Mighty Life List
Jul 30 2012

Packing Light: Olympic Gold-Medal Layering

I’m in New York about once a month lately for work and pie, so I thought I’d give you a peek into how I pack for variable weather, and a trip that encompasses both business and social elements. Because I like to pack everything into a single carryon and a laptop/camera bag, I tend to plan my outfits beforehand.

These are the quick snapshots I took for my last trip. They were taken for personal reference so I could just look back at my phone to remember how I wanted to mix and match everything. That’s why there are no fresh flowers and globe collections in the background. Still, I recognize that not everyone is this anal meticulous, but most people don’t loathe checking bags as much as I do either.

Packing Light New York: Sweater, Scarf, Skirt | Mighty Girl

Spring in New York is easy for me because it’s exactly how I dress in San Francisco. Two factors are at play: 1. I need to go from business in the day to drinks at night without stopping by home. 2. I need to prepare for a chill when I’m outside, and the heat of a crowded bar at night. And as I shed layers, I’d like to carry minimal crud around.

The outfit above is how I’d leave the house for a day of work.

Silk scarf, vintage
Cashmere sweater, vintage
Rock crystal necklace, gift
Navy mini, Zara
Gray tights
Royal blue flats, Target

Packing Light New Yorka: Sweater + Skirt | Mighty Girl

If it’s warmer than I expect, or if the sun comes out mid-morning, I can stuff the tights and scarf in my tote.

Packing Light New York: Tank + Skirt | Mighty Girl

And then, whuuuut? I find myself at bar in Greepoint that weirdly has steam heat and a surplus of cute guys. Voila. Orange tank is Mossimo brand from Target.

Packing Light New York: Culottes + Sweater | Mighty Girl

Same concept, different outfit.

Hand-knit cap, thrift (again, whoever gave this up is a monster)
Cashmere cardigan, L.L. Bean
Handmade safety pin, Etsy (no longer available)
Cotton skirt, purchased in Buenos Aires
Navy Tights, Target

Packing Light New York: Tank + Denim Skirt | Mighty Girl

Warm bar or restaurant, and the sweater goes in my purse or over my shoulders. Obviously, I can lose the tights and the hat too, but after 8 hours of hat-hair, and the probability that I haven’t shaved my legs? That’s a last resort. This yellow tank top is also Mossimo for Target, which makes the best long tank tops for tall girls.

Packing Light New York: Coat + Booties | Mighty Girl

It was supposed to rain while I was there, so I wore this warm wool coat on the plane. I can wear it belted or loose, and it works with all of the outfits pictured here.

Silk scarf, Hermes
80s Wool Coat, thrifted
Cashmere sweater vest, thrifted
Brass necklace, ALT Summit gift bag
Same navy skirt from Zara
Grey tights, Target
Elf booties, Vintage

Packing Light New York: Layered Tees + Skirt | Mighty Girl

Here are the bones of this outfit, and I can take it down even further by removing the sweater vest. Stripe shirt, H&M.

Packing Light New York: Coat + Pant | Mighty Girl

This is what I wore on the plane. It looks sort of hobo here, but I actually wore it with the belt.

Scarf, thrifted
White T, Zara
Black pants, Gap
Flats, Urban Outfitters

Packing Light New York: Layered Tees + Pant | Mighty Girl

Here’s how the outfit looks without the coat. The grey long-sleeve T-shirt is Gap Body, and it’s the best thing ever. I’m about to order it in every color because it’s so soft and layers so well. Cozy.

Packing Light New York: Tee + Skirt | Mighty Girl

Here’s the same Zara T-shirt without a layering , which I paired again with the unstoppable Zara skirt. In reality I ended up wearing it with the black pants for solo brunch with my favorite novel. The vintage-style half bra beneath is Anthropologie (pervert).

So those are my layering tricks. You’ll note that I dress almost entirely in color blocks, with print coming in as an accessory or base layering piece.

How do you make your wardrobe stretch when you’re traveling somewhere with temperature swings? I’m all ears.

Oct 28 2010

Cooper-Hewitt Pop Up Collection

I got to see some pop-up books from the Cooper-Hewitt library while I was in New York. If you’d like to see some in motion, the museum has very smartly uploaded several You Tube videos. I didn’t realize that pop-up books are still hand glued in China.

