Saturday, May 31, 2008

SwoC: Days 5-9

I've just returned to Brooklyn from Portland, and feel very satisfied. I had an amazing time visiting with my family and friends, I successfully kicked back and unwound, I thrifted some amazing items, and I kept to my SwoC pledge in spite of the temptations. In the remaining 4 days of my trip to Portland, my sister and I visited one more thrift store: my favorite Salvation Army. This time, I had some terrific luck in the shop department, finding some cute 70s woven sandals that I will likely add to my etsy shop since I have a similar pair, some perfectly broken-in army boots, pristine deerskin moccasins, and an interesting pair of deadstock slip-on canvas shoes. I also had lots of luck in the skirt department, pulling possibly my favorite thrift item of the trip- a cotton madras full skirt with navy buttons down the front and hidden seam pockets. I went shopping with my mom and sister, and in spite of finding an adorable bubble sleeved green linen dress, I refrained from buying. My mom even offered the tempting thought that it wouldn't count against my SwoC pledge if she were to buy the dress for me! I held strong, and I'm happy I did.

Tomorrow I'll try to get all of my photos in order and post some of the non-shopping related content from my trip. I'm still chuckling about all the great moments I had with Lil'MC, who is now a little over a year old and the best natured person I've ever encountered. He has such a strong personality, and in these months before he finds his words, his expressive face is working overtime.

To my family and friends in Oregon: Thank you so much for spending time with me this week! I had a great time and can't wait to come back to visit again.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

SwoC: Days 3 and 4

I'm staying at my parents' house in Portland, Oregon now, and the loophole I left for myself to thrift shop has come in veeeery handy in the last two days.

above: my loot from Goodwill
On Sunday, my sister and I decided we would head to just one thrift store while my nephew was being watched by our mom. We decided to hit our favorite Goodwill at a *secret location* just outside Portland city limits. Man, did we score! I think a lot of the times I'm super successful thrifting, it's all about my attitude when I step through the door. This time, I didn't set my expectations too high- it was the weekend, mid-day, and I had all week to find some good stuff. Plus, we were only going to that one store instead of the 2 or 3 that we normally hit in one day, so I didn't feel rushed. Right out of the gate, we found some adorable items in the jewelry case: for me a wooden necklace with elephants, zebras and giraffes on it and a 70s patinaed gold necklace with a pendant of a tiny rose trapped in yellowed resin. My sister sorted throught the brooches and quickly pulled out an adorable old silver pin with a fork and spoon on it and a gold heart and arrow pin. The latter two items we ended up trading each other before checkout. Next we moved on to the women's blouses and pulled some great stuff. We went through the place systematically and were both completely pleased with our finds. Standing at checkout and looking at our distinct piles, our two styles were extremely evident. My sister, who is much more into pastels and charming shabby chic style, had stacks of pretty, faded cotton prints and cute kitchenwares. I think my vintage style is a bit more bold, and this was evident by looking at my stack of red handkerchief prints, lime green and brown striped cotton fabric, and navy blue gingham. I did end up buying some things that may be a bit too hip for me to pull off, but I just couldn't resist. I figure, if I end up not wearing it I can always put it in my etsy shop.

above: thrifted vintage shoes and

What I Wore May 25

First thing in the morning yesterday, my sister and I carried out our plan to shop the Memorial Day Sale at Value Village, when everything is 50% off. Again, we made out like bandits! This time, I had my eye out for items to put in my etsy store, dreams of a super-fabulous vintage shop growing in my head. While my sister headed straight for the ceramicware, I shot off towards the far wall, lined with scarves and fur collars. Among my loot, I found a wonderful wool picnic blanket in mustard and brown buffalo plaid, a mens classic wool tartan Pendelton jacket, and some delicate voile puffy sleeved girls' blouses.

above: What I Wore May 26

So, for two days straight, and not very far into my quest to not buy new clothes for a month, I've succeeded in buying a closetful of clothes! But for the purposes of my SwoC month, I'm still doing well. I supported two local charity shops, bought old clothes that had been worn and discarded by their previous wearer, and everything was neatly tossed into one large plastic bag (not wrapped in layers of elegant tissue paper and bubble wrap and shipped across the world to me).

