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We’ve Moved! Friends, Please Re-Subscribe!

16 Apr

Hello friends,

Big news– Yolo and Maroon have taken the leap and migrated to a self-hosted blog: YoloandMaroon.com

We’re still working out the kinks, but we’ve got big hopes for our new site. Lots of new recipes, tales of adventure, and Maroon’s strange movie-inspired fashion & beauty posts are up and on the way.  Recently, we’ve enjoyed Lapin a la Moutarde for Easter, Akabanga Carrot Soup and harrowing tales from Maroon’s recent trip to Saratoga Springs where she took zero pictures of cows and lots of pictures of men in spandex…

Re-join the par-tay. Please be ever so kind as to re-subscribe to our blog by visiting our new site where you can either re-enter your email address OR click here to follow us through Bloglovin’.

Thank you and we send you hugs!
XXO

Yolo & Maroon

Three of Maroon’s Must-Read Books

31 Mar
Robert Mapplethorpe & Patti Smith

Robert Mapplethorpe & Patti Smith

Dear Yolo,

I tend to go through periods where I read voraciously, annihilating stacks of books, sometimes waking up in the middle of the night to read. This is usually followed by a month or two where I read nothing at all aside from the plays I’m required to read for scenes in class.

These are my 3 favorite books of the last 6 months: Just Kids by Patti Smith, Lessons in Becoming Myself by Ellen Burstyn and The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson.

I didn’t realize it until I put this list together and I didn’t read them back-to-back, but not surprisingly (considering my current state of mind and my personal pursuits) these books share many, many similarities. All three books are about artists and about making art.They are all the sorts of books that make your heart bigger and make life seem richer. One of the books is fiction while the other two are autobiographical but all three lifted my heart and inspired me, expanding my sense of the world and my own personal strength and potential as an artist.

Are you still with me after that last sentence? Ok, good. The two non-fiction works were especially poignant to me. Ostensibly, Ellen Burstyn and Patti Smith couldn’t be more different, yet they are both incredibly powerful and unique artists and women. I hope you get a chance to read these too if you haven’t already. It will fortify your own sense of badass-ness.

1. My favorite of the three is Just Kids by Patti Smith. It’s easily one of the top three most important books I’ve read in the last 10 years. I knew beforehand of Robert Mapplethorpe’s photography and I knew that he died of AIDS, but I knew of Patti Smith was that she was a rocker-type lady?

It’s the late 60’s when a teenage Smith moves to New York from a small town in Pennsylvania, living on the street briefly before finally getting a job at a bookstore and meeting a young Mapplethorpe. The story is theirs, of artist and muse, of lovers, life-long friends, and a love and mutual respect deeper than I think most of us are ever priviledged to know on this earth. Their paths cross and intertwine with so many other artists, musicians and writers that define the era. William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsburg, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Sam Shepard (and many more notables) make cameos in Smith’s tale.

And while the narrative is incredible, I was even more affected by Smith’s poetic prose and intimidating literacy and skill as a writer. The writing is painfully beautiful, and there is such purity in her words and it leaves trailing behind it such a gorgeous and gallant suggestion of  now, and of mortality.

Just Kids is a work of art. I’m hardly the only one who feels this way;  Smith has a was named a Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture in 2005 and received a National Book Award for Just Kids.

NPR Books Logo  Click here to listen to Patti Smith’s 2010 NPR interview.

Lessons In Becoming Myself by Ellen Burstyn2. I also adored Ellen Burstyn’s Lessons in Becoming Myself.  I feel so grateful to both Burstyn and Smith that they bare so much of themselves in these books. They are both so inspiring and so strong and so different. Born in Detroit, Burstyn arrives in New York in the early 60s to study theater after making stops in Texas where she worked as a model and Montreal where she was a chorus girl. That’s just the very beginning. I don’t think anyone in history would be able to accuse Ellen Burstyn of not living a full life.

Burstyn struggled a lot early on, often depending on the kindness of others or going hungry unless she had a date. But even after there was significant momentum behind her trajectory in becoming one of the most respected and successful actresses in the business, her struggle was a spiritual one to find herself.

Born a Catholic, Burstyn eventually converts to Sufism.  The spiritual aspect of her story was especially fascinating to me. She falls in love with a Sufi monk, she experiences a catharsis at a spiritual retreat in the French Alps and spiritual exploration and her search for herself take her to the Middle East. She produces (though she failed to claim the credit, she ruefully explains) a movie called Resurrection, (you’ve probably never heard of it but it’s very good, and I recommend watching it) in which she also starred as a woman in the rural midwest who has the power to heal people. Sam Shepard (both Ellen and Patti have great taste)  is handpicked by Burstyn to play opposite her… the list goes on.

Tons of luminaries of the stage and screen make appearances in her story and whether or not you are familiar with her work, are an actor, artist or interested in spirituality (though at least ONE of those has to sound sort of interesting if you’re warm-blooded), I think you’ll still find the story of her life’s triumphs and tragedies fascinating and inspirational.

The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson

3. Ever wondered life would have been like if your parents were performance artists? Then this book is for you! The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson is totally one of the most enjoyable, quirkiest, and funniest books I’ve ever read.

