Sep 27, 2019

Sustainable, gentle, practical nesting

What seemed like a particularly soft, and suspiciously consumerist concept for those of us privileged with possessions, is now a very real behavior. I am "nesting" hard.
While watching myself almost hunt and gather pillows, comforters, duvet covers, and furniture, I watched out for organized clutter. However, my own minimalist, fiscally and environmentally responsible husband mentioned that he is also nesting where he is living now. Are both of us responding to this first pregnancy in the same way?

Our bedroom went from a single mattress on the floor with linen bedsheets, two wooden boxes as nightstands, and a wooden dresser to a pillow fort.

Nesting, however, can be gentle on our environment and our economies. I plan to room-share with baby for various reasons. All items were either lucky sigdewalk-finds, snagged on craigslist, or from our favorite thrift and discount shops. Most textiles were gifted or from yard sales before they were washed, sanitized, and tucked with lavender soaps in our linen closet. Admitedly, most of these favorites were tucked away for fear of stains and no laundry in our building. Boldly (for me, anyways) my favorites made their way to our bed: linen duvet, flannel cotton sheets, and embroidered and crocheted pillowcases.

There is also a practical reason for this response. In my case, my growing baby bump will make it harder for me to carry and arrange heavy objects such as the queen sized bed and mattress, dresser, and 7'x9' rug. Even the large comforter and other heavy bedding was a challenge for me in the first trimester, let alone the third. Also, being increasingly busier with graduate school, my full time career, and time for family, friends, and community. So here we are, my little bump and I, with the objects that we will need to support my body, make a changing table, and muffle the acoustics of a new tiny human coming soon enough.

Jan 12, 2019

Packing light: 9 days in 1 backpack - Day 5

Day 5 (travel day): Work with other staff, brief meeting. Flight to Illinois.
What I wore: Gray wool underlayer top, Black silk cami underlayer, beige silk top, beige turtleneck, black velvet cropped pants, black oxford shoes.
Not pictured: red gloves, wool socks

This was a dressier day, given that other staff were back and I was able to do some of the necessary collaborative work, as well as have a very brief meeting before catching a flight. The layers were very very helpful, from the high temperature on the ride to the airport to the chilly airplanes. I had my vest and jacket, but they were not necessary until leaving the airport in Illinois.

Below is the recap for the trip:

Packing light: 9 days in 1 backpack - Day 4

Day 4: Work. Walking to nearby neighborhood for dinner.
What I wore: Black silk cami underlayer, black silk top, blue jeans, black oxford shoes.
Not pictured: Gray cashmere scarf, black puffer vest, navy quilted jacket, silver and mother of pearl pendant necklace, sunglasses, red gloves, wool socks.

Jan 11, 2019

Packing light: 9 days in 1 backpack - Day 3

Day 3: Work during the weekends/holidays. Mainly independent.
What I wore: Silk cami slip, black silk top (under sweater), Beige cashmere turtleneck sweater, blue jeans, black oxford shoes, yellow/navy silk scarf, gold earrings, sunglasses, wool socks.

I washed the gray underlayer top and leggings and put them to dry in the morning before leaving.

Packing light: 9 days in 1 backpack - Day 2

Day 2: Another long work day during the weekends/holidays.
What I wore: Gray underlayer top, black silk top, black velvet cropped pants, black oxford shoes, gray cashmere scarf (not pictured), gold earrings, sunglasses, wool socks.

Packing light: 9 days in 1 backpack - Day 1

Day 1: Long, mainly independent work day during the weekends/holidays.
What I wore: Gray underlayer top, blue flannel shirt, blue jeans, black oxford shoes, and floral wool scarf. 

Dec 29, 2018

Packing light: 9 days in 1 backpack - Business travel/ Winter holiday trip

I seem to always make a mistake when packing for travel. Usually, this mistake is overpacking certain items. And who wouldn't? Packing light seems even harder for a variety of dress codes and weather.

My most recent trip was 9 days long. The first 5 days involved work-travel while the last 4 days were social. My travel bag is my new 24-liter backpack. I chose this backpack because it has a good pocket for my laptop and a bit of extra room to stash outerwear. 