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Shouting Love from the Rooftop

Cinder has found himself a new girlfriend- Sunny. She's a pit bull mix who belongs to our neighbor. After a month-long courtship, Cinder and Sunny now happily romp around together. They're a perfect match.

SwoC: Day 2

plane reading and
travel-ready clothes

Later today I'll be flying to Portland to visit for a week. I'm looking forward to the slower pace of the northwest for a little while. I'm also really looking forward to hitting some thrift stores with my sis.... I mentioned this in the comments of one of my Wardrobe Remix pictures, but I haven't disclosed it here and I think I ought to before I get called out-- I purposely worded my pledge to exclude thrift shopping because I knew I'd be going to Oregon during my SwoC month. Also, I feel like thrifting doesn't really count towards the kind of clothing consumerism I'm avoiding this month because it is the reusing of old, unwanted clothes as opposed to supporting the "throw away fashion" that H&M, Forever 21, Zara, etc. dish out. Anyway, I'm allowing it- in moderation.

My SwoC project, along with packing for my trip, have brought out some silly fashion creativity in me. Yesterday, as I was carefully paring-down my list of items to pack, I started throwing on random combinations of the clothes edited out of the travel bag. Below is one oddball result. I'm wearing a racer back tank top upside-down as a hood/cowl thing over a knitted babydoll dress and pencil skirt and leggings. I doubt I'd ever wear this combination in public, but I like that I'm starting to look at different ways to use the clothes I have in my closet. (And I am oddly attracted the the upside-down racer tank- expect to see me wearing this some way, some time.)

messing around with clothes-
Rogan for Target organic cotton racer back tank in yellow leopard burnout
?? cotton knit sweater dress in navy
?? fatigue green pencil skirt
H&M sheer black leggings

Friday, May 23, 2008

SwoC Day 1

It's almost an hour in to my work day- a day that would normally be filled with stolen moments trolling my favorite online clothing retailers. But today is different! Today's the first day of my month of Style without Consuming (I felt the need to come up with a shiny label for this project).

This morning, instead of opening up my email and clicking on all the sale links sent to me by Gap, Old Navy, Anthropologie, Ralph Lauren, Bluefly, Banana Republic, Smart Bargains, eLuxury, etc., I scrolled down to the bottom of the page and clicked the "unsubscribe" link. The first time I did it, it was a bit painful. What will I do without knowing what cute clothes I can get for a deal today? But after a little wince, I was over it. Admittedly, I have not unsubscribed to the Racked newsletter or Daily Candy. I'm justifying by saying that they both provide great information on things other than clothing sales, and anyway, my friends rely on me to tell them what sample sale they need to hit after work. I'm not saying I won't unsubscribe later if the temptation is too much, but I'm not ready to do it yet.

I went to make myself a morning cup of coffee, and was complimented by a coworker on my outfit- primarily made up of my new khaki safari dress from Rogan Gregory's line for Target. I thought for a moment about how much I wanted to go buy the version in black as well. After all, it's made from organic cotton so would I really be breaking the rules...? Yes. I would. I reminded myself of the various black, summer, work-appropriate dresses hanging in my closet and surrendered the fantasy.

Back at my desk, an email from Nylon magazine popped up with a link for one of the SoCal surfer girl labels, mentioning some sort of "design for humanity" launch. I took the bate and clicked the link, but instead of going to shop the products I scanned the blurb about how the line would benefit Surfrider Foundation, and had an idea...! With the money I'll be saving from not buying new clothes, I should make a donation to one of the many good environmentally-focused organizations out there. Now I was feeling empowered. I even got ahead of myself and thought that maybe I should extend SwoC to a 6-month gig. Maybe I will....

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Let's face it: I'm a born shopper. Living in New York City has been a verrrry risky endeavor for me- there's good shopping at every price point here. I'm also an avid online shopper. I've joked about my shopping habits and "shopping therapy" many times, but recently, as my awareness of environmental issues grows, those jokes aren't so funny. I'm obsessively recycling and reusing packaging, buying organic when I can, limiting my use of electricity and water... but I haven't been reducing my fashion consumption. Even before coming to New York my closets bulged at the seams.

