Mighty Life List
Nov 24 2014

Mighty Closet, Catie Nienaber


Catie and I have known each other for a few years, and some of you will remember her from Camp Mighty. She runs Dronning Vintage, and is so tall and striking that I always notice her around town.

Mai shot these a while ago, and now Catie’s style incorporates a lot of modern pieces as well, but here’s what she has to say about her affection for vintage clothes:

Being an online vintage shop owner means I am utterly surrounded by my work at all times. I operate the business out of my home, and it’s not unusual to see hand-washed dresses hanging from the shower curtain rod to drip dry, or receipts and checklists stacked on a tower of hat boxes.

The apartment building I live in was built in 1923, and I love that so many of the original details, like glass doorknobs, the enamel bathtub, and the picture frame moulding that wraps around every wall, are still intact. I don’t wear vintage every day – it’s too delicate for what my real life entails – but when I do, I feel that much happier in my home. Sometimes I go all out and do my hair and makeup in a vintage style, too. Soft waves or victory rolls are my favorite.

This simple late 1950s/early 1960s cotton day dress is super comfortable.

I dressed it up with Miu Miu kitten heels, but I would just as easily wear it with ballet flats (maybe from Tieks or Repetto).

I especially love when mid-century dresses have a belt because I like accentuating my waist.

This late-1940s rayon blouse has palm trees and surfers on it. The blouse is a little on the short side so I always wear it with higher-waisted trousers. Although these pants have a ’40s-style influence to them, they are in fact from the 1980s.

The platform sandals are also 1940s though.

I got the fresh gardenia from a flower stand in downtown San Francisco, you can find them at most stalls in the city.

This red 1950s Suzy Perette dress is a great example of how Christian Dior’s New Look influence trickled down into mid-price American design houses, with its huge skirt and smaller waist.

Bag is from Tory Burch.

These black and cream heels are from Miu Miu. It’s very rare that I have vintage shoes that are big enough to fit my feet, and Miu Miu usually has strong vintage styling in their designs. If you don’t want to shell out for a brand new pair, you can get some very gently worn ones on eBay quite often so watch for deals.

Celluloid was a popular and affordable material used for making jewelry in the 1930s and 1940s and these days the pieces are quite collectable. I have a nice collection of animal novelty pins and brooches and this celluloid parrot is a great one.

These butter-yellow 1950s shorts are made of soft, very fine-wale corduroy.

The blouse is Miu Miu, as are the loafers.

I’ve had them resoled several times because I wear them so often. Cobblers are more and more rare these days so if you find a good one, give them your business!

The story behind this suit is amazing. Someone took a 1940s wool suit and expertly dismantled it, eventually flipping it upside-down, making the jacket into a skirt and the skirt into the jacket.

I call it the Surrealism Suit.

I wore it with a 1940s hat and simple, classic Christian Louboutin heels.

Like a lady. Catie, thanks so much for showing us your amazing closet. If you’re a vintage devotee, have a look at Catie’s shop, Dronning Vintage.

Photos by Mai Le of Fashioni.st.

Nov 20 2014

Simple Holiday Photo Cards

Real mail! It’s better than Christmas.

I’ve been looking for a pretty photo card for this year. If you’re looking too, these are some of the more attractive options I found:

Merry Little Everything card from Artifact Uprising, 1.75 each

Konfetti Photo Card from Paperless Post, $1.96 each (Use dicount code CHEERS for 20% off plus free shipping through Dec. 15)

Peace Holiday Photo Card from Pinhole Press, $1.96 each (Discount code CUPOFJO gets you 30% off through Dec. 5)

Joy Photo Card from Artifact Uprising, $1.75 each

Painted Diamonds Photo Card from Minted, $1.63 each

Here’s to the Good Photo Card from Artifact Uprising, $1.75 each

As you can see, I’m a huge fan of Artifact Uprising, they are nailing it right now. If you have any favorite print sources you don’t see listed, let us know in comments.

Paper Culture is a great option, and holiday photo cards are 30% off right now. Thanks, EG!

Nov 19 2014

8 Fun Places to Eat in San Francisco

As part of my Life List goal of getting to know my city like the back of my hand, I’m collecting 100 of the best things to taste in San Francisco. These are 11-18:

Let’s go somewhere delicious and fun.

