Monthly Archives: January 2011

SAG Fashion Review

True confession: I did not watch the SAG awards.  I watched a political thriller filmed in the 1970’s instead. 

Due to the magic of the Internet and the fact that my sole interest was the pre-show, I am convinced I didn’t miss much, but I won’t make this a habit come Oscar time.

I have a funny perspective about award show fashion.  I tend to think of the SAG Awards as Homecoming, the Golden Globes as Prom Night, and the Academy Awards as the Wedding Day.  The grandeur and the glamour increase dramatically between the SAG’s red carpet and Oscar’s.  With that said, I think the fashion that we see on SAG night is a bit more theoretically attainable (price tag not included) and so much easier to say “I love it, I wish I had it!”.

On to the Red Carpet, shall we?  Images from
The best of the night:

Sarah Hyland looks as young as she is – and that is awesome.  Also awesome?  The color.
Sarah Hyland – Max Mara
I like that Natalie is sticking with simple shapes, and column dresses.  She looks comfortable and beautiful and is radiating in this dress, and still saying yes, I am pregnant, engaged, and will probably take home an Oscar in a month.
Natalie Portman – Azzaro
I included this dress in my Spring 2011 Runway favorites and I love it still.  I think this is the way for Lea to go – she already gets a bit of a bad rap for being a diva, so I think keeping her gowns simpler, and train free sort of diminish that “dressing for the part”.  I love the shine and the shape, and her more relaxed hair.  The only thing I would change are the shoes which seem a little overwhelming with this dress.
Lea Michelle – Oscar de la Renta
Call me crazy, but I love this.  I love everything about it.  I am sure Julie Bowen will get dumped on for wearing a jumpsuit, but I think it is pretty close to awesome on her.  Also awesome the major diamond jewelry and girl next door hair.  Yes, if this was my jumpsuit, I would wear it.
Julie Bowen – Catherine Malandrino
I am not typically a fan of Tina Fey’s sartorial style (or her thank you speeches when she wins, for that matter), but last night Tina Fey looked radiant.  I love the simplicity of the sheath, column dress instead of the more A-line, or retro fitting dresses she normally favors.  I love the texture and color, which has so much more pop and pizazz than her normal black, and her hair and makeup are beautiful.   
Tina Fey: you are the winner!
Tina Fey – Oscar de la Renta

In the Oops category:

Great face, great hair, wrong event.  I think Angie thought this was Oscar Night.
Angie Harmon – Monique Lhuillier
I’ve read quite a few interviews lately where Amy Adams (who just had a baby) has to feign laughter when the reporter asserts, “Who knew you even had sex, Amy?”  I suppose because Adams rarely plays the sexy leading lady role the press doesn’t think she could be sexy in real life.  I think Adams is great, and I think this dress would be great too if it was a half size larger.
Amy Adams – Herve L Leroux
I just wish these two had switched dresses.  The gothic black lace on Nicole feels too hard, and the prim and proper gold lace on Jones feels too stiff.  Please call each other first.
 Nicole Kidman – Nina Ricci  January Jones – Carolina Herrera

Congratulations to all the winners!  And now we wait for fashion’s biggest night, OSCAR Night!

Dreaming of a California Closet

I am on Twitter (@CRL26) and I follow Rachel Zoe (@rzrachelzoe) and the other day another fan, of hers, asked what she should wear for an upcoming trip to California.

This was her response: “the weather is gorgeous right now so maxi dresses, pretty blouses, flared jeans, wedges, jacket 4 night. think Cali cool XoRZ”

I have just survived DC’s first “Thundersnow”, and all I can really do is dream of being in California, and having these outfit sets in my California closet!

Have a fabulous, fashionable, foodie weekend!

Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto

Risotto is a favorite dish in our house.  It is fairly easy to make, inexpensive to make a lot of and is a great alternative to pasta for a gluten free diet, and a vegetarian main course.

So risotto is one of those things where you can experiment a little bit with ingredients, as long as you follow the rules with timing.

Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto
1 Butternut Squash, chopped in 1-2″ pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt, Pepper, Paprika to taste

1 onion, chopped finely
3 carrots, chopped finely
3 stalks of celery, chopped finely
4 cups of Vegetable/Chicken Broth
1 1/2 cup of arborio rice
2 tbsp of butter
1/4 cup of white wine
1/2 cup grated Parmigiana
Salt and Pepper to taste

Peel and cut the butternut squash and put all chopped pieces in a colander and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle of salt, pepper and paprika.  On a covered cookie sheet lay out the pieces of squash and bake in the oven for 35 minutes at 375 degrees.

Once the squash is in the oven, move onto the risotto.  In a separate sauce pan bring the vegetable/chicken stock to a boil.  
In a large sauce pan add 1/2 tbsp of butter to the pan and then add the finely chopped onion, carrots, and celery. Add salt and pepper to taste – just a pinch, because you’ll continue to layer the flavors.

