Monthly Archives: February 2011

A Night with Oscar

I will leave the review of the show, the hosts, the banter and the winners to someone else, today we are here to discuss the dresses.

Images via

At one point Anne joked that the great thing about this job (hosting – which, let’s be honest no one really loves the host) is the dresses she gets to wear and the ability to share the stage with Sandra Bullock and Oprah.  Of all of the great dresses (and tuxedo) she wore, and they were great, my favorite was the burgundy Versace  gown at the midway point.

Not that I know Anne, but this seemed to be the most natural fit; highlighted her coloring, fit beautifully, and I am sure much to her mother’s delight, no fidgetting.
Atelier Versace
Best black: Camilla Alves in Kaufman Franco.  She looks beautiful, sultry, not overly done.  I love this style of a dress, it reminds me of Salma Hayek on her wedding day.
Kaufman Franco
Best avante garde: Cate Blanchett.  I truly don’t think anyone else could have worn this gown with such ease and grace.  Her hair, jewelry, and gown are stunning.  I love the hints of yellow on this light and airy lilac Givenchy gown.
Best use of structure: Celine Dion.  Celine is perfectly tailored and fitted in this structured and sophisticated gown.  During the Red Carpet telecasts the flashbulbs were highlighting the shine of the fabric.  She looked magnificent.
Giorgio Armani Prive
Best dress for your dream Bat Mitzvah: Hailee Steinfeld.  This was so sweet, so age appropriate, so Bat Mitzvah ready.
Worst use of poof: Halle Berry.  Halle Berry looked stunning, and I loved this dress until it looked like she was swirled through some tulle and tumbled out of Mood Fabrics onto the Red Carpet. 
Best use of sparkle: Mandy Moore.  Mandy looks wedding ready, and red carpet ready.  I love this dress.  It is sweet, demure, and beautiful of her.  She looks like a doll.
Monique Lhuillier
Best use of white: Michelle Williams.  With her platinum pixie cute and darker brows, the retro style Chanel gown was the perfect choice.  I thought this was just lovely.
Worse use of white: Nicole Kidman.  Pass.  I don’t like the hip bands, the embroidery, the orange shoes.  Pass.
Best use of a Red Carpet Moment, aka my favorite: Gwyneth Paltrow.  This gown by Calvin Klein was so modern and chic in the execution and was highlighted beautifully with the Louis Vuitton vintage-y earrings, brooch and rings.  Her pin straight hair and the liquid gold of her gown were a vision.
Calvin Klein

What I Ate This Week

No, no, fear not, this is not like in the tabloids where celebrities share that they ate a (brown) rice cake and half a grapefruit.  I am sharing what we ate for dinner because this week we went gluten free.  

Why gluten free?  That is a good question… In part because there are some murmurs that a gluten free diet can be beneficial to your health and also because by changing up the diet for one week forced me to be more conscientious about what I was eating, and how.
Here is what I ate and also some tips to survive…

Monday: Roasted Carrots + Potatoes and Lean Beef (from Mark’s mom)  It is always great to be able to start the week with some pre-prepared meals and roasted carrots and potatoes are a low-prep item that allows you to take care of other things while they bake.
Tuesday: Ham + Eggs Omelet and Asparagus.  An omelet with a slice of ham folded inside adds a lot of flavor and extra protein when I was making a dinner for one.  Quickly blanched asparagus is a healthy and fast way to get some greens.

Wednesday: Quinoa + Collard Greens with Balsamic Grilled Chicken.  This is a favorite new way to prepare chicken: skinless breasts, pounded thin and then covered first with a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and then 1/2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.  Cooked for 5-6 minutes on each side in a large pan. 

Thursday: Curried Coconut Carrot Soup with Mary’s Gone Crackers Herb Crackers + Quinoa with Artichoke and SpinachQuinoa is the fastest way to get that starchy, filling feeling on a gluten free diet and that is why late on a Thursday night I made this again, instead of risotto as originally planned.  This soup was a huge, HUGE hit.  Recipe is below.
Adapated from
Ingredients: 1 onion, 1 cup of chopped celery (about 4-5 stalks), 1 box of chicken or vegetable stock (4 cups), 1 can of light coconut milk, 1 cup water, 10 large carrots (peeled and chopped), 2 tsps of curry powder, 1/4 tsp tumeric, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 cumin, 1/2 tsp cinnamon.  
Drizzle a bit of olive oil.  Saute onions, celery until softened.  
Add the chicken stock and coconut milk and water.  
Add the carrots, boil covered until carrots are softened.
Blend.  Serve.  So simple – beyond, beyond, beyond good!