My aim was to be as productive as possible, stay appropriately dressed, warm, and happy during my trip. Who wouldn’t want that? Here is how I planned my minimalist travel capsule wardrobe:

Packing Light – 5 Days in Baltimore, MD, 4 days in downstate Illinois over the winter holidays

Mar 18, 2018

Wedding in the City: Growing Your Own Wedding Flowers - Part 1

Last year, we organized our own wedding. That included growing, begging, and borrowing some of our own wedding flowers. I am considering chronicling what went into our experience in this project. Who's coming along?

Mar 15, 2018

Little Garden in the Apartment

Okay, these are only part of the lovely potted jungle inside our apartment, but so far it's our building's favorite these days. It is a welcome comfort at the end of our commute.

We walk home from the train stop, parking space, or bicycle spot. Lately, on this walk, our boots have been squishing the mushy, wet, icy, snowy winter sidewalks. Some days we push against the wind, our heads in our hoods if we have them. If we are lucky, our feet are dry, wrapped in woolens, hands in pockets. We are not all always so lucky. We see our block down the street, then our building, at last. We smile slightly, briefly at the promise of nearing shelter. Finally, we reach the door.

As we turn the knob, a faint, fresh, floral, spring-like smell whispers to us as we push in, nose first. It becomes spring, at last. The season of joy visits us, if only inside our home.

A bit of greenery is a nice memory aid as we live this long night. Because yes, winter was coming, and winter fell, but spring is coming too.

My husband and I gifted this little greenery to ourselves on Sunday. Upon my husband's insistence on a "car outing", we drove to a very pretty little town nearby, full of cottages and bakeries. I was convinced by the promise of a long-time, little garden center, which he thoughtfully found. As we walked in, we were awed by the smell of jasmines, orange blossoms, gardenias, hyacinths, and these daffodils. No doubt, these flowering treasures were placed by the entryway for this effect. We were thankful.

We walked and sniffed and read labels. We looked at the tactile Irish moss and carefully each floated a hand over a tiny leaf. We grinned, remembering a family video saying " nice to the plants". Irish moss was a favorite of my husband's around this time last year, which he proudly grew.

We looked for seed-starting pots to fit our growing eggplant, pepper, and basil seedling sunder the LEDs. I looked at the flowering Meyer lemon trees. Then I remembered that we do not have a conservatory. Someday maybe. But there were these little daffs. Perfect for our climate, should we plant them somewhere to naturalize. I sniffed and excitedly motioned to my companion. He sniffed and smiled wide. So, it was. I picked the least pot-bound daffs with no open blooms yet. We split the already small price, as a gift to each other. At home, I snuggled them together in a teracota pot and added some compost and some rain/snow water we collected from my tiny balcony.

I wonder if these should go into a spring window-box in the next couple of years. Maybe I can give them to my sister to plant in her yard or to the local community garden bed we were just lucky enough to get.

Mar 13, 2018

Pan con Chocolate

With a thick blanket of snow falling in the city, and the road outside our window barely visible, I headed to the kitchen and grabbed the beautiful loaves of whole grain bread that my husband made this weekend.

Growing up with cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents, sometimes our family would whip up a delicious fresh bread with hot cocoa. We still do this anytime there is a large-ish number of children at the table for breakfast. Normally, folks use regular milk (or goat milk, yum!). However, our household is not very dairy tolerant. Instead we made a "chocolate de agua" and thickened it with a bit of almond butter, peanut butter, and condensed milk. I pinched in some cardamom from a recent trip. The combination is warming, yummy, and comforting -- a perfect treat on a snowy day too.

My husband did not grow up dipping bread into his hot cocoa, but he seemed quite happy with the destination of his beautiful bread. After all, nearly everyone looks to hearty, comforting food during storms.


I would not fret if all ingredients are not available. Make it with what you have and you will have made it more your own too.


1 1/2 Cups of water or vegetable "milk"
2 Tbsp almond butter or peanut butter (or tbsp of each)
2 Tbsp dark cocoa powder or 2 oz bittersweet or dark chocolate
3 Cloves
1 Tsp cinnamon
1 Tsp powdered or freshly ground ginger
1/2 Tsp freshly ground cardamom or 1 freshly ground cardamom pod
1 Tbsp condensed milk, flavored syrup, or sugar
1 Tbsp corn or potato starch (optional)
1 Tbsp hot pepper jelly or 1/2 tiny hot pepper (optional)

Loose Instructions:

In a saucepan heat the water until it boils.
Dissolve the almond and/or peanut butter until it looks milky. 
Lower the heat to a simmer and add the remaining ingredients. 
Cover and steep for at least 10 minutes, or as many as you can wait. 
Add water if you feel the mix is too thick. 
Steep longer for a deeper flavor.

