Thursday, September 30, 2010

What'd I Say

I'm a big fan of dictionaries. As of right now, there are eight on my shelf: Spanish-English, French-English, Merriam-Webster's Collegiate, The Scholastic Rhyming Dictionary, Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language, and three slang dictionaries. Two are American; one is British. The ultimate culmination of all these dictionaries, particularly the slang editions, has to be the online repository we all know and love, Urban Dictionary.

Samuel Johnson does not approve.

Whereas a normal dictionary takes years to compile and format, Urban Dictionary is constantly updated by users, which helps to keep me and other hermetic losers on the cutting edge of language. Every time I come across a new slang term that I haven't heard before or have learned and forgotten, I pull up UD and search. It has only failed me once, but then again, so did, my trusty Merriam-Webster's, and even Dr. Johnson, and I had to consult the local library's unabridged Oxford. (The word, by the way, was homoloidal, which I came across in a piece in Pricksongs and Descants--possibly "A Pedestrian Accident"--by Robert Coover.) For the most part, the entries are helpful and accurate, which is good when it comes time for me to brush up on my mad street language skills.

Also, Urban Dictionary has this definition for my name: "The epitome of style, taste, and class." So that's pretty cool, if somewhat useless.

Image via Wikipedia.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Girliest Drink

I don't want to be one of those writers who spends her evenings getting blasted. Every time I read any kind of memoir in which the author and his/her spouses or friends spend all of their time drinking whatever the cocktail of the moment might be, I cringe; who can drink that much and still live? But from time to time, I will indulge. And one of the easiest drinks I know to make is the Cosmopolitan.

Seriously, it's easy. Grab yourself some vodka, a bit of lime juice, some triple sec, and a bottle of cranberry juice. Take an ounce of vodka, and half an ounce each of the other ingredients, shake them up, and strain into a martini glass. The drink is simple, satisfying, and oh so girly. Enjoy!


Here, Kitty Kitty

Tell me right now who doesn't love a tail-swinging cat clock, and I'll show you someone who doesn't love America.

Okay, well, that might be a little excessive. But I have to say that I really sincerely believe that the Kit-Cat Klock is one of the staples of Americana. You know the clock I mean:

This item has graced many a kitchen wall, and I kind of want it to grace mine, too. (Of course, there's not much wall to grace, but whatever.) It fits into my color scheme perfectly, and besides--it's a cat with wacky eyes! Basically, it is the very best of retro kitsch. And that, my friends, is something spectacular.

Image via Joie de Vivre.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Kodak Moment

Yesterday, I told you guys that I had recently dumped milk on my digital camera.

I didn't tell you that that was the end of my digital camera's life. You probably figured that out on your own.

Just a day or so after the demise of my digital camera, though, I was to go see my mom and shop. I called her and asked her to find my old film camera if she could, and bring it to me.

And she did! It was very exciting. I have an old Kodak KB-10. It's extremely basic. Opening the lens cover also turns on the flash. It takes two AA batteries (which were still in the camera and still operational when I received it) and uses standard 35mm film.

One of my favorite things about film camera is getting the pictures developed. You can do the one-hour development thing, I suppose, but the best option is to send the film off. It is an exciting day when my pictures arrive in the mail! I like never knowing exactly what I'm going to get, and I like getting mail. It's perfect.

Digital cameras are expensive, so I think I'll stick with film for now. I can't wait to use this roll up.

Buy your own (used) Kodak KB-10 through Ebay for $5-15.00.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine

Cate has told you how small her kitchen is, but I haven't said anything on the subject yet. Well, here it is: I have a tiny kitchen. Cate is lucky enough to have a full-sized refrigerator; I have a small one under the counter, and an even smaller one in my living room that I had while I was in college. My living room is also my bedroom and my dining room and my office. I have a studio apartment. As a result, I eat cereal in bed and accidentally dump milk all over my digital camera. But that's not what today's post is about.

Today's post is about this amazing thing my mother bought me the other day: a George Foreman grill.

Now, you see, I'm from the South. This means that if I do not eat something fried on a regular basis, I will melt.

But also, when I fry things, grease goes everywhere. It's very upsetting.

So my new George Foreman Champ Grill it the perfect compromise. Anything I can fry, I can also George Foreman Grill, and supposedly keep it healthier. It's easy to clean, and I don't have to use it to cook anything other than what I'm going to eat, because it's tiny, perfect for a small kitchen or a dorm room.

Just today, I made my lunch: Two sausages! And though I'm not good at the George Foreman Grill yet, I'd say my sausage turned out just fine. Later, I'm going to make delicious burgers, and I may even grill some vegetables. The possibilities are endless!

Buy your very own George Foreman Champ Grill from Target for $19.99.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Wibbly-Wobbly, Timey-Wimey...Stuff

As you may or may not be aware, I'm kind of a nerd.

I began enjoying science fiction at a young age, when my brother influenced me with things like Star Wars and Farscape. He also enjoyed Star Trek, but I must have been eating chips whenever that came up, because my interest there extends to this fantastic video, and that's it.)

In my later years, I discovered Doctor Who. Most everyone I heard from loved David Tennant, but I started with Christopher Eccleston, and I still think Tennant kind of looks funny.

Now, of course, our police-boxed Time Lord, the Doctor, is in his eleventh incarnation, still not a ginger, and portrayed by Matt Smith, a man with a large chin and a very boring name. A lot of people don't seem to like him, but I think that is mainly because they wanted to have David Tennant's babies. I also stopped watching at some point after it became more convenient for me to go outside (I don't have BBC America!), so I don't know what happened after the latest series made the Weeping Angels utterly un-terrifying.