Image from
Friday: Baked Salmon + Polenta + Grilled Eggplant  – Success is pending, but this is an old faithful recipe, so I am pretty confident.

What I learned: not being able to grab a piece a bread while I cook, or a handful of cereal, (or cookies!) made me slow down to think about what I was eating, how I was cooking and what I really wanted.  I worried it would be difficult, but it was fun and a worthwhile mental exercise and cooking challenge.
Ultimately there was nothing that I made that was outside of my repertoire but there was also no hitting the easy button with a box of pasta, or pizza.  Did I miss cookies?  Yes, sometimes, but I also loved the fresh oranges, apple slices, grapes and dates that very healthily filled that void.
This was a great challenge and I would be open to trying more food challenges in the future.
Are there any foods that you could not give up?

Buttoned Up

Two rules I subscribe too: if you can wear shorts, wear them, and it’s either legs or bust, but never both.  That second rule I actually borrowed from Victoria Beckham – thank you.

In any case for this spring, which I am desperately waiting for, in addition to wide leg and flare jeans and peasant tops, I like the pulled together sophisticated look of a tailored short (no rips, no fading) and a chiffon, silk, sheer button down blouse.

Here are the favorites du jour…

Clean, breathable, polished… Also a sign that I have lived in DC for a long time.  Please know that I will keep it real and not wear this ensemble with Tory Burch flats (though, they are great), but probably with a sky high wedge.  Thank you, very much!

Paint by Potato

I like to make roasted potatoes, they are super easy for dinner, preserve well for lunch and with just a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper full of flavor and nutrients.  My favorite potatoes are ones that I first enjoyed in Hawaii of all places, purple potatoes.  They have a dull purplish outer skin and a bright and vibrant violet center. 

They also double as a great source of nature-made paint. 

Look for these in your produce section on the next grocery run.  Food should taste and look good.

Apple Oatmeal Kugel

Over the long and sometimes warm and sometimes very cold weekend I spent a lot of time behind my stove.  I really like to cook over the weekends and sometimes you (I) cook too much.  I also really don’t like to throw things away that taste great, and well, eating the leftovers to get rid of it all doesn’t really do anyone any good.

So, as necessity is the mother of all inventions, a new recipe was born.  It’s not exactly seasonal (apples really makes me think of the fall) but it is definitely comforting.
Apple Oatmeal Kugel*
2 cups cooked oatmeal
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 – 2 apples chopped
1/4 cup raisins
1 egg
1 tbsp of brown sugar
1/2 tbsp almond butter (negotiable*)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turbinado sugar (optional)
Juice from a 1/4 lemon
1/8 cup of slivered almonds

Step 1: Breakfast.  If you’re like me, when you woke up you thought about making something fun with low cholesterol oatmeal, but you have to have breakfast first.  So, you made an abundant amount of oatmeal. By the way cooking oatmeal is always a 2 (water) to 1 (oatmeal) ratio.  In this case I wanted a less watery version, so I went 3 cups of water, 2 cups of oatmeal, Mark and I both had a small bowl of oatmeal with toppings and about 2 cups of cooked oatmeal remained.  Don’t throw out the leftover cooked oatmeal!

Step 2: Oatmeal Toppings.  While the water is boiling and the oatmeal is cooking, chop up your favorite kind of apple (mine is Honey Crisp – they are out of this world good).  Add the apples and raisins to a pan on medium heat with a smidge of butter (like a 1/4 of 1/4 tbsp).  Let the apples and raisins begin to soften and add 1/2 tsp of cinnamon and continue to stir so that the fruit is completely covered.  For your breakfast take 1/8 cup of apples and raisins and reserve the rest for later.
Step 2: Dry Ingredients: After you finish your breakfast return to the pot where the oatmeal has now cooled.  Add the whole wheat flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  Combine all of these ingredients.  If the oatmeal is overly sticky – mine was – slowly add 1/8 cup of water at a time until it has a smoother consistency.