Mar 8, 2018

A Healthy(er) Chocolate and Beer Cake For Hosting Dinner

Since about age 6, chocolate cake has been one of my absolute favorite foods in the world. My older sister, and best friend, used to make me chocolate cake on special occasions - from scratch. One of the many reasons she was my favorite human. My favorite part? She used to let me lick the bowl. Talk about love and friendship!

We had some very lovely company this evening, a dear friend, and one of the kindest people we know. I also had a snow day due to the storm this morning. So, we made chocolate cake.

Thanks to a few changes we made to the original recipe, we also felt better about eating it. Perhaps we felt a little to good about eating it, since all that's left is a tiny piece. This tiny piece, will likely not see the next day.

This recipe is inspired by Flora Shedden's "wardrobe cake", but with a few changes to suit us. We used whole wheat flour in place of white, half the sugar than the original, mainly dark chocolate, unsweetened cocoa powder. We made a frosting with yogurt, peanut butter, cocoa powder, and cacao nibs. It all came out moist and fluffy and the IPA and whole wheat flour gave it a bready, hearty quality.

Mar 4, 2018

Signs of life. Breaking the ice.

Hello and welcome back! There has been a long hiatus while work and life were happening, and so much was changing. During this time, I became more interested in slow fashion, tried to grow food and flowers in earnest (in the unlikeliest places), decorated the city apartment, traveled, and experienced various life and priority shifts.

It is possible that layout and feel of this blog might change somewhat. Figuring out how to dress and how to live are continuous journeys. We might have more posts about the greenery, especially in these winter months. You may read about the "gardens" in the tiny balcony and windowsills. What's new about this: There is also a 4'x8' raised bed at the allotment with a low tunnel for season extension (I may unpack these in upcoming posts).

Feb 28, 2018

Substance and Beauty

cream Pot visit 3 (4)

The material substance of an object may be the absolute most important aspect of it. What something is made of is, usually, the hardest thing to change it. Arguably, the most important aspect of food is what is in it: what makes it, and in turn, what it will make you. Will it make you healthy?

But here is yet another aspect of food: Will it make you happy? Besides its chemical composition, will it appeal to your senses: Will its beauty make you, or a loved one, happy?

This meal certainly makes me happy. Those of us who have the privilege to enjoy it are so lucky! The Cream Pot may be my absolute favorite restaurant in Honolulu. It is owned by a wonderfully kind young couple. Lovely.

cream Pot visit 3 (3)

Jun 10, 2015

Wardrobe Reformation: A pre-study in feasibility

So it feels quite recent, but it really has been months (years?) since any real blog entry. Oh, this is not to suggest that this is the real thing either. But we have to start somewhere! What did Dante say about the lower foot being always the firm one... Or perhaps this is Penelope weaving her blog.

Perhaps your year has been going great too. As je suis snuggled in a kimono robe with a cup of sage tea with honey...Aaaaaand: No. I wish. The sage is just a few feet away on the balcony, though. The gallon of honey is in the pantry. But, after a hectic day of a hectic several months (years?), I am finally seeing the light of day (or glow of moon?). This can do weird things to an extrovert. I crave calm. Solitude, even.

Nov 11, 2013

Modern Winter Whites

J'ai eu envie de faire a proper post for quite a while now. In waiting to have the time to sit and write at length has left us with a long hiatus in posting.  Je suis glad to be back and missed you all. 

Due to the routine lately, it seems that mon sensibilities have become more minimalistic, or perhaps more streamlined. Perhaps more modern? This is surprising, considering how beautiful and practical layered looks can be. Lately, however, white shirts and simple jewelry have become de rigueur in mon New England winter uniform. It's all happened rather subconscious and might turn to layers of black and navy cashmere.

Mar 13, 2012

Closet Reformation: The Steps

Images from: The Sartorialist, Stockholm Streetstyle, Karla's Closet, Altamira Models Off Duty, and TIME magazine.

