Monthly Archives: August 2010

Are You Ready for Football?

The other day I mentioned that something I love about fall is the start of the football season.  Growing up in Florida, and more specifically with my parents it is difficult to escape football fever.

Football has been a part of family life since the beginning, I was born on a Monday, before the kick off of a Dolphins/Jets game. In high school I went to every single University of Miami home game, spring practice, fan day, etc with my mom.  The running joke is that my dad declines going because my mom is just that intense.  
We’ve stood in the rain, amongst drunks, amidst the chaos, rattle and decay that was the Orange Bowl, stood in the 4th quarter, shaken when the canons erupt for touchdown after touchdown, and have cried with the stellar victories and crushing defeats.

I love football, a good sports movie, and sports montage in my book, is the best.  I keep my loyalties to three teams, the Miami Hurricanes, Miami Dolphins and my husband’s fantasy team.  It’s the best way to spend an afternoon in the fall.   

Editing the Red Carpet

The 62nd Emmy Awards are now just a faint memory and now exists for the Fashion police and blogosphere to criticize and joke about.  Here’s my attempt to tackle the Red Carpet’s best, worst, and just-off looks, all images via the Huffington Post.

Back in Black
Black for formal wear is so classic so it is always interesting to see how celebrities and their stylists keep it ineresting.  I think some fared better than others.

Rarely do I not swoon for Marchesa, but Heidi’s dress feels just a little small, and a little extra short.  I wish she would have given herself an extra in every direction.  Mindy Kaling is a very petite lady and I feel her bad-ass ballerina is overpowering her, without the ruffle at the top, I feel like she’d be wearing the dress and not the other way around.

 Kelly Osbourne looks glamorous and still very comfortable in black.  The fit on the bodice is gorgeous and the skirt is beautiful.  Julia Louis Dreyfus is in the winner’s category simply because she continues to look radiant, healthy, and the dress fits gorgeously.

Fashion that Makes You Gleeful
The trend color of the night: Navy.  The best dressed in navy, Jayma Mays and Lea Michelle.  I like the relaxed tresses, and I love Lea’s jewels, but when in the fit category I give the win to Jayma Mays all the way. 
 Jenna Ushkowitz seemed to fly low on the fashion police’s radar, but I loved this look.  She looks young, which she is, and still trendy and current.  I don’t love the mix of accessories, and would have preferred all gold – but otherwise she looks fabulous.  Okay, this pains me.  Naya Rivera is beautiful.  This dress’ color is beautiful.  But, it is too over the top, too much skirt, too much hair, too much drama.
Can We Edit This?

I wish both Dianna Agron and Keri Russell’s dress had been shorter.  Agron’s at a tea length would be more Audrey/Grace and less Scarlett O’Hara.  Keri is very much modern Baby (Dirty Dancing), I just wish it was shorter, and fit better at the bodice, it looks about a size too large.

Things I loved
Emily and John, Kevin and Kyra, Stephanie Carter, Susan Sarandon and Eva Amurri.  I love the sweetness of the newlyweds, the jewels and color of the long marrieds, the glitter of Jennifer Carter, and the mother-daughter love of the ageless Sarandon/Amurri.

Things I am feeling Ehhh About
Maria Menounos dress feels like a poor man’s Sandra Bullock’s Marchesa.  Lauren Graham is a beautiful woman, this dress does nothing for her and is more matronly than it needs to be.  January Jones reminds me of Anne Hathaway when she was everyone’s fashion muse, edgy and overdone, it is just not believable for me.  Christina Hendricks in Zac Posen, I wish she would have lost the feathers, it feels like one detail too many.

Who Shouldn’t Have Been Invited:
I feel like there are no words.  This is neither a Mad Men Costume Contest, and I assume Stephanie Pratt’s house wasn’t on fire, so I cannot understand why she is not wearing bottoms. 

Winner of the Red Carpet Game:
I didn’t care for Claire Dane’s speech, but I loved the honey hair, makeup and glittering gown. This was a dress I would want, and would wear, even if it was just while sitting on the couch while watching the Emmy Awards next year.

Thoughts from the Red Carpet

I have always loved Awards Shows and tonight I wanted to share my moment by moment thoughts of the show, here goes!

Pre-Emmy Wish List and red carpet thoughts:
I hope a woman besides Tina Fey wins. I know she is talented but I would love to see a new girl win, show earnest emotion and joy.

Has Glenn Close never aged? P.s. Love the earrings and the matching daughter gown.

Holy Cow! Kelly Osbourne is skinny.  Ryan Seacrest has also just pointed this out. I wish he wouldn’t make these obvious body comments.

Love how the Glee kids are enjoying this show and event, and how Arty’s celeb crush is Sally Field.