Step 3: Wet ingredients.  I included 1/2 tablespoon of almond butter in the oatmeal.  It added a warmer hint of color, but didn’t change the flavor – this is totally up to you to include.  For a nutty flavor I’d recommend at least a tablespoon.  Add the egg and the brown sugar and continue to incorporate.

Step 4: Back to the apples.  The apples and raisin have cooled and should a soft golden color.  Bring the pan back to a medium-low heat and add the vanilla and lemon juice.  Cook the apples until the juice is absorbed.
Step 5: Bring it all together.  Combine the apples and raisins into the oatmeal and then spread the entire mix into a 9×9 baking dish.  If so desired, and I am sure it is desired, sprinkle on additional cinnamon, turbinado (raw) sugar, and some almonds.  Bake for 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees.  
Here is the warning: your kitchen will have the warm, sweet smell of cinnamon, vanilla and apples.  You’ll know how relatively healthy this little snack is and will have a hard time just eating one bite, but that’s okay, because really (not just relatively) this is a pretty healthy way to go.

*So, I am calling this a kugel, because the flavor and consistency most closely reminds me of my Nannys’ (grandmas‘ – they both make it) noodle pudding.  There are no noodles, so noodle pudding is the wrong name, and kugel kind of sounds funny, but it’s pretty much what it is.  The other thing it is, is sweet, but not too sweet, healthy, but not boring, simple but not bland and probably something that will pop up on a holiday table of mine in seasons to come.

Favorite Looks from Spring 2011 Fashion Week, for Less

In September I featured my favorite looks from the Spring 2011 Fashion Shows, and now that Spring 2011 is almost upon us, it is time to revisit those inspiring looks.

I have taken my stand out favorites from September and searched the Internet to find affordable and wearable version inspired by the real thing.
Marc Jacobs – Spring 2011 was like the most glamorous, 70’s inspired, color infused show. 

This look is completely wearable, and probably could be assembled with items you already own, but if not…

Carolina Herrera – Spring 2011 was a favorite of mine, and while I don’t have the need for an evening gown currently, one can’t help but be inspired by the painterly details of this beautiful dress.
Carolina Herrera – Spring 2011

This look is admittedly DIY but if done right it’s a major wow.  And again, I think the larger aesthetic point here is painterly details in a black and white color palette.

Oscar de la Renta – Spring 2011 was for the ladies who lunch set.  The important rules to follow here are texture: tweed and silks and colors within the same color family.
Oscar de la Renta – Spring 2011

With such a ladylike and refined shape and staples, you can really go bold with the color and have fun playing with spring’s best and boldest hues.

Ralph Lauren – Spring 2011, this show was Rancher Fabulous if there is such a thing.  It is certainly difficult to imagine wearing beaded cocktail dresses on the farm, but somehow Ralph Lauren, as the master of Americana pulls it off.
Ralph Lauren – Spring 2011
To attempt the same look, on a budget start here:

Monique Lhuillier – Spring 2011, know for red-carpet worthy evening gowns, it was fun to see Monique Lhuillier play with different shapes and pieces, and I really liked the belted, sophisticated look of the high waisted trousers and refined bustier top.
Monique Lhuillier – Spring 2011

To build this look on a budget, you can assemble pieces that are completely wearable in a variety of ways. 

 What trends are you most excited for?

Day 8: The End of Fashion Week

Yesterday was the end of Fall 2011 Fashion Week and it has been quite a glamorous few days.  Yesterday was no different. 

Day 8: Malan Breton, Ralph Lauren, Isaac Mizrahi, Son Jung Wan, L’Wren Scott, Calvin Klein Collenction, Adrienne Landau, Joanna Mastroianna, Stephen Burrows, Bill Blass, Elene Cassic, WTB by Nikki Lund & Richie Sambora, Naeem Khan, Lublu, L.A.M.B.