Performance artists Caleb and Camille Fang have two children Annie and Buster, also known as Child A and Child B. They video tape “happenings” that they create as a family. Growing up in the Fang household, Buster and Annie are assigned parts in creating these “happenings”, but they rarely know what their parents are really up to. The “happenings” are… AMAZING. So funny.

The story alternates between the present where Annie and Buster, now both adults are struggling in their lives. Annie has become a successful actress in Hollywood but she has started drinking excessively to address her apathy and dislike of mostly everything in her life. Buster is struggling freelance writer working on a feature for Esquire about potato guns. They both still live in the shadow of their parent’s creations. In between episodes from Annie and Buster’s adult lives we learn about their childhood through vignettes titled with the names of Camille and Caleb’s art.

It’s a hilarious story, but touched with the pain we all bear discovering the mortality and fallibility of one’s parents and coming into your own right as an adult and a creator. I feel like I’m not doing it justice with that last sentence. It’s lovely. I couldn’t put it down and read it in a day.

(There are rumors The Family Fang is being adapted into a film with Nicole Kidman attached to the project.  Nicole Kidman is kind of like brussel sprouts. (What? You’ve thought that before too? Let’s be friends!!!)  People either love or detest her. I’m a fan, but if you’re not– don’t hold it against the book.)

Love,

Maroon

Style Inspired by Shirley Maclaine in ‘Gambit’

29 Mar Style Inspired by Gambit

Style Inspired by Gambit

  1. Scarab Pendant Earrings $224 at NoirJewelry.com
  2. 5 Color Harmony for Eyes – 13 Candy by YSL $56 at Sephora.com
  3. Black and Gold Suede Platform Sandals by Marc Jacobs $420 at Stylebop.com
  4. Spring 2009 RTW Collection by Tibi find on eBay.com

Dear Yolo,

I caught Gambit (1966) the other day on Netflix Instant to feed my Michael Caine obsession which was ignited by watching Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon imitate him in The Trip (if you haven’t seen that, you must immediately. It’s hilarious. I think I’ve seen it like, six times now. ).

It stars Michael Caine as cockney (way to push the envelope, Caine!) cat burgler Harry Dean and a young, crazily gorgeous Shirley Maclaine as Hong Kong dancer Nicole Chang.  It’s a light-hearted caper flick where cat burgler guy uses the good-hearted babe as bait for this mega rich middle eastern dude so he can steal a priceless artifact that belongs to the mega rich guy. And you’ll never guess what happens next! It’s not bad, but it’s not good. Yet, for some reason it got three Oscar nominations that year.

Persian Blue Bolero $36 at A-hem Vintage at Etsy.com

Persian Blue Bolero $36 at A-hem Vintage at Etsy.com

So while the storyline was pretty blah, I was totally enamored with the look of the film. MacLaine looks FLAWLESS.  Seriously, I had no idea she used to be so hot! The movie is of that era where any place aside from Europe was lumped under the nebulous header ‘The Orient’.  Characters in the movie, the sets and Maclaine’s look are a bizarre, made for Western-consumption mish-mash of pretty much every culture and country that exists from Japan to India to Saudi Arabia . Though it’s hardly accurate, (or politically correct) the stylized look is colorful, exotic and completely beguiling.

I was totally inspired by the look and since I already was BORN rocking the whole Eurasian thing… why not go all the way?

Isn’t that Persian Blue Bolero so cool? Click here to visit A-hem Vintage’s Etsy store. Lots of great vintage prints and I just noticed…20% off until April 1st. The code is their homepage.

p.s. Get ready for the re-make of Gambit with Cameron Diaz playing Maclaine’s role. Guaranteed it won’t have the charm and style of the original.  Can someone please come up with some original movies?

Style inspired by Gambit, Shirley Maclaine

click to enlarge graphic


  1. Floral One-Shoulder Dress $120 by Oasis at Oasis-stores.com
  2. Matte Gold Filigree Dangle Earring $23 from JulianaWJewelry at Etsy.com
  3. All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner $20 by Stila at Sephora.com
  4. Lollipop by Essie $8 at Duane Reade or Walgreen’s
  5. 18k Gold over Stainless Steel Filigree Design Cuff Bracelet $21.24 at Overstock.com
  6. Red Dragon & Phoenix Cheongsam $99 at MyiDress.com
  7. Ariadne Earrings $35 from SacredGallery at Esty.com
  8. Gold Coin Necklace by Kenneth Jay Lane $92 ON SALE at Net-a-porter.com
  9. Oriental Floral Dress by Oasis $129 at Oasis-stores.com

Maroon’s Mini Herb Garden

26 Mar Heirloom Herb Seeds

Maroon's Mini Herb Garden

Dear Yolo,

For a number of reasons, I now have two little mini-greenhouses with tiny plants in our apartment.

  1. As much as I try to fight it, I am a native of the Evergreen State so living in the concrete jungle of New York is especially hard on my aesthetic sensibilities.  East Coast deciduous trees make winter look especially bleak.
  2. Plants are cute!
  3. I hate buying herbs. It just pisses me off.
  4. Both of my grandparents had/have lovely gardens where they grew vegetables, herbs, flowers and all sorts of things. I loved working in their gardens with them when I was a kid. I felt a lot of affection for earthworms because I knew they were good for the soil and help plants grow and named each one I found “Charlie”. I liked to pretend that each time I found an earthworm it was the same one.
  5. It is socially acceptable to hoard plants. Many people even admire this sort of behavior.

