Tea Time

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I celebrated my thirty-something-th birthday last Sunday, and finally had one of my party dreams come true. My lovely friend Kim threw me a tea party the day before my official birthday. We talked about it a couple of times, and in the end she said she’d run a little short on time so she just, “threw some things together” the night before. Behold Kim’s idea of a last minute party spread:

All this time, I had no idea this girl was hiding such incredible inner party hostess skills! She made two kinds of tea sandwiches (cucumber with herb goat cheese and pimento cheese), homemade savory scones (with pancetta, cheese and green onion), goat cheese stuffed dates rolled in prosciutto, and an assortment of cheese, crackers and jam. Also on the table is a red velvet bundt cake and some homemade Samoa bars (made by homie Charlotte). Let me just say how much I really love my friends.

I was so busy stuffing my face, I didn’t get a good close up shot of Kim’s beautiful vintage tea set (you can see it on the left in the photo above). A cup of Lady Grey tea and some adult refreshments washed everything down nicely. My mind was blown buy the Dubliner cheese and fig jam combo, for the love of all things dairy, go try it if you haven’t already. Then ask youself what I kept mumbling in between mouthfuls, “why have I never had this before?!”

Obligatory birthday fashion shot! Dress from ASOS Curve, which is adorable and made me feel like a pretty, pretty tea party princess. Halogen cardigan sweater from Nordstrom, one of about a dozen in my archives. Cake hat by the sweet ‘n sexy Marie at Agent Lover. You can’t see them, but I busted out my Jeffrey Campbell Partridge Family shoes which my dog Oliver almost destroyed when he was a puppy. It’s okay, I distracted him with a old Converse I’d lost the mate to but still held out hope of finding.

Speaking of that little scenery chewer, my date for the weekend was Oliver… I love a dog in a tuxedo. Thanks to Oliver and all my friends and family for making it a great weekend and giving me all the best slow-motion-confetti-slash-movie-montage moments in my life.

Idle Hands: Magic Wand

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Sometimes I find myself sitting around the house with nothing to do. It’s during those times when I’ve come up with some wacky ideas – imaginary cocktail parties (where I dress up head to toe, or sometimes just wear my favorite shoes with my pajamas), make up experiments, and filling a kiddie pool and trying to get my reluctant dog to join me inside, you get the idea… Most of these ideas should remain hidden on my list of secret behaviors, but every once in while I’ll come up with one that’s worth sharing, which brings us to Idle Hands.

I won’t dare call them tutorials, as I’d actually have to know what I’m doing for it to truly be a tutorial. But here’s my idea – I’ll come up with something to try (a product, technique, etc.), document the results and give you the gory details. One day, given enough liquid courage, I might test my skills with an actual video. For now, I’ll stick to plain old photos, and I promise to try to recreate any hilarious mishaps if need be.

First up? The You Curl from Infiniti by Conair, which I’ve had for a while, but never tried out. Well, that’s not entirely true, I started to try it out one night but gave up halfway – leaving me with half a head of curls, which made me look mentally unstable. The hair equivalent of Two-Face. I got the You Curl after watching this tutorial on The Hairpin, if you haven’t already, watch all of Jane Marie’s tutorials. When I’m not having imaginary parties or annoying my dog, I’m watching and reading all her stuff – but not in a scary stalker way.

Okay, back to curls… I did a much better job this time, guys! The You Curl is like a skinnier curling iron, but without the clip. It looks like  magic wand, and I kept pointing it at my head  and saying, “Expecto Patronum!”, but nothing happened. Without magical shortcuts, I went at it the old fashioned way, you wrap your hair around the wand and have to hold it while it heats up. It took me a little time to get the wrapping technique down, but once you figure it out it takes just a few seconds to do. That wand is hot, crazy hot, so watch your fingers!

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Cult of Eyebrows

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It seems many others share my obsession with eyebrows, and I’ve heard more and more people vocalize their curiosity about threading. I’ve been threading for about a year or so, and I promised a couple of friends I’d do a before & after post. Warning: you’re about to see some completely untouched (well, almost untouched, I added borders) photos of my untamed eyebrows.

I let them go an extra couple of weeks so there would be a dramatic impact, and it’s kind of mortifying but entertaining to see these. Okay, ignore the dryness around my nose.

Deep breath, I’m going for the full reveal, complete with headband to get all the hair out of my face.

Ugh, the things I do for entertainment… I hate seeing my hair pulled back. You will note I have a small forehead (dubbed a “two-head” by many friends) and my brows are a little outta control. Nothing crazy, but a little unkempt.

My first threading experience was at a Layla Beauty location in Ventura, they moved their original location so I tried another place and wasn’t completely thrilled. I ended up finding another Layla location minutes from my office, so I went back to them and have been completely satisfied. Ten minutes in the chair and $10 later….

