LIFESTYLE

GET FIXED

I wouldn’t exactly call it cheating, we all need that one small thing that picks us up, to keep our days moving, a small moment of self-indulgence where it’s just you and your cigarette, wine, or for me, a cup of good coffee. Our fixes are for taking a bit of the edge off, a socially acceptable selfish drug.

Funnily enough, when I think of the classic fixes in film, I think of Kathryn from the late 90s cult classic, Cruel Intentions when the audience realizes she hides a bit of secret cocaine in her innocent rosary. In that scene she is slowly loosing it, a fix that has gotten a little out of control, perhaps a subtle warning to never let our fixes become an act of desperation (maybe not necessarily cocaine!).

I encourage you to indulge in your selfish fix but keep in mind moderation is very key. Enjoy your drinks, your smokes but contemplate Kathryn when you’re too hasty. xXx

ROAD TRIP

From Jack Kerouac’s On the Road to the classic film, Thelma and Louis, the road trip has always been a filled with the feeling of nostalgia, friendship and exploratory liberation. Somehow the confined moving space of the car calls forth a romanticized intimacy in the midst of empty chip bags, half finished coca cola’s, a cigarette dangling from your fingers and tunes you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

When you’re on the road there are no rules, no responsibilities. You’re wandering with direction. With your belongings in tightly sealed in the trunk you feel invisible, briefly living on the road, laughing with your girlfriends and letting go.

Embrace this adventure, but of course not without flair. My top 3 items of choice to bring on a road trip would be: a good playlist, a bit of honey and a change of sunglasses.

DESERT BLESSINGS

JT Homesteader Hammock

When my best friend who lives in San Francisco confirmed our kids were on the same Spring Break and she would be renting a house in LA, I started scheming. Ever since I saw this video on Nowness, I've been desperate to experience a sound bath at the Integratron near Joshua Tree. I also knew I was solo with the boys for the week prior to collecting my husband in LA for weekend rendezvous.  

The plan was to fly into Palm Springs for an afternoon poolside and a night in a bed before driving out to Joshua Tree to stay. Wait for it. On a homestead, which I found on AirBNB. Can we - for a minute - discuss how much easier it is to appear to be a fun, ingenious parent in the 21st century? For $79/night, we were treated to an experience that - for the same price - could only be delivered by Motel 6. Instead, we drove 5 miles off Hwy 29 until the pavement ended and drove another 5 miles and were greeted by a cabin, outhouse, outdoor shower and kitchen dreamed and designed by a Harvard Design grad. Thank you Jay and Stephanie. And, yes, please. 

First stop was Palm Springs where we sunned and sinned. Well, not much unless you're counting carbs. And I don't. We stayed at The Saguaro (SA WAR OH), which played great music at the pool, was family friendly and cool. Like as in keep-it-real cool not so-effing-hip-this-is-dumb cool. Order directly from pool bar. Chair service takes a wee bit too long. Free 8am yoga on the lawn while my boys iPad a stone's throw away. Done. Discovered Nature's, which was the most incredible natural foods market with a juice bar. DO NOT get the shakes for your kids. Rice milk ice cream tastes like it sounds. 

The deep desert plan came together save for the Integratron experience. Blaming the boys. Next trip. Instead we visited Pioneertown where we checked out a "real" cowboy town and refreshed ourselves with ice cream (boys) and beer (mom) at Pappy & Harriet's. The latter of which is a real deal saloon with concert posters covering every square inch. A mere week later (note it is this week - between the first and second weekend of Coachella. plan accordingly.) Jamie xx was performing on a very small stage in the most authentic of settings for $40. This is when I remind you that the xx played *intimate* shows at The Armory in NY (25 shows for 40 people each) the tickets were $1000+. The desert is truly magic.   

The boys and I dove into Joshua Tree National Park and climbed boulders for three hours (me, too!) at Hidden Valley, which is the most kid-friendly climbing spot. And with which I agree and add parental heart attack inducing. 