So now, after avoiding it for some time, I'm pledging to not buy another piece of new clothing.

For a month. (baby steps here, guys)

I am also pledging not to buy anything, clothing or otherwise, online for a month. (The packaging that comes with buying something online is ridiculous. I recently bought a $3 ceramic cup on sale at that was wrapped in tissue and cushion-y paper 10x the cup's volume. Not to mention the carbon output of having the item shipped from warehouse to my house.)

Am I afraid of what this new challenge will do to my daily outfits for Wardrobe Remix? No, actually, I'm excited to see what I'll come up with! I've noticed that I don't get to type "remixed" next tothe listed articles of clothing that I wear nearly enough. I still have items in my closet with the tags on them, so I have a backlog to work through. I will be pulling inspiration heavily from this project, which I read avidly as it unfolded, and will now reference once again during my own adventure.

I am, however, afraid of how I'll feel through this process. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that, but those jokes I make about retail therapy have truth to them. If you're curious to see how I do with this, please stay check back! I plan on posting more regularly in order to record any realizations or rants that I encounter along the way.

March for Babies! belated

It's been nearly a month since I participated in a March of Dimes March for Babies with my coworker in lovely New Jersey. Shame on me for not reporting back sooner! Well, the event itself was only half the journey for me. Having never set foot in Jersey before, I was in for an early morning trek from Brooklyn. I woke up at 4:30 to a rainy, cold day, quickly readied myself in my walking gear, and headed to the subway, which I took to Penn Station. I cut it pretty close- had I been on the subway train 10 minutes later, I wouldn't have made the crucial connection to the PATH train that would get me to South Orange in time! I pretended I was on Amazing Race, frantically looking for the fastest way to my destination in order to avoid falling asleep on my feet. Once at the walk site, the rain really began to come down. Luckily, it only lasted long enough to thoroughly wake me up. Anyway, when all was said and done, I exceeded my pledge goal to the organization and raised $460!
Thank you so much, friends and family, for supporting me and March of Dimes!

Sunday, May 18, 2008


I had the priviledge of dining at an extremely sought-after restaurant last Monday night, thanks to friend and foodie, Tom. I joined him, his lovely fiance, and their foodie friend at Momofuko Ko after he scored reservations for 4 online- the only way to secure seats at the chefs' counter of this 14 seat restaurant. My words on the subject will not be adequate to describe the beauty of the dishes we tasted, so if you're curious, please read the articles linked above. I felt it was necessary, though, to document here that I did indeed have the pleasure to enjoy a true food experience at this fabulous establishment. Thank you, Tom, for including me! I can still taste the fois gras shavings as they melted in my mouth....

Cucumber Kimchi

Second of the three kimchis made in my class at ICE on May 3 is a cucumber kimchi, made with kirby cucumbers, garlic, sea salt, ginger, shrimp paste, chives and red pepper powder. This kimchi is very similar to the pickles I love to buy from Pickles Guys on Essex- the spicy garlic, full sour variety, but with an added burn of ginger, and an added seawaterness of the shrimp. Though this kimchi is technically edible directly after making, we were instructed to wait at least 3 days to help the cucumbers leak out more of their moisture and mix flavors with the so. I've been trying hard to resist eating it, but it taunts me each time I open the fridge! I came home from class with two containers of it, and have since condensed them into one container due to my picking at them and the natural shrinkage of the contents as they loose water. Last night, I tasted it again and I think it's safe to say they've reached they optimum eating date! They were garlicy, spicy, briny and allover delicious. Surprising to me was that the cucumbers seemed to have actually become more crisp than originally. How this was achieved through loosing water, I'm not sure. But I like them. A lot.
These are extremely easy to make. Essentially, you chop up the kirby cucumbers in regularly-sized chunks and salt them liberally with seasalt. You let them sit like this for an hour or more, then pour off the water. While they're leaking fluids, you make the so: mince garlic, grate ginger, chop chives, and add seasalt and red pepper powder. This mixture, too, will bleed fluid (which you keep).
When both the so and the cucumbers are ready, hand-blend them together and package up!
Next time I make these (and mark my words, I WILL be making these again), I think I might cut out some of the ginger, and add more of the red pepper. To me, the ginger gave the kimchi an almost basic quality that burnt my tongue too much.
Stay tuned for my final installment of the kimchi chronicles, Napa Cabbage Kimchi, after they've sat for another month and I can report back.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Monday, May 05, 2008