During our last trip to Ikea, I bought two little mini-greenhouse type structures. Not really necessary, but being part Japanese means it’s hard for me to resist anything in miniature scale. I dragged back a bag of soil from Target and have been using jars, a mismatched wineglasses and little pots mugs or planters picked up from Goodwill to give my little garden a home.

One of the mini greenhouses is more or less dedicated to herbs while the other is a home for my succulent plants. I love succulents because they are difficult to kill (they basically require neglect) and they’re so cool looking.

Also, we eat a lot of guacamole so while I don’t put all the seeds to use, I do have two one-year-old avocado trees thriving with two more I have just started in small jars and am waiting to sprout. I think they will actually make nice housewarming gifts for friends because most people who come over stare longingly at the tiny trees.

Maroon's Mini Garden

I feel like I’m 10 years old again, because I find it pretty exciting to plant some seeds and then see them sprout a week or two later.  I’m sure this sounds totally stupid to some people, but as a person who has lived in urban environments for many years, seeing a plant grow is (sadly) really cool!

So far I have basil, cilantro (I know, sorry– you hate it), parsley and rosemary growing. I also have some seeds for thyme but I need to go get more soil. Not looking forward to that because the bag is heavy.

I’m especially excited about the purple opal basil I planted. The little sprouts are kind of greenish/purple right now, but they’re supposed to become this brilliant purple when full grown. More food should be purple. I’ll have to update with more pictures.

Tata for now– someone has to go to the doctor’s office so I’m filling in for a few hours at the wine store this afternoon and I need to get ready. Also, sorry my pics are kinda sucky. I left my phone at a restaurant on Friday and it looks like someone took it. Haven’t done that for YEARS. So pissed about it.

How was your weekend?

Love,

Maroon

Maroon's Mini Garden

Sunday Roast Chicken

25 Mar Sunday Roast Chicken
Sunday Roast Chicken

Mmmmmmm...

Dear Yolo,

Lately, having roast chicken on Sunday has become a tradition. It’s a healthy, delicious, simple, EASY!  meal and the leftover chicken meat stretches into sandwiches, pastas and snacks for a a few days after.

You’re no stranger to chicken roasting but for those who haven’t tried it, I strongly encourage you to. I know you can buy those ready-to-eat rotisserie chickens at the supermarket but it doesn’t compare to the taste of a chicken you roast yourself. Because there IS a difference in taste (and your peace of mind) I pick the biggest organic, free-range chicken I can find.  It’s a lovely ritual, and the results will make you feel like a kitchen god.

I’m sharing the recipe I use which is Thomas Keller’s Favorite Roast Chicken.  I love how he writes the recipe and how to enjoy the bird. There aren’t many things that feel cozier than enjoying (or sharing) the oysters of a freshly carved chicken. While I usually adapt recipes, I’ve reproduced this in its entirety because you just have to hear it straight from Keller. This is a man who knows how to enjoy a roast chicken.

To keep it healthy, I don’t serve the chicken with butter. We usually enjoy it alongside a salad or a couple of veg dishes.

Thomas Keller’s Favorite Roast Chicken
 from Gourmet Magazine (RIP!)

  • One 2- to 3-pound farm-raised chicken
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons minced thyme (optional)
  • Unsalted butter
  • Dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Rinse the chicken, then dry it very well with paper towels, inside and out. The less it steams, the drier the heat, the better.

Trussed and ready for the ovenSalt and pepper the cavity, then truss the bird. Trussing is not difficult, and if you roast chicken often, it’s a good technique to feel comfortable with. When you truss a bird, the wings and legs stay close to the body; the ends of the drumsticks cover the top of the breast and keep it from drying out. Trussing helps the chicken to cook evenly, and it also makes for a more beautiful roasted bird. (Click here for a tutorial.)

Now, salt the chicken—I like to rain the salt over the bird so that it has a nice uniform coating that will result in a crisp, salty, flavorful skin (about 1 tablespoon). When it’s cooked, you should still be able to make out the salt baked onto the crisp skin. Season to taste with pepper.

Place the chicken in a sauté pan or roasting pan and, when the oven is up to temperature, put the chicken in the oven. I leave it alone—I don’t baste it, I don’t add butter; you can if you wish, but I feel this creates steam, which I don’t want. Roast it until it’s done, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove it from the oven and add the thyme, if using, to the pan. Baste the chicken with the juices and thyme and let it rest for 15 minutes on a cutting board.

Remove the twine. Separate the middle wing joint and eat that immediately. Remove the legs and thighs. I like to take off the backbone and eat one of the oysters, the two succulent morsels of meat embedded here, and give the other to the person I’m cooking with. But I take the chicken butt for myself. I could never understand why my brothers always fought over that triangular tip—until one day I got the crispy, juicy fat myself. These are the cook’s rewards. Cut the breast down the middle and serve it on the bone, with one wing joint still attached to each. The preparation is not meant to be superelegant. Slather the meat with fresh butter. Serve with mustard on the side and, if you wish, a simple green salad. You’ll start using a knife and fork, but finish with your fingers, because it’s so good. (Click here for a video tutorial on carving a chicken.)