Back at the homestead, we took hot outdoor (private) showers, made dinner (hot dogs and salad) and excitedly prepared a campfire for s'mores both nights. Better than camping. And I convinced the boys that screens were not allowed on the homestead. Out of respect for nature. You know. So we read, shot Polaroids and called it a night soon after sunset and s'mores. 

All of this sound great but anyone who knows me knows that there is one thing that could make our stay even better. Juice. Fresh juice. And Sunshine Milk warmed for our campfire sessions. Well, with our lodging confirmation came a menu for just this. Juices by Angela de la Agua to be delivered or picked up upon arrival. 24oz Mason jars full of life. Contact Angela and learn more about her thoughtful approach to nourishment on her website.  

Desert blessings to all!
 

JTHomesteader
JT Homesteader Cabin
homestead campfire
APRIL PRIDE instagram
JTHomesteader
Joshua Tree Hidden Valley
Hidden Valley Joshua Tree
Joshua Tree bouldering

AP | TIPI

APRIL PRIDE TIPI

Confession. I am one of those people. As in the type who throws their own birthday party. I didn't last year. A dear and gracious friend beat me to the punch. But, typically, I do and this year I did. When I decide to host a party, I know I am all in, which is why I wait until the last possible minute to send the invitation. I am guaranteeing myself days of prep and weeks of conversation about the right drink, music, food. After years of this though, I found I have it pretty well fine-tuned. But there is always the idea that I need to better my last party. So that brings us to this year. My actual birthday is March 6 but my party was March 21, which I only mention as it marked the Spring Solstice and the weather gloriously marked the occasion. Little did I know this would be the case when the day prior at about 11am It occurred to me that a tipi would be the real star of the event. Not a totally original idea as I went to an anniversary party on Vashon island last summer and there sat (on acreage rather than our - very urban - postage stamp lawn) a pair of tipi. I figured they must be rented so I googled and found The Tipi Guy who turns out to be Gary who is nothing short of amazing. (His number for rentals is 206-491-7969) He accepted a request to set up a tipi with less than 24 hours notice quite happily. He - who is Native American - also assured me that hanging out in a tipi was simply an experienced not to be missed and not to think too hard about the political correctness of it all. All hogwash. With Gary's blessing to pitch and party, the night moved forward. Below are images before I opened the tipi to my girls-only guest list. And after we inhabited this gem of a lawn ornament. 

A post-script note: The tipi stayed up all weekend and my family and I hung out in it during torrential rains. With a closed top, not a drop fell inside. Pure magic. xXx

APRIL PRIDE TIPI
APRIL PRIDE TIPI
APRIL PRIDE TIPI
APRIL PRIDE TIPI
APRIL PRIDE TIPI
APRIL PRIDE TIPI Robin Williams

TULUM

APRIL PRIDE BLUE LINEN

Seattle breaks call for sun, surf and sand. Lifesavers. All three. In Mexico, we've had a favorite spot for years Las Alamandas, which has ben covered on APB. This mid-winter break (we get an extra break before spring because our winter is worse than yours!) I made a request to try a new town, new coast, new vibe. Tulum, which adds style and sexy to the list above. This is sometimes good on vacation and sometimes a bit of a drag when, well, leather thongs are as polished as I want to be. Thongs for your feet. To be clear. 

Here's what I can tell you. I loved Tulum. And not for the scene, which was laden with yoga retreaters and the fashion set. I loved it for the terrain. The is one road in and out. At the end of which is UNESCO Cultural Heritage site. On one side is the ocean. On the other is the jungle. And tucked along the shore are small hotels. Tucked inside the jungle are restaurants and bars with the best craft cocktails and to-die-for food. Special indeed. 

We took a day trip to Valladolid. A still-thriving colonial town with one small block of great design that included one of the five Coqui Coqui hotels, Coqui Coqui Perfumeria and Coqui Coqui Casa where I picked up the best suede bag. Made in Mexico. At the end of the block is Hacienda Montaecristo. Custom leather sandals. Yep.  Worth the 1-1/2 hour drive to experience this town and these gems. 