Not so recently came across a fantastic blog-post by Stephanie Wong, the mind behind the blog onesleeplessnight. I have been considering engaging some of this advice, not out of a necessity to better manage my assets, but more of a necessity to completely milk out my time allowances, given a crazy busy life with less and less time for personal interests and relationships. Perhaps what would allow many women to decrease spending, may also allow one to decrease time-spending. Yes, Time. Our time that we have while we are alive, on earth, which is invariably finite and running out every second.

Our time spent browsing a shop is time not spent on higher priority items that pay much more in the long-term. Time consuming can be time taken away from those very things that you hold in higher priority, like relationships, networking, family, fitness, studying, career, finally writing that book, or starting that company, or reading that book.

The anti-consumerist list includes five useful pieces of advice on reducing unnecessary sartorial over-consumption and regaining the sanity of balance. Yes, we who live in this culture seem to have to actually put in effort to become aware and act upon the awareness of what we do not actually need.
The list includes tips such as:
1.Reducing consumption of fashion media
2.Embracing uniforms and formulaic approaches
3.Creating and following a list of essentials, to which I would add, 3-B. Separating the nees from the wants, by creating a fancyful but well-edited wish-list.
4.Refraining from impulse buys, and
5.Planning and enforcing a shopping ban (I know, this last one is cruel).

1. Ok, so reducing consumption of fashion media, is rather challenging, especially given the awesome new blogs out there. They are so good that you feel you are wasting time by not reading them. It's your information-age-craze talking. Stay faithful to a small number and only add a new one if you break up with an old one. WE will start with this one. The image above is a sampler of my blog-reading staples. The well-established Sartorialist,

2. As for embracing uniforms, This blog has certainly helped re-shape my way of thinking from the 80-20 problem, closer to the 80-80 solution. For those not familiar, the 80-20 problem is the finding that most American women wear only 20% of our wardrobes about 80% of the time. The goal is to increase usefulness and decrease cost-per-wear by wearing 80% of items 80% of the time.

3. The most procrastinated upon item is by far, is creating a list of essentials and 3-B. Separating it from a wish list. Even creating a super well edited wish list, is partically impossible, because the target is always moving. We can be more fickle than we would like to admit.

Number 4. can be hard to and takes time to break. But 5.Enforcing a shopping ban is plain harsh to most of us. The truth is that all of these steps are in some stage of development. They can be seen as ideals, which no one has to achieve completely. I might have been in an inadvertent shopping ban without being conscious of it. Save for the occasional foodie indulgence, very few things seen to actually be worthy of my hard-earned resources, lately. Even that fantastic Hermes icon, the Birkin, for which I have saved a few times, did not seem worth the small fortune once the item was in front of me.

I wonder if the austerity trend is passing as our economy is improving. I stepped into H&M this weekend and found some super awesome looking designs, but in uncomfortable, poor quality materials. Have we moved in any direction from our fast-fashion culture?


La Copine

Feb 29, 2012

Wardrobe Staples: Silk Shirt Pt III

After a very long pause, blogging again feels almost like a diary of sorts. Lots of things have changed. Ma recherche d'un logement est terminée pour aujourd'hui. With house-hunting and settling down resolved, je vis dans une auberge. La chambre que j'ai occupée is small, but large enough for now.

A friend was talking about self-cultivation as the every day tasks we perform in our lives. Just like we cultivate the soil in a way that is better than sustainable, we strive to restore and enrich it. Perhaps we cultivate ourselves. In practicing my near-east languages, learning some statistical techniques, getting better at the (paying) job, supporting and caring for one's important relationships, even over long distances, increasing data-work speed, figuring out the shortest commute, indoor gardening, travel in both body and mind, maybe we seek to also leave ourselves better than we were. Perhaps dressing our bodies each day is no exception?

Here are these pants that have become routine on non-work days. Frankly, I think they work for my office. I have seen supervisors in graceful tank tops and lace pants. The look could work because the sober look of gray silk crepe in a lady-like blouse makes the pants less rock& roll.

If I were left with only 6 items of clothing again, like the "6 Items or Less" challenge, this blouse and shoes would certainly be included.

Oct 19, 2011

Old Thing


This is what I wore today:

Before I realized that it would rain.