1. Pork Shumai at New Asia, $4.50
New Asia is a kitschy Chinatown banquet hall, and their weekend brunch features rolling steam carts with endless, reasonably priced dim sum to ease your hangover. The mostly Chinese patrons are an excellent sign, but the pace can intimidate if you’ve never cart-ordered dim sum before. Research what you’d like to try, and ask the waiters zooming by to send it your way. Otherwise, you can just nod when they show you something appetizing.

2. Happy Hour Oysters at Waterbar, $1.05 each
Fresh oysters and bubbly with a view of the Bay Bridge, this is among the best reasons to live here, 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

3. Dessert Soufflé at Café Jaqueline, $30
Café Jaqueline is a romantic, all-soufflé restaurant tucked off the main strip in North Beach. Call ahead to secure a spot at one of the five or six tables, and settle in for a nice slow dessert or savory soufflé with a bottle of wine. Use the restroom so you can peek at the little kitchen, where you’ll find a bottomless bowl of eggs resting on the counter.

4. Burger at Mission Bowl, $15
Burgers that are simple, juicy, and with some kind of magic sauce — all to the soundtrack of pins toppling.

5. Half a Fresh Cracked Crab at the Swan Oyster Depot, $20
San Franciscans will queue for absolutely nothing but great food, so a line is a sign. You will always find a line at this tiny seafood diner, especially now that it’s crab season. Wait in line. Take a seat on a swivel stool at the counter and enjoy a plate of oysters on ice. Grin at the suckers in line, and order another glass of white wine while you crack into your crab.

6. Afternoon Tea at the Ritz Carlton Lounge, $65
I feel calmer just thinking about this place. If you’re going to take tea, there should always be a harpist at hand.

7. Ribeye at Alfred’s, $32
Alfred’s was founded in 1928, and it still feels like you should be able to smoke a cigar at the table. The steaks are exceptional, and reasonably priced for a San Francisco steak house, but I love it because the cocktails are perfect and the place is so cozy. Especially good for a rainy or foggy night.

8. Nebulous Potato Thing and a Breakfast Milkshake at the St. Francis Soda Fountain, about $10 for both
This soda fountain has been around since 1918, and was run by three generations of the same family until 2000. In 2002, the current owners renovated the 1948 dining room and installed a kitchen, making it my favorite diner in the city. Everything is good, but I like the Nebulous Potato Thing – a mound of potatoes fried with onions and whatnot, smothered in melted cheddar with sour cream on top. Your choice of thick breakfast shake on the side, tin included.

Nov 17 2014

Not from around here, are you fellas.

Thing a white, middle-aged guy at the next table just said out loud, in San Francisco, to his white-guy friends:

“I think I’m gonna go on welfare, guys. I like the idea of the government paying for my transportation, healthcare. Sounds like a good deal.”

Nov 11 2014

Links For You

Artist photoshops herself into her mother’s childhood photos. (Daughter left, mom right.)

The Suitsy A business suit onesie, for men who’ve given up on getting laid.

Have you considered Tiny Cheese? A low commitment, low cost way to bring more cheese into your life.

Matt Lindley illustrates idioms from around the world. (via Swiss Miss)

Nov 10 2014

17 One-Click Stocking Stuffers for Kids

I mostly shop for stocking stuffers and Christmas gifts online, and I try to avoid shipping fees. We’re Amazon Prime subscribers, so all the ideas below are Prime eligible. Also, Target is offering free shipping on everything through the holidays, so you might want to poke around over there as well.

If you’re an auntie or uncle and unsure of what little gifts will please a 6-8 year old, you can send one of these every few months with the click of a button, and bam! You win all the affection and thoughtfulness awards.

1. Piperoid paper craft robot kit — This is a good gift for grownup kids as well.

2. Hand buzzers — Can be repurposed for next year’s jellyfish Halloween costume.

3. 52 Nature Activities — Let’s all put down the iPads for a sec.

4. Laugh Out Loud Jokes for Kids — Hank loves these, and it’s a whole series that includes knock-knock jokes, animal jokes, and so on.