But still, I like Doctor Who. Time travel is fun, time travel in phone booths is fun, sonic screwdrivers are fun, and bow ties are cool.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Don't Be Ginger; Dive Right In!

My favorite beverage pretty much ever is Canada Dry ginger ale. I drink it every day, which my dentist hates because of what the sugar does to my teeth, and is probably bad for my health, given that same sugar content. But I stick by Canada Dry, even though, given my upbringing in southeastern Michigan, I should be a Vernors girl--and in fact do indulge from time to time--because I like the clean, mild taste (Vernors is a golden ginger ale and particularly spicy but makes for the very best floats, whereas Canada Dry is a--you guessed it--dry ginger ale). Canada Dry comes packaged in a variety of sizes, including eight-ounce bottles, twelve-ounce cans, twenty-ounce bottles, one liter bottles, and two liter bottles, which means that you can take it with you in your lunch or buy a larger size to serve at home.

Word on the street is that dry ginger ale makes a great mixer for alcoholic drinks, but I wouldn't know, because I hate to tarnish the taste. Canada Dry makes a cranberry ginger ale that is really good for making punch at holiday parties. And, bonus? Ginger ale can actually help alleviate an upset stomach! So its multiple uses make it the perfect beverage to keep on hand. What's your favorite soft drink?


People We Covet: George Washington

George Washington, the first President of the United States, was a cool guy. He was a member of no political party and was elected unanimously--twice.

This feat gives me hope, for I, too, am a member of no political party. Clearly there is a chance that I can be elected unanimously twice.

But George Washington does not serve just to be an inspiration to those who want to be President. He was also an excellent general, keeping his men in line with poise and intelligence:

(Image borrowed--I promise to return it--from The Dreamer; please go read)

George Washington is also on our money twice. Do you know who else is on our money twice? Abraham Lincoln. Who was also fantastic. Only fantastic people are on the money twice. However, one still has to wonder why Andrew Jackson remains on our most commonly used bill. More like Andrew Jerkson.

Now, I leave you with this video that extols Washington's virtues. It neither safe for work nor for British schoolchildren (as you will soon see).

(Edit: My video embedding doesn't seem to work today. Here is an ugly YouTube link:

Friday, September 24, 2010

"But Love Seems to Stick In Her Veins, You Know"

I suspect that most of you know about the Verve because of the legal trouble surrounding their breakthrough single "Bittersweet Symphony" (which, by the way, was used to spectacular effect in Cruel Intentions). But the album that spawned that song, Urban Hymns, is pretty good even without "Bittersweet Symphony," encasing everything that was good about music in the 1990s. There are shades of U2, Bob Dylan, and, ironically enough, the Rolling Stones, among others.

My favorite song off that album is the second track, "Sonnet." This is one of those tunes that I'll listen to every time, no matter what. Which is really to say that it's stuck with me since the first time I heard it, and I wouldn't trade it for any other song on the album. There's just something about the pseudo-funky, half-retro guitar work and the way Richard Ashcroft delivers the lyrics that gets me. Plus the main sentiment of the song--"Yes, there's love if you want it; / Don't sound like no sonnet"--is wonderful: nothing is perfect, so take me as I am. Besides, who doesn't like a good love song?

Buy through Amazon for $0.99.


PS I'll be busy this weekend, so Maureen will be taking over the blog for a few days, including tomorrow's People We Covet. Be sure to stop by and check on it!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Mother of All Trashy Romance Novels

Some of you may or may not know that Maureen and I have a not-so-secret soft spot for trashy romance novels, or, as we like to call them, TRNs. I am particularly fond of Sabrina Jeffries, who writes Regency romances, which are my favorite kind. (Bonus? She lives in North Carolina!) But the woman widely regarded as the mother of the Regency romance is Georgette Heyer, and I recently read one of her books, Faro's Daughter.

This book tells the tale of Deborah, the spirited (they're always spirited) niece of a gaming-house proprietress and the roguish (they're always roguish) Max, who does not want Deborah to marry his cousin Adrian, who is a lovely but inexperienced boy (there's always one of those, too).

Faro's Daughter was published in 1941, 20 years after her first Regency novel and almost 30 years before the last. And she's at the top of her game here, sharing her engaging characters and their madcap adventures with us. I recommend it as a good, relatively quick read, especially if you're interested in Regency romances. After all, why not start with the best?

Image via Barnes and Noble.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Most Ridiculous, Yet Delicious, Thing You Will Ever Eat

A good friend of mine was born and raised in Hiroshima, the daughter of an American Marine and a Japanese mother. She has been in the States for the past five years, but she hasn't let go of her roots, and occasionally she will share with me some fantastical Japanese creation. My favorite of these by far is Meiji mushroom candy.

Don't worry: it's not actually made of mushrooms (if it was, I wouldn't eat it). Rather, it consists of a cookie stem and a milk chocolate cap. Simple, really, but effective. I was actually surprised by how much I love it, since I'm not a big fan of milk chocolate, but I think that the sheer mellowness of the candy is what saves it. And I was almost immediately hooked.

My father went to Japan on business about a year and a half ago, and the only souvenir I asked for was a box of mushroom candy (and if you think that didn't get me a strange look from him, you're wrong). But he delivered, and I made a believer out of him. Awhile later, I discovered that the Japanese market down the street from my parents' house not only carried mushroom candy, but also sold it for a very reasonable price. So almost every time I go home, I buy myself a box or two, and it makes the world a better place. Truly.

I tried to locate some more information about this product online. Unfortunately, even Candy Blog has never covered it, although I do recommend that you check that site out sometime. And since the Meiji website is mostly in Japanese, that negates the possibility of me understanding it, but I did manage to find this, which is alternately very strange and funny as hell.

