Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Favorite VOGUE Photographs

I just picked up the latest issue of VOGUE Magazine featuring Keira Knightley on the October 2012 cover. The Mario Testino photo spread of Knightley, costumed for her role as Anna Karenina, is absolutely stunning! And for that very reason this post is a visual celebration of my favorite photographs from VOGUE's current and past issues. 

Gorgeous midnight blue gown by Valentino Haute Couture (Source: VOGUE Magazine)

Silk tulle & organza with nearly 5,000 feathers coat and dress by Chanel Haute Couture. (Source: VOGUE Magazine)

Another recent VOGUE favorite is the December 2011 issue with Charlize Theron. I thought the whole  "Aphrodite-esque" out of the sea photo shoot by the brilliant Annie Leibovitz was beautiful and dramatic especially with its cool, greyish-blue colors perfect yet atypical for a winter issue.

 Sea-sprayed Theron in a silver-glass and metal beaded dress by Alexander McQueen. (Source: VOGUE Magazine)

Underwater siren in a Christopher Kane dress. (Source: VOGUE Magazine)

Probably my favorite so far is the December 2007 VOGUE issue with Penelope Cruz "Made In Spain" and photographed by Annie Leibovitz. First, I love Spain. Second, I think Penelope Cruz is a total beauty who makes clothes look even more beautiful. And third, I love bull-fighting outfits and someday I must get Carlos to wear one just for me!

Cruz wearing a Dior Haute Couture coat dress by John Galliano. The crimson silk coat dress is fitted with embroidery details, vermillion wool hat, and crystal and pearl belt. Earrings by Fred Leighton. (Source: VOGUE Magazine)

Cruz wearing a onyx duchess silk dress inspired by Goya and by John Galliano/Dior Haute Couture. She is pictured with Spanish Bullfighter Rivera Ordonez. (Source: VOGUE Magazine)

In a gorgeous Marchesa ebony silk tulle ball dress with gold hand-embroidered lead appliqué. Ordonez and that outfit is quite remarkable! (Source: VOGUE Magazine)  

Cruz in an Armani Privé black and green apple satin dress. Crystal earrings by Dior Haute Couture/John Galliano. (Source: VOGUE Magazine)

For the December 2005 VOGUE, costumes by Colleen Atwood for the movie "Memoirs of a Geisha" were featured in a photo shoot by Paolo Roversi. "Costume Dramas" showcased actresses Gong Li and Zhang Ziyi in these dazzling, vibrant kimonos. 

Gong Li in a chinchilla collared coat worn over a hand-painted and embroidered kimono by Costume Designer Colleen Atwood. (Source: VOGUE Magazine)

Zhang Ziyi in a red and white silk crane print kimono. (Source: VOGUE Magazine)

The First Lady Michelle Obama looked spectacular in blue in the January 2009 VOGUE photographed by Annie Leibovitz. I really love the richness in color and the beauty and confidence the First Lady projects.

Narciso Rodriguez azure blue gown paired with a sapphire blue wrap. (Source: VOGUE Magazine)

April 2011 UK VOGUE. Just stunning - that's how Kate Winslet appears with her short, platinum blonde hair and photographed in dramatic black-and-white style by Mario Testino.

Love, love, love this photograph of Kate! The entire shot is just so strikingly beautiful. (Source: VOGUE Magazine)


 I love this picture of Kate Winslet (Source: VOGUE Magazine) simply because it reminds me of a 19th century Bust of Psyche of Capua (Source: University of Saskatchewan), a favorite sculpture of mine since I was 13 years old. 

I'm sure there are plenty of VOGUE photographs that I missed or forgotten over the years, and if I do remember them I will surely add them later down the road. Also, if you have any favorites you'd like to share, please do! I always enjoy the quality of a gorgeous photograph just as much as I do a painter's masterpiece!

Thanks for looking! 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Good Eating for a Hungry Mama - Imig's Kitchen & Bar

I am not a food connoisseur. I am just a person who loves to eat good food! 