Best surprise details, Eva Longoria’s anything but basic black evening gown.

Sofia Vergara is wearing gorgeous jewels and has dream come true hair, but the dress feels a little prommy.

January Jones, is this dress a joke? Pass.

Christina Hendricks, I wish she had committed to more of a vibrant shade of that color and lost the feathers, and I really wish Ryan had refrained from the cheap shot about her breasts.

Okay, also Julia Louis Dreyfus has also not aged.  Also, it is adorable that she is getting choked up about taking her son to college.

Julianna Margulies and I have the same hairdo tonight. She’s on the red carpet and I am sitting on the couch.

Kyra Sedgwick always looks so blissful on the red carpet and I looove the color.

John Krasinski’s tie is bit petite, no?
How did I miss all of the Losties???? Are they still hanging out at the churchon the???

Wait! Look who it is – Dr. Jack Shepard on the red carpet, says he is looking for LOST closure. Aren’t we all looking for LOST closure?

Favorite jewels
Claire Danes’ ring
Anna Pacquin’s bracelets
Heidi Klum’s necklace
Mindy Kaling’s earrings
Jane Krakowski’s earrings

Favorite hair
Kim Kardashian, she looks glamorous, but I pass on the makeup and the dress
Diana Agron, her hair, gown and styling is young and modern Grace Kelly

Notes the red carpet was filled with high glamour, the makeup was simple and clean and the celebs seemed to indulge Ryan and Giuliana’s inane banter really well!

Time for the show!

Friend Friday: Fall Fashion

I recently discovered a community of bloggers, organized by Katy at Modly Chic, that dedicate a post every Friday to a series of questions.  So far the questions have covered a wide range of issues that all women face – but this week’s is nice and light, and a good place to start.

1. What new fashion trend are you looking forward to sporting this fall?
Trends are always cyclical, and there are a few things that are guaranteed to show up season after season.  For instance, I know in the spring I’m choosing between florals and whimsy, and in the fall I’ll enjoy darker tones, luxe knits and wovens and boots, boots, boots!  A trend that I am excited about for this fall is the military trend that’s been popping up for a little ago.  I am not interested in the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club/Michael Jackson/Balmain style military – I want utilitarian, a little slouchy, but slim cut so I’m not drowning military jacket.

2. Which item in your closet is most likely to be your go-to transition piece?
Scarves!  If I wouldn’t look crazy in 90 degree weather, I would wear scarves all year long.  My wardrobe trends towards a muted palette and a scarf is an instant source for color, sparkle or flair.  Plus, it’s an easy and often inexpensive item that can completely change the look of an outfit.

3. What item from last year are you looking forward to reinventing this fall? 
Boots.  For a few years when the weather has turned I live in a flat boot that is sort of the love child of a motorcycle boot and a riding boot.  The shape is lean enough so that it’s not overly bulky, but tough enough that I wear it with dresses and skirts for an instant edge.

4. What is your favorite part about this time of the year?
There is so much to love about fall, in no particular order, here is my list: Football season, leaves, apples and honey, apple pie, hot chocolate, tail gates, apple cider, Halloween, my anniversary (my husband and I met on Halloween), Thanksgiving, my birthday, family, friends, sweaters, fireplaces, color, cinnamon, escaping to Florida to beat the chill.
5. Will you be attending any fashion events this fall? 

In my former job as a creative director for a fashion e-retailer I went to the trade shows every fall.  It is a flurry of fashion and a lot of fun, but for now I’ll keep up with the runway reports online and in the magazines.

Going Bananas for Plantains

I love bananas for breakfast, it’s what I ate for breakfast this morning.  Plantains on the other hand are not for breakfast, but equally (if not more delicious).  I am not a food scientist a la Alton Brown but I did a little research so I’ll pass it on so we’ll all know how bananas and plantains are different fruits.  

Plantains are in a green, thick skin, they can’t be eaten raw and are starchy and used as a vegetable, whereas bananas, well you know, yellow, think skin, sweet, good in cereal!

When we had our Latin fiesta night in addition to the watermelon, salsa and Mexican inspired s’mores we also served tostones, or plantain fritters.

Tostones Ingredients:
3 Large Plantains (party of 8)
Vegetable Oil of some variety, we used Canola
Kosher Salt

Open the tostones, you’ll probably need a knife as they don’t break open as easily as a banana.  Cut slices that are about 1 inch long. 

Put oil in a large pan (about an 1/3 inch high) over heat over a medium/high flame.  When the oil is hot enough, not burning or bubbling, but hot enough to react if you flicked some water from your finger tips into the oil, place plantains in slice side down.

Cook plantains for about 2  minutes on each side. 

This is a sensitive time, you’ll want to keep an eye out so you can get a nice rich caramel color on the fried side.  Too light and thetostones will be too starchy, too dark, they might taste like burned sugar.

