirt (from clothing swap), Kenneth Cole purse, Target black tights, Ciao Bella black peeptoe oxford booties.

Since I went with the light jacket/dark bottoms combo yesterday, I decided to go with a dark jacket/light bottoms ensemble today. It is not as streamlined as yesterday's outfit, since the layers of sweaters bulge around the middle. The funnelneck sweater is shorter, so it refused to stay tucked into the skirt. It would have also helped if I pressed the front of the sweater with an iron; the button holes seem to be all stretched outward. While I would never wear this to court, it is a fun office outfit.

I am glad that I finally found a pair of oxford booties I can live with; it has been a very, very long search. I wanted something comfortable with a slender heel, and it had to be on the cheap side (of course). While I am not crazy about the peeptoe part, it is something I can live with--it is not noticeable when I wear black tights. The positives trump that comparatively minor complaint. The price was right (having a DSW $10 off coupon helps), and the comfort is as good as it gets--it doesn't even feel like I am wearing sky-high heels.


Elements of Surprise

[Edited mainly for grammar, plus a few neglected details. Writing while tired is never a good idea.]

Business travel can be weary, but I try to take advantage of being able to do a tad of sight seeing, if only on the way to the airport. It's fun to explore someplace new, especially when I don't have to pay for the plane ticket. At any rate, the exploration may help if I choose to go to that locale again when I travel for fun.

Here are some potentially money-saving observations I made so far from business travel, including but not limited to my most recent trip:

-With respect to accomodations, you get what you paid for...right? Well, it depends what you're looking to pay for.

Last year I took my licensing exam at a pretty fancy hotel. Quite a few people stayed at the hotel, since they were going to take the test there anyway. A good number of people decided to pay less and stay at the other business-travel type hotels a block or so away (i.e. Holiday Inn Express). Luckily, due to the sweet, generous kindness of a friend, I did not have to do either, but I've heard stories from friends in both camps. The nicer hotels get you a pretty room, a fancy gym, the use of a pool. With the cheaper hotels, you get a clean room (albeit not so nice), use of a less fancy gym (if there is one), sometimes a kitchen, or if not, at least a refrigerator and a microwave.

I had the same experience when I travelled recently. I always want to save money, whether for myself or for a client. With accomodations, I only care about having a decent, comfortable place to sleep, and Internet access for work. It'd be nice to have a refrigerator to store leftovers so that I could eat it the next day instead of leaving behind food at the restaurant. But there lies a balancing act. The budget hotels usually do not have free Wi-Fi, but the mid-tier ones (like Marriot Courtyard) are more likely to have that. Some of the budget or mid-tier places also have breakfast in the morning; the quality may vary, but it saves a few extra bucks. The more expensive hotels, ironically, often do not have free Wi-Fi access in the rooms, if at all in the hotel--it's an amenity that costs extra, which is often infuriating, considering that a room already costs a lot. Also, based on my experience, the likelihood of getting a free breakfast is inversely proportional to the quality/image of the hotel. In any event, the mid-tier and higher-grade hotels do not have the refrigerator or the microwave. I'm assuming that the nicer hotels are assuming that those who can afford to stay there tend not to be part of the brown-bagging crowd.

If I'm travelling for business, I could live without the refrigerator and microwave, since staying connected and comfortable is more important. But if I was travelling for pleasure, I'd probably opt for the cheaper places--I would only care to have a clean bed to sleep in, and since I'd be vacationing, emails could wait. And as an added bonus, I can save on food.

-When driving in a different locale, pay attention to the roads and fellow roadies. Go with the flow of traffic. It can cost a lot if you don't.

I'm used to roaming amongst LA drivers who take speed limit signs as a suggestion rather than as a rule. Thus, I am often surprised to find people actually obeying speed limit signs, either elsewhere in California or in another state. When I was in Arizona, I was driving around rather nervously--there were tightly-packed photo enforcement zones on the freeways. I'm not sure how fast one would have to go before triggering the cameras, but I have no desire to discover that for myself. Curiosity, after all, does kill a cat. The lethal dose is somewhat higher for human beings, but you get the idea.