Water Kimchi

Mool kimchi is a type of kimchi made to be eaten cold in the summer. Unlike the kimchi I was familiar with prior to this class, water kimchi is not fermented for a long period of time before being eaten. After preparing this type in class, it really hit home that using the word "fermented" to describe kimchi is an inaccurate translation of what kimchi is. A better way to describe it, maybe, is to say that kimchi is a vegetable dish that is cooked or marinated in its own juices with the help of salt, kind of like ceviche, and most like pickles.

Water kimchi is a refined dish that layers the delicate essences of vegetables into a cold broth. The result is literally a water essence with some finely sliced fresh red radish and nabak (refers to the regularly square-cut shape & size) Napa cabbage slices. Although water kimchi is a very fine dish, the preparation takes a lot of elbow grease. This kimchi is "royal style" and was made for the king, who was considered too divine to eat foods that weren't first broken down into finer bits and then remade in the image of the food they were (pork chops were boned, finely minced, and then reshaped on the bone before being cooked).

Our version of water kimchi includes Korean pears, white onions, garlic, Korean radish, Korean cucumbers, and ginger. All of these were minced or grated to a fine pulp, then strained through mesh, blended into distilled water and flavored with lots of lemon juice, salt, and fine pepper flake, then garnished with the fresh radish and cabbage. We were told this water kimchi can be served on its own or over cold guksu (thick wheat flour noodles). I ate a small bowl this morning and it was surprisingly savory, delicious, and refreshing!

Update: I demolished the rest of the water kimchi last night, over cold brown rice. It was so scrumptious!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

I love the smell of fermented cabbage in the morning

Saturday morning, I headed to midtown's Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) for my first recreational cooking class- how to make kimchi! I've loved kimchi since childhood, but until recently was only really aware that a few types existed. Moving to New York and eating Korean food opened up my eyes to lots of other varieties of kimchi. In my class, I learned to make three kinds:

-Bae-choo kimchi (Napa cabbage kimchi in the peasant style) - this is the kind I've known since childhood, not pictured but found here

-Mool kimchi (Water kimchi in the royal style) pictured here:
-Oh0yi So-Bahk-Yi kimchi (Cucumber kimchi) pictured here:
Aside from learning how to make these (totally different) kinds of kimchis, I learned a little bit about the philosophies of Korean food. Can you tell I'm totally stoked on this class??

Kimchi making is pretty time-consuming. Though there is no actual cooking with heat, there is a ton of preparation involved, which explains why this is usually made with the help of all the women in a village or family. The cabbage, for instance, needs to be washed, divided in quarters, rinsed, salted, then soaked in salt water for hours, then be carefully rinsed several times, then drained thoroughly, the stuffed with So, which is a whole separate process requiring many steps and careful attention. Traditional kimchi recipes don't have precise measurements- instead the recipes are passed down through families, and are committed to taste memory and muscle memory to make. Kimchi making is very much a sensual experience. You must handle the vegetables (carefully) a lot. It is said that two people could make kimchi with exactly the same amount and quality of ingredients, as well as the same fermenting time, and yet their kimchi would come out tasting different because the heat from each maker's hands would leave an imprint on the final product.

Right now, I have samples of each of the 3 kinds of kimchi we made in my fridge. I'll report back on the blog about the results of each when I taste them. Right now, 2 of the 3 can be eaten now, though only 1 has actually reached its prime eating time: the Water kimchi....

Check in on my next blog entry to read more about my adventures in Water kimchi!!