- March 02, 2010For months I have been looking forward to watching The September Issue so when it became available on DVD I immediately got myself a copy, poured myself a glass of wine and sat down to absorb it. The September Issue follows Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine, as she works with her team to put together the most important issue of the year. The documentary is vibrant, full of energy, funny and fascinating. Anna and her team are remarkable. I especially enjoyed watching Grace Coddington, Vogue’s creative director, go head to head with Anna over her infamously sharp and unforgiving decisions. Meryl Streep's depiction of Anna Wintour in The Devil Wears Prada isn’t entirely off mark, but overall I found Anna Wintour much more accessible and easier to understand than her film character counterpart. She is an incredibly hardworking woman who month after month turns out the best fashion magazine in the country. The real highlight for me was getting to watch how Mario Testino (my favorite photographer) works as he shot the cover and spread featuring Sienna Miller. I throughly enjoyed this documentary and regardless of your interest in fashion, it’s worth watching how things work behind the scenes of this incredible industry.Sienna Miller and Anna Wintour at the premiere for The September Issue.
- March 05, 2010Entertainment area before:
Entertainment area after:Desk before:Desk after:I managed to tackle my two major problem areas this past week and I was thrilled with how much I was able to get rid/let go of. The entertainment area was a snap. Mostly this area was a reflection of our laziness to put things away. I reduced the clutter and put things back where they belong. As for my desk, I tossed dozens of magazines that I had been holding on to, scanned all of my grandmother’s photographs so I was able to move the huge bin that housed them from underneath my desk and I organized my ridiculous pile of photography stuff (batteries, chargers, USB cables, etc.) into one nice, neat bin!It feels so great to have these two zones organized and functional again! Now my desk is the simplified “art zone” I have intended for it to be. Next project...my closet. But for now, I’m off to spend the weekend relaxing with my husband and my best friend.
- March 10, 2010Personal style is a fun way to express yourself on a daily basis. You get up, look through your closet full of clothes and decide what wardrobe choices will make you feel good today. If only it was that easy!The truth is, very few people have the luxury of getting up and sifting through their closet to find the outfit of the day. Most of us get up and get dressed while brushing our teeth and trying to resist the urge to pull on something that closely resembles the pajamas we’ve just removed. When it's time to go out and do something different or special I can clean up quite nicely, but in the regular day to day, I lack the skill for simple style.Phase 1: What do I want?My goal is to make dressing stylishly easy, or at least easier, on a daily basis.I want to feel pretty, sexy and comfortable! Also, I want my husband to come home and think I look pretty, sexy and comfortable. Although my fantastic husband claims I look great all the time, I don’t want to look like I don’t care...and I suspect he’s lying just a touch. But, I don’t have all the time in the world to pull it together each morning and I usually end up with my hair pulled back, a small dash of makeup on, wearing jeans and a simple t-shirt or sweater. I'm definitely in a style slump and I rarely feel pretty. So I am sitting here (in my bathrobe) and trying to think of a way to live more stylishly without creating goals I can’t meet.Next week I will return with Phase 2: Style Goals
- March 10, 2010Phase 2:Step 1: Do a little personal style analysis.Use adjectives to define my style now.Now: Basic, functional, comfortable.Use adjectives to define what I would like my style to be.Future: Comfortable, chic, experimental/fun, tomboyish and antique feminine.Step 2: Find images that highlight what how I’d like to dress and find the patterns:Comfortable:
Patterns: Simple dresses/tunics, belts. Jeans with boots.Chic:
Patterns: Blazers. Menswear. Feminine, classic skirts.Experimental/Fun:Patterns: Comfortable but fun. Not too over the top.
Tomboyish:Patterns: Menswear accessories. Feminine lines.
Antique Feminine:Patterns: Comfortable, flowing, feminine dresses.By filtering through images and finding that I'm drawn to similar looks over and over again, I am slowly figuring out what I like and what the patterns are.Next week: Phase 3: Out with the Old (a.k.a. tackling the closet)Images for this post were pulled from various magazines and www.people.com
- March 12, 2010Baked Corn Tortilla ChipsThese tortilla chips are great for a snack or to make “healthy nachos”. For the nachos, I top the chips with part-skim mozzarella, a bit of ground dried chipolte and a handful of drained black beans. Then bake until the cheese is melted and top with cilantro, avocado and green onion.
Ingredients:Package of corn tortillas*SaltOlive oil sprayPreheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray and sprinkle a bit of salt on both sides of each corn tortilla. Stack them up and cut into quarters. Place the quarters in a single layer on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven. Cook for 4-6 minutes then flip and cook for 3-4 more minutes. Check them and see if they need a little longer...they don’t need to be golden. They will crisp as they cool. Put them all into a bowl and then let them cool.*You can freeze what you don’t use and then defrost them in the microwave for 30-60 seconds (flipping over half way through) for the same recipe.
