Mighty Life List
Sep 30 2010

San Francisco in the Fog

The Unseen Sea from Simon Christen on Vimeo.

Hello, lover.

Sep 30 2010

Skylar Reeves: Rockstars and Babies

Some favorite photos by Skylar Reeves:

Sep 28 2010

Mighty Summit: Packing Light

This is everything I packed for the Mighty Summit in the Russian River wine country. As you might have surmised, it takes some time to decide what to wear in front of 30 bloggers’ digital SLRs. This is the third post in the L.L.Bean Signature series, so you’ll find a few of those products below.

Is this me wearing another shirt as a dress? Maybe. Maybe it is, Internet. I have seen photo evidence that this might be shorter than I expected, but whatever. I was amongst the team.

I wore this with jeans and sneakers while we were unpacking boxes from the car. Then I changed into the tights and boots for the welcome party, which involved cocktails, and sliders, and smart ladies by the pool. This shirt/dress is Urban Outfitters, the tights are Target and they’re grey, though you can’t really tell from the photo.

The equestrian boots you are from L.L.Bean. Let’s go ride horses, you guys! No? Do you want a tiny little hamburger? Yeah, these boots are perfect for sliders.

The next morning we had a pajama breakfast, and I wore my vintage red velvet Christmas Robe with a T-shirt and boxers underneath.

Many a time have I considered cropping this robe and wearing it as trench coat, but this is only my third year owning The Christmas Robe. I cannot resist its Donna Reed qualities, even though I can’t fully raise my arms while I’m wearing it. Passing out presents is so dainty when you can’t bend at the elbow. Or shoulder. Fashion!

This is what I wore for wine tasting in the ‘70s. The preppy ruffle sweater is L.L.Bean, the cha-cha skirt is vintage (you may remember it from Puerto Rico), and the bronze cowboy boots are from Buenos Aires, which means I particularly enjoy it when people ask me where I got them. (Ask me about my boots!)

Actually, boots story. Margaret and her family came to Argentina with us, and her main goal for the trip was to find a pair of cowboy boots. These were the only pair she loved, but they were slightly too small. She said I should try them on, and they fit me perfectly. She selflessly passed them to me, and I promised I would wear them into the ground. We high-fived over the boots at the Summit, where Margaret also presented me with an amazing vintage dress she picked up for me in Dublin. In conclusion, Margaret is a wardrobe sister.

This outfit is my favorite thing ever, you guys. I took our fiesta palette inspiration from this Kate Spade ad, so the colors were red, lemon yellow, robin’s egg blue, and plum/fuchsia. I wasn’t sure what I’d wear to the party, until I realized that I actually owned a piece in every one of these colors. Here’s a better view of the tights:

Liz is rocking that striped dress. I covet her wardrobe, so look for her in a Mighty Closet soon.

My dress is H&M, tights and shoes are Target Online, and the cardigan is vintage. The sweater is such an old favorite that there’s a huge hole in the elbow of one arm, so I wore the sleeves pushed up.

FYI, this entire outfit, including shoes, cost $40. POW! Sock!

This is what I’d look like if you showed up at my apartment unannounced at around 8 a.m., and I happened to be sabering open a bottle of champagne.

As you know, I try to pack jammies that I can wear as outfits. I was so tired the third day, I didn’t entirely change out of my PJs until evening. The heather grey v-neck tee is Old Navy, the leggings are H&M. (To hike through the redwoods I pulled on boyfriend jeans from Limited.) The versatile wrap sweater is from Ambience in SF. It’s my version of a sweatshirt. Speaking of which:

This is me trying to convince Andrea to get an American Apparel sheer circle scarf. I use it as a wrap, a scarf, a hood, a top, a dress, a sarong, an airplane blanket. Someday I plan to do a trip with only this scarf, a toothbrush, and a couple pairs of underwear and an Esquire Magazine.

This is what I wore to our farewell dinner at Barndiva. Turban, FTW! Natalie got this hat for me as a present, because she is rad, and because she keeps trying to steal my yellow turban, which she cannot have. The tuxedo jacket is L.L.Bean; which I’ll have tailored to fit more closely when baggy goes out of fashion, and then will wear for the rest of time. The weirdly comfy high heels are from Nordstrom Rack.

My dress is vintage, purchased to hide post-baby chub at a time when people were still asking me when I was due, ie: twelve months after I’d given birth. Those people can suck it.

Many thanks to L.L.Bean for sponsoring this post. All of their products featured here are part of the current L.L.Bean Signature Collection, so they’re available now on the site, along with many other cute things that you might want, eh?