There were magical ruins. You have to play tourist on these escapades. Totally worth it. 

Oh! I wore lots of AP dresses. Como Maxi as seen with the family selfie. (Sorry I cut your head off, Jim) And No. 3 Blue Linen as seen <--------

THE FAMILY
CoquiCoqui

MOMMY DEAREST

I just returned from an amazing weekend away with my boys. Well, one is a man as he fathered the other two but I will always call them my boys. Because, you see, there is them and there is me, the girl. Being the only woman has clear advantages.  
1) I am excused from all spectator sporting events.  
2) A weekend away is accepted as necessary to reset my palette and my vocabulary.
3)  "Don't touch me! I am wearing special lady clothes." is respected out of total fear.

Honestly, though, these are the only demands I have an interest in maintaining. I have, happily, crossed over to the other side:  jerseys as fashion, potty talk as humor, potato chips as vegetables, and LEGO as religion along with Star Wars and Minecraft.

Mommy is the dearest word to my heart even if it is proceeded by, "I want to pee in nature!" If there is one thing I now know firsthand - boys will be boys. xXx

 

BOATING LIFE

lake boating
Vintage boat
vintage boat in dock
vintage white swimsuit boating

A few things come to mind when discussing my adopted hometown of Seattle: rain, grunge, Starbucks, Bill Gates, and Amazon. However, those of us who live here do so for one reason: Seattle summers. Seattle has breezy, lush summers with the consequent prevalence of boating life. This makes sense when you realize that Seattle is actually surrounded by various bodies of water, whether we are talking about Lake Washington, Lake Union, or Puget Sound. In fact, several boat shows have been taking place in Seattle since as early as 1947. One of the biggest boat shows in this city is the South Lake Union “Boats Afloat” show. It includes more than 1,000 recreational watercraft, seminars, and the latest boating accessories indoors and on the water, making it the biggest floating boat show in the West Coast.

Now that I’ve gone through the history of boating shows in Seattle, it’s time to move on to the logistics of the essentials of boating life. Naturally, when I talk about boating life, I’m not talking about scuba suits, wake boarding, or inner tubing--I’m talking about some serious #R&R on a boat with close friends and a drink in my hand. AP currently loves drinking from custom monogrammed 12ox clear Tervis Tumblers.

First and foremost, you need a great boat. AP does not have a because according to her husband, “if it floats, flies, or f&cks, rent it!” However, if she could own a boat it would be a Riva. The Italian-based company was established in the mid-1800s, and their boats exude elegance and timeless style. A couple of the key stylistic elements of their boats that contribute to thier enduring luxury are the smooth, earthy wooden details and classic clean lines. Riva’s clients include aristocrats, successful businessman, award-winning athletes, and even icons such as Brigitte Bardot, Elizabeth Taylor, and Sophia Loren.

Secondly, aside from a chill, laid back West Coast attitude, some of the sartorial essentials of boating life include a good straw boater or baseball hat, fresh white linen or cotton clothes, boating shoes or saltwater sandals, and a hip pair of sunglasses. Despite the floppy hat trend that has been recently circulating, a close-fitting boater or baseball hat is actually more practical for boating, unless you want to keep your hand on your head to prevent the hat from flying off all day. As you can see from the pictures, back then the trend was the headscarf, which would keep your hair from flying around as well. For boating wear, there’s nothing quite like cool, crisp whites such as White Twill Dress No. 1 or the White Linen Dress No. 3 for a sunny day hang out on a boat. Of course, boating shoes or saltwater sandals are an absolute must when boating because heels or flip flops simply do not have the traction, high grade soles, or durability in the face of saltwater. The last boating essential is an accessory that adds an undeniably mysterious quality to anyone who wears them: sunglasses. Wayfarers or aviators can only enhance your cool factor and are the finishing touch to the fresh ON the boat look. AP is currently loving the Steve McQueen Persol PO 714 SM Special Edition.