So for my monthly "eat, drink, and chat" date with my good friend, Noel, we decided to stay close and have brunch somewhere in my neighborhood. Luckily, living around San Diego's North Park area, there is no shortage of choices for places to eat. We decide to try Imig's Kitchen and Bar located in the lobby of the historic Lafayette Hotel on El Cajon Boulevard. This grand colonial style hotel was built in 1946 and was host to a slew of old Hollywood Movie Stars.

 View of the Lafayette Hotel sign from El Cajon Boulevard.

The entrance to the hotel.

When you first enter Imig's, you get the sense of an old world American cafe feel with hints of modern details.  A stunning glass orb chandelier and gorgeous wall screen made up of reclaimed doors and windows are definite stand-out pieces in this restaurant and embody exactly this historic modern atmosphere. The wall screen separates the more nostalgic warmth of the restaurant bar area from the more brighter, naturally lit enclosed patio type section of the restaurant which Noel and I were seated. We could also see from our table the historic Weissmuller Pool. 
The reclaimed wood wall screen that we sat next to with a view of the chandelier with glass orbs and bar.

I loved that even though the restaurant is not very big it still felt relaxed and open. Service was excellent and our server, Adam, was very friendly. We started off with a glass of fresh orange juice and while we sipped our drinks we happily looked over their brunch menu. Speaking of menus, we couldn't get enough of their clever use of file folders for their menu. Some menus even had fun quotes along the top file tabs.

Noel taking a look at the brunch selection.

The menu comes in dossiers.

 Cute quotes on the file tabs. This one says, "Behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes".

Noel ordered the Breakfast Sammy. The Sammy is one of Imig's popular picks which is composed of grilled country bread, egg over easy, avocado, arugula, prosciutto, oven roasted tomatoes, fontina, and chive pesto. Noel was very happy with the Breakfast Sammy and thought it was quite delicious! I ordered the Market Omelet made with three eggs, seasonal vegetables, cotija cheese, and served with hash brown potatoes. I am a big fan of omelets and Imig's Market Omelet was totally tasty. The vegetables were so fresh and flavorful that it was a joy eating it all up! 

 Noel's brunch dish known as the Breakfast Sammy.

  My Market Omelet plate.

The food presentation was simple with the food allowed to stand alone on top a white plate with all its goodness. Noel and I were quite satisfied with Imig's delicious, adequately portioned, and well priced brunch dishes. I will definitely be back and next time I plan to bring Carlos and the boys. They do have a Kid's Menu which is a big plus for my little picky eaters. I've also heard that Imig's serves up some fine craft cocktails at brunch that I would love to try as well as Carlos.

So if you're looking for some pleasant, homemade American cooking with great nostalgic ambiance, head over to Imig's Kitchen and Bar. It's simply good!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Merrily I Go Shopping...Local Vintage & Resale Stores

There are so many reasons why shopping locally is important. Buying locally and supporting small businesses not only helps stimulate the local economy but makes your neighborhood a better place to live. Also, it's great seeing people out and about on the streets being tourists in their own city. I believe learning to love where you live is the best investment in your future and for your family's future.

One of the things I love about scouting around local neighborhoods is that you find a great, many unique shops that find value in the business of recycling perfectly fine goods. When I feel the need to take a break from big box retailers I revel in the adventure of shopping at local vintage and resale stores. It's very rewarding to shop these second-hand stores for limited, if not one of a kind, pieces and at the same time helping to cut down on waste by not buying new. I also love to show my kids that it's alright to buy something not new and be able to enjoy it! 

I have grown to love several local vintage and thrift stores around San Diego and have become a regular customer at these places. I don't always buy but love to just look around at their eclectic mix of bric-a-brac. 

One of my favorite's is Bad Madge & Company, a quaint and quirky shop in the San Diego neighborhood of South Park. Bad Madge & Co. does a great job of picking the most fun and unique selection of vintage and resale items. I'd like to first point out that half the fun of thrift shopping is meeting the people who own the shops. Madge is a perfect example. Tanya, the owner, her staff of "pickers", and Fritz the resident canine are one of the most charming and welcoming bunch I have ever met. The friendly atmosphere is one of the many highlights of this shop.