Baked Corn Tortilla Chips
- March 19, 2010Phoebe in WonderlandTheatrical Poster (ThinkFilm/AP Photo)
I got Phoebe in Wonderland on a whim. I had watched the trailer and thought it looked fun, quirky and inspiring. It was fun, quirky and inspiring, but it was also dark, raw, energetic and truly unique. The film is the directing debut of Daniel Barnz (who also wrote the film) and focuses on the Phoebe’s world, at school, at home and at play practice for Alice in Wonderland. Phoebe’s family works to find the balance of creative encouragement and discipline. I was completely drawn in, down the rabbit hole, of this film’s adventure. I have never seen a movie like this before and would highly recommend it. It may not be the best film out there and it certainly has it’s flaws, but it was well worth watching.Patricia Clarkson (The Station Agent, Six Feet Under, Vicky Christina Barcelona) was absolutely fantastic as the ethereal and inspiring drama teacher who encourages her young students to “jump”!Elle Fanning (Babel) was astonishing as Phoebe. She was wise, beautiful and portrayed her character with honesty and compassion.The rest of the cast was rounded out with Bill Pullman and Felicity Huffman as Phoebe’s parents.Movie Still (ThinkFilm/AP Photo)
- March 22, 2010The Musée d'Orsay.Fabulous food.Late night picnics on the Champs de Mars.Fabulous chapeaus.Camille.Old doors (this one was in the Musée Rodin).Incredible graffiti.My favorite bridge the Pont Alexandre III.Long strolls.Duex cafés. Duex croissants.
- March 24, 2010I woke up this morning (7 a.m.) in a less than spectacular mood. I am feeling frustrated about things that are out of my control. I went for a walk (7:30 a.m.) to clear my head and did my best to stay focused in the present. It was beautiful out. It was still cold but I could feel the sun through my winter parka. The birds were chirping and the magnolia and cherry trees were blooming.
"Those look like wedding flowers!" -PoppyAs I sit here, my mood is not completely shaken (8:30 a.m.). As I walked I kept thinking, “Ugh, I don’t want to post to my blog today about positivity and passion and being happy!" But, that is the whole point of this blog. So I figured I would just come clean and put this post out there. The old me might have wallowed in this mood for few days but, I am trying to change my wallowing ways.In order to turn my mood around, I am going to:1. Put on something to wear that expresses my positive mood-to-be.
Jeans (Dry Aged Denim), tank top (J.Crew), sweater (Forever 21), Band-Aid (Hello Kitty), shoes (Converse).
Check (9:00 a.m.) I opted for nice jeans, a bright pink tank top and a new sweater. Also, Poppy (the tot I nanny) accessorized my right hand with a pink Hello Kitty Band-Aid. Pink is positive, right?Check (10:00 a.m) I got my husband a cat! Just kiddin'. Kyle has been wanting to read the Bourne series books forever so I found him used copies of two and got him one new one. He needs a new book to read so this is a simple, inexpensive yet effective gift.3. Make healthy Greek Chicken Pitas for dinner and make chocolate chip cookies with Poppy (recipes to follow tomorrow).
Working on it... Greek Chicken Pitas are in the works and the chocolate chip cookies had to be put on hold until tomorrow because the butter was rancid! Gross.5. Pick up the house and open all the windows to let in the fresh air.
Check on the fresh air. Clean house? Not so much. I'll work on it tomorrow....or not.6. Go to the library.Poppy reading her book from the library.Check (10:30 a.m.) I picked up an audio version of The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan, along with a bunch of children’s books for Poppy. Now that I can’t talk on the phone in the car anymore, (no phone zone) I’ve been listening to a lot of books on CD.Look at that list of positive to do’s. If I can stay present in those actions, I am positive (no pun intended) that I can wrap up the day with the optimism of a delusional Disney Princess. I’ll keep checking stuff off as I accomplish it and give an honest update at the end of my day.
I can honestly say that I am in a good mood. My bad mood dissipated as I worked through my list. By the time we hit the park I was feeling great. I'm not 100% up but I think some good food+hot toddy+snuggling+The Tudors and I'll be back on top.
- March 25, 2010Healthy Greek Pitas
Okay, this recipe is going to look a little overwhelming, but it’s actually really easy, fun and it’s well worth the effort. I created this recipe to have leftovers so you could cut it in half if you wanted to...but, the leftovers are delicious. For two people this is two dinners and a lunch. On it’s own it could easily serve six people!
Ingredients:1 large red onion, sliced1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt1/4 cup light sour cream1 tsp. dried dill (or 3 tsp. fresh dill)2 large lemons1/2 red cabbage, choppedWhole wheat pitas, sliced in halfcrumbled feta cheese1 cup of olive oil3 garlic cloves, minced2 large eggplants, cut up into cubes1 3/4 tsp. smoked paprika1 tsp. dried oregano1 tsp. dried oregano1 tsp. dried parsley3/4 cup cucumber, grated (water squeezed out)Prep Work:
Chicken:6 chicken breast cut into long halves (or 12 chicken tenders)1/4 cup olive oil1/4 tsp. salt1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper3/4 tsp. smoked paprika1/2 tsp. dried dill (or 1 1/2 tsp. fresh dill)Zest of 1 large lemon1 clove garlic, mincedDirections:Toss all of the ingredients together in a sealed container and let it sit in the fridge for 1-3 hours.