This one was hand cut and sewn in 1551 to illustrate mathematical concepts.

This is a modern advertisement.

Daily Express Children’s Annual, 1933

A modern anatomical pop up.

Alice in Wonderland pop-up, with the modern version in front and its inspiration behind.

I particularly love the concept behind Paper Blossoms: A Book of Beautiful Bouquets for the Table, which is still available from Chronicle Books.

It’s a pop-up book full of centerpieces. Genius.

More pop-up photos on Flickr.

Oct 26 2010

National Design Awards, 2010

This is my magic friend Margaret, you’ve met her before.

A couple weeks ago, she called and said, “I have an extra ticket to the National Design Awards. You have to go.”

Margaret is spectacular like this. You’re in labor? She happens to be in town from out of state! She made you a baby blanket. Your beloved wallet was stolen? Her sister just gave her a box of wallets she didn’t need anymore. There’s an identical one in there. You like chocolate? Willa Wonka is a childhood friend.

Margaret says yes to every opportunity, and whenever possible she takes her friends along. In the last few years, she’s taught me to ignore inconvenience in the face of potential, which is how I found myself on a plane to New York.

We met at Sunny Bates’s place to have our hair and makeup done. I’d never met Sunny before, but she’s the one who ululated for a friend onstage during the ceremony. Sunny is not a cautious sort, which makes her easy to love. I consider her an excellent addition to my collection of women who whoop in cocktail dresses. Soon, I will have an army.

I’d never had my makeup done before, not even for my own wedding, because I’ve seen too many friends leave makeup counters looking like angry clown brides. Plus, I am a control freak. Well, I was wrong, it was officially fairy princess land.

Speaking of which, if you’re in New York, call Sacha Selhi and ask her to do your makeup. She sent me a list of all the products she used so I could go get them myself, plus gave me application tips while she was working. She made me look amazing. I’d have made out with her, but it would have wrecked my makeup.

This is what I was wearing when Jenna Lyons, J.Crew’s president, complimented my feathers. I’m going to pretend to act cool about this. Join me, won’t you? Margaret told her the feathers were a hair clip I bought at a stripper store on the Haight, so Jenna laughed and took a little video. I refrained from demanding that we sit down with a bottle of champagne and talk about clothes all night, which required restraint because there was already some champagne in my system. Plus, I still feel guilty for knocking off the Astrid sweater. Sorry about that, J.Crew. Thanks for making all that cute stuff lately.

And speaking of champagne courage, the Mulleavy sisters were there to accept an award for Rodarte. I’ve admired their work for years. Just look at this action:

So as they were leaving, I took a deep breath and introduced myself to Kate. I told her I was a fellow California girl who’d often contemplated driving down to Pasadena with a plate of brownies to say thanks for all the pretty stuff. Except for the creepiness involved, of course. Kate graciously said she would not find that creepy. And so, baked goods for the Mulleavy sisters goes on my life list. Hooray for dresses that make you want to celebrate.

So thanks for taking me along, Margaret. As always when you’re involved, it was a fantastic time.

More photos on Flickr.

Aug 25 2010

Ace Hotel, NYC


(photo from The Standard Edition)

Man, I’ve spent a lot of time in New York this summer. When I mentioned the horrible (albeit cheap) teeny hotel room from my first trip, lots of you asked about good places to stay when you’re in town. Stay at the Ace.


We were at the Ace for a week and threw a cocktail party there with Federated Media (photos here). Because we needed the suite for the party, we ended up staying in three different rooms. By the end of the trip, I felt like we lived there.

The Ace is a boutique chain with other properties in Portland, Seattle, and Palm Springs as well. All the hotels have strong, free wi-fi throughout the property. The New York Ace has a welcoming lobby with a bar, an old timey photobooth, and a Stumptown Roasters attached. The coffee is so good, you’ll want to bathe in it.

Most of the rooms have walls painted by local artists, and the in-room fridge has a pony keg.

I can’t say that I’ve ever been inspired to take photos in a hotel gym before. I wonder what the decorators would have to do to inspire an actual work out. There are lovely details everywhere you look.