-Filling up a rental car before returning it can be tricky. The places with cheaper gas prices tend to be in the outlying areas, but if I fill up there, I would not have a full tank by the time I get to the airport, and I would get dinged for it. I usually would try to find a gas station that is near the airport, but far enough out that the price would not be affected by a "proximity tax" of sorts. It is still tricky to pin down that appropriate target distance, but I'm working on it.


All the Trimmings

The crazy weather and smoky air has not been very good for me. It is insanely hot during the day, yet cold once the sun goes down. I've come down the sniffles, and it couldn't have come at a worse time--I have lots of work to do and have to hop on a plane again tomorrow afternoon. I've been trying to stay cozy my new sweaters in an effort to keep things from getting worse. It's nice to wear something practical and not appear too frumpy at the office.

Two weekends ago, I spent a little bit of time at the Mike & Chris sample sale. I wasn't there for very long because of an unfortunate incident that morning, but I'm glad that I got to browse for a little bit; if rumors are to be believed, it might have been the last one that I got to go to.

There was a lot more stock than previous sales, but sadly, very little by the way of deals. I went there for the purpose of getting a leather jacket, but I walked out without one--given the current economic landscape, it is simply not prudent to spend $400 on a leather jacket, much less on one that is not exactly what I want. There was a $10 box of pleated blazers, but there were few takers, since it was all extra-smalls, and even that ran pretty small. It fits my torso perfectly, if a bit tight around the arms, but it's perfect for the office or for the weekend, which is when I wore this. The pleats on the front, back, and the edges of the pocket are super-cute and very well-placed.

I also picked up a fairly conventional hoodie. While it was was only 50% or so off and hence not the best deal, it was something I've been eyeing ever since the last sample sale. I love the pretty yet subdued sage green color, along with the "pop" from the neon yellow trim. It is a great casual, kickback piece that will go a long way. Since it is so warm and cozy, I can see myself wearing this a lot for my travels.

Maybe I should throw this into my bag right now so that I'll have something warm to wear for my flight tomorrow. It is supposed to be 49 degrees by the time my plane touches down.



OK, short posts like this isn't my "normal" program, but I just had to throw this out there.

I was in Sacramento today and had to fill up the tank of my rental car before returning it. I was debating whether to fill it at the Safeway gas station in a town near the airport, or whether I should wait until I get to the last gas station before the rental returns.

I ended up going with the latter, and I'm glad I did. Regular unleaded was $2.19 per gallon. $2.19!?! I haven't seen a price like that for what seems like years. Unfortunately, when I flew back to LA, gas prices seemed to be running in the opposite direction. The first gas station I saw after getting off the freeway had the same gas for $2.43. This is a 20-cent jump from about a week ago. Let the sulking begin.

How much is gas in your neck of the woods?


After the Flood

So many ideas, so little time. A flood of things have kept me busy lately, including work, chores I didn't get to do because of work, jetsetting for work in the next few days, catching up on more work, a flood, and things I didn't get to do because of the flood. And yes, when I said "flood," I meant a literal flood. Of water. In my apartment. Fortunately, the aforementioned actual torrent is no longer around, thanks in part to the good folks from the LAFD and one civilian cleaning professional. Although my personal space escaped unscathed, this unexpected event is pushing me to get rid of my junk and clutter, such that both the soiled and unsoiled areas can be thoroughly cleaned. I really should have done this a long time ago.

Regular posting will resume when the tide of things to do recedes. That'll take maybe another week or so. Next time I'll talk about the latest installment of the Mike & Chris sample sale. I only managed to go for a quick peek due to the flood, but at least I got to go.