Sep 27 2010

Mighty Summit Post Roundup

I’m working away behind the curtain over here, but here are some of the things attendees have said about the Summit. Ladies, if you attended and posted something you don’t see here, please let me know in comments. I’m starting a collection.


(Photo by Andrea Scher)

Danielle Henderson from Knotty Yarn:

“Slowly (so slowly) over the past few years, I’ve taken small opportunities to believe in myself. To say “yes.” Instead of immediately talking myself out of something, I instead asked myself “What if?” What if you DID apply to that university? What if they DID accept you into that program? What if you got the grants you needed to pay for it? What if you started taking better care of your body instead of lamenting the fact that you never have in the past? What if you said yes and went to that party? What if you got a chance to spend a weekend with 20 incredible women?”


(photo by Amber Blatt)

Meg Keene from A Practical Wedding:

On Money and Self Worth
After spending two plus days hanging out with some of the most accomplished (in a free-wheeling, freelance, creative way) and supportive women I’ve ever met, I’ve been thinking a lot about self-worth. I’ve been thinking about how as women we often undervalue ourselves, our life stories, and what we’re capable of, and that leads to lost potential. We think, “I can’t do that, I can’t dream that big, I’m being selfish to even think about this, I don’t deserve to earn (or have my company earn) that much money, I shouldn’t have delusions of grandeur.” And when this happens, we all lose. Think of all those projects that could have been created, those businesses that could have thrived, that money that could be flowing back into our communities. When we cut ourselves off at the knees we lose all that, our communities lose all that, we all lose.

Mighty Summit: In Gratitude for the Blogosphere

“It was about this movement we’ve created together, as women in the social media space. It was about continuing to shape that into a force to be reckoned with. It was about shaking up the media establishment. Of telling our stories, your stories.”


(photo by Andrea Scher)

Tara Weaver of Tea and Cookies:
Throwing Your Hat Into the Ring
“The ‘no’ we hear should never come from our own lips.”

Andrea Scher from Superhero Designs Blog:

“Most importantly, I learned that women want to help other women achieve their dreams. They really do. No matter what we learned in high school (and later) about being competitive, jealous and believing there wasn’t enough goodness to go around, the truth is that when we can create a culture of community and empowerment around our goals and dreams, women are the first ones to jump in and want to help.”

Erin Loechner of Design for Mankind:

“Consider this my commitment to sharing more of myself with you — right here. My hopes, dreams and fears — and I want you to do the same with me. Let’s hold ourselves accountable in an effort to shape our futures however we may wish. Because after all? We are indeed mighty.”


(Photo by Zan McQuade)

Margaret Stewart of Fountly:

What Women Really Want Dispatch From the Mighty Summit
“Women have always been sources of creative energy in families and society, and we have always been the makers of things. We knitted, we sewed, we cooked, we quilted. We were able to express our care and affection by feeding, clothing, and wrapping people up in our creations. And while we were and are capable of so many other things, both artist and intellectual, we’ve lost something in abandoning these basic creative pursuits. And in fact, we’ve vilified them at some level over the years, making it seem unambitious or wasting your potential to focus energies on the seemingly humble craft of living.”

Mighty Junior Life Lists: Beatrice, age 9
“Inspired by my weekend at The Mighty Summit and my own experience creating a Life List (see right column of my blog), I sat down with my own kids and asked them what they’d put on their list. Here’s the first one, shared with permission by it’s author, 9-year-old Beatrice. I love the way reality and fantasy co-mingle….”


(By Zan McQuade)

Leah from A Girl and a Boy:

“I met Meg, who, if you believe in destiny, was the whole reason this opportunity fell in my lap at all. In case you didn’t catch on yesterday, she and her team of readers at A Practical Wedding are leading the charge in getting my middle-aged tuchus married off (in style!) once and for all. I’m so excited I could puke.”


(photo by Amber Blatt)

Nicole Balch from Making it Lovely:

“We all committed to working on five of our dreams this year. Maggie told us at lunch on the last day that when she set the wheels in motion on her life list, she bought a gold band to commemorate the occasion. She wears it every day along with her wedding ring. We were then each given a gold necklace by lemonade handmade with five small rings on it, representing the five things we will accomplish this year…”


(By Margaret Gould Stewart)

Heather Sphor from The Sphors are Multiplying:

“As I listened to these amazingly accomplished women, I reevaluated the things I wanted to do in my life. More specifically, the order. Sure, I still DO want to prank call the vice president, or find out who Billy Jean’s baby daddy really was. But I have some goals that I have set for myself that I want to complete in the next 365 days.”