Image via Asian Food Grocer.


The State of the Room

Although my personal design aesthetic tends toward Mid-Century Modern and almost nothing else, I do like a whimsical touch here and there around the house. Which is why I think that the hand embroidered state pillow from Uncommon Goods is the perfect accessory.

These pillows--available for all 50 states--look like old postcards and feature towns, notable landmarks, and information about the state in question, such as nicknames or an illustration of the state bird. My favorite is the Michigan pillow, of course, since that's my home state, and I also like the North Carolina pillow, because that's where I live. But I also think that the Kentucky pillow is fantastic, and the Florida pillow had me at hello, mostly because it has a flamingo on it. Another standout is the New Jersey pillow, decorated with cute purple flowers and a neat little goldfinch.

Which state is yours? Do you like the pillow that represents it?


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Autumn Stripes

When it comes to patterned tights, I'm a little torn. For every nice pair, there is at least one like this. But I can say without any second thoughts that I do like tights with a herringbone pattern. They simply look very nice in the autumn, paired with flats and a black wool coat. And I've found a few options, at three different price points, to share with you today.

First is the cheap option: the Slanted Open Striped Tights from Forever 21, which retail for $6.80. They have an open weave, similar to a fishnet, as part of every other stripe.

Next is the black herringbone tight from Betsey Johnson, sold in a two pack with solid black tights, for $20.00. These also have an open weave, but it is much smaller and consistent than the Forever 21 tights.

Finally, we have the Wolford option. (For those of you who don't know, Wolford is pretty well-known for its unusual--and not inexpensive--hosiery.) Their black Bailey Tights have the most intricate pattern, and retail for $65.00. (Be careful when opening the link; the image is just this side of NSFW.)

Personally, I would probably opt for the Betsey Johnson tights, since they have the most classic pattern. What about you?


Monday, September 20, 2010

The Secret Ingredient

So, you know that I recently started a food blog, right? But did you ever wonder what prompted me to do such a thing? (Of course you didn't, but that's not the point.) Other than my love of Bobby Flay, there were two main factors. One, I was already covering so many topics on this blog that there didn't seem to be any good place to make note of food items and recipes I like. Two, I wanted to have a tangible reason for using my tiny yet serviceable kitchen--basically, I don't want to be one of those apartment girls who only ever orders in.

My main inspiration was all of this fantastic cookware I have, of course, which was not being put to good use in the cabinet. But a secondary inspiration--and, ultimately, a very important one--was the episodes of Iron Chef America I kept stumbling across. The show is fantastic, really, the best possible intersection of reality television and educational programming: Alton Brown's constant narration provides commentary and trivia about most of the ingredients used and dishes prepared, and you also get to see very good chefs at work, which is fascinating in itself.

And the chefs each have a distinct, and awesome, personality. My favorites are Cat Cora, whose genealogy and upbringing so inform her cuisine; Mike Symon, who has a certain panache and badass air about him; Masaharu Morimoto, who is completely adorable and extremely formidable; and, of course, Bobby Flay.

I know that I will never be able to build my cooking skills up to the point where I am able to compete on Iron Chef America, but that's all right. For now, I'm just enjoying the show and taking inspiration from each of the fascinating people who compete.

Take a look at the Iron Chef America website.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

There's No Dying Embrace Here

At the risk of sounding redundant, I'd like to share with you today a pretty little clutch from Tiffany and Company. Their new line of handbags, designed by Richard Lambertson and John Truex, has been covered by PurseBlog, of course, and Sarah at My Little Boudoir, who is a big fan of Tiffany in general. So, really, Tiffany doesn't need any additional cheerleading from me, but I must say, I think that this particular collaboration is a definite home run, and that's why I want to talk about the Camille clutch.

Like so many things produced by Tiffany, this particular piece is decidedly out of my price range. (It's one of the great tragedies of my life that I don't have the funds to feed my addictions: books, handbags, and shoes.) But in this case, it's probably all right, because I don't have much use for a handbag smaller than a book. Still, it is a lovely thing to view. The satin is smooth and flawless, and the little bow that graces the bag is very classic, very retro, and very perfect. 

If I had my hands on it, I would pair it with a red party dress and black flats or a purple sheath and satin heels. What do you think?


PS Bonus points if you can tell me which film I'm referencing in the title of this post!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Delicious, Easy Tomatoes

Of all the places I never thought I'd find a delicious recipe, Glamour was probably pretty close to the top of the list. I mean, it's not a terrible magazine, but it's not exactly Better Homes and Gardens, you know? And yet there it was, in their August 2010 issue: a recipe for a tomato tart, provided by the authors of Canal House Cooking, Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer. And I have to say, the recipe is not only super-easy to follow, but it also makes for an extremely delicious side item or appetizer.

The recipe reads thus:

1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted
2-3 tomatoes, cored and sliced
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
Extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Lay the sheet of puff pastry out on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet. Using a fork, prick the dough all over to prevent it from puffing up during baking.

2. Arrange the tomatoes on the pastry in a single layer (crowding or overlapping the tomatoes will make the puff pastry soggy). Strip the sprigs of thyme, scattering the leaves over the tomatoes. Drizzle the tart with a couple of tablespoons olive oil and season with pepper.

3. Bake the tart until the pastry is crisp and deeply browned on the bottom and around the edges, 30 to 40 minutes. Season the tart with salt.

I have a few notes to add. First, when they say prick the dough all over, they really mean it, because you can poke it about a hundred times and still have a lot of puffiness, although that's not necessarily a bad thing, but puffiness does make storing the tart in the refrigerator a problem. Second, I used dried thyme, and it turned out just fine. Third, take it easy on the salt. 