In addition, Bad Madge's prices are so affordable! With so much wonderful vintage items which include (but not limited to) furniture, clothing, shoes, jewelry, cute cocktail hats, records, books, toys, luggage, artwork, ceramics, photographs, postcards...I find myself heading over to Madge just to peruse her treasures which a good many I would love to have as my own treasures! It's always a new adventure for me and I feel like a little kid in a candy shop. Moreover, Madge is my "go to" store when I'm on the hunt for something special for my home or myself. A visit to Bad Madge & Company is an essential!

Bad Madge & Co. store front window.

An array of unique finds like artwork and ceramics.

Old lamp and vintage knick-knacks.

Unique furniture pieces and other finds.

Gorgeous large, old wardrobe with vintage luggage atop.

Retro Snoopy and Woodstock rotary phone.

Another favorite of mine is STUFF, a furniture consignment shop located in the San Diego neighborhood of Normal Heights. I do try to stop by here on a weekly or bi-weekly basic because they get new stuff in daily. Scott, the owner, is always friendly and I can tell he takes great pride in the inventory which he sells. STUFF has a wonderful selection of items, which a large quantity include furniture, that range from grandma decor to modern to shabby chic to mid-century. I give bonus points to this store for having a lot of interesting pieces stuffed into a small shop space. In addition, STUFF has a fantastic stock of outdoor furniture and accessories which I love because I'm always on the lookout for unique things for my backyard. Their prices are exceptionally affordable and every time I purchased something at STUFF they always gave me a discount off the asking price. I do love a good deal and STUFF has many!

STUFF Furniture Consignment store front in Normal Heights, San Diego, CA.

Old, wooden Ranch sign waiting to be repurposed.

Variety of frames and vintage chairs can be found at STUFF.

Charming chairs and many other pieces of furniture are a common find.

Stumbling upon unique pieces like this cool mirror are one of the many reasons I adore shopping at STUFF.

Disabled Veteran's Thrift Store, located in my old childhood stomping grounds in the San Diego neighborhood of Lomita (Spring Valley), is kind of a hit and miss type of thrift store. The Veteran's Thrift Stores provide relief and assistance to Disabled American Veterans and/or their families through sales from donations. That said, it makes impulsive buys feel somewhat charitably good! It's a good-sized thrift store with plenty of "old stuff" however mostly clothes. In addition, this thrift store is pretty well organized and I love to check out their whole section of antique/vintage finds. Although most items in their vintage department are not the most eye-popping, once in a while I do spot some great finds for a thrifty gal. So whenever I visit my parents' house, which is just a few blocks away, I usually stop by and try my luck!

The Disabled Veteran's Thrift Store in Spring Valley, CA.

Aisles and aisles of clothing racks, but well-organized.

Antique sofa with great potential.

Funky round armchairs in the antique section.

Racking full of old housewares. I sometimes find individual & sometimes partial sets of unique china to add to my current mismatched collection of plates, bowls, and cups.

The vintage section has quite the collection of old and semi-new porcelain dolls. This doll (above) is bit creepy with old yellowed lace dress and unrelenting stare. 

Veteran's also has numerous artwork displayed throughout the store. Most aren't the best in quality but sometimes there's a piece or two that might catch your attention.

I did spot a large Impressionist style artwork (above) during my last visit which sat on the top shelf in the antique section of the store.  I thought the painting was quite stunning and I purchased it for only $35. After taking it home I discovered the painting had a stamp on the back of the canvas labeled "Studio D'Arte/A. DeVity/Italia". I researched the words and found that this oil-on-canvas painting is by an Italian painter named Antonio DeVity. It's most likely a mid-century painting and depicts a busy street scene in Paris, France which was a common subject of DeVity paintings. It's a beautiful and large piece of art that measures 24 inches by 48 inches (not including the frame). The wood frame is a bit worn but does not take away from the richness of the painting itself. It now hangs in my living room and I absolutely love it!