Last, but certainly not anywhere near the least, coolers full of beverages are an indisputable necessity. Remember that there is no glass on watercrafts! A cooler can be both functional and your boat’s best accessory will guarantee that your refreshment stays ice cold. You can even customize with the boat’s name or your the initial of your surname. My advice would be to opt for a vintage-inspired leather-covered cooler for an extra copacetic aesthetic. -Anna Choi

Vintage lake boating
vintage boat turquoise details

A PROPER DRINK

Rachels Ginger Beer
cocktail glasses

I read an interview of a woman once who noted that she had a house cocktail. Fresh lime juice gimlet straight up or on the rocks. All ingredients on-hand to serve guests at any moment. Immediately I thought, "BRILLIANT!" Second thought was, "What is my house cocktail?" I wanted to choose a mixer that doubled as a drink for kids and teetotalers. For the last couple of years I've experienced a ginger beer moment. For the last decade, I've had a tequila moment. SO while my friends are loving Moscow Mules, I have adopted what I affectionately call a Mexican Mule* (all double entendre drug smuggling references intended). Tequila substituted for vodka mixed with ginger beer. The more spice to the ginger beer, the better! Rachel's Ginger Beer is perfect for this drink. The is a poorman's margarita. I swear people come over just for this drink. 

Next dilemma: glasses! A quick tear sheet from my Tiffany & Co. table-setting book (Yep, I was a bride once upon a time.) depicts all the glassware you don't have space for. Fussy glassware doesn't get to fun- fast- and makes clean-up awful (again taking away from fun).  For cocktails, really all you need are a set of double old-fashioned glasses, which in the summer I substitute with glassybaby drinkers in cola.  Highballs are not as sexy to hold. Think about it. Holding a glass from the bottom is not something you do at breakfast or lunch. When you drink, everything you do should feel like a departure from everyday and with intended style/purpose. I take my drinking seriously!  For white wine and bubbles I serve in short glasses and totally ignore the traditional shape. I have dozens of these glasses that are dishwasher safe, can be broken without much grief and can be substituted when a glass is misplaced/confused. For red-wine, stemless. Beer is served in the bottle so I know which label to refresh for each guest. Shortcuts. Always! Snifters and cordial glasses are for when I clear the kids dishes and Cheerios out of the cabinets and have enough energy for an after-dinner drink. xXx

*registered trademark pending

glassybaby drinker

TUNE IN TOKYO

Gora Kadan April Pride Tokyo
Tokyo Japan shopping

I went to Tokyo a couple of weeks ago. I have NEVER prepared so much for a trip. EVER. I was so afraid of missing a thing that I made sure that I talked to anybody and everybody who had been to the city. The bottom line is you cannot eat a bad meal. You will always be greeted by people who are beyond friendly. You will get lost. A lot.  There is too much to see/do so here are my tops for a trip short or long. 

1. Start following Tokyo Dandy on social media well ahead of time. Read old posts on Instgram. These guys know what is up. 
2. Stay at Palace Hotel or have high tea. Try the olive tea. Surprisingly delicious. We stayed and rented bikes to ride the perimeter of the grounds of the Imperial Palace. A family still lives on this sacred land in the middle of Tokyo. I cannot get over the true luxury of that. 
3. Be at the Tsukiji Fish Market at 4am. With jet lag this seems possible. We showed up at 6am and were way too late. 
4. When you do arrive at a fish market at 6am, the only this to do is stand in line for sushi! Which we did for 2.5 hours. Crazy tourist? That was all I could think. A friend in Seattle who grew up in Tokyo recommended Sushi Dai though so I was confident. This was our first sushi in Japan and turned out to be the best the entire week. No regrets. Highly recommend. At market. Building 6 (look up to see numbers). 
5. SHOPPING! Find Cat Street in Omontesando. Oh! If you are larger than a small, do not plan to shop for anything other than jewelry and handbags. #notkidding My new favorite Japanese brand I discovered is Undercover by Jun Takahashi. Quirky and cool. Very distinct. 
6. Find an S&M bar even if it isn't your thing. Totally mainstream in Japan. Think of the visuals in manga and anime. Rose Bar is Fisher-Price, my first bondage bar. 