The end product looks more or less like this:

I paired it with green beans amandine, garlic chicken, and those baked peaches I mentioned earlier this week. All in all, the dinner was a success, and I made the tart again about a week and a half later, since I liked it so much. How would you serve this tart?


Shine On

A few of you may recognize the name Patricia Field. She was the costume designer and head of wardrobe for Sex and the City (the series and both films). She is responsible for many fashion trends of the last decade or so, and the thing is, some of those choices may have been a little off the mark, but so many of them were spot-on. And what's more is that Field makes THE MOST FANTASTIC SHOES EVER. For example:

Am I right?

Okay, so they're a little intimidating, from the huge platform to the all-over crystallization. But they are also beautiful and spectacular and I want them. Now. They are thoroughly impractical for my life, but I don't care. I would wear these shoes anywhere, and proudly, too. What about you?

Photo via Patricia Field.


Friday, September 17, 2010

"Man, I Ain't Changed, But I Know I Ain't the Same"

While "Sixth Avenue Heartache" is actually my favorite song by the Wallflowers, I really wanted to talk about "One Headlight," which is probably their best-known song, from their breakthrough album, Bringing Down the Horse, because I love it so much.

It must be said that Bringing Down the Horse is a spectacular album start to finish. And "One Headlight" opens the album in style, first with a few haunting notes from a guitar and then with an absolutely insistent beat that speaks to the movement of the story told by the singer/narrator. (I recommend listening to this song with your headphones on, because the first few moments really pack a punch when heard at such close range.) The words--and, to an extent, Jakob Dylan's delivery--are particularly important to the song. Take, for example, this line from the chorus: "There's got to be something better than in the middle." Well, that's really what the song is all about, isn't it? The drive to get away? So all of those words--including the sentiment of the chorus as a whole ("We can drive it home") and the subject's assertion that "But there's got to be an opening / Somewhere here in front of me / Through this maze of ugliness and greed" culminate at the very end of the song with a few more hopeful notes.

As an aside, I'd like to note that this song was HUGE when I was in the fifth grade, which is probably part of why I'm so attached to it--it reminds me of my childhood. And, all right, I'll admit it: I think that Jakob Dylan is one of the most beautiful men on the planet and that his voice is really fantastic, especially on Bringing Down the Horse, so those things don't hurt this song, you know? But ultimately, it's the great musicianship and awesome lyrics that keep me coming back.

Buy through Amazon for $0.99.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

"The Nature of Desire"

Sleeping Beauty is my favorite animated film, and I'm terribly intrigued by the story itself, as well. Like any fairy tale in written, it skimps on the details, so the reader--especially an adult--is left to extrapolate and fill in some of the blanks him- or herself. Many writers have since taken those extrapolations and turned them into stories or novels. Chief among them is Robert Coover, author of Briar Rose.

Of course, I value Fahrenheit 451 above all other books, but Briar Rose is definitely in my top ten. Whereas "Sleeping Beauty" is really told from the princess' perspective, Coover chooses the evil fairy (Maleficent, in the film) as his protagonist, and she works her way through the sleeping girl's dreams, creating all sorts of fantastical scenarios and taking them away just as easily. And while she is definitely not the kind of person you want hanging around at your dinner party, Coover does manage to make her sympathetic in her struggle to understand humans and passion.

If you're a fan of "Sleeping Beauty" at all, in any of its incarnations, I highly recommend that you pick up a copy of Briar Rose today. Be advised that the language is dense and the structure is somewhat convoluted at times, but it is well worth the read.

Image via Books-A-Million.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

It's a Southern Thing

I have a handful of people working under me (I like to think of them as minions), and on occasion, I try to cook a meal for them or at least come up with some kind of treat to thank them for their efforts. Last time I did this, we were in somewhat experimental territory, as I hadn't made any of the dishes on the table before (for myself or otherwise) save for green beans amandine. But everything was more or less easy to make, and the dessert was a huge hit: baked peaches.

One of the great things about living in the South is the food: standard favorites like barbecue and pecan pie, slightly more exotic fare like shrimp and grits (one of the most amazing dishes on the entire planet), and tasty delights like fried okra--or, as the case may be, okra chips. The South is also a place where peaches roam free when they're in season, and that's fantastic for everyone--plus, it made things easier on me, since I had no trouble finding good, large, fresh peaches at the grocery store.

Now, I only had some vague idea of what I was doing. The original recipe didn't really resemble the final product, but I thought you should all see the process as a whole, starting with my scribbled notes:

Eventually, I decided against grilling them, as I wasn't sure what that would happen if I tried; baking seemed like the better option. Once I realized that, I started out by slicing the peaches in half and removing the pit and the toughest inner part of the peach, so that they ended up looking like this:

That's parchment paper lining a baking sheet, by the way. While I was doing all of this, I pre-heated the oven to about 400, which you may need to adjust for your purposes. Then I threw some brown sugar, cinnamon, and walnuts into a bowl (you'll notice that I omitted the honey, which I originally thought would make a good glaze, in favor of something a little easier) and stirred it up, then spooned the mixture into the cavities.

The peaches went into the oven for 20 minutes or so while we ate the main course, and by the time I took them out, they were warm and the filling had (mostly) melted into the cavity. They were so pretty when they came out of the oven, too:

I served them immediately, and they were extremely tasty. There were rave reviews all around, and since that night, there have been several requests for more.

Since summer is coming to an end, I wanted to share this recipe as the perfect example of light but delicious fare that will warm you up a little once the nights start to cool off. Make them while good peaches are still available, and you're sure to have a hit on your hands!