Setting Sale

For LA fashionistas, this weekend there are sample sales galore: Grey Ant, Steven Alan, Miss Me, etc. And there's also my favorite: the Mike & Chris sample sale. I really, really, really want one of the leather jackets, and sample sale time is probably one of the only times I can get one. Never mind that I already have a lot of Mike & Chris items--they're so versatile and I wear them all the time, so having more won't hurt because I know they're worth my hard-earned cash. Too bad I won't be able to go until Saturday...unless my Wednesday work thingie in Downtown LA stretched into Thursday (hehe).

You can find the information on various sales here.


Politically Motivated

The people who know me best know that I'm pretty outspoken when it comes to politics. I've always felt a strong sense of duty to head to the polls, particularly because it's a privilege that many people around the world do not have.

At the same time, I feel equally strongly about not pressing my beliefs on others. Hence, you won't find a whole lot of political content on this blog, if any. The only thing I would urge is that citizens should go out and cast their ballots. Most people I know gain satisfaction from their civic participation. If that satisfaction is not enough to drive you to the polls, maybe a few Election Day freebies will:

-Krispy Kreme (mmmm...) is offering a free star-shaped donut with red, white, and blue sprinkles to those who sport an "I Voted" sticker.

-I'm sure that most people have heard about the Ben & Jerry's free scoop of ice cream deal on Tuesday (between 5-8 p.m.). I heard that the company had some concerns that the voting requirement would run afoul of some state election laws, so they're offering that free scoop to *everyone*!

-Today the New York Times website had a big ad that tipped me off to another freebie: Starbucks is offering a free cup of brewed coffee to those who say they voted.

If you hear about more, let us know by leaving a comment.


Visions of the Future

As I mentioned last time, my costumes have always been comprised of things that I can wear during other parts of the year. As a fan of futuristic design, I had quite a few things on hand to assemble into something a little out of the ordinary.

The centerpiece of my costume is a silver tank dress I picked up from Old Navy's several months ago. It was something that I would wear during any particular time (though many others seem to disagree, as they were abundantly available on clearance), but I knew that I wanted to wear it on Halloween. Subsequently, I had a few months to figure out what exactly I was going to dress up as. The idea coalesced somewhat within the past week, but it did not completely solidify until 4 hours before the party started. During the workday, I completely concealed the shiny dress underneath a cardigan and long A-line skirt. I left the knee-high boots in the car; I was not entirely convinced that the color of the boots would go with the dress and other parts of the costume. I brought 2 pairs of sunglasses that could potentially work, but I hadn't decided which pair would work better.

After my work commitments were completed for the day, I went to the mall to find the little things to complete my costume. Luckily, I happened to be located across the mall that day, so getting to the mall wasn't that much of a hassle. The first thing I looked for was a pair of electric blue tights. I've always wanted it, but never got around to buying a pair until now. After walking into a couple of shops and not finding any, I was beginning to wonder if I was a little too last minute. Fortunately, the salesgirl in one shop that *didn't* have the tights told me that I can find that color in Express, and Express did indeed have exactly what I was looking for.

The next thing I needed was a broad white hairband. That was easy enough to find--Claire's had one.

Having located the tights and the hairband, I continued strolling around the mall to look for a pair of white boots. It was pretty difficult--many pairs I came across were not anything that I would continue wearing, so the costs are not justified. When I finally found a pair that would be great for everyday wear, I realized that white boots were too bright and would take attention away from the dress and tights. Hence, I abandoned my bid for white go-go boots.

The last thing I needed to complete the costume was a prop. I wanted a cheap and futuristic looking gun. That was supplied to me by KB Toys. The little gadget lights up and makes noise (a little too much) when I pushed the button. It was simply perfect--now I won't have people asking me who the heck I was dressed up as.

The choice of eyewear was a game-time decision. I tried on each pair of my sunglasses for a guest at the party, and picked the one that both of us thought worked the best.

Without further ado: my Fembot costume. I also threw in a few shots of the fly eyewear for good measure.

[Claire's hairband, Donna Karan sunglasses, vintage lucite bubble necklace designed by me, Old Navy dress, Express tights, Target boots, toy gun from KB Toys]