Rose Bar Tokyo Japan dining

MOTHER'S DAY

Seattle Met April Pride Mother's Day

Seattle Met asked me to dish on Mother's Day. This year I will be in Japan while my mom is watching the boys. Perhaps that is my gift to her or is it the other way around?
Best gift received: No question it was my first Mother's Day. My husband, Jimmy, sourced these unbelievable coral beads and had a necklace strung. I am pretty sure he had his own mom help him. Moms on Mother's Day: I sent my mom Dress No. 1 in Navy last year. Clearly meaningful because it was living proof that we had both done well. You know? With $75 of mad money: From Paper Hammer, I would stock up on Merchant & Mills sewing supplies (I am a sucker for the packaging). I would buy magazines at E. Smith Mercantile and grab a handful of candies for the boys. To ensure that I read the latest issues within the month, I will happily dip into my own stash to hire a sitter. Hit list: I cannot walk out of Glasswing without buying a plant for my sons. Totokaelo is where I go for me. ME ME ME, but I will venture downstairs and take notes for my husband. London Plane's big space has ceramic coffee mugs in the perfect blue/teal. A set of six is on my list this Mother's Day. When the boys have a birthday party, we find the perfect gift for their friends at Red Wagon. I am having an instant film moment—so much so that I am this close to investing in a vintage camera from Rare Medium. My mother-in-law has e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g so I always get her a gift certificate for a service at Spa Noir. When I want something really special, I go to Ty for vintage denim

VENERABLES: Julianne Moore

venerable: adj. accorded a great deal of respect, esp. because of age, wisdom or character.

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This word can apply to a woman and her clothes. Not just the church, right? I guess this is my nice way of describing my documentation of women wearing vintage. While perhaps not vintage when photographed, the images- and fashion- persist. Or maybe the image is of a woman who may be considered vintage- due to her age- and will remain cool through the ages. First up is Julianne Moore. She is defined by the latter. I was first smitten in Boogie Nights and was unsettled by her portrayal of the despised Mrs. Brown in The Hours. Maude Lebowski, the pill-popping freak in Magnolia are classic roles but as Sarah Palin in Game Change I was jaw-to-the-ground. She was Sarah Palin. Stylistically, I prefer the Julianne of A Single Man and the Bulgari campaign. 

Plus, I saw her on a cold-ass day in the West Village pushing her stroller just like US. 

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Julianne Moore.jpg

WEEKEND AWAY: SEATTLE

Seattle Sonics

Recently, a friend from San Francisco reached out about a trip to Seattle she has planned for January. She was excited about booking a room at the Ace because she loves its sister hotels in PDX and NYC. "NOOOOOOOO!" was my immediate reaction. Shamefully, the original Ace on Seattle's 1st Ave is basially a hostel. Not that I have a thing against hostel living (There was this one, ahem, intersting night in Aix. Oh! And Amsterdam.) but I know what the other properties are like and it would be a huge mistake to think that Seattle's version is on par. With our exchange, I realized I needed to craft a WEEKEND AWAY for my (adopted) hometown.

This is a list to get started. As of December 1, 2013, these are my recs!

STAY The dirty truth about SEA is we have shitty options for lodging. Embarrassingly bad. A good frined of mine is working to correct that and I hope to ammend my text by 2016.

cheap and chic(ish): Ace Hotel, 1st Ave

institution: The Sorrento on First Hill. The location is not great. Another is The Fairmount Seattle. Better location but really dated interior. (this matters to me. a lot.) The Inn at the Market. No opinion (but I LOVE the Korean fusion place downstairs Cha:n).

posh: Four Seasons at Pike Place Market (get the Bellini with fresh peach puree at the bar!)