The Colonial Table

Back in July, when I was on my redecorating rampage, I bought myself a new set of flatware. Like the Farberware before it, my last set of flatware was donated to the cause by my mother.While it was an older set (though not nearly as old as the Farberware), that flatware was reasonably serviceable, in spite of several missing pieces and a few dents here and there, but I really wanted to get something that was more me.

Enter Oneida.

Their Colonial Boston flatware is perfect for me--sleek, classic, and clean. It has a certain heft to it, also, and that lack of flimsiness is perfect for my experiments. And it pairs well with my dishes, which is very important to me, since I have trouble living with mismatched things. Besides--Oneida makes good products that last, and THAT is something to blog about.

Buy through Oneida. Pieces start at $7.99.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Executive Stripes

I suppose the day I really became an adult was the day I got my first business cards. Because up until that point, I was just a college graduate with a job. But with business cards come great responsibility, hence the perceived adulthood. And, of course, when you get business cards, you need a business card holder, right?

I ultimately chose to get a fabric card holder (in fact, it matches my checkbook cover), but the first one I considered was the Zebra Print Crystal Business Card Case from Executive Gift Shoppe. It's perfect for me--zebra-patterned, silver, and sparkly. Unfortunately, the price tag was a little too hefty for me at the time (and now, as well, to tell the truth), but it's so cute! Maybe you can make a gift of it to a businesslady in your life?


Monday, September 13, 2010

"How Could I Forget You? You're the Only Person I Know"

Matt Damon is a beautiful creature. We all know this, right? Of course we do. Now imagine him as a totally ripped assassin with amnesia who's trying to figure out who he is and why people are chasing him around France. And there you have the basic plot of The Bourne Identity. Everything else--the new, weird girlfriend (Franka Potente, who you should also check out in Blow); the brainy, mysterious other assassin (Clive Owen in all of his rough-hewn glory); the shady politician (Brian Cox, delightfully despicable as always); and the embattled head of the assassin team (one of my perennial favorites, Chris Cooper) are just super bonuses for the viewer.

Now, for those of you who haven't seen The Bourne Identity, you should probably go watch it right now, especially if you have any interest whatsoever in action films, because this is a good one. Doug Liman, the man behind Mr. and Mrs. Smith, directed Identity, the first in a series of three films (The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum were helmed by Paul Greengrass of United 93 fame), and Liman does an admirable job, whether he is speeding up film to heighten the impact of a punch or quieting things down to catch the first tender kiss between Bourne and Marie, his sort-of-willing accomplice.

The highlight of the film is definitely the car chase, one of the best I've ever seen.: Bourne eludes French police in cars and on motorcycles by swerving down roads (and sidewalks, and stairs) in a Mini, which is something that could only happen in Europe--if you tried to show a Mini careening down a street somewhere in America, people would probably just laugh at the cutesyness of it all (with the exception of The Italian Job, which used updated Mini Coopers to good effect in 2003). In fact, all of the action sequences in the film are very well shot and edited, making it a visual treat, and the aforementioned actors all turn in solid performances, especially Owen, whose understated death scene brings a certain level of gravity to what, in a normal action film, would probably be gratuitous and nothing more.

But ultimately, you should watch the movie just because it's worth it to see Matt Damon's face for a couple of hours.

Image via Family Video.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Bag with Sting

I spent Labor Day weekend at home in Michigan this year, and I had hoped to catch some sales, since I've been looking for a new pair of flats to replace the pair I got from Target which is now falling apart, which is very unfortunate. However, I neglected to factor a couple of things into my shopping trip: in addition to the four-day weekend had by all public school kids, Labor Day this year also more-or-less coincided with Ramadan and Rosh Hashana, which meant that even more girls were out shopping, looking for a nice outfit to celebrate the end of fasting or a little treat for the new year. On the one hand, it's nice to see so much celebration in the world. On the other hand, Nordstrom was packed. 

So the shoe thing was a bust. I actually tried very hard to get myself this pair (in black with silver) of Tory Burch Reva Flats, but they were totally out of my size, which is probably the universe's way of telling me that I don't need those shoes, but that's not the point. Anyway, I wandered over to the handbag section to take a look around and see if there was anything cute within my price range. Of course, there was not. But I did find a bag to covet, which is good, because otherwise I wouldn't have anything to write about today!

It's the Alice Pleated Clutch from Halston Heritage, made of stingray-embossed leather, and I love it. The retro pleats really scream Halston, which is nice--I really appreciate that the company is sticking to its aesthetic. And given the size of the bag, it is actually practical! (Remember when I was looking for an oversized clutch, inspired by repeated viewings of Sex and the City?) And the stingray texture, which is making something of a comeback (see this entry at PurseBlog and this great bag from Yves Saint Laurent), adds visual interest and a certain flair to the bag. Personally, I think it would pair well with a party dress or a power suit--it's that versatile!

Buy through ShopBop for $245.00.

Photo via ShopBop.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Rice Krispie Treats

I'm from Michigan, so I'm pretty fond of Kellogg's products, especially Pop-Tarts. And Rice Krispie Treats are particularly appealing to me because they are so incredibly easy to make.

No, seriously, there is almost nothing easier: three ingredients and fifteen minutes after getting started, you're good to go. The official recipe, available on the Rice Krispies website, reads as follows:

3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 package (10 oz., about 40) regular marshmallows OR 4 cups miniature marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispies

1. In large saucepan melt putter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.

2. Add Kellogg's Rice Krispies cereal. Stir until well coated.

3. Using buttered spatula or wax paper evenly press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Cool. Cut into 2-inch squares. Best if served the same day.