They even manage to make ironing less irritating, and Laura wanted to take the bathroom home with her.

Plus, you can’t beat a room that comes with a guitar.

Anyway, if you’re booking a trip to New York, I highly recommend a stay at the Ace. Where do you stay when you’re in town?

Jun 9 2010

Runners on the Hudson

Apr 20 2009

Mighty Life List: Taste 1,000 Fruits, 2-7

While I’m in New York, Alice and I buy some exotic fruits from a gourmet grocer. We meet Sarah and Zan at my hotel bar, order a bottle of wine, and ask for a knife and some plates. The host offers to slice the fruits, to which Alice replies, “Hotels do everything for you. ‘I’ve brought you my baby, will you please circumsize him? Thank you.’”

After some light circumcision banter, we dig right in. Here are fruits two through seven:

2. Cape Gooseberries or Ground Cherries

I’ve tried these before, but they’re excellent. The texture is like a cherry tomato, only with a slightly thicker, sticky skin. Like giant salmon eggs.

They taste vibrant, like juicy orange Starbursts. Crowd favorite.

3. Horned Melon

I see these a lot at grocery stores, but I’d never tried one.

They’re small for a melon, about the size of my hand, but the inside?

Whaaaa? Did you expect a florescent green jelly interior with giant cucumber seeds? They should use these as flesh for scenes in movies when they cut into aliens and then the alien is all unexpected just beneath its humanoid skin.

Exciting! It smells fresh and very green, like unripe grapes.

The texture is amazing, but the flavor is less spectacular. It tastes like sweet cucumber, or the green fuzzy fruit that surrounds an almond shell. We all settle on “very fresh cucumber gummy bears.”

4. Sweet Galia Melon

Get a loada this melon!

The Sweet Galia Melon tasted like a more subtle, juicier honeydew. Eh. Good thing I spiced things up with the boob picture.

5. Feijoa

When I was little, my good friend and I terrified her mother by admitting we’d been gorging ourselves on these from a tree in the backyard. Her Mom had no idea whether they were poisonous at the time, but we assured her we’d been eating them for weeks. Great.

Sarah says they smell like one of those scented plastic babydolls we could get when we were kids — sort of a vanilla smell with pleasant offgassing just beneath it. You don’t eat the peel, but the edible seeds float in a translucent creamy gel. They taste a bit like kiwis with a mellow pineapple aftertaste. Mmmm.

6. Cactus Pear

This is the fruit of a cactus, which left tiny infuriating spines in my fingers.

Stupid Cactus Pear.

Look at the inside though! Gorgeous and bloody, like a beet. It smells like cut grass and cucumber.
We try it, and everyone feels deceived. Comparisons include “mealy cucumber with thick pumpkin seeds inside,” “celery with the flavor of a dry, less sweet watermelon.” Did we get a bad one? Blech.

7. Passionfruit

Passionfruit has a purple exterior that’s like a thin pumpkin shell. When you open it up, it’s another holy moly:

The inside looks slightly animal, the way a fig does. It has tendrils attached to orange goo with bright green crunchy seeds that pop when you chew them.

Sarah said it smelled like the Body Shop, and the goo has the flavor of a perfectly ripe, tart mango. With the pleasant crunch of the seeds, it reminded me a lot of orange flavored Pop Rocks. So we ordered some Coke to see if our stomachs would explode.

Delicious! The end.

Apr 14 2009

Meeting Dara Torres

Dara Torres is exhausted. The five-time Olympian was up at dawn doing satellite interviews to promote Big Milk, and her new book. She’s been awake since 4 a.m., answering the same questions repeatedly, and now she’s gamely meeting with us so we can ask them again.

We’re a handful of mom bloggers, most of whom have known each other — or known of each other — for years. We’re talking shop and cracking jokes beside an enormous public pool when Dara emerges. Her swimsuit says “Love 2 Swim” on the front, and there’s a prolonged moment of confusion about how we should greet her. Are we supposed to greet her?

We’re here, courtesy of Hewlett Packard, to observe an Olympic Mom in Action. She’s just like us! With the baby? And the nine Olympic medals? And the muscles that look like they originated in a quarry?