When the vegetables are softened add the rice to the pan on medium/low heat and let it saute until the pieces are translucent.  When the rice is translucent add the first ladle of stock.
Let the rice simmer in the broth, stirring frequently, until it is completely absorbed.  When the broth is absorbed add another ladle and continue the process of adding, stirring, absorbing until all of the stock is used up.   You’ll notice that as the broth is being absorbed the rice with release it’s natural starchiness and become creamy. 

After the last ladle, but before the broth is completely absorbed make a well in the rice and add a cup of the now roasted squash.  Using a potato masher (or a spoon), mash up the cup of squash and combine it with the risotto.  The mashed squash adds beautiful color and rich flavor.
Then add the rest of the squash, the remaining butter (in pieces) and the parmigiana cheese and gently stir all of the ingredients. 

This is a perfect winter weeknight dinner, enjoy the comfort of good food!

Rock like an Egyptian

When I was doing my pre-Golden Globes fashion predictions I started to notice a trend from the Pre-Fall 2011 Runways; they were luxe, they were golden, they were Egyptian.

My rule for trend-spotting is three times, by three designers it’s a trend.  The evidence, please:

Images from
This look is easy to achieve without looking costume-party ready by shopping shapes and colors for the clothing, and jewels and more specific accents for jewelry, shoes and accessories.  Besides, this is as good of an excuse as any to wear a turban…

Find your inner Cleopatra!

Pear Cranberry Muffins

This weekend I finally got back to baking.  After the holidays I didn’t have a lot of baking interest, which is not to say I wasn’t still consuming baked goods by the handful, I was.  In any case, I wanted to foray back into the flour, sugar, butter and eggs with a healthy and seasonal pick.

Pear Cranberry Muffins 
1/4 + 1/8 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp nonfat Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
zest of one orange
1 cup chopped Bosc Pear
1/4 cup chopped fresh cranberries
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Set oven to 350 degrees, bake for 25  minutes
This looks like maybe a lot of ingredients, but it is really pretty simple, and very easy, and beyond delicious.  Yes, I received comments like “this is the best muffins you’ve ever made!”.  So, what are you waiting for?

In a small saucepan melt the 2 tbsp of butter, and set aside to cool.  In a small bowl whisk the egg and then add the Greek yogurt and continue to whisk.  At this stage is may start to resemble cottage cheese, do not worry.  Slowly add the cooled, but melted butter and the sugar and continue to whisk.  
Now the egg mixture is a beautiful creamy golden color.  At this time add the fresh squeeze orange juice, the zest and the vanilla, give this a good whisk and set aside.

In a separate bowl mix the flours, baking powder, baking soda and spices.  Set this aside and move onto the chopping of the pears, cranberries and walnuts.
Create a well in the flour bowl and pour in the egg mixture and mix enough to fully incorporate the dry and wet ingredients.   With a spoon mix in the the chopped pears, cranberries and walnuts.
With a large spoon scoop the batter into muffin cups and bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

These muffins are a delight, full of moisture, seasonal fruits and low in calories.  Secret: These beat those packages 100 calories vita-muffins in flavor, and health!

Fashion, to boot

This weekend I saw this great NY style retrospective on the “new way” women are standing, walking and posing and the shoe that is leading the way.

New York Times
The ankle boot (bootie) is taking over for the knee high (or higher) boot and in the process is highlighting a woman’s long leg, or making a shorter leg look longer, or as Bill Cunningham says, more like a ballerina or a showgirl.  

The best part of this pictorial is that the personal style of the “street models” are all so unique.  They are uptown, or downtown, bare legged, black tights, or tattered stockings and they are all chic and like themselves.  They also look like they might have to find a bathroom… now – but even that beats the bowlegged look of a few years ago!

In any case, we are  not here to talk about stance, or posture, we’re here to talk about shoes!

Here are my favorite booties for under $100, under $250, and the sky’s the limit!  

Happy Shopping and stand proud!

A New Twist on a Traditional Favorite

We cook at home just about every night, and we do so for a lot of reasons: it’s cheaper, it’s healthier, it’s easier and often it’s just as good.  The trick however, become making home cooked meals interesting and fun.

This weekend I took a seasonal favorite, sweet potato and upped the ante.  
Sweet Potato Coins with Arugula Pesto
2 Sweet Potatoes (I used 1 yam – that’s the lighter color)
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt, Pepper, Paprika to taste (just a light sprinkle)
We do homemade fries a lot, so this was a nice change.  Cut the potatoes into 1/4″ coins.  I put all of them in a colander and drizzle with olive oil so that all of the coins get an even coating.

Sprinkle the salt, pepper and paprika over the coins on a tin foil covered cookie sheet.
Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees.  You could go longer, but 30 minutes gives the coins enough time to be crispy and golden brown.
You could stop now, and eat.  You’ll be happy, I promise.  Or… you can take it up a notch.

Arugula Pesto
2 handfuls of arugula
1.5 tbsp of pine nuts
1 tbsp fresh grated parmesean cheese
1/2 tbsp of olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
Salt and Pepper to Taste

In a food processor blend all of ingredients, using a spatula to scrape down the sides.  This is a dish that you can’t really screw up, because you can continue to taste to check your flavors. I like it garlicky, maybe you want a bit less, so it is very easy to adjust.

