Saturday, August 30, 2008

Apple Leather Care

Don't you think that the following things should really count as "income"?

  • Merchandise returns

  • Flexible Savings Account claims

  • Expense reimbursements

  • Discounts from sales and using coupons

If I ran the world it would be a very different place.

Now if you've funneled all that "income" into a new leather bag, you probably want to extend the life of the bag as long as you can (or at least til you get sick of it). Being that Botkier bags are currently the core of my existence, I did a lot of research on products that would be appropriate for use on this most exquisite lambskin. There are leather conditioners / cleaners out there that should not be used on soft or exotic leathers.

The best source I found for information on fine leathers were the discussion boards on The Purse Forum. And pretty much unanimously, people like Apple Leather Care. I bought it from Paradise Pen, with whom I had a great experience -- not only did the product ship quickly, but enclosed was also a thank you note for my purchase written in calligraphy. Uh huh. Nothing says "thank you" like summoning the image of a bunch of monks in the Sistine Chapel slaving over your note. The Apple Leather care doesn't leave a residue (which is apparently bad for leathers by preventing "breathing"), and as a side note, my hands were silky smooth after I rubbed the lotion on my bags. They were probably embalmed, but I'm a glass-is-half-full type of person.

Friday, August 29, 2008;

How did I ever live without the internet? What else could provide hours of self-absorbed, sedentary entertainment while stimulating the economy? On a side note, is it bad to re-order my contact lens prescription online before it expires in order to avoid going to the optometrist?

So I was shopping on RueLaLa , a designer sample sale site like Gilt, and saw that they were part of Retail Convergence, Inc. Working in online retail myself, I was curious to find out more about them, and saw that they also owned SmartBargains. They bill themselves as "your personal bargain hunter", and I have to say that they do have the most remarkable bargains on designer items. Some of their designer shoes are up to 80% off, and they have a pretty good selection. I haven't explored other categories closely yet, but it certainly seems like a good place to check out if, say, your husband is laid off (ahem).

The other site I've been using is TheFind. It's like Google for shopping -- you get pictures of your results, as well as a summary of retailer and price. It's a nice idea, but I've noticed that it's not as updated as it should be. For instance, I saw a few Botkiers on super sale listed, but when I clicked through those items were out of stock. It's probably a tough algorithm to catch out of stocks, particularly if the retailers aren't actively updating their data feeds, but I'd give it a 70% score on accuracy. I like that all the results are aggregated and you can visually discriminate between things you want to look at and things you want to ignore.

On another side note, I was flipping through the J.Crew catalog and saw a bag that, though not a Botkier, is also cute: the Quincy in patent leather. It has a bit of Chanel knock-off to it, but for $298, might be something to consider if your husband is laid off, for instance. Again, not a Botkier, but not bad.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Coach Carly and the Nordstrom Shoe Sale

My husband should really know better than to leave me alone on a Thursday night with a computer and a credit card. He is out playing poker, hopefully winning enough for me to cover my next purchase. Which will be determined in the next 30 minutes.

Anyway, I'm not the biggest fan in the world of Coach bags (Though I did have a particular old-school coach I bought in the early '90s that I still have that brought me great comfort. I used to have a job where I traveled a lot, so on planes I would rub the buttery soft strap like a security blanket, and when no one was looking, I would smell the purse. This is why I do not post my name on this blog.), but this Coach Carly signature bag (at Nordstrom for $348) is awfully cute. There's something about the giant letters and slouchy hobo shape that I really like. I like some of their Legacy collection bags as well . In any case, if you live in a big city, you've probably seen this bag quite a bit -- I saw it when I was in San Francisco last weekend. But if you're in a town that has terrible food courts like San Diego, this might still be somewhat exciting to you. So those of you out there who try to minimize the leather you buy because of animal rights, take a look at this option. It has some leather, but not a lot. The rest of you, keep looking at Botkiers.

As a side note, Nordstrom is having a 40% off shoe sale online. I am trying to decide whether I can walk in shoes that are 3.5 inches high. Without falling, I mean.