Set up all of the fried tostones on layers of paper towel to absorb any of the oil that is being released, just like latkes, onion rings, or anything fried you’ll want to mop up the extra oil so you can get right to the flavors of the food.  Stop!  Do not discard the extra oil!

Time to smash!  I suppose if you had kids, which I don’t, this could be a fun thing for them to do with supervision. (This was also a great thing for Mark to do, that’s him!)  Set up a cutting board and grab a can from the cupboard.  Smash!  Smashing the plantains to about a 1/2 inch will be perfect.

The smashed plantains go back in the oil for about 20-30 seconds on each side just to crisp up the sides, and then back on new paper towels.

This is delicious now, and ready to eat.  But to maximize that salty-sweet combination that is so hard to beat grab that Kosher salt and lightly sprinkle over the tostones, then just try not to eat all of them!

Fall in Love

All of a sudden the weather has turned.  I want slouchy boots, cashmere sweaters, a cup of hot chocolate, and an autumn wedding.  Did you want those same things, too?  I’ll share with you my picks for boots and sweaters soon, but this wedding inspiration board just could not wait.  It’s rustic, warm, earthy, highlighted in gold and sophisticated.

Who wouldn’t want to fall in love with this?

Feeling the Blues…

As I have mentioned before (here, here, and here) my working life started in denim, and while my career has changed my love for it has not.  I live in jeans and in my experience selling, writing about and modeling them  I have learned a few things along the way.  

Britney and Justin: I did not learn this, this should be immediately unlearned
Let me get this out of the way right now, I know premium denim is expensive.  I did not grow up buying them, or having them bought for me.  Getting a pair was truly a special occasion. In college, or the lull between retail experiences, I did not buy premium denim.  I went to the GAP.  Post college when I was modeling denim, I was paid in jeans and so the hurt of the premium price tag was avoided.  

This weekend I fell back into the GAP. I admit I was lured in by their 1969 promotion of buy 1 pair, get the 2nd pair for $20.  I haven’t purchased jeans for a long time, but I have a pretty specific idea of what I like.  My tips for tackling a wall of denim:
  • If you’re unsure about the fit, which I was – as a I know they have been updated overtime, start with the wash.  What often separates the premium from the basic is the quality and color of the wash.  You’ll see the difference in the details and the finishes.  Well done GAP so far we’re off to a great start.
  • Next, look for the fit.  I know the fits that I like and I gravitate towards a skinny jean for everyday wear and bit of a retro flared look for night and the fall.  
Real Straight
Long & Lean Boot Cut
  • Remember sizes vary by brand and by store.  In most premium brands I am a size 27, some brands run slightly smaller, and some practice vanity sizing (ie: call a size 6 a 4 and everyone feels good, win-win).  At the GAP they seem to practice vanity size.  Try multiple sizes to find the right fit.
  • Denim is made from cotton and it stretches.  If the size six is comfortable in the store, please, please, please try on the size 4.  It might feel a little snug at first and you have to do the denim dance to wiggle in, but when you buy jeans they should feel snug, and should fit your body.  They will give to your curves, I promise.
  • When you find the right pair, don’t let it go.  Similar to the perfect bra or swimsuit, finding a great fitting pair of jeans can be a struggle, so if you find a pair you love and your body loves, buy it twice.  Maybe in different washes, maybe one pair you hem for flats and other you leave long for heels.

Long live denim, that’s how I’ll be living.  And to my new GAP jeans, please make friends with J and Paige, and Earnest in the back – they’ve been go to me, too!

P.s. wondering why so expensive?  It’s because when they came on the scene (7 for All Mankind was first) they used Italian and Japanese woven fabrics, the cuts are often better, but not always, and the fabric is treated, typically by hand, for that perfectly sleek/perfectly vintage/perfectly rugged/etc look.  

Less Sweet Sweet Stuff

To work in my office is to experience a constant parade of sweets.  They come in all shapes, store bought treats from a coworker’s vacation, classic baked goods from a family baking adventure, ice cream parties to celebrate jobs well-done, and everyone’s favorite, snack on Friday.

On one particular day my office had an extra large Pineapple Upside Down Cake, Chocolate Bombe cake (that was nearly a foot tall), and Ben and Jerry’s Make Your Own Sundae in the lobby.  After partaking and indulging that afternoon I decided to start skipping the sugar, or at least be more selective.  I’ve since realized that having it less often really does make it more of a treat.  Have no fear, sugar isn’t banned – I have enjoyed a few s’mores since our fiesta – I had to make sure their deliciousness wasn’t a fluke.  It wasn’t!