Most of these are downtown, if you are cool (or think you are or like cool people) you may want to stay on The Hill (aka Capital Hill). Really, all I can offer is Silver Clouds on Broadway. It is like The Gap. Basic and safe but not going to generate oohs and ahhs.

EAT This list could get LONG so I am being selective.

cheap and chic(ish): Pike Street Fish Fry. Good for either a snack before drinking on The Hill or to soak everything up before stumbling home. WARNING: loud RANDOM music (kinda awesome). Paseo in Fremont (and Ballard) has the best effing sandwiches. Carribean sandwiches. I know, confusing.

sushi: Tsukushinbo, in the International District. Try to make a reservation or get there at opening. Ramen at lunch on Fridays is sacred. (Full disclosure. I worked 100 yds from Tsukushinbo for 7 years and found out about it 6 months after I vacated my studio. Hugely embarassed and blaming on babies.) I also love the tatami room at Maneki in the ID for large groups.

Mexican: Yes, Mexican gets its own category. My blonde child once asked me if we were Mexican. "Why?" I asked. "Because we eat burritos and chips everyday." You get the point. I didn't put Rancho Bravo in cheap and chic because it is 1) Mexican and 2) in an old KFC, which negates any hope for chic. Get food to go and hit the park across the street to people watch. (Seattle people watching is epic!) la Carta de Oaxaca. Be still my heart. Go for lunch Tues-Sat (dinner is insanely crowded) and sit at the bar. Drink the margaitas and try all the salsa at the salsa station.

seafood: Little Gull is a new raw bar. the Walrus and the Carpenter also offers oysters but I go for the moules broth. Again, do not miss and expect a wait. If you have a half a day, drive to The Oyster Bar on Chuckanut Drive. View. Check. Random, Check. Fresh shells from WA. Check. I would hit this on the way to...see posh.

posh: Worth the bang for the buck in Seattle requires a day and night. The Willows Inn on Lummi Island. This takes planning but you knock out a visit to the San Jaun's, a meal from an apprentice of Noma (in Copenhagen and voted best restaurant in world 2x) and bragging rights because this is on everyone's national best reataurant list. When we sat in the dining room, the only couple spaeking English was visiting from NY. Seriously. (WARNING: accomodations atrocious)

institution: I guess I should tell you to go to Canlis. The view is amazing and the Canlis salad is my favorite. I would say this: Go for dinner if you are with parents (who are paying!). Sit at the bar and have a martini and the salad to start your night with a friend or siginificant other. I love the bar here. Very Sinatra.

SEE This is obvious (and a certain unnamed photo journalist whose name rhymes with Podd Melby made fun of me for suggesting) but if it is a clear day, go to the Space Needle. If you were in Paris, you would go to the tower. The needle is our tower. We have the mountains, the water and the needle. And the best view of the former is from the deck of the latter. Be a tourist. On a sunny and warm day, go to Golden Gardens and picnic. We have a great zoo. First in the US to create natural habitats for animals and shun cages (A fun fact my husband reminded me of on a recent trip when I was bitching about being at the zoo.) Olympic Sculpture Park! I love museums and if you have time for just one- go to SAM downtown (before your Bellini at the Four Seasons across the street). And do not worry with a pilgrimage to Kurt Cobain's house. There is a gate and the park beside it is small with no view. Just saying. Better off having a drink at Linda's (back patio!)where he was reportedly last seen.

PLAY In the summer, rent a boat. In the winter, go to the Russian spa Banya5. All year, rent a bike and hit the Burke Gilman Trail. HIKE. Seriously. This is easier than it sounds. In less than an hour, you are so far from the city and earning your night out!

SHOP Totokaelo. An internet shopping sensation around the world and Seattle hosts the only brick-and-mortar. Isadora's is simply the best for vintage jewelry.

I am losing steam but will continue to add to this as people write and tell me I forgot something! Like coffee (so many that are all great!) and where to drink (can you really go wrong?).