(By Zan McQuade)

Karen Walrond of Chookooloonks:

wine! (or, everything you ever wanted to know about wine from someone who doesn’t know jack about wine)
“As far as what you’re looking for in the scent and the taste, Erin tells me you’re simply looking for a scent and taste that pleases you. If you want to, you can look for cranberry-ness or oak-y-ness or insouciant-ness, but really, like art, it’s just about learning what you like, as opposed to Knowing What You’re Supposed to Like. Once I learned this, it was like a weight lifting from my shoulders — when tasting wine, you’re the expert, not the waiter.”

Karen also continued a life list project by taking some portraits while all of us were together:
Photos, Part I

Photos, Part 2

Kelly Wickham of Mocha Momma writes about finally meeting Internet friend Andrea Wishom face to face, and how that led to meeting Oprah face to face. (Yay, Oprah!)

Roxanna Sarmiento of Everyday treats gives a peek into the invitations and “the swag.”

Helen Jane Hearn of HelenJane.com posted a how to on sabering open a bottle of champagne.

Liz Stanley from Say Yes to Hoboken has a “what i wore” segment that you should go see.

Alli Worthington of Mrs. Fussypants posted some videos and photos of the redwoods.

Heather Armstrong of Dooce sings the praises of Maile’s amazing camera bags. (And took a gorgeous photo of our room.)

Laura Mayes of The Queso learned to knit.

Allison Czarnecki from Petit Elefant: Mormon=1, Champagne=0

Amber Blatt of The Amber Show did a great recap of how the weekend unfolded. Here’s Part I and Part II.

Sep 25 2010

Cute Top

Sep 23 2010

Mighty Summit

Last year, after the Broad Summit, the organizers got on the phone to talk about whether we wanted to do it again. We all had a great time, but of course it was a lot of work. Even though the event was a success none of us were sure we wanted to re-up.

We got to talking about why, because it didn’t make much sense, until we realized there had been no real intention behind the Broad Summit. We mostly just wanted to see if we could do it. Personally, I wanted to check “organize a retreat” off my Mighty Life List, provide a fun weekend for girls who have given each other lots of support through the years, and find out whether we could plan something on that scale without losing our shirts in the process (first-year events tend to lose money). Once the event was over, the general feeling among the organizers was sort of, “Check. Did it.”

We realized that if we were going to do the Summit again, we needed a stronger reason. At the time, my new emphasis was on my Mighty Life List — building my site around it, making my living from living my dreams, helping other people start thinking the same way. So we decided to change the name to Mighty Summit, and use the event as a way to encourage attendees to dream bigger.

We wanted to make the concept of goals explicit in the event to make it more meaningful for everyone. Boy did it ever.

This year, we asked attendees to write life lists and made sure everyone had copies of all the lists before they arrived. On the first day, I said that I’d had an amazing outpouring of support from all of you when I first posted my list. Many of you asked how you could help, offered to let me stay with you while I traveled, or to loan me something I needed to make my dreams go.

That experience made me realize how often our grandest dreams are someone else’s day to day life. You want to write a book? I’m a publisher! You want to go on a cruise? I’m the publicity director for a cruise line! At the Summit, we asked everyone to talk to one another about their lists, and see where we could help each other. Everyone got started on the little stuff right away.

Danielle taught Laura to knit.

Helen Jane taught us how to saber open a champagne bottle with a knife. (Holy crap, that is easy, you guys. Margaret made a video, so go watch and try it with a $5 bottle of Cava. You will feel superhuman.)

And lots of us posed for Karen‘s 1,000 portraits project.

On the third day, after we’d had a chance to get to know one another, we did a group meditation on our life lists over lunch. We asked everyone to choose five things they thought they could accomplish in the next year, and choose one area where they needed help.

We asked for little things, like help learning to use our cameras.

And huge things, like help starting foundations.

We had a chance to be vulnerable with each other.

To offer our own talents, and to lift each other up.

We talked about how all boats rise together in the tide, and what we could do to make that tide a little stronger.

As for me, I went into this year wondering if I wanted to do the Mighty Summit at all, and came out of it planning for next year before we’d even hugged everyone goodbye.

I made some great new friends, and learned a little bit about how powerful it can be to ask for help. And now I think it’s time to ask for help from all of you.