Try and tell me that doesn’t sound good. Enjoy. 🙂

Love,

Maroon

The Finest Meats & Cheeses (mostly meats) Part II

22 Mar The Kavanagh Building. Retiro, Buenos Aires.
Florida Street, the Retiro district of Buenos Aires

Florida Street, the Retiro district of Buenos Aires

Dear Maroon,
My favorite place we went to in Buenos Aires was probably a restaurant called Sipan. It is ridiculously good. It is situated in a boutique hotel in the Palermo district and while a bit pricey, is fucking awesome. You can see sky overhead when not rainy and there’s an entire bright graffitied wall. Our amuse bouche on the first day for lunch was a piece of salmon sashimi over rice with a passion fruit miso glaze. Stupidly good. The ceviches there are literally out of this world. They’re amazing and they have the freshest fish ever with other beautiful sometimes lightly fried fish or octopus, with the best citrus and other components. I’ve had some good ceviche, but holy shit, get a bottle of Torrontes and just sit back and enjoy. We went back the next day. Honestly, this place rules (please note: there is another Sipan in Buenos Aires but the one in Palermo serves lunch).
I made it a point to try and get empanadas wherever we went and was not ever disappointed. The flaky pastry dough filled with ham and cheese or lamb and beef goodness never dissappointed.  We stayed in the Retiro district at the Park Tower. It’s a really nice hotel that apparently only tourists go to (the only people we came into contact with at that five star hotel were American or Chinese, I suggest you go elsewhere if you want a more local feel). It has a gorgeous view of the Plaza de San Martin and is walking distance from one of the most monied areas in Buenos Aires, the Puerto Madero neighborhood. Walking through Puerto Madero is really pretty but if you’re anything like me, you view it as a lovely frontispiece for people I will never really know.
We went to dinner at a restaurant there that was by far the most expensive place we ate at with the least quality of service (six courses not that well thought out). We’re no strangers to fine dining but if you make someone wear a jacket, you better damn well pull out the lady’s chair (seriously, a guy kind of pulled it out and then left midway). You will be forgiven if your food is good, but if I can’t find the waiter for a good ten minutes to get some water with our not-that-amazing wine, I am going to take issue. It’s not even worth noting the name of said restaurant, suffice to say that you are better off eating at any of the other myriad restaurants. The service is lackluster and the food? Go elsewhere in the city, seriously (except for ice cream, people really like it in Puerto Madero). The waterways are gorgeous, but I didn’t see a murder, so not that interesting.
The Kavanagh Building. Retiro, Buenos Aires.

The Kavanagh Building. Retiro, Buenos Aires.

We ended up eating at Filo in the Retiro district one night and have to say, the octopus was again amazing. We thought the place a last ditch effort for ourselves (not helped by the bare-tittied manequin in the front), but had yet another really good meal. I think there are more restaurants in Argentina that serve pizza than in New York. Big Italian quotient, and they have a really nice ham laden pizza you can get anywhere and with a liter of quilmes (Argentina’s national beer), that kind of puts our outdoor places to shame. The octopus is not to be ignored. We had it several different ways before we went to a Spanish tapas place and decided to get (Spanish) octopus. It was a large octopus served with boiled potatoes and paprika. That’s it. I desired more from the dish because I’m American but the octopus was just as tender as it was in every place we had gone to.
When we went back to Montevideo for our last night in South America, we visited the Criolla del Solis.  We didn’t have offal. Instead, some chorizo and morcilla (too sweet for my taste), and the recommended ribeye which was honestly the best I can remember eating. So fucking good. We got on a plane the next afternoon, but I still want more chorizo. I have a feeling it won’t be the same until we go back to Sudo America. (Next up for travel: Vietnam andThailand vs. Greece and Turkey).
Love,
Yolo

Eyelash Extension Aftermath: Growing Longer, Thicker Eyelashes

21 Mar Products for Eyelash Growth

Products for Longer, Thicker Eyelashes

Dear Yolo,

I am hoping that this post is like the depressing middle Star Wars movie (The Empire Strikes Back, the best one) where it ends with Luke getting his hand cut off and Han Solo frozen in liquid carbonite. I am hoping that I can follow this post up with a sequel where good experiences a triumph so complete that the joy can only be expressed by singing teddy bears who live in trees and they party so hard that even ghosts be showin’ up!!!

A few months back, I got eyelash extensions (they gave them to me at a shoot), and I liked them so much I maintained them, getting  “refills” every two weeks at this Japanese place called Wink in Midtown.

On the upside, they looked so incredible and I basically wore practically no make up while I had them. On the downside: the extensions do fall out, can get all twisty and weird,  you have to learn to sleep on your back so you don’t make more fall out in your sleep and it feels kind of itchy at first, something you kind of adjust to because you’re vain and you know looking good is sometimes different from feeling good. Additional disadvantages are the cost of the refills (an addiction to crack may be more economical) and that your natural lashes fall out with the fake ones which brings me to my current situation. My natural lashes are now so weak and tiny that the last couple times I’ve gotten refills all the extensions fall out within 2 weeks.