I took this in the car, immediately after getting threaded. I did get a little scrape from the thread, as you can see. It didn’t hurt, and was 90% gone by the next morning. It can sometimes happen, and isn’t a big deal, in a year of threading I’ve only had it happen twice. You can see, my brows looks much cleaner and there are zero stray hairs! My skin is a little pink and tender, although it doesn’t show up in the photo very well. That faded in less than an hour, I went out in public and didn’t need to cover up with any extra makeup or anything.

Threading salons are popping up everywhere, so you can look around, do research on Yelp, or ask friends/co-workers for their suggestions. It’s so fast and much cheaper than waxing, I pay $10 and my brows take less than 10 minutes. Threading also lets you get absolutely perfect shape, and no breakouts or skin irritations like waxing can sometimes cause. I was devoted to waxing for over ten years, and with a single threading session my loyalty switched.

If you’re at all curious, find a friend who threads and go with them on their next appointment to see how it’s done. Although, I’d highly suggest trying it for yourself! I won’t lie, it does hurt. I think it’s more painful than waxing, but that would be my only negative about the experience. Waxing is painful, but the pain lasts a few seconds and the tenderness only a few minutes. The threading itself isn’t that much more painful than waxing, but the sting will linger longer than with waxing, maybe about 30 to 45 minutes. But once it fades, you’re left with perfect brows for weeks, with no skin irritations or breakouts! And as a bonus, you’ve got a little extra cash left in your beauty budget.

Would these brows lie to you?

Attack of the Inner-Sloth

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After three weeks of slacking, I’m happy to report that I’m back on the exercise wagon! I don’t know what happened, I was on track, running three times a week and really motivated. Then suddenly…

I just couldn’t shake the sleepy, lazy feeling – even Oliver was under the same spell. Suddenly, I realized over three weeks had flown by while I was connecting with my inner-sloth.

Using my trusty canine companion Oliver as inspiration, I shook the dust off my running shoes and hit the trail.

That’s Oliver, with his friend Max – both of them go bonkers at the park and serve as the ultimate motivation to go outside and get in gear. Who couldn’t feel inspired watching Oliver’s ears jiggle up and down while he power walks his way into heart?

I’m going to shake off the last few weeks, and just focus on getting back into my routine. And, of course, forgive myself for the giant burrito I had for dinner last night.

Have a great weekend!

Big (Edwardian) Ballin’

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When your friends play their first live show in a while, and it happens to be at the 2012 Edwardian Ball, you go. It was my first ball (that didn’t take place in my imagination), so how exactly would I make it happen? Let’s break it down:

Make sure your pores are clear of gunk with some extra goth pore strips from Boscia. While you’re waiting for it to work its magic, anxiously flick through the dresses in your closet and figure out what whispers, “Edwardian”, and decide on a black pleated dress you go from ASOS for only $35 a few months ago.

Celebrate finding an outfit without breaking into hives or panic sweat by cranking up one of your primping time playlists, which features generous amounts of Erasure and Elvis Crespo. Quickly catch a case of Bieber Fever with your fake bangs and capture the magic on camera to share with your friends later.

Refocus! Briefly consider reviving your Film Noir lipstick habit, but nix it in favor of thick eyeliner instead. Talk your blonde friend into going white blonde, because you secretly love white blondes – they are like magical unicorns walking among us!

It all finally comes together, and you watch this tall-drink-of-water perform, even though it means standing in heels that didn’t end up being as comfortable as you initially thought when you bought them. Side-eye the powers that be who decided to cut their set short, but allow other ho-hum acts to go on foreverrrrr.

Hang out with a few incredible broads, laughing, drinking and dreaming of the moment you finally find yourself nestled in a booth at Canter’s stuffing your face with potato pancakes. Get home at about 5:30 in the morning, but still manage to drag yourself into work a few hours later. Your fatigue making you temporarily forget that everyone else seems to have the day off, hmmph, but it’s okay because someone refilled the candy bowls with good candy.

I don’t know what I enjoy more – the actual going out or the process of getting ready to go out. I guess it’s like a social biathlon (or some other appropriate sporty term) and you need to engage in all parts with vigor, (hot glue) guns blazing.

Now if you don’t mind, I’m gonna just take a little rest here and recharge my batteries for next time.

Super Sunday

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What made it so super? Giving my season pass a workout on Superbowl Sunday, and finally making a visit to California Adventure! Tower of Terror gave me a panic attack and left me dizzy and shaking, so of course I rode it twice. It was a day of firsts: first time at California Adventure, first elevator terror ride, and my first meal at the Blue Bayou restaurant inside Pirates of the Caribbean. I’m now obsessed with the Dole Whip Float, which is so sweet and delicious, my taste buds are still tingling.

Always and forever

My people.