I will always love the intimacy of the Summit, but for me the Life List concept is much bigger than 14-room hotel. For a long time, I’ve been wanting a place for all of us to share our lists and help each other cross things off, but I’ve been a little perfectionist about it (imagine!), and needing things “just so” is keeping me from doing anything at all. Here are the three things I’m committing to:

1. Starting a real community.

I want: A place on Facebook where we can all start talking about what’s going on with our lists. What’s on them, what we need help with, how we can find each other geographically and start planning meetups.

I need help with: Advice on the best way to do this. I’m kind of stumbly with Facebook to say the least.

2. Giving everyone a simple way to track their Life Lists.

I want: A Facebook app that would give us an easy way to write our lists, cross things off, and link out to the info we’ve posted online — just like I do with my own list. I have some really specific ideas of how I want it to look and what I want it to do.

I need help with: The contact info for a smart app developer who has done this kind of thing with Facebook before.

3. A space for everyone.

I want: Sometime in the next year or so, I’d like to have a campout/meetup/conference open to everyone where we do the same kinds of things we do at the Summit, but on a larger, more-inclusive scale. The downside will be no free massages, the upside will be that everyone will be there.

I need help with: Getting you there. You should come.

Sep 21 2010

Mighty Closet: Libby Nicholaou, Part II

I can’t wait to give you details about the Summit, but my laptop got rained on this weekend, so while I deal with some technical difficulties, please enjoy this Mighty Closet, which was all queued up and ready to go when the skies opened up on my hard drive.

You guys remember Libby, she’s been around these parts a lot. When we last checked in with her, she was running a local art gallery, then she worked with me for a while before she decided to return to school to study art history. While she waits on her school applications to be accepted, she’s working with SF MoMA and hostessing at one of the best restaurants in town.

Libby’s last Mighty Closet was about a year ago, so I thought we’d do an update. This is also the second post in the L.L.Bean series, so we’ve supplemented Libby’s usual vintage and thrift mix with clothes from the new L.L.Bean Signature Collection, which is inspired by vintage classics from their archives.

This is the kind of thing Libby wears on her day off, for brunches and impromptu reading sessions on the back stairs. She’s very intellectual on her days off.

The llama sweater is a vintage score from No No on Valencia, and the tank is from the Gap.

The plum cords are Stretch Cord Bootcut Pants from L.L.Bean, and her shoes are Sperry Topsiders.

These Harry Potter specs technically don’t have lenses, which is why there’s no ugly reflection in the photos. This fashion choice engenders strong reactions from strangers, who are either amused or disturbed by Libby co-opting the plight of the near sighted. You’re a monster, Libby. You have no idea how my people have suffered.

This is what Libby would wear to a casual dinner. Her skirt is American Apparel, and the shirt is vintage from Painted Bird. Her tights are by Hue, and the “pattern” is her tattoo showing through.

Her beloved vintage kicks are from Buffalo Exchange. I hear they are quite the hit at the parties in the U.S.A.

Her threatening, two-finger ring is from Therapy. And yes, for those of you keeping score, Libby’s entire wardrobe was purchased within about two blocks of her home.

The leather and metal earring was handmade by Libby’s friend, Fatima Flemming.

This is a dress I bought at a vintage shop a while ago, it was tea length and unflattering, but Libby had a vision. She took it and sliced the skirt off. Turns out it’s some sort of space polymer that didn’t even need hemming, and now she wears it out to drinks with friends while I shake my fist at the sky cursing the day I let it go.

These red tights are from Hue too, and the suede shoes are Heeled Penny Loafers from L.L. Bean.

Here’s what Libby wears to a museum event, or to move like a ninja in the dead of night. The pants are L.L.Bean and her shirt is another vintage find from Painted Bird. She bought the belt years ago at a thrift store.

This is a necklace worn as bracelet from that overflowing, rhinestone-heavy accessories shop on Haight Street. Neither one of us can remember the name, probably because it blinds you as you pass.

The awesome riding-inspired boots are from L.L.Bean. They are equestariffic.

Libby’s acrylic earrings are from H and M.

This is my favorite, Libby’s hip to waist ratio will make a grown man weep. The gold poofy skirt is HandM, and this is what Libby wears to work a MoMA event.

The lace scarf is a gift from Libby’s grandma, and isn’t that pretty much the perfect person to give a girl a lace scarf? Thanks, Grandma.

Shoes by Target.

The saucily unbuttoned top is L.L.Bean, and it’s very naughty secretary. Where did those glasses go anyway?

The top is rayon, which makes the collar floppy, so we pinned it up with a sparkly vintage brooch, which also keeps the scarf in place. We are geniuses.

Thanks to the team at L.L.Bean for sponsoring this post, all the L.L.Bean Signature Collection items featured in this post can be found on their site.