Oh, Vanity. You make me do the weirdest shit.

I’m now attempting life without lash extension, and messing around with products to make my lashes grow and restore them to their former glory.  I am kicking myself, because besides being stick straight, lashes pre-extensions were already long and full and I really didn’t have anything to complain about. I can’t imagine how confused my body must be right now– I’m always ripping and scraping hair off and out of places but now almost arbitrarily encouraging hair to grow around my eyeballs.

As I’ve been writing this to you, I’ve been toying with an inappropriate analogy where I liken my body’s hair growth to Native Americans, thus making the fringe zone around my eyes their “reservation”. Obviously, in this analogy I am the evil white Europeans who don’t understand the beauty and harmony of Native American culture and the fact that this land belongs to them and that basically everything I think of as an advancement is going to lead to disease, Blade Runner (I know, again with the Blade Runner!) and the eventual destruction of the planet.

But what do the casinos represent in this analogy? That is the question, my friend. What are the casinos indeed.

So about two weeks ago, I started using Wet & Wild Megalash Clinical Serum ($7) twice a day and have been coupling that with Dior Lash Plumping Serum ($28) which is an eyelash primer and conditioner.  These products simply condition your lashes so they’re stronger and less prone to breakage which allows lashes to be longer and fuller.

Maroon's Sad Eyelashes Post Extensions

Post Extensions March 2012

I spend quite a bit of time on the intrawebs looking to see if there’s an actual active ingredient in the Wet & Wild product. One site claimed there was some sort of peptide in it that encourages hair growth, but I can’t confirm that and the before and afters posted by other bloggers aren’t exactly impressive. What do I expect for $7 anyway? The only thing aside from the name written on the tube is “Made in China”, an ominous claim that makes me think I should just pony up the $120 for Latisse before my eyeballs start molding and fall out. Greg knows that I was spending practically that much every two weeks for my eyelash extensions and that Latisse actually works like crazy (I used it a couple years ago). The way my doctor instructed me to use it, my one purchase lasted 3 months+. Ok, I guess I just sold myself on that idea.

The pic above is of my eyelashes this morning. The few super long lashes you see are the last remaining extensions which have yet to fall out, just to give you an idea of the adjustment I’m going through.

RIP super-long fake lashes. May flights of drag queens sing thee to thy rest. I’ll update in a few weeks with new pics. You’ll know it went well if you hear teddy bears singing.

Love,

Maroon

Art credit: Debutante Actress Tina L. Meyer Putting on False Eyelashes in Dressing Room at Art.com

The Finest Meats & Cheese (mostly meats): Chimichurri & Criolla Sauce

20 Mar Criolla in Montecito
Dear Maroon,
One of my favorite things about South America is their ability to produce the finest meats the world over. Yes, I said it. South America has arguably the best beef and sometimes lamb in the world (also octopus, more on that later). I now endeavor to take you through our culinary experience in Argentina and Uruguay and because I travel with a chef, that seems to be the first and foremost way we experience everything, through food. Our first stop was Montevideo, Uruguay on our trip and that city is beautiful. It’s rife with historical buildings and situated on some very lovely beaches. I couldn’t change currency in the states before going there so we had to take out money at an ATM. The interesting thing about cab drivers or anyone else in Uruguay is that they hate making change for your bills and often won’t do it, to the point where they either berate you for such a large bill or give you a slightly lesser price so they don’t have to make change. I have no fucking clue how that country operates on cash. We went to the old district our first night and ate at the criolla del solis. A criolla is basically the same as a parilla, but Uruguayan. It basically refers to meat cooked on the type of grill they have and holy shit, it is awesome. In a really good (or sometimes mediocre) restaurant you will see said grill cooking your meats (a very large grill often on hydraulics to lift up and tend to the coals). Quick note because I am used to Mexican Spanish: people in Argentina speak Castellano, not “Spanish” and the double “ll” is pronounced not with a “y” sound but, well the closest thing I can approximate it to is the first sound of something like “je m’apelle”.Anyhow, our first night we started with an appetizer platter of offal. Sweetbreads, liver, morcilla (blood sausage) and some chorizo. The chorizo in Uruguay is the best I’ve ever had and I crave it to this day. It is slightly crispy on the outside and bursting with succulent deliciousness on the inside. It is nothing like Mexican or even Spanish chorizo and it is divine (somewhat akin to German braut, but not really). We had a baked potato with blue cheese to supplement our meat dinner and even the potatoes are better in South America….as they should be since that is their origin).The morning after we had lunch at the famed market near the port and sure as shit, there were meats everywhere. The building itself is beautiful, but eating at some of the “restaurant” style places there proved to be more expensive than it was worth (thanks tourism). Anyhow, it was right near the buquebus (ferry) that we took to Bueno Aires.The first night we were in Buenos Aires was Valentine’s Day. For some reason, I didn’t expect Argentina to recognize that Hallmark holiday, but they do. We had made reservations in advance at a restaurant in the boutique Hotel Fierro called Hernan Giopponi. You should check out the hotel’s blog.  Our pre-set six course Valentine’s meal was good and certainly interesting, but the best thing is that hotel’s blog. Last July there was an event called the “Taste of Titus Andornicus”, which, well you should just read about. I would’ve loved to go to that. Shakespearean play where diners can engage in the final food fight scene? Yes, please.