I was scurred!

California Screamin'

Strike a pose

Over twelve hours on my feet left me hobbling around at work Monday morning, but it was all worth it. I gotta remember to bring comfier shoes next time, and I need to take a lesson from my friend Kim, who manages to strike perfect poses even on a roller coaster.

Ladies Who Brunch: Crushcakes & Cafe

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A very happy 2012 from the Ladies Who Brunch! Our first outing of the new year took us to Crushcakes & Cafe in Santa Barbara, CA. My fellow ladies, Marie and Anna, and I decided to mix some brunch business with a little shopping pleasure at Yellowstone Vintage Clothing. Deciding where to eat was an arduous task, as there were quite a few contenders. We settled on Crush Cafe after an afternoon of instant messaging and linking, using only the most rational arguments – Marie said it best, “I think the cupcakes pretty much sealed the deal.”

The cafe and  bakery have separate sections, so you you can get a sneak peek at the cupcakes as you make you way up the ramp to the cafe counter. Crush’s menu offers breakfast (served all day), lunch (soups, salads and hot/cold sandwiches) and especiales de la casa (house specialties). Even though I’d decided what I would order days in advance, I re-read the menu and kept changing my mind, only to go back to my original choice. LOCA! There are many tempting options for drinks, but because it was a warm day, the three of us all decided on the Moroccan mint iced tea (I will be back for you Mayan Mocha!). We all commented on how refreshing the tea was, which sounds kind of lame now that I see it typed out, but trust me, it’s delicious and the first sip will make you say, “mmm!” You place your order, grab your drinks and utensils then find yourself a table, your food will be brought to your table by the friendly staff.

Because I’m a sucker for a good breakfast sandwich, I went with the Hangover Helper. Hungover or not, this was an incredible sandwich, and I congratulate myself on an excellent choice. The Hangover Helper consists of fluffy eggs, melted cheddar, perfect slices of applewood bacon and tomato (I ordered mine without tomato, because no me gusta) on moist, chewy toasted sourdough bread, with a side of fruit. The egg, bacon and cheese combo is a classic combo, I knew it would be good. It was the bread that really made the sandwich – fresh, crunchy on the toasted outside and chewy and soft in the middle. The fruit was also fresh and ripe, no cheap filler fruit – just simple slices of banana, strawberries and some plump grapes. It sounds silly, but I really applaud a good side of fruit. It would be so easy to throw slices of honeydew on a plate and call it a side of fruit, but I’d much rather have a small side of choice fruits than slabs of “meh”.

Anna and Marie both went for the Cafe Skillet Potato & Eggs – two fried eggs with roasted potatoes, Anaheim chiles, red peppers, applewood smoked bacon, and melted cheddar and jack cheeses. It looked and smelled delicious, Anna who usually doesn’t eat eggs said they were good and ate until she hit her self-imposed egg maximum. It was a real comfort food kind of breakfast, a little bit of grease to soak up any pain leftover from a wild Saturday night, but nothing that will leave you feeling heavy or overly stuffed.

As you can see from this before and after comparison, we polished off all the food in the most ladylike manner. I refrained from licking my plate, not to preserve my dignity, but to leave room for dessert!

The breakfast at Crush Cafe was great, but you know I had one eye on the Crushcakes display the entire time. While Marie visited the powder room, Anna and I dove in and picked out a couple of cupcakes. Anna went with the Coconut Cloud, a coconut cake with coconut cream frosting and coconut flakes. I’m a recent coconut convert, having spend most of my thirty-something years wrinkling my nose at it. Holy crap, you guys, this was heavenly. I have a crazy red velvet obsession, so naturally I chose the Crush Cake – red velvet and Crushcake’s signature sour cream frosting. I will never again settle for cream cheese frosting. The sour cream frosting was so amazing, my mind is still blown. It was so fluffy, creamy and light! I kind of wanted to take my cupcake and run away so I wouldn’t have to share it.

Crushcakes has a rotating daily special cupcake, Sunday’s was Banana Fosters. Marie must have received my psychic signals to her, begging her to order it. I really liked the banana cupcake, anything banana flavored always takes me back to childhood, even that gross banana Laffy Taffy. I think the Crush Cake edged out the competition, and won the imaginary cupcake pageant I had playing in my head. Anna agrees, the star of the cupcakery is that sour cream frosting. Now we’re both staring off into space, dreaming of cupcakes and sour cream frosting. The menu I grabbed on my way out has some examples of their other daily specials, and I am looking at my calendar, trying to figure out how many trips to Crushcakes I can fit into my schedule.

The verdict? It’s no surprise, Ladies Who Brunch give major thumbs up to Crushcakes & Cafe! The location, food, staff, dog friendliness and parking (we found a spot right across the street) all get top marks and made for a fabulous brunching experience.