Picture of my DeVity painting hanging on my living room wall. The solid wood frame with linen mat is exemplary of the Danish Modern Movement during the mid-century.

Close-up of a scene from the painting. The brush strokes are so finely layered.

The DeVity Studio Stamp.

"Made in Sweden" label on the back of the frame.

Do yourself a favor and think outside the big box retailers. Explore, like you did as child, and think small, shop local. I hope you do discover your own favorite little retail shops as I have and once you do, tell someone about it. Also, I would love to hear about any of your favorite local shopping haunts, so please, do tell! 

Happy Shopping!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Effortless Wear

Growing up with three older sisters was a terribly fascinating experience especially when it came to clothes. At an early age, I would pay close attention to the types of clothes they would wear and that had a huge influence on how I thought I wanted to dress. I would sometimes "borrow" their clothes without them knowing as well as try to shop around for items similar to what they wore. For most of my childhood and well into my teenage years I dressed myself pretty much according to what my older sisters were wearing. I always knew  it didn't feel right because it felt too much like a struggle keeping up with their looks. My fashion sense was a shadow to theirs because I never really knew my own personal style.

To know how to dress with one's own personality in mind is learning first about who you are inside and then having the clothes work for you. Clothes shouldn't make you stressed out or make you feel bad about yourself. Clothes should be your armor that guides and represents the way you see yourself. I've learned through the years that you don't need to follow the trends (or your sisters for that matter) but to just pick what feels true to yourself. It took me a long time to find my personal style and when I finally did I felt transformed! Of course several years after that transformation I got pregnant! And for me, dealing with post-baby belly (twice) and getting use to my new figure was not easy! There are some women who get back their figures in several months to a year but I am definitely not one of those mothers. My figure, especially my belly area, has not graciously receded back to pre-pregnancy days and it's been 6 years since I gave birth to my youngest son.

However, I do take pride that my mommy belly is my reward for having two awesome boys and would never trade anything else in the world for it. So most days I take in my reflection and know that this new body is still just as beautiful. And luckily, I have the most wonderful husband who reaffirms that idea every day.

Initially, though, after having my boys, I did feel a bit lost in learning how to restyle myself and my new body. I was a mother now and of course most of my time was focused on my family, working part-time, and handling the everyday chores, so learning to find my style again was not high on the priority list. I knew I didn't feel great though and I knew I didn't want to be one of those mothers who let go of themselves because they have no time.  Of course, my kids are my first priority but I don't believe in putting a mother's needs consistently last. Mothers deserve to feel great and having an unhappy mama is not good for anyone. 

So with my boys both in grade school now (Paco, a 4th grader, and Tomás, a 1st grader), I have really used my solo time to re-cultivate my personal style. First, I will not forgo style just because I am a mother. And second, I will accept my body and lifestyle. I am at this period of my life where I want to feel effortless when I step out of the house. To be able to just throw on an outfit that's both comfortable and flattering in little time, that's how I want to be and that's how I am working on being.

I've also learned through the years that you don't need a huge wardrobe but to just pick pieces that make you feel good. From knowing myself and my own sisters, we tend to wear our favorite pieces of clothing at least a couple of times a week and will wear them until we find our next new favorites. It's the quality not the quantity! Moreover, the smaller collection of clothes the easier it is to pick from...think effortless!!!

Asserting my femininity is also a new and welcomed part of my 38-year old style. In a house full of boys, the need to feel a bit more feminine (even with my pixie-chopped hair) has firmly planted itself in me. I now tend to buy more dresses and skirts and flock towards the flowy and more colorful threads. Before my boys, I would often wear just pants and dark clothing. Having children has definitely liberated my fashion sense and I feel more open and confident with my body.

Supplying my latest clothing addiction is the shop Anthropologie. It is a fashionable escape for me that is tinged with elements of romantic travels, nostalgic charm, femininity, texture, patterns, and effortlessness. In addition, their clothes fit a girl with curves! Oh, how I love Anthropologie!!! Unfortunately, I can only purchase their clothes during promotional events like additional percent off sales rack. Prices for their clothes are definitely a bit too steep for me! And even sale prices for items I love are not always at a cost I feel comfortable paying for. However, I have justified my purchases by the fact that I wear it everyday and will continue to wear it everyday! 

