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buying basics

the way i see it, most everyone needs wardrobe staples. the fundamentals of a professional closet and whatnot.

but today, instead of talking about it, i thought i'd share a visual about my approach to shopping for these pieces.

you know, the purchases that aren't necessarily the sexy, exciting ones, but the practical everyday stuff we all need.

so let's start out with possibly the most basic piece out there: black flats.

and here's the way i go about it:

on the left side, we have options in a few different styles.

on the right, i attempted to visualize what i mean when i say 'look for something that makes it unique'.

is it studs and a hot pink sole? an understated chain detail? a structured bow? a little patent toe detail?

find something about the item that makes it special and run with it. it might take a little longer to find, but if it's something you'll be wearing a lot, it's worth the effort.

we all need the bare bones essentials for work and life, but seeking out those little details makes all the difference. and makes you even more fabulous.

potw: cut it out

today's potw combines two intricate techniques in one product.

we're talking letterpress + paper cut outs.

the intricacy, the delicate nature, the precision, it's all spot on.

via the trendy bride by woodland paper cuts (website currently under construction)

custom "O" designed by bianca chang for the oprah magazine

hand-cut illustrations and letterpress by jaclyn co

the image of the "O" doesn't include letterpress printing, but i was floored to learn that it was created by hand (!) using 180 sheets of paper. see more of her impressive body of work here.

i'd love to see one of these up close. 

the details!

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looking for more letterpress goods? check out my press of the week series 
here. a new potw is posted (almost) every monday.

we go together

to be perfectly honest, it's a bit early to be thinking about coats.

but around this time of year, when fall is just around the corner and summer's coming to a close, i get the itch to go on a internet-fueled coat hunt.

i'm not adding anything to my cart quite yet, but in august and september, i like to start looking around online. 

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winter is my least favorite season. i hate being cold, even temporarily.

and usually, by the time it's march, the sight of my winter coat makes me insane. i'm sick of looking at it. i'm sick of it being the constant in every outfit. but winter's not going anywhere. and i've found that if you look for coats that go beyond basic colors or that have interesting shape or details, it's a bit more bearable to wear almost daily for three months. 
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last year, when i started adding my grandmother's brooch to my outerwear, i loved it. it's such an interesting, not overdone way to personalize a coat that thousands of other women will own. 

right now, i have two coats that are in heavy rotation -- one cobalt, one navy with some pretty details. i didn't buy one last year, and it's probably time for a new one. 

so i thought i'd share my coat hunting results. and to switch it up from last year, i've added some pretty brooch pairings.

all sets available here

again, i probably won't buy anything yet, but it helps me to look early. to organize my thoughts.

i'm also inclined to spend a bit more money on coats since you wear them so frequently and the elements can be harsh on fabric.

you don't need to spend a lot on brooches though. most antique stores have loads of them and they're usually not expensive.

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adding a brooch or pin just helps these already unique coats stand even more.

that winter skin and static electricity? 

i can't help you with that.

that's between you and the old man himself.

two days late

stuck in traffic on 14th
our rose bush, hanging in there
at my sister's house in nj
mmm sunday morning pancakes
heading back to dc
thank you for having these, panera

my two-day training class is done, and everything's back to normal.

but i love learning so much. it invigorates me. 

anyways, happy wednesday. hope the first two days of the work week weren't so bad.


if you're the type who is inclined to use an emoticon, what do you roll with?

me? i like the colon-space-parentheses way. i think with the space, he (?) looks friendlier and less like his bottom lip is about to eat his eyes.

i can't stand emoticons with noses, whether it's the dash or lowercase o.

a former boss of mine was hyperloyal to the lowercase o construction. it made me want to choke her every time i saw that in an e-mail. like, it made me irrationally angry. listen bosslady, i don't see a smiley face. i see bozo the freaking clown. enough.

what's your preference?

on my back

backpacks for adults.


i'm proud to say that i made it through middle school without strapping one of those mini jansports to my back. i hated that look.

but these full-sized, unisex canvas versions are piquing my interest. 

asos bags (1 / 2 / 3 / 4)
everlane (1 / 2)
far fetch

i don't know that i'd ever carry one in place of a purse, but as an alternative to a beach bag or for use as a hands-free vacation carryall, i think i'd consider it.

need an everlane invitation? here.

just right

i can't get enough of dresses with sleeves.

and i've found the perfect sleeve length too. it's not a cap sleeve, it's not a three-quarter sleeve, but an elegant cut that falls right in between the two.

by couldawouldapica on polyvore

the problem is, it's a little difficult to find this exact cut at reasonable price points.

but i think, with time, we'll be seeing more of this very flattering, very work-appropriate sleeve length. karen walker knows what i'm talkin about.

it's perfect for almost every season also.

versatility ftw!