Cutting back on traditional sugar though didn’t mean I was cutting back on baking.  Looking in my refrigerator for inspiration I found these carrots.  They were too soft to dip, it’s still too hot to consider roasting root vegetables, so obviously there was no better place for them that in a cookie!

Sugar Free Carrot Cookies
¾ Cup of Whole Wheat Flour
½ Cup of Cake Flour
1 Cup of Whole Oatmeal (dry)
1 tsp of baking powder
A dash of sea salt

1 Cup Shredded Carrots
½ Cup of Olive Oil
½ Cup of Maple Syrup
Spring of fresh grated ginger

First mix all of the dry ingredients (flours, oatmeal, baking powder, and salt) and then pour in the shredded/grated carrots.  (You can decide how finely grated you want your carrots to be, but keep an eye on them, you do not want carrot juice.)  You can mix these all with a fork, or have one less thing to wash and mix it with your fingers (that’s what I did).

Then pour in the wet ingredients (oil and syrup).  We’re you going to plug in your mixer?  You can skip that to.  I used a soup spoon to mix this together – a soup spoon!  Nothing is easier than that.

Then just roll them out into little balls, about the size of a tablespoon.  I used a Silpat mat on one sheet and a piece of tin foil on the other.  The tin foil cookies’ bottoms were darker, some might say a bit on the burnt side, but they still got rave reviews – I think the extra color caramelized that sugars in the syrup.  Either way, I don’t think you can go wrong.

When they are out of the oven you are going to want to eat them all.  We did do that, so I speak from experience.  They are delightful plain, but they are decadent with a little swipe of cream cheese. These made a terrific guilt-free mid-week dessert, and I can foresee them making an appearance at future brunches and snacks.

Classic, with a Kick

Earlier in the week I mentioned our Latin inspired fiesta, and our large menu.  I knew when planning the menu that as always we would have a lot of food, and I wanted to keep everything light, easy to prepare and fun.  So, while I love tres leches and flans, I knew they would work with the rest of our hand held menu, and goal for being outside.

And that was when Mexican S’mores were born.    
Of course I originally intended to make my own graham crackers, I even thought about making my own marshmallows, but as you might imagine those plans don’t jive with “easy to prepare”.  So what is more easy to prepare than a box of graham crackers, a bag of marshmallows and 2 packets of Lindt Dark Chocolate with a hint of chili?  I’ll tell you what’s easier, just about nothing!  
What I had envisioned was using our grill to gently toast the marshmallows to a lovely golden brown.  Instead it rained all day and the cooking and s’mores making moved inside.  

No fear, these are just as good when they are made in the oven.  

Steps to S’more Success:
1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees
2. Put foil on top of a baking sheet
3. Put marshmallow on top of chocolate square on top of half of a graham cracker
4. Place in oven, with the light on and pace/dance/chat for about 90 seconds because then the marshmallows will be soft and browning.
5. Stack graham cracker half on top.
6. EAT!, and eat again and again.

I think other delicious flavors would include those Ghirardelli squares with a little mint, caramel or peanut butter filling – the options are endless and the results are deliciously fun!

Fresh Salsa, almost like Vacation

This past weekend we had friends over for linner, late lunch/early dinner.  Since we were prepping the food, and they were supplying the drinks, I got started on planning out a themed menu.  The weekend before I  reminisced about the amazing food we ate on our honeymoon to Mexico, and so the theme developed on it’s own, we’d be doing a Latin inspired meal.

We served up salsa fresca, chunky guacamole, mango coconut fish and pulled pork tacos, roasted tomatillos, out of this world tostones, cilantro rice and garlicky black beans, watermelon and lemon, and Mexican s’mores.

The Salsa was a huge hit, and it turns out it is actually America’s most popular condiment – who knew?!  
3 cups of Cherry Tomatoes
1/2 cup of Red Onion
1/2 cup of White Onion
1/4 cup of Cilantro
1 Jalapeno, with seeds removed and sliced
The Juice of 1 Lime
A sprinkle of salt to taste

I think salsa is a dish where you sort of know what you like.  Want more onions? Throw in more onions.  Hate cilantro?  Skip it.  

One tip I practiced was something I learned from Chef Rick Bayless, which was to wash the onion in a bit of cold water to reduce their bite.  I guess if you wanted that onion-y bite you could skip that too.

Here is a trick that we created out of necessity, and it worked like a charm: we didn’t want soupy salsa.  So as the tomatoes were being chopped they were dropped into a colander so that the extra tomato juice could drain out.  

Then all the ingredients go into one big bowl, and they get to know each other, they mingle, they dance and then they meet a chip and fall in love. No chips?  Yikes!  Also amazing with rice and beans, over grilled chicken or eggs.

If you have a bounty of summer tomatoes, this is a simple, low calorie way to use them up, and transport yourself to a beach vacation getaway.