The next day we flew into Bariloche, Patagonia. We had a really good evening consisting of Patagonian lamb, empanadas and wine our first night in Bariloche. The nice thing is that Argentina isn’t big on importing wines (they’re governmental structure is a whole other thing), but that means you can enjoy wines for significantly less than we would get them (read:cheap, they don’t upmark by three times like we do in the states). We had amazing Malbecs the whole time and got tipped off to the best parilla in Bariloche on our second night.

Alberto's, our zip lining British friend's favorite restaurant in the world

We went ziplining with some Brits who now live in Scotland and the woman wanted to come back to Bariloche because it had her favorite restaurant in the world,  Alberto’s.  There is a parilla and pasta place of the same name (the pastas are really good and saucy). They also did an amazing provolone grilled on one side and brushed with oil and then situated on the parilla in a dish. I don’t think locals want anyone to know about Alberto’s because it is primarily dominated by locals and when we mentioned it to the guy at our front desk he seemed to want to talk about it only hushed tones. Sorry locals, but if you have come to our site it is only because we really appreciate your things.

Amazing food once again, but the best criolla and chimichurri actually came from the farm we were at during our rafting adventure. Brian has made a modern version of which I will share with you:

Chimichurri

2 cups picked Italian parsley
3/4 cup picked fresh oregano
2 large garlic cloves, finely grated
2 tsp. red chili flake
3 T red wine vinegar (preferably homemade, get the recipe here)
1/2 cup canola oil (typically a neutral flavored oil is used, but olive oil can be substituted)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to tasteFinely chop the parsley and oregano or process in a food processor several pulses. Combine remaining ingredients, mixing well. Season to taste. Let marinate for at least 1 hour and use within a few days. Serve over a grilled steak or spoon onto good bread.Note that the above recipe is not exact and requires the producer of said recipe to taste at intervals.

Those were basic notes from the recipes, but like all good savory recipes, require the chef to taste as they see fit. Also, sometimes it calls for cilantro, which I still vehemently hate. Add at will. I’ve found that in an American take on Mexican or South American food there is always an abundance of cilantro. I have rarely seen it on my travels: this is something American people want to project onto other international cuisines. I still fucking hate cilantro. I tried, and actually went so far as to test my reactions with varying different types of coriander. Fact: I love ground coriander. Fact: when it blossoms into a plant whose leaves are picked and put into a sauce I would otherwise love, I hate it. I am not alone. Julia Child hated cilantro. When it is cooked above 160 degrees Farenheit I don’t really taste it and therefore don’t hate it.

Criolla Sauce

1 medium onion, small dice

1 red pepper, seeded, small dice
1 roma tomato, seeded, small dice
1 clove garlic finely minced or grated
2 T chopped parsley
1/4 cup red wine vinegar (homemade if possible)
1/2 cup canola oil
salt and pepper to tasteCombine all ingredients and mix well. Best served the next day after marinating for a while. Will hold covered for up to a week. Is great with grilled steaks or sausages or on bread.These sauces are very fundamental flavors of Argentina and Uruguay and can be used creatively if one wishes.

Tales of adventures to be continued…Yolo

Spring Wardrobe Update #1: Wood Platform Sandals

19 Mar
Leather and Wood Sandals, See by Chloe $355 at Netaporter.com

Leather and Wood Sandals, See by Chloe $355 at Netaporter.com

Dear Yolo,

Winter in New York this past year was comparatively, but it’s finally starting to get warmer and I am sooooo ready for spring. So ready!

I long to wear sandals and tank tops and skirts.  My skin is blindingly shade of sickly pale right now, but I care not. And I’m happy to say after what seems like years of clothes that mostly looked good on hangers or pregnant women, there are actually a lot of really pretty, interesting and flattering styles being foisted upon us for Spring and Summer 2012.

For those of us who aren’t heiresses or have a masochistic desire for crippling credit card debt, one must be selective about the pieces you purchase to update your closet. I plan to update my closet for Spring with 5 Key Pieces. This is the first post of the series so stay tuned!

#1. Wood Platform Sandals
I remember getting my first pair in 8th grade. They were  platform clog style sandals by Chillis. I wish I still had those!

While I still have a pair or two of wood platforms in my closet, I have no second thoughts investing in another pair. They show up on one runway or another in some incarnation every year and nearly every season.

Wood platforms are reminiscient of the 70s, but but clean lines and more refined details make a more classic looking design.  Most wedges don’t flatter short, or more athletic leg shapes and can make your leg look heavier. Instead, go for a heel heel in a neutral color. Like the wedge it lengthens your leg but gives you  a thinner, more lady-like and flattering silhouette. Select a pair with clean lines, minimal detailing and in neutral colors and you’ll be able to continue wearing these year after year.

How to Wear
You really can pair your platforms with just about anything which is why they’re on this list. Skinny jeans, long trouser-style jeans/pants, capri pants, skirts (like a maxi skirt– more on this later).  You can even wear some of the styles below with tights or cute little ankle socks.