Monday, August 25, 2008

San Francisco and the DNC

Did you happen to watch the first night of the Democratic National Convention? I'm not super interested in politics, and even less interested in discussing them, but -- wow. Since when did the DNC become as effective a tear-jerker as a chick flick? I was teary when Jimmy Carter was interviewed. I was teary during the Ted Kennedy tribute video (and when Maria Shriver was teary). I was teary during the Michelle Obama video, her brother Craig's introduction, and I outright bawled when Michelle Obama gave her speech. What an awesome woman! Anyway, whatever your political leanings, the Dems put on a great show. Afterward, a commentator said he felt Michelle Obama missed an opportunity -- this was her chance to describe what Barack was like at home, and what he was like as a regular guy. Frankly, I don't really care. I mean, I'm happy that he seems to be a decent guy, but I'm not going to be living with him. I'm more interested in what his plans are for the country, his approach to solving problems and his ability to execute. But enough about politics -- on to the important stuff: food!

So I spent the weekend in San Francisco, and WOW and double wow! Let me just begin by telling you how depressing it is to have to leave a place where the food court fare is of equal or higher quality than the priciest restaurants in San Diego. I went to the food court at the Westfield in Union Square (I think they call it "Restaurants under the dome" or something like that, but it's really a food court). I cannot even begin to describe how awesome it was. I don't even like to use the word awesome. But here are a few pictures. Look closely. Remember, this is a food court at a mall.

My husband got a delicious moules meuniere and the kids and I had Thai food. Speaking of Thai food, we also stumbled upon King of Thai Noodle House, in Union Square at Powell and O'Farrell. It's been a long time since I've had good Thai, so I was really really excited to have extraordinary Thai. I had the Pad See Ew, and it was exactly what I wanted, cooked to perfection. It's a no-nonsense kind of place -- like the good Chinese restaurants with the bad decor -- but you know it's good if it's packed with Chinese people. Anyway, this was the best Thai I've had in a looong time. King of Thai indeed! Apparently it is also the first Thai restaurant in San Francisco. That might just be restaurant propaganda though.

We also went to Pizzeria Delfina in the Mission District for the most amazing pizza (I've lived in NYC and had NY pizza; Chicago with Chicago pizza and New Haven with Sally's and Pepe's -- but I think this is the best pie ever). I had a prosciutto and arugula pizza which defied expectations. It inspired me to make a potato salad at home with argulua -- potatoes, extra virgin olive oil, fried bread crumbs and arugula -- yum!

Another highlight was Katana-Ya, a Japanese restaurant on Geary. The chef there is a ramen master -- apparently real ramen requires years of training to produce the ultimate ramen noodle -- and it didn't disappoint. I had the ramen in miso soup with the fried chicken pieces and wanted more.

Ok, back to the Mission District. We wolfed down an ice cream while we were there, at the Bi-Rite Creamery, a wonderful place where you get two scoops of ice cream when you order a single. The flavors are as funky as the Mission District, with Balsamic Strawberry and Salted Caramel being my favorite. And the ice cream is creamy. There's a long line.

You will be shocked to discover that with all this eating and my sedentary lifestyle I am very out of shape. I am so out of shape that my abs and thighs hurt after walking around the city in order to eat.

I also hit the only place in the world where the dollar isn't weak , H&M. I went to Zara as well, where I scored a trench for $25! One of the world's greatest mysteries is why every city doesn't have an H&M and Zara.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Not-In-Bschool Blues

So my friend Liz is in her first year of business school, and I am soooo jealous. I keep saying things to my husband like, "I don't think I really made the most of my b-school experience" and "I wish I had really cherished every moment" and he keeps looking at me like "What is wrong with you?" (knowing full well the total hours I logged at the pool, lying in bed, and otherwise being a drain on the environment). Liz says that at least I'm not poor...but since my husband's been laid off I am on a Botkier moratorium so I am poor and not in business school!

Anyway, she is going to the same b-school that I went to, except that things over there are way better now. For one, they have more than three women's stalls in the classroom area (most of my class breaks were spent standing in line hoping to get into the bathroom before class started again). For another, they have now figured out how to properly leverage the "information superhighway" (aka the "internet"). And most importantly, there is a decent salon in town. I know this because one of my b-school classmates, who witnessed my painful assortment of haircuts referred to as "The E.T." and "The Mushroom", opened it. Liz went there and got a normal-looking cut and color. I also once got my brows done in town and that result was best described as "Peking Opera." Having a good salon in town and more than three stalls would have made my b-school experience perfect. My toughest decision of the day was usually when my friend Becky (who also lived next door to me) called and said, "What kind of iced tea should we have at the pool today?" It would turn into a "I don't know, you decide" / "No, you!" / "No, you!" type thing and would conclude with us poolside. The fact this 2-year vacation is a 20-something's ticket to a six-figure salary is just incredible.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Ode to Botkier