5. Rubberband Powered Glider — Classic. It should break the first day or you aren’t doing it right.

6. Tin Can Robot — A little kit that lets your kid turn a regular tin can into a mobile robot.

7. Finger Monster Temporary Tattoos — Also stellar for grownups. The good ones, anyway.

8. Assorted Pack of Foam Gliders — There are 72 gliders in this $7 pack, so be aware.

9. LED Light Up Balloons — I may actually bust these out on Christmas Eve as a morning surprise. How magic to find glowing balloons all over the living room floor when the kiddos sneak out before sunrise.

10. Animal Crayons — Fresh crayons are a no-fail.

11. Color My Bath Color Changing Bath Tablets — Hank loves these. They’re tiny bath fizzes that change the color of the bathwater.

12. Rainbow Monkey Bandages — Solid non-branded bandages.

13. Glow Sticks — This is two big packages of glow sticks, so you might just want to pick one up somewhere. I like to keep them around to make the bath water glow. Yes, I’m sure it’s killing us all slowly. Shhh, Internet. Shhhh.

14. Oogi, a figure toy with suction cup head, hands and feet, and long stretchy arms.

15. Silly String — This is three cans, because the tyranny of the single can of silly string will not stand.

16. Wind-Up Retro Robot — It’s a challenge not to make every gift guide an all-robot gift guide.

17. Bloonies — If you don’t know Bloonies, do get some. They’re a liquid plastic that you push onto the end of a small straw, then blow up to make tiny fragile balloons. They are wondrous.

Happy holidays, nice people.

Nov 5 2014

Green Hills of Africa by Ernest Hemingway

The best parts of Green Hills of Africa by Ernest Hemingway:

‘The people one would see if one saw whom one wished to see. You know all of those people? You must know them.’
‘Some of them,’ I said. ‘Some in Paris. Some in Berlin.’
I did not wish to destroy anything this man had, and so I did not go into those brilliant people in detail.
‘They’re marvellous,’ I said, lying.

At present we have two good writers who cannot write because they have lost confidence through reading critics. If they wrote, sometimes it would be good and sometimes not so good and sometimes it would be quite bad, but the good would get out. But they have read the critics and they must write masterpieces. The masterpieces the critics said they wrote. They weren’t masterpieces, of course. They were just quite good books. So now they cannot write at all. The critics have made them impotent.

‘And what do you want?’
‘To write as well as I can and learn as I go along. At the same time I have my life which I enjoy and which is a damned good life.’

‘Do you think your writing is worth doing — as an end in itself?’
‘Oh, yes.’
‘You are sure?’
‘Very sure.’
‘That must be very pleasant.’
‘It is,’ I said. ‘It is the one altogether pleasant thing about it.’

He moved toward his tent carrying himself with comic stiffness, walking in the dark as carefully as though he were an opened bottle.

They had that attitude that makes brothers, that unexpressed but instant and complete acceptance that you must be Masai wherever it is you come from… [It is] the thing that used to be the most clear distinction of nobility where there was nobility. It is an ignorant attitude and the people who have it do not survive, but very few pleasanter things ever happen to you than the encountering of it.

The earth gets tired of being exploited. A country wears out quickly unless man puts back in all its residue and that of all his beasts. When he quits using beasts and uses machines, the earth defeats him quickly. The machine can’t reproduce, nor does it fertilize the soil, and it eats what he cannot raise.

Citizens, I feel very well.


Tyroler Hat – The Tyrolean hat (also Bavarian hat or Alpine hat) is a type of headwear that originally came from the Tyrol in the Alps. A typical Tyrolean hat originally had a crown tapering to a point and was made of green felt with a brim roughly the width of a hand.
white hunter – professional big game hunters of European or North American backgrounds who plied their trade in Africa, especially during the first half of the 20th century
dynamo – an electrical generator that produces direct current with the use of a commutator
klaxon – a vehicle horn
shamba – A plantation or area of cultivated ground; a plot of land, a small subsistence farm for growing crops and fruit-bearing trees, often including the dwelling of the farmer
sisal – a species of Agave native to southern Mexico but widely cultivated and naturalized in many other countries. It yields a stiff fibre used in making various products.
kongoni – The hartebeest, an African species of grassland antelope
musette – a small leather or canvas bag with shoulder strap, used during hiking, marching, etc.