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what do you think?


have you bought anything for fall yet?

i'm holding out, mostly because i'm on a self-imposed shopping hiatus at the moment. i have no money coupled with an impulsive nature when shopping: quite a dangerous cocktail. but since i'm not shopping, i've started looking through my wardrobe, assessing what i have (more pencil skirts than i can count) and what needs a refresh (my three-seasons-old riding boots).

whenever i'm taking inventory of what i already own, i also like to edit, taking stock of what i'm currently wearing and what's been stuck on the hanger for most of its life. i mean, i love getting rid of old stuff you never wear. it's just taking up space anyways.

anyways, the point is that looking through my clothes got me thinking about neutrals -- grey, white, navy, camel, olive -- and maximizing what's in our closets.

we all own those, right? 
a black skirt?
a grey pant?
awesome. of course you do.

with that in mind, here are some of my favorite color combinations when working with these staples.

all sets by couldawouldapica on polyvore

and this is only the beginning. olive looks amazing with stripes. white? pairs with almost anything.  

i like to work in contrasts: if i'm wearing mostly cooler tones (blues, greens), i'll try to add something from the opposite end of the color spectrum. something with a warmer hue like red, yellow, or orange. i find that it's a good rule of thumb. i can get into a good head-to-toe tonal ensemble every once in a while, but most of the time, i'm looking for a combination of warm and cool tones.

if i'm wearing something with a more masculine feel (utility jacket, perhaps), i like to pair it with a soft, flowing fabric or incorporate some sparkle or lace. helps balance things out.

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one thing to keep in mind when test driving color combinations: you're free to experiment. no one can see the "mistakes" you make when you're trying out outfits in your room so be bold with it. 

you may just find some new ways to love your old neutrals after all. 

corn and tomato

i love the absolute abundance of fresh farm markets available throughout d.c. 

and there's no better time of year for freshness than august. walk through any market and you'll see: the produce is just gorgeous. it's instagram heaven.

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for this month's seasonal eating post, i wanted to share two super simple ways to use up all those delicious ripe tomatoes and ears of corn you picked up over the weekend.

and when you're working with such great ingredients, you don't really need to do too much.

so let's start with tomatoes.

the boy and i saw this recipe in bon appetit while traveling to florida.

the truth is that bruschetta bores me. it's always soggy, and it just feels...meh. i almost never order it if i'm out to eat.

but i really enjoyed their method, and i'm happy with how it turned out. i tweaked their original recipe a bit to suit my taste as well (is it still bruschetta if i add cheese? eh.) here's what i did:

a few tips: this really is one of those "recipes" where you can just eyeball it. i honestly don't think you can mess this one up. i don't have quantities included as part of the directions because i was pretty loose with my measurements. we used one baguette, a handful of grape tomatoes with some green zebras thrown in for color, about a clove-and-a-half of garlic, and one heaping tablespoon each of olive oil and red wine vinegar. this was more than enough for two people.

i couldn't find fresh buffalo mozzarella at the store that day (cheese snob alert!), so i just got what looked the freshest to me and dressed it up with salt, pepper, herbs and red pepper before adding it to the dish.

i usually prefer dried oregano, but i used fresh here and i liked it. sometimes fresh oregano is too strong for my taste, but since this dish doesn't have too many ingredients, i liked the punch the fresh stuff added.

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now what about the corn?

i'm happy to say that after years of only being able to enjoy my precious elote when i was at a restaurant or ballgame, i've learned how to make it at home. and it's simple.

so happy.

we grilled our corn, husks and all. i'd say we left them on the grill for about 15 minutes. if you don't have a grill, you can prepare the corn in boiling water or microwave it.

for two ears of corn, we combined about 1.5 tablespoons each of mayonnaise and softened butter.

i like it spicy. we used about 1/8 teaspoon for both ears of corn. but you can use less or omit it entirely if you prefer.

lastly, a word about mayonnaise on corn: just don't think about it. i ate this corn for years, delightful in my ignorance about what it was that made it so good. when i started researching how to make it at home, i almost gagged. 

until about two years ago, you couldn't get me to even touch the outside of a jar of mayonnaise. but the boy's been helping me work through this phobia and i'm now slathering the stuff on my BLTs and adding it to ranch dips.  all i'm saying is that if you're a mayo-hater, just try it. i still can't stand the way the stuff smells, and there isn't even a hint that taste in the finished product. promise. don't be scared.

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do you have a favorite way to enjoy late-summer produce?

i'd love to hear it!
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looking for more seasonal eating recipes? check out the archives here.

potw: post up

we have so much wall space to fill at the house.

i've been looking at wall art for a few weeks now, narrowing down my options, deciding what i want to purchase.

here are two letterpress posters and one silkscreen (the last one) that i enjoy.

by ben ramirez design

love the minimalism here. gorgeous. 

by my ultimate letterpress crush, studio on fire | buy here

can you see the 'mmm' and 'ahh' at the bottom? more detail shots here.

by anthony burrill

so simple and clean.
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hmm. time to make some decisions and fill the house with art. and really, nothing makes a space feel more like home to me than stuff on the walls. lots of pretty stuff.

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looking for more letterpress goods? check out my press of the week series here. a new potw is posted (almost) every monday.

sunny weekend

this weekend...

started out rainy on friday
...but cleared up by the end of the day
tomatoes at their peak 
more freshness 
strolling on sunday
throw the shark!
columbia heights
riding through dupont on the way to work, monday

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we babysat my our nephew this weekend. i just love that little guy. he's so fun.

and even though it was still pretty hot, i have to say that this is probably the nicest summer weekend we've had in d.c. in a while. it was amazing being able to be outside and enjoy it.

here's to a great week. 

let's do this!