This is what I have to say about the recipe in general: I prefer butter for all things--margarine is never an option for me--and I find that the miniature marshmallows are easier to melt. (Kellogg's also says that you can use marshmallow fluff instead, but I don't even believe in the stuff.) And it really does help to use a buttered spatula; if you don't, it's hard to pull the spatula away from the mixture.

Here's the finished product:

Now, of course, you're not required to decorate them as I did, but my Rice Krispie Treats were serving a specific purpose, and if you want to do the same, I recommend using gel rather than icing, such as this product from Betty Crocker, since it won't interfere with the simple yet utterly wonderful taste of the Treats.



Late last month, InStyle magazine's website featured a really, truly phenomenal shoe: the second part of a design collaboration between Missoni, the Italian house known for bold patterns, and Converse, the shoe company that makes me so happy.

And I have to say, I think that this incarnation of a classic style is fantastic. The shoes are the perfect intersection of my high school self and my college self: the comfortable girl and the fashionable girl. And as such, I think it might be love, Chuck Taylor style.


Friday, September 10, 2010

"The Greatest Gift I'd Give You Would Be to Stand By Your Side"

Listen, kids, I'm about to say something that might shock some of you. Don't freak out, okay? Here it is: I really like to listen to Celine Dion's "Miles to Go (Before I Sleep)."

Don't hate. This song really doesn't suck. It's even what you might call understated, at least for Celine Dion. (This is made doubly surprising when you learn that the song was written by Corey Hart, he of "Sunglasses at Night" fame.) All joking aside, I really mean that. The very nature of Dion's voice--it is quite powerful, actually--lends itself to a certain amount of drama, and while this song is not entirely devoid of drama, for the most part, it is just a sweet tune sung by a woman who is clearly dedicated to the one she loves.

And in terms of the album from whence it came, "Miles to Go (Before I Sleep" is actually quite refreshing. You see, Dion chose to include it on Let's Talk About Love, her 1997 follow-up to 1996's Falling Into You (which opened with the absolutely epic "It's All Coming Back to Me Now"). Let's Talk About Love might have been just another Dion album, with its touching title track, a less-than-stellar cover of "When I Need You" (which Rod Stewart treated much better, if you ask me), and the just-barely-on-the-right-side-of-the-ridiculous-line "The Reason." But Let's Talk About Love became a monster because it featured "My Heart Will Go On." You remember that song, right? Of course you do. And you probably know all of the words, just like everyone else who lived through the 1990s. Don't even try to lie about it. 

The upshot of all this is that "Miles to Go (Before I Sleep)" wasn't entirely a throwaway track--it surely did not go unnoticed by the 31 million people who bought Let's Talk About Love on the strength of "My Heart Will Go On." And thank God. Because it should go down as one of the better things Celine Dion ever did. Unfortunately, the song is not available for download on Amazon; it is, however, available on iTunes, but as iTunes is unlinkable, you'll have to settle with listening to the song on YouTube. Let me know what you think of it, because I'd love to see if anyone out there agrees with me.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Most Fashionable Life

I love a good coffee table book, especially a good coffee table book about fashion. And possibly the most perfect chronicle of fashion in the second half of the 20th century is this particular coffee table book: Richard Avedon's Avedon Fashion 1944-2000.

Late last year, I had the opportunity to see a collection of Avedon's work at the Detroit Institute of Arts, my favorite museum in the whole wide world. The show focused on Avedon's fashion photography, for which he is best known, at least in some circles. The man was a legend, having taken photographs of every model from Suzy Parker to Stephanie Seymour; his portfolio, shot largely in black and white, is absolutely stunning.

Take, for example, this image of Veruschka, which catches a liveliness and joy that you might not see if you simply witnessed her moving. Or consider this impossibly striking shot of Donyale Luna, who looks stuck between happy and sad. My favorite image of Avedon's, though, is one of Dovima posing with a group of elephants, and each of the subjects is striking a pose in a most elegant fashion. (Actually, this is the lesser-known of Dovima's poses with the elephants; the more famous one, which is a very good photograph in its own right can be seen here.)

Avedon Fashion is full of many more images that will move and inspire anyone even remotely interested in photography or fashion. And it will stand as a testament to a great, indomitable career. Check it out today!

Buy through Barnes and Noble for $67.50.

Photo via Barnes and Noble.


PS Hey, remember when I wrote that post about an ornament from Bronner's? Jezebel has recently posted their own opinions about the Christmas wonderland!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Daisy's Crepes

I've spent a good portion of my life living in residence halls, and if there's only one thing I learned in college (I hope there were more lessons, but I'm not counting on it), it's that sometimes you have to be creative with your food. 

At my school, we were not allowed to have appliances, but there was a communal microwave; since all residential students were required to be on the meal plan, this setup was not always a problem, but if you were sick or got hungry outside of our (pretty rigid) mealtimes, the microwave was the only thing you had available. Some of our more creative students rose to the challenge. My one neighbor, Daisy, was one of those students.

She came into my room one night and asked me, without any pretext or explanation, if I liked bananas, strawberries, and Nutella. Well, I love all three of those things, ESPECIALLY the Nutella. Next thing I know, she's handing me a faux crepe that contains exactly those ingredients. 

It was fucking delicious.

The best part about this whole situation is how simple the crepes are:

Medium flour tortillas
Nutella hazelnut spread to taste
Sliced bananas
Sliced strawberries

All you do is spread some Nutella on a flour tortilla, add some bananas and strawberries, microwave it for about 30 seconds, and you're done. That's it. No drama, no hassle--just a delicious snack. Unfortunately, Nutella has about 200 calories per serving (2 tbs.), but in my personal opinion, all 200 calories are worth it, because that stuff is tasty.

