Friday, March 28, 2008

Boutique fashion

I'd been toying with the idea of a fashion post yesterday, but after getting a tip about this sale in Bellevue Saturday, I knew I had to write.

The topic is boutique fashion. There are classic clothes (Eddie Bauer, J. Jill, Nordstrom, Sundance, Isabella Bird) and there are...clothes. I first got the bug for boutique clothing at a Naked Ladies party—a clothing exchange hosted by women in the area dance community. One of the items someone brought to the exchange was a tan corduroy skirt. Sounds plain, but it had details: Hollywood waist, a hidden zipper with a very slim pull, and asymmetrical ruching that brought the skirt up to knee level at one part of the front. This sounds weird; it looked great.

Boutique clothing is characterized by lush and extreme materials; lots of detailing; lots of drape; and (often) exotic colors. There's nothing cookie cutter about it. If you like the bright turquoise crocheted sweater but want it in red, you're out of luck. It's often discouraging to try to mix a piece of boutique clothing into a regular wardrobe because it speaks a whole other language. Or at least talks with a very strong accent.

That skirt from the Naked Ladies party got me to venture into Anthropologie, a store of which I'd once said "if I buy anything here, shoot me."

Shopping trips to Anthropologie are trying because only one out of every 10 or so things I try on looks good. But that piece doesn't just look good; it looks incredibly good. (I handle the coordination issue by making sure that whatever I buy at Anthropologie, it either goes with a black top or a black skirt.)

So...I ventured into Anthropologie at University Village Thursday and found an amazing dress. However, I ran up against another of the weird phenomena of the boutique clothing world: skimpy sizing. I wear an 8 or a 10, but the manufacturer of the dress only made the item up to a size 8 (which they label a large!). And I thought I really needed a 10.

The led me to search online, where a store called Tobi carries the brand (Velvet) and has similar styles of dresses that do come in a 10. And this morning, when I came across the info on the Eastside Upside-Down Sale, I noticed that one of the brands at the sale will be Velvet.

One of the boutiques at the sale will be the intriguing Tatters from Mercer Island. I got a quick look in their window a few weeks ago, and am definitely interested. Bringing it all full circle: One of the skirts shown on Tatters' homepage is remarkably similar to the tan corduroy skirt that got me interested in this type of clothing in the first place.

Monday, March 24, 2008

More brown rice tips

I try to eat a cup of brown rice every day (from a batch I cook up on Monday morning). Staring at the bowl of rice today, not really wanting my usual cinnamon, milk and honey, I thought: Curry!

That meant sprinkling on curry powder, cumin, and raisins, mixing it up, and heating the rice in the microwave. When it was done, I added a heaping tablespoon of yoghurt and mixed it all up. Delicious! Probably could have used some nuts for protein...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

I've been Peeped

You've heard of Peeping Toms? I have a Peeping Mark — a former boyfriend who has for the past 13 years come by the house and hung a bag full of boxed Peeps on the front door.

I was in the basement doing the laundry today when the Peep-and-run occurred. This year it's a batch of traditional yellow Peeps. Very nice in their traditional Bartell bag. (Somehow, I don't think this would work if they weren't in a Bartell bag.)

I've been thinking quite a bit recently about the sentimental pull of food. Since very few of us were raised with treasured recipes for tofu and salad, these sentimental foods tend to be on the unhealthy side. This, then, introduces the question of how to avoid overindulging in Aunt Helen's fudge, the five-pound box of chocolate from the candy store in your old home town, and the deep-fried goodies at your family's favorite clam shack (forgive the East Coast reference).

My solution? Eat one meal of the goodies and then ask someone else to make the leftovers disappear. Face it, you will never be able to put even a tablespoonful of Cousin Guido's lasagna down into the trash. Another approach is to tuck the items into the back of the fridge until they are no longer appealing. And yet a third approach is to let someone else in your house finish them off (unless, of course, this gets into the territory of "sabotage.")

Not being a sweets person, I'm most likely to have these eat it/toss it interior dialogs in front of a bag of bagels and tub of cream cheese, or looking at a piece of fried chicken. So, fortunately, the Peeps are harmless. I'll eat a package of them today and then put the rest in a basket for the Easter bunny. He'll burn it off hopping around tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The "organic" label makes me roll my eyes

A friend of mine is obsessed with New Age housecleaning products. When she sees my Cheer Free laundry detergent (the big, bad corporate version of perfume-free products) her shoulders tense up and her smile becomes fixed. At her urging, I purchased an alternative laundry detergent. I'm pretty sure it's exactly the same as the Cheer Free, except that the PR department killed the bright label and replaced it with a soothing beige-and-green label bearing words like "eucalyptus."

Think I'm being cynical?

Are you a fan of Boca Burgers, Naked Juice, Silk Soy, Gardenburger, Odwalla, Seeds of Change, Dagoba, and Arrowhead Mills? Let's see...that would be: Kraft, Pepsi, Dean, Kellogg, Coca-Cola, M&M Mars, Hershey Foods and Heinz (which likes to call itself Hain when it's feeling organic).

Really! Chart here. And thanks to The Diet Blog for pointing this out.

Eating locally

A friend turned me on to Mashiko in West Seattle last week. The meal — plates of sashimi composed for us by the chef as we sat at the sushi bar — was amazing. Toro. Monkfish liver. Scallops wrapped in proscuitto. Geoduck. Mashiko offers a sampler of three types of saki, and, that, too, was stellar; one type was redolent of cedar.

The next morning I woke up feeling so healthy and energized. I think it was the food!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Walking weather

I'm visiting family in Florida this week. It's reminding me of what an important role the weather plays in fitness—at least for me.

The temperature here is in the 70s during the day, and, especially when it's overcast, this is pleasant weather for walking or biking. No bundling up or raincoats required—I just put on comfortable walking sandals and head out the door. There are sidewalks everywhere, and there's something very pleasant about chugging along while watching the egrets and various other birds in the palm trees.

No question, getting in a 45-minute walk every day is much easier in Florida than it is in still-wintery Seattle. That's more than 14 miles a week—14 miles a week I haven't been logging at home.