Here are some of my latest Anthropologie grabs:

The Lisbeth Tank - I bought this simple, asymmetrical tank in both black and green on sale for less than $10 each. Total steal for Anthropologie prices. The material is a linen rayon and the cut of tank has a nice, unique drape that helps hide the tummy area yet flatters my body. The Lisbeth Tank has been my go to top during the hot, sticky summer days due to it's airy but not too thin material. It's so comfortable yet so versatile. It can be dressed up or kept casual. I love wearing both colored tanks with this great skirt that I also bought the same day (see below) but I can also see myself wearing it with jeans as well. 

Sea-lined Skirt - I've been wearing this linen/cotton skirt with both the black and green Lisbeth tank. It cost about $25 which is pretty manageable since I do love wearing it a lot. The material is so soft and comfortable with an elastic waistband for easy, effortless pull on styling. I love the vertical striped pattern with sunken pockets too. I adore pockets! Even though it's considered a mini skirt it's not too mini for me and my short 5' 1" stature! It hits right above my knees and hugs nicely against my hips. I can also see myself wearing this skirt not only for summer but well into Fall.

The Lisbeth Tank (in black & green) by Pure & Good. (Source: Anthropologie)

 Sea-lined skirt by Ace & Jig. (Source: Anthropologie)

In a Day Jumpsuit - I absolutely love this cropped linen-cotton one piece jumpsuit! The cobalt blue color is gorgeous and reminds me of a Matisse painting. It's also very versatile and transitions well from casual mornings with sandals to dressed-up evenings in heels. It's so comfortable, stylish, and a total statement piece. I even convinced one of my older sisters to try it on and after she did, she loved it! She later purchased it with me during their additional 25% sale. The jumpsuit fits like a charm and when I wear it I feel like I should be walking around the streets of Spain! I guess San Diego will have to be a close second for now.

In a Day Jumpsuit by Corey Lynn Calter. (Source: Anthropologie)

Topock Halter Dress - This pull-over styling, easy shift dress made from viscose/cotton material is wonderful for the hot, summer days. The price was right at just $30 on sale. The material is light-weight but not flimsy and even has a built-in bra. The flowy dress is shorter in the front and longer in the back (dress mullet) which gives it a unique cut. The pattern and color is pretty and flatters my skin tone. Also, it will be a great piece to wear with a cardigan for cooler days. 

Topock Halter Dress by Maple. (Source: Anthropologie)

My other "go to" shops include GAP and J.Crew. I love both shops because they tend to have the more classic cut pieces that are both versatile and essential to any wardrobe. A couple of recent buys include:

Embroidered Sleeveless Tank - This sleeveless, light cotton denim tank from GAP has a lovely embroidered detailing on the front bodice. It has a relaxed, easy silhouette that is very figure flattering. The tank is perfect for summer with endless options and will be a nice layering piece for the Fall. 

Sleeveless embroidered tank from GAP. (Source: GAP)

Café Capri - J. Crew's capri pants and its dusty rose color are a great buy and addition to my wardrobe. These cotton pants are perfectly tailored and crisp with a bit of stretch which is a must in comfort for my curvy proportions. It also sits just above my hip allowing my mommy belly to be unrestrained and therefore more comfortable. I love wearing my café capri pants with my GAP tank mentioned above and will continue wearing my capris throughout all the seasons.

 J.Crew Dried Rose Cafe Capri Pants. (Source: J.Crew)

So now, what should I wear? I tend not to struggle with that question much anymore. It's not worth my time to stress about such things and it shouldn't be worth your time either. Just remember to be kind to yourself and keep things simple. Go with clothes that flatters you and only you. Questions like that matter a little less when you dress for yourself. When you dress for no one but yourself, you are at your most comfortable, and therefore your most confident.

Go out and feel effortless!!!