Now, if you're looking for a legitimate recipe for Nutella crepes, you might check out Michael Chiarello's recipe at Food Network. But I recommend at least trying these easy ones; you might be pleasantly surprised!

Visit Nutella's website.

Image via here.


Dreams within Dreams within Dreams

I don't know about you, but not long ago I saw the film Inception. Beforehand I had heard a lot of claims that it was utterly befuddling, difficult to follow, and brilliant.

I personally found it fairly easy to follow. I understood most of it, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, particularly the be-suited Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I can't say much else without ruining it for those of you who haven't seen the film, but I recommend it.

But for those of you who didn't get it, I'm told that the shooting script is a fascinating and illuminating read. And for those of you who enjoy reading shooting scripts, well, it fits in your genre.

Oh, if only I had a book budget. But I buy them faster than I read them when I let myself.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


I have to be honest with you guys about something.

See, lately I've been watching a lot of HGTV. And while I do like looking at and coveting houses, I know I couldn't stand a big, luxurious one. Imagine cleaning all the details!

But I do know that there are two things I want in a house: a soaking tub and room for a lot of bookshelves. These are my dream. One day, I want to have a house, and in it, I want these two things. Outside I would like to have some acreage and this Belgian horse named Clancy I know, but that's really it. I would be so happy like this.

So unlike Cate, I don't care about cars so much (I'll use the horse to get around). I'm not a big car person. I judge them almost entirely on looks and how much it will cost me to drive them. But there is one that I covet. The DeLorean DMC-12.

Back to the Future was a big part of my childhood.

I also wouldn't say no to an El Camino. In fact, I coveted the El Camino long before I learned I could get a DeLorean of my very own. But now I want a DeLorean and a flux capacitor. When I am filthy rich one day, I will be able to have a horse, and a DeLorean, and an El Camino.

Buy your very own DeLorean (new or used) through DeLorean Motor Company (not the original) for varying amounts.

Monday, September 6, 2010

"This Fake Marriage Stuff Is Kind of Fun"

I have a pretty long list of celebrity crushes, some of which I will own up to and some of which I keep to myself. There is, of course, Alexander Skarsgard, Denzel (Washington, of course, but I truly feel that the man needs no last name), and Scott Weiland from Stone Temple Pilots, among many others. One that I don't talk about so much but really do like, though, is Thomas Haden Church.

Church first came to my attention one summer when there wasn't much on TV but reruns of his short-lived show Ned and Stacey, a mid-1990s sitcom that also featured Debra Messing just before she hit it big on Will and Grace. The show didn't last for a reason--it's not the best thing out there, but it was more or less reliable, mindless entertainment, and Church's portrayal of Ned Dorsey, a self-involved advertising executive, was pretty spot-on, whether he was scheming to undermine a fellow ad man or bribing a salesperson to sell Stacey the bed of her dreams. Messing, for her part, was a little uneven as Stacey Dorsey, but you can certainly see glimpses of the skilled comedienne she proved herself to be on Will and Grace.

The premise of the show is simple: Ned and Stacey get married so he can get a promotion at work and she can move out of her parents' house in New Jersey. Unfortunately, it is also unsustainable; there is a time limit (two years) put on it from the very first episode, and the audience only ever expects one of two things: either Ned and Stacey will duke it out until they become boring, or they will fall in love and live happily ever after. This is not the stuff of long-running programs. However, like I said before, it is mindless, a good thing to watch when you want a distraction or an easy laugh. 

Right now, the first season (of two) is available on DVD, but as far as I can tell, there is no scheduled release date for season two, which is unfortunate, because I would really like to have the complete set available for those late nights when I can't sleep but don't feel like doing anything useful and would rather spend my time with one of my crushes instead.

Buy season one through Best Buy for $14.99.


PS  Maureen will be taking over the blog for the next few days while I recover from a trip home. Can't wait to see what she has in store!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Hobo Chic

Awhile back, I wrote about the Rebecca Minkoff Easy Rider Devote Hobo and how much I loved it (and regret not buying it). This week, I want to share another Rebecca Minkoff bag: the Nikki Hobo. 

This bag has a great shape; it is spacious and just slouchy enough while maintaining clean lines. And Luna Boston offers it in a color called almond, which on my computer screen looks like a melon-cum-pumpkin shade, the perfect pop next to a fall palette of olive, khaki, and chocolate. I may well be on my way to becoming a Minkette (as fans of Rebecca Minkoff's bags are called)!


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Eating Out: Big Boy (Elias Brothers)

I'm about to tell you something very important about the world, so read the next two sentences very carefully. There are two kinds of people in the Midwest: Frisch's Big Boy people and Elias Brothers Big Boy people. I am an Elias Brothers Big Boy girl. 

Never forget this. Okay?

Now. Let me back up a little bit. I used to date a guy who thinks he's a food snob, and I remember very distinctly a conversation (actually, a fight) we had one night about where we were going to eat dinner. I wanted something simple, familiar, and easy, and he lost it, accusing me of liking only restaurants with--this is a direct quote--"crazy shit on the walls." He meant places like Applebees, TGI Friday's, and our local deli/grill (which, for privacy reasons, will have to remain nameless). My basic response to all of this is, "So what?" So what if I like chain restaurants? They have reliably consistent food that doesn't suck. Of course, it's not the greatest food in the world, but as I've mentioned before, my palate is pretty underdeveloped. Also, when I find something I like, I stick with it, hence my repetitive patronage of certain establishments, ESPECIALLY Big Boy.