WEEKEND AWAY: KAUAI

April Pride halter dress

I am posting this while on a break from da beach. Not just any beach but a Hawaiian beach. Probably a secret one with no tourists thanks to my local connection Ms. Amanda who fled the Mainland nearly four years ago. Sad on a daily basis but happy because I can visit her in paradise. Every Thanksgiving since her departure. My boys love. I love. Her family loves. Win win. I asked her to offer a list of locals-only insights to my favorite island.

top 3 fave beaches Hanalei (Pavillions parking lot), Polihale, Baby Beach in Poipu

locals only secret eats

Juice bar in Kuks market in Poipu (The acai bowls for lunch!) Paco's tacos in Hanapepe

Ishihara for poke in Waimea (Poke at deli. DO NOT MISS)

Fish Express for poke in Lihue

Smoothies at Moloa'a Fruitstand

Shaved Ice in Kilauea http://www.shaveicetegetege.com/

Keokis for fish tacos in Poipu

The Feral Pig for their burgers and beers in Lihue

Pat's taco truck in Hanalei

The Green Pig food truck across from Kealia beach on the east side

The Greek Truck next to Paco's truck in Kapaa, .

bike rentals for trail I only know about renting bikes in Kapaa right next to Ono Family Restaurant in Kapaa. Then you can do the long bike ride to Kealia beach and hit some food trucks in the way. Rental is $10 for 2 hours. (Make time for this if you have kids.)

best hotel bar Koa Kea in Poipu, great sushi and drinks.

best cocktail Plantation Gardens has a mango martini. Also good drinks at the St. Regis lobby bar in Princeville but $$$$. Tortilla Republic in Poipu has lots of tequila. And La Spezia is new in Koloa! Great bar and restaurant. http://laspeziakauai.com/ (I also love Beach House at sunset.)

best surf spots Rule is that the biggest waves are in the North in the winter (now) and biggest in the south in the summer. Waiohai in Poipu, Rock Quarries on the the northshore and Polihale on the west.

hikes Waimea Canyon/Kokee; Airplane trail at Kalalau Lookout and Alaka'i Swamp. East, Sleeping Giant. South, Shipwrecks beach to Maha'ulepu. North, Hanakapi'ai Falls.

local shopping Art Walk in Hanapepe on Friday nights 6-9pm includes lots of cute shops including Machine Machine's Workshop with food trucks and music.

Kukui'ula Shopping Center in Poipu - Love the boutiques Poipu Surf, Olivine Beach Boutique and Halele`a Gallery.

I Heart Hanalei has great swimsuits and I love Sand People and Sand Kids in Poipu, too.

Shout out to the island's vintage Humane Society thrift shop in Lihue; The United Church of Christ in Hanapepe on Mondays from 8:00am-11:30 (I've been! Everything $.50-$3. AMAZING).

I Hate Holiday Dresses. Until Now.

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I realize that a person who designs dresses should under no circumstances admit that she dislikes the mother-of-all-dresses (aside from wedding): the holiday cocktail dress.

Why? Because it is the Hallmark Holiday Card of women's retail. I know I sound bahumbug but really! The whole "category" is as creative as putting Snoopy on a card and rotating the words and colors depending on the holiday at hand.

Sequins. LBD. Velvet. Bows. These have never been on my shopping list to prepare for holiday parties. Never. Ever.

Two years ago, I wore Lindsey Thornburgs Totem Dress in red. (pictured below) Now this is how you want to enter a party. Seriously.

So why all this talk of holiday dresses? Because AP has quietly launched a dress that can be fashioned for your special events in the month of December but will in no way be a miss the rest of the year.  Plus, you will stand out ALL YEAR. I know you want to see more but for now the only way to do that is through a private appointment or at a trunk show. Okay. A peek. Below is hairstylist to the stars (of Seattle), Ms Vivian Lee in THE AMANDA KAFTAN, navy silk georgette with THE BELT in navy and turquoise linen. What she actually walked away with is this dress in peacock-green silk.  In fact, several women walked away with a peacock green silk dress. 

Just like with THE DRESS, THE AMANDA is a blank canvas. You can even add a sequined velvet bow although I do not approve.