A traditional pesto features basil, I went with arugula because we had a lot on hand and it no longer had the crisp bite that I would want for a salad.  No wasting in our house, and this new use for salad greens was a huge success, and a delicious dip for the sweet potato “chips”.

Getting Married, for Less

Weddings can become expensive, like shockingly so.  While there are many different types of weddings from the courthouse to the beach to the grand ballroom, they all come with a price and these days there is always a way to do it for less.

When shopping for the wedding dress of your dreams the sticker shock can become a bit of a nightmare.  New online flash sale site, The Aisle New York, has worked with the best in the wedding industry to offer serious discounts on wedding finery including new designer gowns, shoes, veils, jewelry and other accessories.  You’ll be hard pressed to find a better deal with dresses retailing for up to 50%+ off.
Rubia Gown by Junko Yoshioka, Aisle Price: $1590, from $3650
The Aisle offers specific sizing guides, and returns for up to 5 days and return insurance.  The dress of your dreams, for a steal!

Don’t forget about your friends, and the many other occasions for dressing up when you get married.  My favorite site to browse, for the events and parties not on my calendar, has now joined the wedding party.

The new wedding section offers suggestions for the bride dresses to take her from her engagement party to the honeymoon, all from today’s top designers at often 15% of the regular price.  The rental option lets you live like a star with new dresses showing up all the time, without having to pay star prices.

Rent the Runway also has terrific options for bridesmaids, whether you want to go the traditional route or high fashion, they can also get a fabulous look, for much less.

Saving money, is always in fashion!

Italian French Toast

I consider myself a connoisseur of French Toast, and having said that I think the only way you can really make a good French Toast is with challah, brioche if you’re fancy, egg bread if you’re not.

It is very difficult to find a challah in DC that rivals Publix’s challah, which is just as good since I have graduated to whole wheat bread, but when it comes to French Toast healthy just doesn’t make sense. 

What do I substitute for challah?  Panettone.  Made in Italy, Panettone is a dome of rich egg bread studded with raisins, currants and sometimes bits of orange.  They are a traditional Italian Christmas treat and Panettone french toast has become a bit of a tradition for our family.  Because Panettone stays fresh (and delicious) for a very long time, the shelf life of this recipe last long after Christmas ends.

Panettone French Toast Ingredients
1 medium sized Panettone 
4 eggs
1/3 cup of skim milk
1 tsp of vanilla
1/2 tsp of almond extract
2 tsp of cinnamon
1/4 tbsp of butter for the pan
In a medium sized bowl whisk together the eggs and the milk and then add the extracts and the cinnamon.  Some people like lots of cinnamon, if you’re one of those people, add more.

Slice your panettone across the dome and then cut those pieces in half – I do this to make it easier to manage in the pan, but it also helps with the portion control 🙂

Dip each piece of pannettone into the egg mixture so that each slice is completely covered.

In a non stick pan, or a griddle pan, cook the slices so that they are golden brown on both sides, about 2-3 minutes each.  Tip: use a flat, wide spatula to help maneuver the slices.  Because the bread has a softer texture than a wheat bread they can get  a bit flimsy in the batter.

Serve with your favorite jam, a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar, syrup or nothing at all.  Enjoy!  Buon Appetito!

Go Green

On the flight home from India I watched “The Joneses” a film starring Demi Moore and David Duchovny.  If you have never heard of it, do not feel badly, it did terrible in theaters.  Anyway, in the movie Demi Moore wears a hunter green silk dress, and pretty much since that time I have moved hunter green to the top of the list of colors I need to incorporate in my wardrobe.
Demi and I have similar skin and hair coloring and so this seemed like a good model that it would work.

It seems that I am  not the only one who saw “The Joneses”…

Obviously when Angelina wears anything beyond black or white that is a style victory, but I don’t love this dress or her hair.  The hair bothers me because frankly that’s what my hair looks like when I do a 15 minute blowdry and I feel like the Golden Globes deserve better than that.  Regarding the dress, I like the color and the shoulders were very on trend, but somehow, I feel like the waist cinching reads very 80’s and not 80’s inspired.
Angelina Jolie in Versace via
Mila Kunis looks sweet.  I like the hair, she’s glamorous. But, I don’t loooove it.  The dress has interesting texture, and the rumor is that it was put together 4 days prior to the show – so that is impressive, as well.  It’s just not my favorite green gown of the night.
Mila Kunis in Vera Wang via

And this is the winner!  This is the green gown that would make me a green-eyed monster.  I think Catherine Zeta Jones looks marvelous, and glamorous and old Hollywood.  The color is so deep and made richer by the unique texture of the gown.  I like how she styled her hair and makeup and kept it simple and pretty.  Also, the more I stare at the picture it reminds me of Scarlett O’Hara in the drapes, minus the finials and fringe, of course.  I love that she wore a true movie-star gown for her husband’s return to health and the stage.  Maybe the green will signify good luck!

Catherine Zeta Jones in Monique Lhuillier via