Getting the chicken ready to marinate.
Eggplants:2 eggplants cut up into cubes1/2-3/4 cup olive oil1 tsp. dried oregano2 tsps. smoked paprika2 tsps. dried parsley (or 2 Tbs. fresh parsley)1/2 tsp. salt1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper2 cloves of garlic, mincedDirections:Place the cut up eggplant in a large bowl. Mix the seasonings together in a small bowl. Sprinkle 1/3 of the olive oil and seasonings on, toss around the eggplant a bit than repeat two more times until you’ve used up all the olive oil and seasonings.
Eggplant pieces soaking up the spices and oil.Tzatziki:Ingredients:1 thick slice of red onion1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt*1/4 cup light sour cream1/2 tsp. dried dill (or 1 1/2 tsp. fresh dill)Pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepperZest of 1 large lemonJuice from 1/2 large lemon3/4 cup grated cucumber (water squeezed out)Directions:Simply put all of the above ingredients (except the cucumber) into a small food processor and blend it up. If it needs thickening you can add more sour cream. Transfer to a bowl. Grate the cucumber and squeeze out all of the water and then mix it into the bowl with the rest of the ingredients.*If you use whole milk yogurt you probably don’t need to use sour cream.
Other Ingredients:1 red onion, sliced to grill1/2 red cabbage, choppedLow-fat feta cheeseWhole wheat pitas, sliced in halfDirections:Fire up the grill. When it’s ready, dump on the eggplant or use a grill basket. Let them grill up, tossing and flipping them around every 4 minutes or so, until they are really dark and golden. Once they are done remove them from the grill. Next, grill up the chicken and onion slices. When the chicken and onions are done remove them from the grill. Allow the eggplant, chicken and onions to cool. Use a fork to shred the chicken into small pieces.Grilling the eggplant.Now all the ingredients are assembled. Simply bring them to the table on a platter and put together your pita! They are messy and not necessarily pretty, but they are delicious and healthy!
Healthy Greek Pitas
- March 25, 2010Perfect Chocolate Chip CookiesThe Cookie Spoon
I have been whipping up chocolate chip cookies with my mom and my sister since I can remember. We even had a wooden spoon that was referred to (and still is) as The Cookie Spoon. I have developed this recipe after many, many taste tests and batches of cookies. It’s perfect!Ingredients:Dry:2 1/4 cups flour (I use half whole wheat and half all-purpose flour)1 tsp. salt1 tsp. baking soda1 tiny pinch of freshly shaved nutmeg (or ground if you don’t have fresh)Other:2 large eggs (at room temperature)1 cup (2 sticks) fresh butter (softened to room temperature...you can fake this in the microwave but it’s best to let it happen naturally)3/4 cup granulated sugar3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar2 tsps. pure vanilla extract2 cups (or more) chocolate chipsDirections:Preheat the oven to 350°F.Sift the flour, salt and baking soda together in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, cream together the sugars and the butter, then add in the vanilla. Whisk the eggs in another small bowl before adding them to the sugar mixture. Once this is all mixed together, slowly sprinkle in the flour and mix until it’s incorporated. Mix in the chocolate chips.
"It looks like a big batch of butter dough!" -Poppy
I usually bake up one sheet and cover a separate cookie sheet with cookie dough balls and slide it into the freezer for fresh baked cookies whenever I want. Once they are frozen and won’t stick together I put them all into a resealable bag.
Ready to freeze.
Bake for 9-11 minutes, until golden brown on the outside and light brown in the middle. If the cookies are frozen they will need to be baked for 12-14 minutes. Enjoy!An incredible feat of patience.
Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
- March 30, 2010The contenders:The playing field:The aftermath:Ultimately, it was a good game played by all but I lost on account of a wonky toss. I knew something was wrong the moment the egg left my grip and Kyle couldn't get a clean catch. At least the egg was spared a bit by a clean decapitation.
- March 31, 2010Coco Before ChanelFrench theatrical release poster“How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something but to be someone.” -Coco ChanelI really enjoyed Coco Before Chanel directed by Anne Fontaine. Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel’s life made for a fascinating and charming story. Audrey Tautou (Amelie, Priceless, The Da Vinci Code) is sophisticated and disarming as Coco. She portrayed the fashion icon with respect and accuracy. As you watch this woman’s story unfold, you understand the different shades of her character and get a glimpse into what it was that made her so special. Growing up an orphan, Coco sets out to create her own destiny by surpassing the limitations of her world and acquiring a new one for herself. This beautiful story was told with cinematography that was both simple and unique. The depth of field was perfection, especially in regards to capturing the fashion detail and the costumes were gorgeous! I would definitely recommend this film for it’s beauty, charm, depth and the quality of the performances.
Audrey Tautou as Coco Chanel