WEEKEND AWAY: SAN SEBASTIAN #WTD

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On September 16, 2001, my now husband and I were scheduled to depart for Spain from NY after I served as bridesmaid in our college friends' wedding(Viva la John & Ashlee!). By some miracle and a re-routed flight, we not only made the fairy-tale wedding (CA>CT) but also our scheduled departure the day following. The wedding was sprinkled with stories of survival, gratitude and disbelief as most attendees lived in Manhattan at the time. When we boarded for Europe, all the news reports and grief were a distant memory. Arriving in Barcelona, we soaked in the city for days before driving up the Coasta Brava into the Pyrenees and finally arriving in San Sebastian. Two weeks that changed my life.

Recently, a dear friend and fan of THE DRESS spent much deserved time away in San Sebastian. Jessica Riley Cantlin sent me this pic of her on the horseshoe-shaped beach I vividly remember. For this edition of WEEKEND AWAY, I asked her for her top recs of the city that stole my heart and calmed my mind all those years ago.

STAY Hotel Niza: Small quaint, best location right on the beach; or Hotel Maria Christina: Expensive, big, on the river.

EAT Michelin: Mugaritz, Extebarri, Arzak Pinxtos Bars: La Ganbara, La Cucharra San Telmo; Borda Berri; Gandarias, Bar Nestor Restaurants: Rekondo, La Madame

DAY TRIPPING Bilbao to see the Frank Gehry designed Guiggenheim; La Rioja wine region; French Basque region; St. Jean de Luz open market.

THANKS, JESS!

WEEKEND AWAY: SAN FRANCISCO

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Recently, a friend asked for my recs on a kid-friendly trip to San Francisco. To fight my guilt as I begin to pack for my own NOT kid-friendly trip to SF/Napa this Thursday, I give you WEEKEND AWAY: San Francisco, Kids Edition.

I took my boys to visit the city- where I lost some brain cells and earned some wrinkles at the turn of the last century- last April for Spring Break.

1) Rent an apartment on airbnb. Don't get a hotel room because you don't want to go to bed at 8pm. The flexibility is worth sacrificing room service.

2) Sign up for urbansitter. This is the only way to line-up a sitter while on the road. Do not rely on your friend's nanny's friend. It is vacation. No do overs. I had all my dinners planned and kids covered before I left Seattle. I also sat in the living room of my Mission apartment with my best friend at 9pm and wanted to go out blocks away. (The boys were asleep afterall.) I posted a job on urbansitter and had a girl at my place at 9:30. As luck would have it, she knew my friend's au pair. No guilt!

3) Dolores Park. Know about the Suess-inspired playground. Just steps away from Bi-Rite ice cream. This is a way to spend an afternoon. Have early risers and need to kill a morning? Same plan but sub Tartine croisssants and coffee for ice cream. Still heaven. (Of course, we were in San Francisco on 4/20 so Dolores Park was more of an adult playground.)

4) Rent bikes to venture through Golden Gate Park. Go to Golden Gate bike Rentals on the Upper Haight. Visit the deYoung and California Academy of Arts and Sciences. Remember to get a lock for your bikes.

5) Mexican Wrestler Masks. This is definitely elective if you have girls. I have boys so there was no choice. We went not once but twice. Good thing the best shop is blocks away from Humphry Slocombe.

DOING IT WELL

Introducing DOING IT WELL. As in... Doing it and doing it and doing it well. I represent Queens, she was raised out in Brooklyn.

L.L. has been a favorite of mine for longer than he should be. Ladies Love Cool James - L.L. Cool J, which is also a nickname for my 6 year-old son, James, of this every chance I get. (weird?)

When someone is doing it well, you just know it. So I am going to pull my favorite street style shots and post here. But only when it is done well. Really well.

Gee I wonder if it is the black-and-white stripes or the black-and-white checkerboard? BOTH! Oh and the hair.

 photo credit: Simbarashe of Lord Ashbury