Hewlett Packard believes that we are all women who use technology to simplify our lives, and in this moment we don’t disappoint. We’re pulling out our digital SLRs to photograph Dara, grabbing our phones to Twitter about Dara, but for the most part no one is saying hi to Dara. No one is even making eye contact with Dara. After a few minutes of hopeful glances our way, she finally turns to her handlers. “You just want me to do a couple of laps?”

It occurs to me that this would be a nightmare scenario for me, but Dara is handling it with grace. She is standing alone and exhausted in a swimsuit before a group of women, all of whom are mostly ignoring her while surreptitiously checking out her body.

Her body is accomplished, my friends. Breathtaking.

Of course, the grace has come with practice, Dara has been checked out before. How many of us hang out in our swimsuits on national TV? In the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition? On the pages of Maxim? Dara and I are not from the same planet when it comes to bathing suit nightmares. I’m guessing hers involve more pressing matters than what a bunch of bloggers think about her thighs.

People, her thighs are terrible with power.

She dips one toe in the water and shivers. “It’s cold,” she says, smiling back at us over her shoulder. “I hate it when it’s cold.”

Dara has two smiles, one that’s open and friendly, and another that’s ambiguous, the type of smile that’s particularly confounding to men in their early twenties. The latter suggests that she’s amused, but perhaps only because she thinks you’re full of shit. The overall impression is happy, but skeptical, and so I like her.

She jumps in the water, and swims quietly back and forth. There’s a charming old lady in the pool who calls out, “You’re more beautiful than Esther Williams!” Because this lady is the only one bold enough to approach, Dara jokes with her for quite awhile about exercise and aging, and they mug together, flexing for our cameras. This situation becomes slightly less charming, but much more amusing, when the lady chases Dara into the locker room to ask her increasingly personal questions while she showers. This too, Dara handles gracefully, she seems also to have had practice with fans who have boundary issues.

After the brief swim, Dara leaves with the group for lunch at an upscale sushi restaurant. She asks if there’s fish in one of the rolls. I say, “Crab, I think.” She turns to the next tray. “Are you allergic?” I ask. “I don’t really like fish,” she says. I’m surprised by this, as though spending half your life in water should somehow impart a craving for halibut.

In my few minutes of interview time, I ask what’s left on her life list. She looks perplexed. “What do you mean, life list?” Well, what does she still want to do? She’s an Olympian, an author, are there any smaller things she hasn’t gotten to yet? “You know, someone else asked me this, and I don’t really have a bucket list or anything,” she says. Not even anything little, like having an ice cream with your kid? “Like before I die? That’s kind of morbid,” she laughs. “I mean, I assume I’ll be around for all that stuff. I’m trying to enjoy everything right now, take those things day by day.” Well, you must have goals though, I stutter. “Yeah. Right now, I’m training and swimming for world championships.” Ah! Of course. The swimming. I guess that does count as a goal if you’re an “Olympian” or whatever. I refrain from telling her that I like fruit, and am hoping to one day do a pull up. Maybe another time.

After our interviews, someone asks what kind of T.V. she watches. It turns out Dara is a Rock of Love devotee. Suddenly, any self-consciousness at the table evaporates. There’s little more endearing to a group of bloggers than confessing you like crappy reality TV. Dara Torres is a sister.

Conversation turns to Dancing with the Stars, and she admits she considered joining the cast this season. Dear god. You have to do that, I say. “Tell my agent!” she says, and cuts her chin upward in his direction. “Evan!” He looks up from his phone. “She says I should have done Dancing with the Stars.” “Hey!” he says. “I wanted you to do it. You were the one giving me all that crap about spending time with your kid.” She laughs.

“Can you dance?” I ask. “No.” She says. “I’m terrible. I just didn’t want to get voted off first.” “Nah,” I say. “You’re too America’s Sweetheart for that.”

She grins.

———————–

More of My Photos
And takes from the rest of the crew:
Liz Gumbiner from Mom-101
Dory Devlin for Shine
Alice Bradley from Finslippy
Tracey Gaughran-Perez from Sweetney
Amy of Amalah