And this is why I love this dress, which I also accidentally wore to the sweetest wedding on Friday, then to Work, on Monday with black blazer, cardi, stockings, and shoes and today with a

Oct 13, 2011


Yesterday, j'ai vu la long pleated skirt most perfectly beautiful. Je thought, "Oh, if it were only available... Oh, wait! There is this long and nice silk skirt inside ma garde-robe since junior year (of high school!). In fact, said skirt has only been worn a handful of times. Why would the idea of buying one be so automatic? Holy geese!"

Well, "Holy geese!" it is was. Some of my most admired blog owners are not controlled by the overtly consumerist propaganda. It seems like aforementioned bloggers, however, are either self-declared francophiles or French. I am neither. Nevermind the bits aléatoires de la langue française on this blog. Oui, j'ai appris un peu français avec de mes amis d'enfance. Even if I dream of taking the scroungiest job in Paris just so that I could at least live there, (too weird?).... That is where francophilia stops for me: No méthode française. Yes, even more blasphemy. This blog seems to be high-doing on this kind of language.

But I digress. The truth is maybe too painfully embarrassing: The long black silk skirt, that i was going to re-buy after  I saw it on a number of fashion and style publications (blogs, magazines) is only one of many an unnecessary dysfunctional possession inside the garde-robe. For somebody who favors minimalist blogs, like Austere, it's hard to know what to make of this nouvellement conscients pattern.

The sudden awareness of how vulnerable one can be to subconscious consumerism can be a little unsettling. It disrupts one's illusion of free will. So, aujourd'hui, j'ai looked at the wardrobe, and said, "J'ai assez de choses. There is simply more than enough here."


-La Copine

Sep 28, 2011

Blue dress


A post by, perhaps, my favorite blog(ger),OneSleeplessNight, who was in turn inspired by Ines de la Fressange's Parisian Chic, is the perfect backdrop for the following list. Said list was actually inspired by an article from Vogue Nov 2007 title "On Having Enough". This is what I am wishing, right now, to make of my wardrobe:

1. A handful of tailored blazers in dark colors, one or two in a bright primary color and in beige. 
3. Dresses. dresses. dresses. 
2. Six or seven pairs of trousers, from navy to beige, and two or three really fun pairs, tailored but very comfortable to travel, walk, and run for the train. 
3. About five skirts, some with volume and some fitted. 
4. A pile of cashmere sweaters and cardigans in blacks, browns, navy, and various fun colors. 
5. Some bags: brown patent Cole Haan that looks gorgeous, fits my laptop and anything necessary for a weekend away, flushed Arcadia tote, and a bunch of fabric totes to carry purchased goods. 
6. Men's shoes, flats of various kinds, some eccentric sneakers, and boots. 
7. A small pile of hats in brown and black. 
8. Jewelry: vintage, faux, and real. My absolute favorite ring is probably not real and I wear it almost daily.

Sep 21, 2011

Today's Outfit


This dress exemplifies a rather unusual behavioral pattern pour moi; an impulsive luxury. This dress may very well be my only impulsively chosen luxury item. It is an example of subconscious changes leading to behavioral changes. It was acquired along with a very couture leopard silk cropped jacket. The jacket went back to the store in one day. I still wonder if I should have kept the jacket. The dress has stayed in the closet. In the store it was just the best thing, absolutely perfect. In my wardrobe, it never seemed appropriate for any occasion.

Last night I needed the hanger and, absentmindedly, put it on a hanger over a white shirt that was already on it. Place the giant, vintage, men's cardigan that I was given when I volunteered for a local fund-raiser this weekend, and voila!
I can see the dress twinkle knowingly, in a pretty accent, "You see? I can go many places."


On Trend

Inspiraition Collage Late Summer

Sources for all collages on this post: The Sartorialist,, Parisian Chic, The Glamourai, Altamira: Models Off Duty, Closet Visit,  StockholmStreetStyle. If I've missed a source, please let me know.
It catches you almost by surprise, the idea of radical change. Peering into your reflection is almost like peering into a window almost voyeuristically. There, the object of voyeurism person is the voyeur herself. Peoplewatching.
Those changes happen subconsciously. Unexplainably. Gradually. Unexpectedly. A voice sobers the radically changed image, "Most of our personal decisions are made subconsciously. The phenomenon of awareness lets us rationalize the decisions that we made before being aware of them. But neuroimaging data presents that the ancient animal part of the brain makes the motion first. Then the exclusively human part makes sense of it... or tries."