Aspirational
Best Wood Platform Sandals

Listed left to right and top to bottom

1. Tweed and Leather Sandals, See by Chloe  $365 Saksfifthavenue.com

2. T-bar Sandal, See by Chloe $379 at Farfetch.com

3. Embossed Anaconda Clog by Fendi $830 at BergdorfGoodman.com

4. Leather and Wood Sandals, See by Chloe $355 at Netaporter.com

5. Patent Leather and Wood Tribute by Yves Saint Laurent $1095 at Netaporter.com

6. Leather T-Bar Sandals by Grey Mer $636 at Luisviaroma.com

Attainable 

Best Wood Platform Sandals

Listed left to right and top to bottom

1. Deborah by Kork-Ease $155 at Piperlime.com

2. Bitten Suede Platform Heeled Sandals with T-bar, ASOS $134 at ASOS.com

3. Talia by Calvin Klein Jeans $99 at Zappos.com

4. Miner by Vince Camuto $118 at Zappos.com

5. Daron by NYLA $87.99 ON SALE at Heels.com

6. Teardrop by Mia $65 at Piperlime.com

7. Tako Heel by Guess $85.49 ON SALE at Heels.com

8. Randy, Lucky Brand $87.99 at Heels.com

Clean and Update Your Closet Selling on eBay: 7 Tips

16 Mar

Dear Yolo,

Have you seen Smash yet? That show with Katharine McPhee about becoming a Broadway musical star thingy? I like it for the same reason I like Hoarders. It makes me feel more normal and hopeful about my life when I watch it. I will leave my explanation at that.

Now that I’ve lived in New York for a while, I get so pissed whenever I watch a TV show (like Smash or Friends) or any movie where the characters living in New York. The apartments the characters live in are so unrealistic it’s funny in a bitter, “I grew up thinking I would have a flying car by this point in my life” kind of way. There is just no freaking way Jennifer Aniston and Courtney Cox could possibly afford an apartment like that on their barista/chef salaries. A two bedroom apartment like that in Manhattan would be at LEAST $6000/mo.  And in real life, their apartment would be furnished with craigslist and curbside found objects and shoes, books and clothes would be piled everywhere.

Since I’m an optimist, I will say that one ancillary benefit of living in a tiny New York apartment is that it forces you to be creative about storage and (actually, this may be a benefit of watching Hoarders) it forces you to only keep things that you really want or need because you simply don’t have room for things you feel iffy about. Enter eBay.

I started using eBay again after an 8 year hiatus because I was interested in finding unique vintage pieces. Specifically, I like searching eBay for interesting vintage Valentino, Christian Lacroix (amazing accessories from the 90s),  Sonia Rykiel (I adore her sweaters) or Halston (just bought an awesome leopard print pony hair crossbody bag for $16) clothing and accessories at good prices.While it’s fun to forage for these things in New York, it’s tiring and time consuming and New York city prices can make some used and vintage items as costly as brand-new purchases.

So after I had started buying on eBay, why not try selling? I have an embarrassing number of clothes and shoes I’ve accumulated in the last few years that were too expensive for me to feel ok about donating to Goodwill but that I no longer wear or don’t fit me. It was time to purge all the un-used and unappreciated items from my closet.

Selling on eBay allows me to make some money back on the clothes and shoes that are now just taking up valuable space in my closet and I like knowing that these items are going to enjoy a second life and make someone happy. Most the money I’ve made on eBay has been reinvested in eBay or Etsy wardrobe purchases so maybe not that much extra room has been freed up, but on the upside, I’ve traded my unwanted stuff for things I like: instant wardrobe update.

In case you you haven’t already tried it yourself, I wanted to share some tips for selling on Ebay. It’s simple, but here are seven tips that would have helped me starting out. These tips are things  I learned the hard way (like getting burned on postage fees) and then i’ve  added some know-how from my days in Digital Marketing.

  1. Sell The Right Thing. Sell things you think people will actually search for/want to buy on EBay.  Selling does take some time and effort so make it worth your while and resist the urge to make  $2 on a worn sweatshirt from Target. Donate those items to Goodwill. Someone will get use out of your donation, it goes to a good cause and you can write it off on your taxes.
    Also, consider the season or when someone is in the market for your wares. For example, most shoppers are thinking about spring and summer right now. If you have a winter parka you want to sell, you may want to wait until fall to list it.
  2. Make It Look Good. Pick a clean, well-lit place with a simple background to photograph your goods so you can represent them accurately and in an appealing manner. You don’t need fancy equipment or Terry Richardson’s eye. I actually use my iPhone to take my pictures.
    Keep your light source behind the camera for the best images. Since the color isn’t always true to life, I use Picasa (free to download) to adjust and the image if needed. You can also make other edits in Picasa if you need to crop or straighten. (There’s also tons of effects– it’s a great program.)
    If it’s a simple striped shirt, you can probably get away with posting one image (the first image is free, 3 additional images are available for $0.15 each). Make sure you capture interesting or unique details. Lots of items, shoes especially call for images taken from multiple angles. You can also do a Google image search to get professional imagery or the item worn by a model or a celebrity which will be sure to draw a shopper’s eye. Terry Richardson may have actually taken that photo, and it’s likely to be more compelling than your home photograhy so use it as your featured (free) photo that people will see when they’re browsing listings.
    If you have a lot to sell and/or want to get serious about selling on EBay, check out Auctiva (it’s free) a  service that provides EBay seller templates, scrolling galleries, image hosting and other marketing tools.