A favorite from yesterday was the beautiful gowns by Naeem Khan, a favorite of First Lady Michelle Obama, Beyonce, the cast of SATC, and many more.  His gowns had classic shapes but were elevated by their intricate detailing and beautiful fabrics.
Naeem Khan
Naeem Khan
Naeem Khan

 Within Khan’s collection, I noticed two rivaling themes an ode to old art-deco glamour and an appreciation for full bodied Bohemia and exotic prints.  Those themes were also mirrored in the L.A.M.B. (Bohemia and prints) and Ralph Lauren (art-deco) shows.
Ralph Lauren
Another dress worth highlighting was the beautiful colors in the column gown from Oscar de la Renta, whose show was on Wednesday.  
Oscar de la Renta
In reviewing eight days of fashion shows and looking ahead to Fall of 2011 a few recurring themes seem to stick out: plunging neckline gowns and their counterpoint of high collar/crew neck dresses, jewel tone shine and rich burnt yellows, reds, oranges and plums, a playful mashup of sportswear with dressier items, complete looks in varying shades of one color in either neutrals or big bold hues, suiting, ladylike dots, sequins and feathers.  What an inspiring and exciting season ahead!

Day 7: Not Basic Black

Day 7 was a great reminder of the many, many ways to wear black that is anything but simple, boring or staid.  On Sunday’s runway’s black was full of volume, sexy, daring, masculine, feminine, classic and strong.

Elie Tahari
Milly by Michelle Smith
Michael Kors
Day 7: Yigal Azrouel, Reem Acra, Vacca, Helmut Lang, Michael Kors, Nanette Lepore, Douglas Hannant, Oscar de la Renta, Jeremy Scott, Alexandre Herchcovitch, Vittadini, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Milly, Marchesa, Reed Krakoff, Helen Yarmak, Christian Cota, Bebe, Anna Sui, Odd Molly, Elie Tahari, The Blonds, Proenza Schouler, Indashio, Susan Cianciolo

Day 6: Just Vera

Day 6 was full of variety, but for me one designer really stuck out, Vera Wang.  Wang’s style is consistent season and after season, and I really enjoyed her entire collection of pretty pleats, diaphanous chiffon, and gentle muted colors. And besides, you know I am a sucker for a deep v-neckline.
Vera Wang
Day 6: Kate Spade, Helmut Lang, Rachel Roy, Trias, Badgely Mischka, Karen Walker, RAD by Rad Hourani, Vera Wang, Rodarte, Diesel Black Gold, Jen Kao, Bibhu Mohapatra, Herve Leger by Max Azria, Risto, TSE, Dennis Basso, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Sophie Theallet, J. Mendel, Juan Carlos Obano, Concept Korea, House of Waris, Halston, Tibi, Daniel Vosovic, A Detacher, Frank Tell, Narciso Rodriguez, Marc Bouwer, Mackage.

Day 5: Evening Glamour

Day 5 was the day of the dress for me – lots of glamor, glitz and shine! 

The runways featured the following designers: The Row, Jenny Packham, Callula Lillibelle, Carolina Herrera, Zero + Maria Cornejo, Carlos Miele, Woolrich John Rich & Bros, Theyskens’ Theory, Tracy Reese, Ohne Titel, Barbara Tfank, Donna Karan New York, Sachin +Babi, Monique Lhullier, Yeohlee, Chris Benz, Pamella Roland, Alice + Olivia, Chadwick Bell, Betsey Johnson, Chado Ralph Rucci, Marc Jacobs

And here are my favorites:
In the category of full on color evening wear, I love the subtle shine and fully saturated colors from Alice + Olivia, Carolina Herrera – a longtime favorite, Pamella Roland and Tracy Reese.  These looks were full of real lady like glamor and major color.
Alice + Olivia
Carolina Herrera
Pamella Roland
Tracy Reese
For golden glamor I loved the soft color and full on beading from Donna Karan, the Grecian goddess from Jenny Packham (anyone else noticing that hip twist is showing up EVERYWHERE?!), and Monique Lhuillier’s retro, textured, golden gown.  Also, of note, Lhuillier’s runway featured dotted stockings – cute trend to watch, perhaps?
Donna Karan
Jenny Packham
Monique Lhuillier