Doubtlessly the bloggers and stylistas of the world are making certain items nearly irresistible. For many. I can't deny that I'm inspired and spend precious time making collages of these fantastic looks. But, for some reason, they stay in the computer screen, never to cross the virtual world into my physical expression. Maybe this reluctance to start imitating is the reason why my quest to develop and maintain a style is somewhere between non-punctual and never-ariving.

Perhaps it has to do with a long-established penchant for rebelliousness. For some reason, I avoid anything horizontal striped. Maybe it it the association with Picasso'ish breton tops that everyone else seems to be loving. This is despite having worn a white and navy striped long-sleeve tee almost every three days last summer. it is strange, for such frequent traveler, this item gets packed on for every trip but never sees the light of day. The same goes for my beautiful, high-quality, great-fitting, favorite fabric red pants. They were absolute favorites last fall and the fall before last fall. Said previously outrageously red pants used to get stares in the sweet and polite world. Being now trendy, it turns out they are staying in one of my three extra armoires in the basement.

It is undeniable that both of these trendy items actually make sense. They make sense even despite the fickleness of fashion. The striped tee is, actually, a long established classic. It is almost plain, but very interesting. Then there are perfectly chosen red pants. They are unexpectedly versatile, making the raggiest of rags look stylish. From all the red, however, I'm starting to turn to blue and yellow and everything but red and stripes.
Summer for FW

I'm starting to crave graphic black and white, vintage Italian knits, and menswear or metallic flat shoes.
Inspiration Collage Black White Camel

Are you craving anything un-fashion lately? Have you felt like wearing all black in a tropical country, bright colors in the land of black, and business classic in a casual place?  I sure do. Perhaps because I should not?

-La Copine

Sep 19, 2011

Additive 30X30, 21-Day Challenge, One-Year Wardrobe Reformation: Month 1 - Week 3 - Wear a dress or skirt

Ateliers_2011.09.11-1.11 (3)

Understanding what we find cheerful may be a big part of how we approach a closet reformation project. Yes, it is important to create a set of items to work together well. For this, we might use a methodical approach. But this methodical approach, at its core, can be driven by our feelings. Do we want to feel powerful? Cheerful? Noble?

Today's pick is this cheerful little yellow silk dress! This might be my favorite this summer. Regardless of how methodical my process might be, there will need to be something cheerful and soft, if this reformation project is going to work at all. Maybe you will find that you gravitate toward an item like a compass points north. It could be because of how it makes you feel, whether it's one emotion or a balance of them. So, what's your north?

Ateliers_2011.09.11-1.11 (8)

Ateliers_2011.09.11-1.11 (7)

Ateliers_2011.09.11-1.11 (6)

-La Copine

Sep 15, 2011

Additive 30X30, 21-Day Challenge, One-Year Wardrobe Reformation: Month 1 - Week 3 - Closet Orphan

This is la première runway dress que je purchased with my own self earned money. Although in consignment shop, it was still too steep for my high-school budget. OK, fine, that was after all the leisure funds were spent on some Ferragamo cashmere, a Via Spiga trench, and a fancy suitcase that was way too heavy. But I digress. 

Sep 9, 2011

Additive 30X30, 21-Day Challenge, One-Year Wardrobe Reformation: Month 1 - Week 3 - Wear something in an unexpected way

Ateliers_2011.09.08 (4)

Perhaps it is not obvious, but I tend to stay away from tying items of clothing. It turns out, with this cardigan, that the buttons were not the best part of the cardigan. A buttonoctomy took place.

Sep 2, 2011

Additive 30X30, 21-Day Challenge, One-Year Wardrobe Reformation: Month 1 - Week 2 - Wear something on your head

(Black sunglasses, acetate, Burberry; Striped white navy ribbon, silk, thrifted; Green scarf, not sure; Gray blazer, wool, Ann Taylor; Pink chino pants, cotton, J.Crew; Blue top, silk, Diane Von Fursternberg; Silver shoes, leather, Miss Me.)