    Vince Camuto 'Suni' Boot 9.5M in Distressed Nubuck

    Vince Camuto 'Suni' Boot 9.5M in Distressed Nubuck

  3. The Title Brings Them In.  Buyers on eBay typically use the search function when shopping, so create a title that is search and customer friendly. There is no need to be too creative. Simply list the most pertinent information about what you’re selling. Just as I’ve done with the titles for these bullet points, capitalize the first letter of Each Word in Your Title. Like headlines in a newspaper or marketing emails in your inbox, it draws the eye and makes your title stand out.Info to Include In Your Title:
    Brand Name. People shop for brands, so if your item is  J. Crew, Zara, H&M or Max Azaria or was purchased from a store like Fred Segal, Anthropologie or Free People, mention it in the title.
    Example: ‘Silk Paisley Halter Top with Beaded Detail – M Anthropolgie Free People’
    Style, Color, Size.
    Other info for your title. If applies: NWT (New With Tags), NWB (New With Box)/NIB (New In Box), Rare or Sold-Out (if your item is hard to find or sought after.
  4. Pricing. You can sell two ways on eBay: auction style or simply list your price for the item. If you opt for auction style, you can choose the base price for bidding. This price should be the minimum price you are willing to accept in exchange for the item.
    You can also select the length of time you want your auction to run from 5 days to 30 days. I usually choose the minimum auction length of 5 days because I want to get rid of stuff sooner rather than later. Most people when shopping for clothing items are interested in instant gratification. If you are selling a collector’s item or a more specialized/significant purchase, a longer auction time may help you get more money in the long run.
    It’s really up to you.  If you opt for a longer auction time, I suggest also offering the ‘Buy It Now’ option. This is the price you’d ideally like to get for the item (higher than your minimum). It will allow a motivated buyer to purchase your item right away instead of waiting and waiting for the auction to end.
  5. Describe it Accurately.  Inspect your item thoroughly before listing. Be honest about the wear on the item and disclose any known flaws. If you purchased the item fairly recently, you may be able to cut and paste a description from a retailer here.  Mention again in your description if an item is pre-owned.  There are inexperienced buyers and lots of people who don’t read carefully. To give the buyer a sense of value, I suggest  listing the price you paid/original retail price of the item.  It doesn’t hurt to add a personal touch and thank the buyer for looking at your listing and/or invite them to email you with question or if they want to see additional pictures.
  6. Your Item Sold! If the item you’ve been selling has been bid on, once the auction ends, you’ll get a notification saying your item has sold. Yay! Now, wait. You’re waiting for a notification from eBay that lets you know the buyer has transfered funds to your PayPal account and that you’ve been PAID. Then you can celebrate (and ship the item). Most buyers are pretty prompt with payment but if 48 hours have passed and you still haven’t gotten the notification that you’ve been paid, remind your buyer and send them an invoice. This is one of the actions you can select in the eBay Selling interface. Add a note that you’re waiting for payment and will ship within X days /time (whatever you selected when you listed the item) as soon as payment has been received.
    I haven’t had any issues as a seller, but if you have a someone who doesn’t respond to your invoice or reminders, it is possible to cancel a sale. eBay does protect its sellers as well as buyers.  If there is an issue, do your best to resolve it yourself communicating with your buyer directly. If there is a conflict, check with the eBay Customer Support Center.
  7. Shipping and Mailing. I definitely lost a few dollars and an hour or two of my life due to post office lines and my own ignorance in this department early on. Here’s the good news– with USPS you can do all your shipping without ever leaving your house. YES! We all know post offices are pretty much the worst places on earth. It’s where lonely hypochondriacs go when they feel like testing out whether or not their misery is contagious. (It is.)
    Back to USPS.  Get to know those flat-rate USPS Priority box and envelope sizes and prices! Or, if you’re shipping a shirt or pair of jeans that can fit in a large poly-vinyl or Priority (not flat-rate)  envelope weight the item (use the bathroom scale if you’re not a drug dealer) and the calculator on the USPS website. When you first list an item, order your boxes from the USPS website (it’s FREE) and they will deliver the boxes to you. Once you sell your item, you can select an option to print your  shipping label on your printer and then you simply schedule the USPS pick up on their website. Pretty slick, right?
    If you print your own label through eBAY (it’s also a USPS label), the tracking number will automatically become available to the buyer. Otherwise, this is something you can manually update. Make sure you indicate in the selling section of ‘My eBay’ when the item has shipped so you customer will receive the notification.

As a final word, maintain a good reputation. Treat your customers they way you’d want to be treated. If you say you’re going to ship within 2 business days, then do it. Be communicative and fair. Your reputation (based on reviews left by your customers and those you purchase from) will influence others on whether or not they want to do business with you. Have fun &  good luck, sellers!

Free People Anthropologie Hooded Crochet Sweater Coat - L

Free People Anthropologie Hooded Crochet Sweater Coat - L

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