To the right is a Botkier Stevie Hobo. It is on my current To Stalk list, but I want it in persimmon instead of black. Isn't it lovely? Don't I need it? Wouldn't my collection be almost complete with a Sasha convertible duffel as well?
Before you judge me, let me throw one of my friends under the bus first. This friend, who shall remain unnamed, was so struck by the beauty of the Botkier that she composed this poem (cue lute music in the background):
I love Botkier handbags you see
If you could feel and see them, you'd agree with me
They are beyond description
Sometimes I think I need a prescription - to get over my addition
I am like a jaguar, prowling the night...
on eBay and other sites, willing even to fight
Today I stalked the FedEx tracking
first twice, then five times, now my mind is cracking
For you see, a new Botkier arrives - hooray!
it left the local facility at 4:40 AM today
Now it is 9:30 AM, i am tempted to drive around to look for the FedEx Man
What if he's lost, can't find my house, drunk at the wheel...or in the Can?
Somebody please help me!
A work of beauty if I must say so myself. My husband says that when he sees me he can hear my thoughts very loudly: "Botkier...Botkier...Botkier..."
My friend Patricia just bought her first Botkier today - an Emily tote (cute!). Now she's watching a Nomad satchel and a Sasha duffel. See, they're like can't have just one.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Julia Child Was a Spy!

So Julia Child was a spy! Can you believe it?!?

I guess things aren't always as they seem. One of our vendor partners at work was telling me last week about a hire they recently made. His VP of Ops interviewed her, said that she presented herself very well, and asked permission to make an on-the-spot offer. He granted it, but they still ran a background check afterwards. Lo and behold, she did have a criminal record -- prostitution. My vendor partner asked for the date of the charge -- perhaps it was ten years ago, and she'd had a life change since then? Charge was in April. He asked his VP of Ops, "Well, how does she look?" and he responded, "Between $75 and $100." Nice!

Anyway, on to the more important things in life: to the right is a family portrait of my Botkier bags. I'm thinking about putting it in a frame for my desk at work -- you're supposed to do that with loved ones, right? (From top left: Botkier Stirrup Hobo, Botkier Bianca Small in Metallic Silver, Botkier Bianca Medium in Nude Python; Second row: Botkier Sophie in Honey Tan, Botkier Sophie in Raisin, Botkier Bianca Medium in Cherry.)
A couple of weeks ago, I got this email from my friend Nina, who had just purchased her first Botkier:
It came today. It is absolutely stunning. I am speechless. I have Louis. I have Guccis. There is no comparison. The soft leather. The new smell. The nice "thank you" note that came from the seller. I am absolutely in love.
The indigo blue, is a nice, dark (denimy) blue. It is absolutely perfect. Now, I am officially addicted.
This is all your fault.

She wasn't kidding about being addicted. Over the next couple of weeks there was an eBay emergency (I got texts while I was at work), another Botkier purchase, the spread of the Botkier addiction to an unnamed local news anchor, the neglect of children in the incessant and desperate online search for out-of-production Botkier styles. I am familiar with all these symptoms. (Nina, by the way, also recently sent me a family portrait of her Botkiers.)
If you're not willing yet to shell out about $700 for a new Botkier (or $300-400 on eBay), check out the Botkier collection at Target. In particular, from the research I've done, the Satchel in Gray Python seems to be the best in the collection, both from a design and quality perspective (comments indicate that some of the other PVC bags look and feel cheap). In fact, I pondered ordering one of these just because it's only $49.99, but my fellow Botkier lovers talked me down so I resisted. I guess for me (a real Botkier addict) it would be like having fake boobs -- there's nothing really wrong with it, but even if the fake python looked real, I would know, and other Botkier addicts would know (in the words of my friend Alice, "Don't forget -- these say Botkier for Target -- true Botkier lovers will notice right away!"). And for me, part of the joy is the quality of the leather -- and the smell of the leather. I remember the first Coach bag I bought for myself in the '90s. I think I went around smelling it more than I carried it. I'm currently stalking a Botkier Stevie Hobo in Persimmon -- lovely!
I feel like I need to say something about the Olympics too, which I'm watching in the background. Synchro diving: who made that up?!? It's so amazing to watch, but isn't it nearly imposible to do? Wow.