There are two in my home town, plus many more within striking distance, including two (literally) just over the county line and one in my former home town where my grandmother still lives and which we frequent. No, I cannot explain the appeal of Big Boy except to say that if you grow up with it, it's just part of who you are, from the time you're young until the day you die. In elementary school, it's where you get the best spaghetti. In high school, it's where you hang with your friends. In college, it's the place you go because you miss everything about home. And as an adult, it's the site of everything that came before and everything that will be.

If that sounds overly nostalgic, I'm okay with that. I can't tell you why you should go there on a culinary basis, because I am so incredibly biased. What I can say is this (which will explain the first part of this post): if you grew up on one kind of Big Boy food, going into the other restaurant is literally like entering some strange parallel universe; it looks very much the same, but it tastes different, and it is so unsettling that you should only do it in times of sheer desperation, like when you've been driving all day and night and have to have some food if for no other reason than because you don't want to pass out while you make that last push to get home. (Yes, I am speaking from experience).

So if you're ever in Michigan, stop in at a Big Boy. And then come back here and let me know if their food makes you even a little bit happy. I know it thrills me.

Image via here.


What's Up, Doc?

We're going to play a little word association game today. I'll give you a phrase, and you tell me what comes to mind. Here it is: Doc Martens. I suspect that most of you will conjure up images of the early- to mid-1990s grunge scene. Me, personally? I get a warm, fuzzy feeling not from memories of the flannel that was so ubiquitous back then but from memories of a long string of guys I've fallen for whose chosen footwear was the eternally cool 1914s, the 14-hole boots beloved by punks. 

I'm trying very hard to create a style for myself. Eventually, I'd like to look like I stepped out of a Michael Kors ad. (Seriously.) But from time to time, I come across some piece that I really, really wish I could incorporate without looking stupid or like a poser. This is one of those times. Besides, a girl should be able to mix it up every once in awhile, right?

Photo via Dr. Martens.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Musical Reflection

Sometimes you don't want your music to come with lyrics, because no matter what the singer says, the words can never really match up with what you're feeling, but the notes themselves do--the sound so accurately reflects the internal state that you feel relieved. Tomaso Albinoni's "Adagio in G Minor" has been, on occasion, one of those songs for me.

Adagios are, by definition, down-tempo (generally around 70 beats per minute), and so they're often somber or sad, but almost always beautiful. While this one might sound a little scary the first two or three times you hear it--like a black-and-white vampire movie waiting to happen--upon further inspection, you begin to hear the minor notes as artful and lovely. And although the authorship is disputed (the piece is generally attributed to Albinoni but believed to have been composed by a man called Remo Giazotto), the music stands up.

For an updated, and quite stunning, rearrangement of this work, you might check out Bond's "Big Love Adagio," which turns it into a soaring love song, which is no small feat in itself--and if you listen to them back to back, you can hear the potential in the "G Minor" for something other than a funereal tone. I highly recommend both versions and hope that you enjoy them.

Buy "Adagio in G Minor" through Amazon for $0.99.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Dream

Last Saturday was the anniversary of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,'s public reading of his "I Have a Dream" speech, delivered at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and while this speech has been widely covered, I feel that it is important to continue to cover it. 

After all, King's work was very important, and his legacy is even more important: if we ever forget what he did, we will slip. If we ever neglect to remember his words, we might make a serious misstep. In this age where different civil rights are being denied, it is helpful (to me, at least), to revisit "I Have a Dream" and to learn from it.

There are two passages that I find particularly beautiful and meaningful. The first speaks to unity and strength: "We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make a pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back." The second speaks to hope: "[...S]o even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream."

Let us never cease to fight to make that dream a reality for all.

Read a transcript of the speech.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Kiwi Love

When I was younger, I loved eating kiwis, and while I haven't eating much kiwifruit lately, I still love it. The white center was always my favorite--not too sweet like the rest of the fruit, but with a wonderful texture that made me happy. Nowadays, even though kiwis are not very common where I live, I have managed to find a never-ending supply of fantastic dried kiwi.

Photo by Luc Viatour via Wikipedia.

Although eating dried kiwi is not at all the same thing as eating a fresh kiwi, it is an acceptable substitute in times of desperation or kiwifruit scarcity--after all, every fruit goes out of season, and in a rural area, certain produce is harder to come by than, say, common things like corn or tomatoes. And the dried stuff is, quite frankly, kind of addictive. But it's better to eat fruit than plain old candy, right?

Buy through the Fresh Market for $5.99 per pound.


PS Head on over to What We Covet to read today's post about Farberware Classic cookware, an essential for anyone who likes to cook!


I recently started a food blog, which is kind of a stretch for me, since I'm not the most gifted person in the kitchen, but so far it has been fun and mostly disaster-free. And, luckily, my kitchen is reasonably well-equipped, considering the space issue. This is due largely to my mother, who was kind enough to let me blatantly steal borrow a significant portion of her set of Farberware Classic cookware when I moved into my apartment.

The basic look of Farberware Classic is the same now as it was when my mom got her set in 1977. The great thing about such a stylistic carryover is that replacing pieces, or adding on to the set, is easy, since everything more or less still matches. And let me tell you, it stands up to some pretty tough situations. For example, Mom's set survived (by my count) a couple of apartments, five houses, and two children who turned into teenagers and then turned into college students. They have made a great deal of Kraft mac and cheese, Maruchan Ramen, and Stove Top stuffing. You couldn't convince me to switch brands for all the free cookware in the world. After all, I grew up perfecting some of my cooking skills with Farberware Classic. And now I'm terribly attached to it.

Sure, there are cookware sets out there with more bells and whistles and cute colors. But if it's simplicity, reliability, and afforability that you want, I really recommend that you give Farberware Classic a try.

Visit the Farberware online store.

Photo via here.